Be a Voice for Wild Trout — Your Most Effective Conservation Measure is Also the Easiest

by | May 14, 2024 | 16 comments

** NOTE **  An email link for sending your comment appears below. You don’t need to be a Pennsylvania resident. ALL comments make a big difference. Much more about how and why below.
Thank you. 

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Every long term angler I know has a heart for conservation. After just a few seasons of wading through trout water, we appreciate how deeply special these places are. We fall in love with our rivers. We build lives around fishing. What starts as an interesting hobby becomes a prime directive to fish and to share these rivers with family and friends.

More than anything, we want our favorite waters to stay wild, to be a gateway into the natural world. The best trout rivers provide a respite from a hurried life. They restore us, mind and body. And when we leave behind the dusty roads and head back toward city lights, we know that the trout remain and the waters keep flowing. The eternal opportunities of a wild river call us back, enriching our days as we dream and plan, even from a distance.

That’s a life on the water.

Wild trout are at the heart of this, and we are blessed in Pennsylvania with wonderful wild trout opportunities. Many regions across this state harbor cold waters with wild trout tucked away among the mountains or flowing beside broad highways.

Wild trout might seem to be everywhere. But they are not. Just two percent of Pennsylvania’s 83,000 river miles have a Class A Wild Trout designation. These streams and their trout need our protection.

Stop stocking over wild trout.

From the infancy of Troutbitten, this has been my message of conservation. It’s hard to argue against.

READ: Troutbitten | Why Wild Trout Matter

Stop stocking over wild trout.

This message resonates with the modern catch and release ethos. But it makes sense to every trout angler who cares about the future of a fishery. Stocked trout are a temporary fix, and they are a fine solution in many places. But where wild trout exist, even in fair numbers . . .

Stop stocking over wild trout.

It’s a message of sustainability. It’s a message that makes sense.

Photo by Bill Dell

What Can You Do?

You can participate in your local river cleanup, join your local TU and volunteer to raise funds for a bank stabilization project. You can lead the manpower for installing stream improvement devices, facilitate river access with a local business and be a watchdog against pollution or other threats.

Yes, you should do all of it.

But your most effective conservation measure is also the easiest. It’s a simple email to the fish commission.

— — —

** Send the Pennsylvania Fish Commission a simple email of support for eliminating stocking on wild trout waters. **
ADDRESS
RA-pfbcregulations@pa.gov

— — —

Regarding policy, I’ve gotten to know some employees of the Pennsylvania Fish Commission, enough to understand how much your comments matter.

I’ve never pulled my punches against the PFBC. And like most things in the industry, I’ll call something wrong when I see it. Our fish commission is married to its hatcheries and the stocking program. The antiquated idea that we might improve upon what nature can provide has been proven wrong time and again. But the stocked trout culture in Pennsylvania and elsewhere is waning. It’s dying a slow death. Eventually, I believe the Pennsylvania Fish Commission will stock only waters that do not hold good populations of wild trout.

The commission is moving in the right direction. So let me borrow from Dr. King here and rephrase: The arc for protecting wild trout in Pennsylvania is long, but it bends towards justice.

The PFBC is trying to do the right thing, but they need to hear your support. They need it in writing.

ADDRESS
RA-pfbcregulations@pa.gov

Each year, the commission removes streams from the stocking list because they already hold a good population of wild trout. They also propose the removal of other streams from the stocking list.

Inevitably, the outrage of public comment against this removal is strong. The protest voice is always loudest — that’s human nature. And it is our failing not to match those negative voices with positive support.

We must make ourselves heard. A bureaucracy like the fish commission makes policy and moves laws through, based on stats and numbers. So our comments make an enormous difference.

READ: Troutbitten | The Hierarchy of River Trout in Pennsylvania
READ: Troutbitten | Clarity and Science about Wild-vs Stocked Trout 

We’ve Done This Before

Here’s a first hand example of what your voice means.

In 2018, the PFBC took public comment on the seven mile extension of catch and release regulations and the elimination of stocking on one of our favorite rivers.

Troutbitten has a large voice for wild trout in Pennsylvania, and the article I published on the topic received 525+ outbound clicks to the PFBC form for public comment.

READ: Troutbitten | Penns Creek Needs Your Voice
READ: Troutbitten | Catch-and-Release Miles Doubled — Yes, You Did It

According to Rob Shane, Mid-Atlantic organizer from Trout Unlimited, the PFBC received 549 comments in total, and 440 were in favor of Catch-and-Release regulations. The C&R regulations went through.

I’m told that 100 comments on such a policy proposal is what is most often expected.

Do you see my point? These voices — your emails — about these topics add up quickly. They make a big difference.

We have a tendency to compare such things to politics. And even for local elections, our one ballot among tens of thousands seems small.

But your voice here, your influence, is powerful. We can bend the arc toward wild trout, and we can shorten the curve. All it takes is an email.

Please Help

Together, let’s commit to writing emails when wild trout policy comes up. This might be just once or twice a year. I’ll post about the policies here on Troutbitten, and I’ll always provide a link, along with some ideas and messaging for your message to the PFBC.

Your email can be a simple paragraph stating your support.

— — —

** Send the Pennsylvania Fish Commission a simple email of support for eliminating stocking on wild trout waters. **
ADDRESS
RA-pfbcregulations@pa.gov

— — —

Each email is logged by the PFBC, often simply categorized as in favor or against. Remember the numbers I sighted above. Even a few emails add up to big influence.

Right now, the PFBC is receiving a lot of push back for removing a few Class A Wild Trout streams from the stocking list. I sympathize with people who grew up fishing for the planted stocked trout waters, but progress moves forward, and stocking hatchery fish over those wild populations is what changed the natural order of things from the beginning.

Stop stocking over wild trout. That’s the message to send to the Pennsylvania Fish Commission. Tell them you strongly support the elimination of stocking on all Class A Wild Trout waters. Tell them you are in favor of eliminating stocking on class B,C and D trout waters too.

It doesn’t matter if you are a resident of Pennsylvania. If you fish PA waters, or even if you plan to fish PA waters, write a simple email to the commission telling them that wild trout matter most. If you are traveling from out of state, tell them that you come here for the wild trout opportunities.

Stop stocking over wild trout.

Let the Pennsylvania Fish Commission know you support this message.

ADDRESS
RA-pfbcregulations@pa.gov

Your voice makes all the difference. Please pass this on, spread the word and stay dedicated to this cause. Let’s do this together.

Fish hard, friends.

READ: Troutbitten | Category | Conservation

 

** Donate ** If you enjoy this article, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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16 Comments

  1. Just wrote an email in support of wild trout. Hope this drop in the bucket helps.

    Reply
  2. “2 is in!”
    Great work Dom.

    Reply
      • Just dropped an email from Montana.

        Reply
  3. Done

    Reply
  4. Great article and I agree wholeheartedly that the fish commission shouldn’t stock streams with healthy populations of wild trout. Thanks for the link. I just sent my request. Hopefully the fish commission will listen.

    Reply
  5. From NJ fisher who loves fishing for wild trout in NJ and PA; message sent to PA commission.

    Reply
  6. Hey now from New Hampshire. I echo Dom’s request to every follower of Troutbitten. Please let your voice be heard on this, because it really matters.

    Reply
  7. I’ll send in my concerns even though I don’t live in PA. But I do have the same problem where I live. Fighting the government to not stock over wild trout.

    Reply
  8. Dom do letters to the PA Commission from overseas count too ? I fished a bit in PA when I lived in the USA.

    Reply
  9. Done! Thank you Dom.

    Reply
  10. Done

    Reply
  11. Just sent the email. Hope it helps. I plan on coming up there soon. I want to fish for brookies hopefully with Bill.

    Reply
  12. Is it illegal for private citizens to put stocked fish in Class A streams? I can not find anything on the commission site.
    I do know that it is illegal to block the migration of fish in PA waters so when you see the rock dams that people make, usually late in the summer, knock em down. They cause mass erosion eating away the banks downstream of the dam when the water rises. When you come across rock dams open up the middle first and move the rocks upstream to help create a V, with the point upstream, to redirect the waters back to the center of the stream. Here is a link that better explains it.

    https://www.carleton.edu/departments/geol/links/alumcontributions/antinoro_03/smcwebsite/FlowStructures.htm

    Thanks again for all that you do

    Reply

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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