With the Saturday, April 13, opening of the statewide trout season approaching, many anglers are making plans to travel north and visit traditional fishing spots.

One of the most popular of those spots is Penns Creek, and as good as the trout fishing is on this well-known water, if a proposed regulatory change by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is finalized – as expected – next year, the future of this pristine fishery will be preserved.

For generations, both resident and non-resident trout anglers have traveled to Centre County for day trips and extended outings on Penns Creek. Expect that influx of anglers to continue as they can reasonably expect to regularly catch trophy size trout because of a proposed regulation change approved earlier this year by the PFBC board of commissioners.

With the commissioners approving notice of proposed rulemaking to establish a harvest slot limit on Section 03 of Penns Creek, which stretches from the confluence with Elk Creek downstream seven miles to 650 yards downstream of Swift Run, the harvest slot limit would replace the current All-Tackle Trophy Trout regulations.

This change is designed to improve the size structure of the wild trout population in this section.

According to PFBC Division of Fisheries Management chief Dave Miko, under the proposed special regulation, anglers could harvest two trout per day provided the trout are at least seven inches, but less than 12 inches in length.

This regulation would apply from opening day of trout season through Labor Day, with catch-and-release only for the remainder of the year and all tackle being permitted.

"Penns Creek provides a unique opportunity to evaluate a new special regulation on a productive limestone stream," Miko said. "The new regulation would direct limited harvest to intermediate-sized fish while protecting larger fish in the population, and the other components of the new regulation are the same as the current regulation.

"The productive nature of Penns Creek provides ideal conditions to allow for a favorable response of the wild brown trout population to trend toward larger sizes than may be occurring under the current regulations. The proposed regulation strives to meet the biological objectives for the fishery as well as the preferences of anglers and landowners."

This proposed special regulation was officially published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, and if – some say, "when" – it is approved at a subsequent board meeting, the special regulation would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, for a seven-year period ending Dec. 31, 2020.

During this time, the trout population would be monitored to determine the effectiveness of the regulation at meeting biological and social objectives for the Penns Creek fishery.

Clearly, with the Southeast Region opening of trout season Saturday, March 30, and the statewide opening day Saturday, April 13, trout fishing is on the minds of most anglers.

They need not be reminded as to the importance of trout in Pennsylvania, which is why this year the PFBC added a combined total of 17 waters in Armstrong, Cambria, Clarion, Elk, Fayette, Schuylkill, Somerset and Wyoming counties to the list of wild trout streams.

In addition, four stream sections in Cambria, Fayette, Somerset and Wyoming counties have been added to the list of Class A wild trout streams. Complete listings of the streams in both categories are available by accessing the PFBC website at http://m1e.net/c?49541033-X3BdDXmoGzELA%408389580-eXnTXROBpZAHI.