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Trout fishing drives license sales

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 10:45 p.m.

If you don't believe your eyes, believe the numbers: Opening weekend of trout season is a big deal.

Statistics from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission show that eight days of the year — the Thursday to Sunday surrounding the regional opening day of trout season in 18 southeastern Pennsylvania counties, and the Thursday to Sunday around the regular opening day across the rest of the state — account for almost one-fifth of the fishing licenses sold each year.

Bernie Matscavage, director of the agency's bureau of administration, said the agency sold, on average, 142,215 license during that span over the previous five years. That's 17 percent of the total sold annually, he said. This year, buoyed by wonderful weather for opening day in Western Pennsylvania, the commission sold 150,773.

“Pennsylvanians love their opening day,” Matscavage said.

But that has been questioned, said commissioner Bill Sabatose of Elk County. Through the years, the commission has debated the possibility of doing away with opening day and letting people fish for stocked trout year-round.

“That should be closed now,” Sabatose said. “We need an opening day.”

Matscavage said typically by April 30 of each year, when trout season is still in full swing, the commission will have sold a little more than 61 percent of the licenses it will in a year's time. License sales get a smaller bump around opening day of bass season in June, for example. But the weekend trout season opens is “far and away” the commission's main sales engine, Matscavage said.

Executive director John Arway said 57 percent of license sales occur after opening day, and 39 percent after May 1, he noted.

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

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