Two potential Pennsylvania record fish and more outdoor news

Posted on: April 25, 2017 | Bob Frye | Comments

This is the fish that could have been the new Pennsylvania state record golden rainbow trout.
Photo courtesy Mychael Althouse.

Pennsylvania almost – almost, that is – had two new state record fish within a matter of a few weeks.

That it didn’t happen is a matter of choice and chance.

First, according to this story in the Allentown Morning Call, a42-year-old angler named Mychael Althouse of Quakertown caught a golden rainbow trout while fishing on the Little Lehigh Creek. It was huge, so he took it to get weighed.

The fish tipped the scales at 13 pounds, 11 ounces.

The state record golden rainbow – caught in 2008 – weighed 13 pounds, 8 ounces.

So Althouse had the top spot secured. But he declined to enter his name for consideration.


Because the exiting record is held by a boy, then 12 years old, named Eli Borger of Palmerton. He caught it on Mahoning Creek in Schuylkill County.

Althouse told the Morning Call he wanted to youngster to keep his record.

“If I was 14 and I held the record for the biggest trout in Pennsylvania, it would probably mean a whole lot to me, so I told (them) just let him have it,” he said.

Meanwhile, another potential record fish is swimming in a display tank in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Linesville fish hatchery.

This is a look at what could be the next state record crappie, if someone catches it from Pymatuning Lake once it’s released back into the water.
Photo courtesy PA Fish and Boat Commission

According to Rob Brown, manager of northern hatcheries for the agency, hatchery crews were collecting fish in trap nets in a sanctuary area of Pymatuning Lake for spawning purposes. They were more or less routinely flipping through the crappies collected when one caught his eye.

“I said let’s take another look at that one,” Brown said.

It turned out to be a monster. The fish was 20 inches long and weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces.

The state record crappie was caught in 2000 from Hammond Lake in Tioga County. It weighed 4 pounds, 2.88 ounces.

Commission crews put the would-be record in the display tank so that people could get a look at what a record fish looks like. It won’t be there for long, though, Brown said.

The plan is to release it back into Pymatuning Lake within a week or so, he said.

Illegal guides

State fish and wildlife agencies around the country, as a general rule, license hunting and fishing guides. As part of that, they do undercover investigations aimed at ferreting out those operating illegally.

That’s led to this.

According to Tom Burrell, an assistant director in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s bureau of law enforcement, an attorney in the Midwest who was caught guiding illegally has started a new service. Guides, licensed and otherwise, can pay to join his “group.”

In return, a retired FBI investigator will do background checks on potential clients. The idea, at least in part, apparently, is to figure out who might in actually be a law enforcement officer, Burrell said.

That’s potentially dangerous.

“Now you have an officer safety type of issue going on,” said Corey Britcher, chief of the commission’s law enforcement bureau.

Coyote issues

It’s true that coyotes are having a pretty big impact on deer populations in the southern United States.

That’s not occurring in the North, though, said C.J. Winand, a Maryland-based deer biologist and author. In places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, coyotes aren’t proving overly lethal, he said. There have been no changes in deer reproductive rates or survival rates, he said

Not yet, anyway.

Might that change?

“I believe, and his is my personal opinion, that we will see more and more negative effects in the future,” Winand said.

But that’s not the case now, he added, and no one can say why.

“It’s just not in the data,” he said.

Aerial attack

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is going to try something new, perhaps as soon as this year.

It’s been experiencing issues with invasive species in its wetlands, particularly around Pymatuning wildlife management area in Crawford County. To combat that, it’s looking into hiring a helicopter contractor to fly over several sites and apply herbicide from the air.

“We’ve never done that before,” said Jerry Bish, land management supervisor at Pymatuning.

“”It’s kind of dramatic. It’s something different, something new.”

It will be costly, Bish said. But there are some wetlands the commission can’t really address any other way, he added.

Federal funding

The recent presidential election left many gun owners feeling secure about their Second Amendment rights.
But it may cost them in one way.
There’s a federal excise tax – called Pittman-Robertson funding – collected on the sale of firearms and ammunition. Totals collected in recent years skyrocketed as gun owners flocked to stock up.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service figures, for example, the amount of money collected in the most recent year was a record $780 million. That was up 12.2 percent over the year before.

Gun sales declined 12.7 percent in February of this year, however, compared to February of the year before, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Pittman-Robertson funding helps state wildlife agencies support shooting, game species and other wildlife.

Award winners

If you’re a paddler, these films are for you.

The Reel Paddling Film Festival is a series of movies about paddling, from whitewater kayaking exploring America by canoe to kayak fishing. Seeing all the films requires traveling to one of their show sites or arranging to host a showing.

In the meantime, you can watch the trailers of the award-winning movies here.

Hunter orange

Well, forget that.

The Game Commission isn’t going to address hunter orange regulations after all.

In January, agency staff gave a report on the requirements hunters around the country face in terms of how much orange they have to wear and when. Game Commissioner Charlie Fox of Bradford County prompted the report. He said Pennsylvania’s orange rules are too confusing, taking up 11 pages in the hunting digest.

Fox asked staff to see if there might be a way toi simplify things. The idea was that some recommendations would be forthcoming, perhaps by the board’s March meeting.

No recommendations were made. And it doesn’t appear any will be.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” said commissioner Tim Layton of Somerset County. “What staff tells us is, the more you look at it, the more complicated it gets.”

Commissioner Jim Daley of Butler County doesn’t believe it’s a pressuing issue anyway. It’s true the digest contains 11 pages of orange rules. But a hunter can figure out what to wear when by studying just two of those pages, both of which have drawings to accompany the text, he said.

“Most people can look at a picture and see what they’re supposed to do,” Daley said.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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