I guess it’s finally time for me to go out and buy a fishing license again.
Many will remember that back in 2004, I vowed not to purchase a fishing license until Dutch Fork Lake returned for local fishermen.
After visiting the lake earler this week, I’m happy to say that it’s back.
Now certainly, the lake isn’t currently what it used to be. But there’s water in the lake bed – it’s filling at a rate of about three inches per day - and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently stocked it with more than 3,000 trout.
The slow refill of the lake is part of the process. According to Waterways Conservation Officer Shaun Sauserman, the lake began to fill on its own back in February, but had to be drawn back down so that a brush guard could be installed over the outlet pipe.
It began to refill after the stocking two weeks ago and now would certainly be an area where local anglers could fish on the opening day of trout season April 13.
The commission has gone with the slow refill in order to allow the clay between the breastworks to saturate and expand to fill in the areas among the rocks. While new structure was placed in the center of the dam, the face of the breastworks is unchanged.
It might be several years before Dutch Fork Lake has fishable levels of other game fish –unless the comisiion stocks adult fish. But it will certainly be a decent trout fishery.
Many are upset with the trees and brush left on the stream bed, but they will provide solid cover in years to come for young fish, allowing those fish to grow before the trees rot away. And the main bowl of the lake by the dam is relatively free of trees, allowing for some open-water fishing.
• As expected, state Senator Tim Solobay has introduced a bill – SB 547 – that would require the Pennsylvania Game Commission to remove antler restrictions for senior hunters.
The bill was passed by the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee this week and will now go to the senate floor.
It’s a shame that the commission hasn’t acted on this already on its own.
With hunter numbers dwindling and the population aging, any help the commission could give to senior hunters would be welcome.
At the same time, I hate to see the legislature intervene in commission business.
I applaud Solobay’s efforts in the matter and know that his heart is in the right place, but would like to see the commission make a move in this direction on its own.
In a related matter, another bill – SB 597– is in the works that would place the game and fish commissions under the jurisdiction of the Independent Regulatory Review Committee.
If this were to occur, the IRRC would have to review and approve any regulations passed by either commission before they became law.
Again, neither the game or fish commissions are perfect, but adding another layer of bureaucracy is not the way to go here.
If anything, the two agencies should be looking to contract. Many other states have just one agency to handle fish and game. Perhaps, with both agencies struggling financially, it’s time for Pennsylvania to do the same.
Outdoors Editor F. Dale Lolley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org