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State's best fishing waters will soon be highlighted

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 10:48 p.m.

If you've been paying attention, you know the emphasis in the outdoors these days is on making it easy for people to go hunting, fishing and the like.

Wildlife agencies across the country have simplified regulations. They've created special youth-only seasons. They've crafted mentoring programs for adults and children.

It's all about knocking down barriers.

We're about to see some more of that in Pennsylvania soon. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is launching a “Pennsylvania's best fishing waters” program designed to make it easy for people to decide where to fish, based on the species they want to catch.

“In the past, when anglers had more free time to investigate individual waters, they discovered through trial and error those waters that provided better fishing,” reads a report provided to commissioners.

“With free time being at a premium, seasoned anglers, anglers new to the sport and non-resident anglers have less time to weed out the less productive waters and search for ways to increase their success and enjoyment out of their time spent fishing.”

Ted Walke, chief of the commission's division of outreach, said in Pittsburgh last week the program is designed to do that homework for them.

Biologists will look at their survey data and determine the best places to fish, based on things like fish populations, stocking, trophy potential, the availability of public access, the ability to handle increased angling pressure and more. The commission's outreach staff will promote the list everywhere possible.

“From a marketing standpoint, it's what they call packaging,” Walke said.

Waters highlighted in the “best” category will focus on wild and stocked trout; largemouth and smallmouth bass; bullhead and channel catfish; yellow perch; crappie; bluegill and pumpkinseed; walleye; muskies and tiger muskies; and striped bass and hybrid striped bass.

Emphasizing so many species will ensure that the “best” list touches all parts of the state and offers opportunities for anglers to fish across all seasons, Walke said.

The state's most serious anglers may already know about the waters on the list, he said. But pulling everything together in one place should increase convenience for everyone else, and that's critical in this era, he said.

“All the research out there says fishing must be convenient,” Walke said. “So we want to simplify things, increase convenience and emphasize fishing as an activity that's fun and relaxing to do with friends and family.”

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bfrye@tribweb.com or 724-838-5148.

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