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Outdoors notebook: Voluntary youth fishing permit considered

| Sunday, May 5, 2013, 7:24 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is running behind schedule when it comes to selling fishing licenses.

At its peak in 1990, the commission sold about 1.16 million licenses. Last year, it sold 853,000, which was its highest total since 2009.

Through opening day of trout season this year, though, sales were down by 4.7 percent, said Bernie Matscavage, director of the commission's bureau of administration.

Things have picked up since. Sales were off by only 2.5 percent through April 30, said spokesman Rick Levis.

Selling licenses is critical to the agency's bottom line. It traditionally sells about 65 percent of all the licenses by April 30, 89 percent by June 30 and 96 percent by July 31, Matscavage said.

Long term, the vagaries of license sales are such that the commission is looking for other ways to make or save money. One idea unveiled by executive director John Arway involves creating a voluntary mentored youth trout permit.

The commission held a mentored youth trout day on a test basis on a handful of waters in Southeastern Pennsylvania in March. On that Saturday, a week before the regional opening day of trout season, kids could fish in stocked lakes with an adult.

It went well enough that the commission is considering expanding the program statewide for 2014.

If it does, the commission would be eligible for up to $5 in federal reimbursement for each $1 youth permit sold, Arway said. That's $6,000 for each 1,000 kids who participate, he added.

Duke Lake

In time, it will be “Dryerson” no more.

That's the name people gave to Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County after the state found leaks in Duke Lake's dam. It was breached and the lake drained; it has been dry since.

The state and Consol Energy, blamed for allegedly causing the problem, have reached a settlement that will ultimately lead to a new lake. Consol has, among other things, agreed to pay the state $36 million, with that earmarked for replacing the dam. The work is being “fast-tracked,” park officials said, but still won't be done until 2017. Consol also will add 506 acres to the park.

Erie limits

The 2013 creel limit for Lake Erie yellow perch will remain at 30 per day and for walleyes will stay at six per day, according to Fish and Boat Commission officials.

Under rules adopted last year, the commission sets creel limits in spring, after an assessment of walleye and perch populations is done. The numbers of both species are stable, said the commission's Lake Erie biologist, Chuck Murray.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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