Pa. Fish and Boat Commission makes controversial trout decision
HARRISBURG — There was less confrontation this time, but the result was the same.
Fish and Boat Commissioners on Thursday designated 10 stream sections as Class A wild trout waters then moments later agreed to continue stocking them all with hatchery trout.
Those two things normally don't go together. Commissioners, after much debate from within and outside the agency, made exceptions in these cases, though.
The sections include two on Yellow Creek in Bedford County, one on Fishing Creek in Clinton, two on Little Lehigh Creek in Lehigh, one on Martins Creek in Northampton, two on Monocacy Creek in Lehigh and Northampton, one on Penns Creek in Centre and one on Phopoco Creek in Carbon.
Commissioner Rocco Ali of Kittanning said all of the sections have been stocked for years. They have maintained excellent numbers of brown trout — up to five times the standard for a Class A water— all the while.
Given all that, to have taken them off the stocking list now would make no sense, Ali said.
Commission president Norm Gavlick of Luzerne County agreed and called the board's decision an attempt at “balance.”
“This situation looks as if we can have the best of both worlds,” Gavlick said.
Commissioners didn't agree unanimously.
While all 10 voted to add the streams to the Class A list, two — Bob Bachman of Lancaster County and Len Lichvar of Somerset — voted against stocking them.
“My concern is, this proposal, to stock these 10 sections, is a departure from a long, going on 30 years, policy of this agency to not stock Class A wild trout streams, which are the best of the best,” Bachman said.
Commissioner Bill Sabatose considered introducing an amendment to the proposal, one that would have committed the commission to not stocking other Class A waters.
“In no way do I want to see Class A brook trout streams stocked,” Sabatose said.
Instead, he agreed to a request from commissioner Ed Mascharka of Erie to give the board's fisheries committee, which he chairs, time to develop an official policy statement regarding Class A waters. Mascharka promised to have that done by year's end.