Scrapbook Photo 11/28/20 - Ben & Sharon Peckman, Slate Ridge Dairy Farm, Franklin County Receive Leopold Conservation Award:
Pine Creek Watershed Survey Evaluates Angler Use, Harvest, Management Practices

The strong attraction of anglers to Pine Creek will be examined in a streamside survey starting Saturday along the celebrated waterway, whose diverse fishery and rugged, natural beauty embody the Pennsylvania Wilds.

More than 30 miles of Pine Creek - from Slate Run to near Jersey Shore, Lycoming County - will be part of the angler survey by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Penn State University.

"For more than 100 years, cold, clean water, unspoiled beauty and excellent fishing have drawn anglers to the Pine Creek watershed," said DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis. "Because the waterway flows through two state forest districts, DCNR and the Fish and Boat Commission are working together to better understand what fish species Pine Creek anglers seek, how they fish for them, and how they view current regulations.

"Input from stream surveys, as well as more in-depth, follow-up mailings, may help shape possible future fishery management and regulation changes by the Fish and Boat Commission that will better protect the resource, while taking into account angler sentiments," Secretary DiBerardinis said.

"Before effecting any fishery changes along Pine Creek, the Fish and Boat Commission must evaluate the population dynamics of fish species and determine angler use," said Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Doug Austen.

"Because implications of management decisions are complex and far-reaching, the Fish and Boat Commission and DCNR staff want to improve our understanding of the biological and social dimensions of Pine Creek watershed management," Austen said. "Resource protection is most important but, from a social perspective, it is critical to recognize and appreciate the current angler use and input as it relates to different fish species, fishing opportunities and regulations.

"Findings of this project will allow both agencies to set best management practices using the current biological and social factors of the watershed."

Secretary DiBerardinis said anglers, as well as local businesses serving them, express conflicting perspectives on how trout fishing in Pine Creek and its tributaries should be managed.

"Because of the large DCNR-managed lands in the area, our staff is constantly asked about fishing regulations, access, parking and other related topics, so it's appropriate that the two agencies work together on this project, he said."

Fishing on the lower, warm-water portion of Pine Creek is less understood, but anglers are known to target smallmouth bass, rock bass, and walleyes. A significant nighttime fishery may exist. Little is known about warm-water anglers' level of effort or preferences for different fish species.

The survey area of Pine Creek will stretch from Route 220 upstream to the mouth of Slate Run. From April through October, data will be collected using a streamside angler survey combined with a follow-up mail survey.

Trained survey clerks randomly will interview anglers on various stream segments and at different times. Questions will focus on angler distribution, tackle used, favorite fishing times and species sought. Travel characteristics, economic impact of Pine Creek angling, reaction to rules and regulation, and a variety of other angler information also will be logged.

Draining much of Tioga and Lycoming counties, Pine Creek and the gorge it forms are a centerpiece of the 12-county Pennsylvania Wilds and a well-known National Natural Landmark. Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area follows the stream 12 miles within the Tioga State Forest, and the entire gorge stretches more than 40 miles through both Tioga and Tiadaghton state forests.

A multi-use rail trail parallels the stream for more than 60 miles, ending at Jersey Shore, Lycoming County. Four state parks are along or near the waterway: Colton Point and Leonard Harrison in Tioga County, and Little Pine and Upper Pine Bottom in Lycoming County.

For more information on the Pine Creek watershed, visit the DCNR PA Wilds webpage.


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