HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s trout anglers are big on recycling –– fish that is.
Two newly-released Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission/Penn State University studies found that the state’s trout anglers have high catch rates and high release rates as well. In fact, most trout caught in Pennsylvania’s waters are released, in turn extending and improving recreational fishing opportunities.
The studies examined separately angler use patterns and economic values associated with Pennsylvania’s trout-stocked streams in the spring of the year and wild trout streams mid-April through Labor Day weekend. While there were differences in the two fisheries, there were distinct similarities as well – the high rates of anglers practicing catch and release chief among them. Anglers fishing stocked trout streams in the spring caught, on average, slightly more than one trout per hour fished; 63.1 percent of those fish were subsequently released. During the course of the legal fishing season on wild trout waters, average catch rates varied from around one fish every two hours for brook and brown trout on large streams (0.51 per hour and 0.56 per hour, respectively) to nearly two brook trout per hour (1.76 fish per hour) on small streams. More than 92 percent of wild trout were released.
“In evaluating fisheries, we consider average catch rates of one trout for two hours of fishing time as ‘good.’ The fact that both wild trout fisheries and stocked waters averaged, and in many cases far surpassed, this measure is exciting. Perhaps even more intriguing is the fact that so many trout are being released once caught. Logic suggests that there is a strong connection between these two findings,” said Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Doug Austen.
“For instance, during the spring study period for stocked streams, the study data indicates anglers caught 6.7 million trout. This catch figure is 1.5 times the number of trout stocked in these same waters. A portion of the additional catch rate can be attributed to the presence of some wild or ‘holdover’ stocked trout. The fact that nearly two-thirds of caught fish were ‘recycled’ by being returned to the water is an even more significant contributor to the high catch rates we documented.”