Game Commission rolls out new app

Many hunters share my displeasure with the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s specious cost-cutting move of not supplying the traditional printed copy of the “Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest” with the purchase of a hunting license.

That book, of course, provides essential information regarding hunting seasons, laws, current regulations and more. To obtain a copy of the Digest, hunters must now order a copy by mail for $6 or view it online at the PGC website. For those of us who own a smartphone, iPad or other so-called mobile devices, there is now another option.

The Game Commission recently rolled out an official information app for most mobile devices that is available as a free download from iTunes or Google Play stores.

This app offers access to all the information contained in the printed Hunting and Trapping Digest along with special links to seasons and bag limits, fluorescent orange requirements and legal hunting hours, even if you are out of cellphone range or don’t have a network connection. And when a cellphone signal is available, the app contains many other useful and informative features.

Using the app, it is possible to report a harvest, violation, road-killed deer or wildlife emergency. You can find a license issuing outlet; purchase your license or permit online; check the status of your antlerless deer, elk or controlled goose hunt application; or contact the Game Commission’s regional offices and headquarters.

An interactive map can quickly help to find places of interest close to your current location such as state game lands, wildlife management unit boundaries, waterfowl zones, pheasant release sites, state parks and more.

The “share location” feature allows you to givefriends and family your exact location or to summon help in case of an emergency. And more features are already planned for future enhancements to the app.

Special regs removed

At its meeting of the Board of Commissioners on Oct. 16, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission approved a measure to remove a section of the Little Juniata River in Blair County from the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only program. This change takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

This section is located near Bellwood, beginning at the highway bridge on Rt. 220 northeast of town downstream 0.7 miles. The DHALO program was designed to offer anglers the opportunity to fish for stocked trout on a catch-and-release basis for most of the spring.

Under the DHALO regulations, fishing is permitted year-round, but all trout caught must be released except during the period from June 15 until the day after Labor Day when anglers are permitted to keep three trout 9 inches or longer per day.

The DHALO area near Bellwood typically received two stockings of rainbow trout each spring, one in early March and another in late April. This section seemed popular with local anglers, especially during the weeks before the opening of trout season when other stocked trout streams are closed to all fishing.

Undoubtedly, many of those folks are likely to be unhappy with its removal from the program and would like to know why. The short answer is that section of the river is home to a large population of wild brown trout.

In June 2017, the PFBC surveyed that particular section of the Little Juniata, known as Section 3, and found it supported high enough numbers of wild brown trout to designate it as Class A wild brown trout water. PFBC policy is to give special consideration to self-sustaining trout populations, and in most cases, that means no stocking.

DHALO regulations are a management plan for certain stocked trout waters. With the status of Section 3 upgraded to Class A wild brown trout water, the stocking of hatchery rainbows would be discontinued, which would necessitate its removal from the DHALO program.

Personally, I thought having a DHALO or some other special regulation area for trout in northern Blair County was a worthwhile idea, but I often wondered why it was established on that particular location of the Little Juniata River.

Parking was limited, overall access somewhat marginal, and the character of the water mediocre at best. The first couple of hundred yards is largely shallow, flat and featureless. In the middle of the stretch, a steep cliff overlooks one large, deep pool that usually receives 90 percent of the total fishing pressure. Downstream from there are a handful unremarkable of small pools, riffles and runs. Hopefully, the PFBC will consider establishing another DHALO in northern Blair County in the future.

Fly-tying demo

The John Kennedy Chapter of Trout Unlimited will hold its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Allegheny Township Volunteer Fire Department located at 651 Sugar Run Road, Altoona. The featured speaker for the evening will be Robert Payne, an avid fly-fisherman from Loretto.

His presentation will include a fly-tying demonstration of articulated streamers for big trout and bass and a discussion about fishing for larger trout on the Little Juniata River and other local streams. The program is free, and the public is invited to attend.