The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced April 3 that it has withdrawn a proposal to change the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) regulations after receiving public comments overwhelmingly opposed to the measure.
The PFBC Board of Commissioners approved the withdrawal of the proposal and the end of the public comment period in a vote conducted earlier in the week.
Angler response to the propose changes was overwhelmingly negative. According to the Commission, as of March 31, it had received 343 comments, with all but five opposed to the proposal. A main concern expressed by the individuals was the use of bait during the harvest period.
“The DHALO program is a stocked trout program, and social factors play a critical role in how the program is managed,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “The proposed changes were designed to do two things: first, maximize the harvest of stocked trout before stream temperatures increase to lethal levels and, second, increase the opportunity for kids to catch fish.”
“The proposed changes generated much public comment in which questions were posed that would require substantial staff time and effort to fully answer,” he added. “Therefore, we believe that we need to withdraw this idea and focus on identifying other changes where we can more easily accomplish these objectives.”
Approved at the PFBC’s January 2015 quarterly business meeting, the proposal included the following:
- Move the start of the trout harvest period from June 15 to the Saturday before Memorial Day.
- Allow the use of bait by all anglers during the trout harvest period.
- Allow youth anglers under the age of 16 to use bait year-round in DHALO areas.
- Change the minimum length limit from 9 inches to 7 inches.
First launched in 1983, the DHALO program is designed to make more stocked trout available later in the season. The current regulations allow harvest only between June 15 and Labor Day, have a minimum size limit of nine inches, and a creel limit of three fish. The waters are open to fishing year-round.