New fishing licenses ready for purchase

With the close of deer season yesterday, the process of enduring another winter begins. The late small-game seasons start tomorrow and can offer some opportunities to get outside if the weather cooperates.

And those who still have an unfilled deer tag will also have one last chance to get a deer during the late archery and flintlock seasons at the end of the month. But any way you approach it, spring is a long way off, and I’m already looking forward to fishing again.

The 2019 fishing licenses went on sale Dec. 1. Although I now have a lifetime fishing license, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission won’t sell me a lifetime trout permit, so I still must buy a new trout permit every year. I took care of that business last week to be prepared in case the weather is favorable enough for some trout fishing next month. Fishing licenses also make a good gift for the anglers on your Christmas list.

To make a gift of a 2019 fishing license, simply purchase a voucher for one at any fishing license issuing agent or online at the PFBC website, fishandboat.com. The recipient can then redeem the voucher for a new fishing license.

Following the lead of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the PFBC will now be charging fishing license buyers $3 for a copy of the annual Fishing Summary book of laws and regulations. Unlike the hunting regulation book, which costs $6 and must be ordered by mail, the fishing book can be purchased over the counter from an issuing agent. A digital version of the Fishing Summary can be found online at the PFBC website and printed from a home computer if desired.

Both the PFBC and PGC cite charging for their respective regulation books to be a cost-cutting measure, but that is doubtful at best. Based on the quantity produced and the quality of the paper and printing used, the cost of those regulation books should be no more than 25 or 30 cents a copy. They also sell ads in the reg books, which, as I remember, was supposed to cover all or most of the costs of producing them. What happened to that idea? Well, both agencies outsource the ad sales and receive a small commission on that revenue, while the ad agency keeps most of the money. And the anglers and hunters get handed the fuzzy end of the lollipop again. Both agencies would be advised to adopt “pay more, get less” as their official mottos.

Just in case there are any folks out there who don’t believe they are already paying enough for their fishing licenses and permits and would like to find a way to fork over more of their hard-earned money to the PFBC, I have good news. New this year, the PFBC is offering 16 voluntary permits created to generate revenue “for several key fishing-related programs.” The four types of voluntary permits include a Voluntary Bass Permit, a Voluntary Musky Permit, a Voluntary Habitat/Waterways Conservation Permit and a Voluntary Wild Trout and Enhanced Waters Permit. Each of them is available in a one-, three-, five- or ten-year version. Prices of these permits range from $11.90 each for a one-year Bass, Musky or Conservation permit and $26.90 for a one-year Wild Trout and Enhanced Waters Permit to $101.90 each for a 10-year Bass, Musky or Conservation permit or $251.90 for the 10-year Wild Trout and Enhanced Waters Permit. Buying all of the four one-year permits would cost $62.60, while all four 10-year permits would cost a staggering $557.30.

Now even if you’re already reaching for your wallet or checkbook to volunteer some extra money to the PFBC, you might be wondering just what you will be getting for the purchase of one of these shiny new permits. The answer is simple. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Any money generated from the voluntary permits is to be earmarked for the specific program that permit represents, but “possession of a voluntary permit does not entitle the holder to any additional privileges.”

I would love to have been a fly on the wall at the meeting of the minds that came up with this grand scheme. Even more interesting would be an estimate of how much money they think their permits that permit nothing will actually produce. I would be willing to bet someone a nice steak dinner and a bottle of wine it won’t be enough to offset the annual salary and benefits package of one mid-level PFBC employee.

Fly-tying classes

Tying your own trout flies is a rewarding wintertime hobby for fly anglers, not to mention a great way to fill your fly boxes in the process. Once again this winter, the John Kennedy Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be offering a free fly tying class for beginners starting on Saturday, Jan. 12 and continuing every Saturday through March 2.

The classes will be held at the Allegheny Volunteer Fire Department located at 651 Sugar Run Rd, Altoona, from 9 a.m. until noon.

The chapter will provide the necessary tools and materials. The class size is limited to 30 participants, register as soon as possible if you wish to attend. For more information or to register, contact Dan Beck at 942-6971 or Jerry Green at 934-7046 or email the chapter at johnkennedytu@gmail.com.

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