Sunday, February 26, 2017

PA Sportsmen Already Paying The Price

By Bob Frye, Tribune-Review
You walk into your doctor's office with a bullet hole in one leg, stab wounds in your chest, severe burns on your feet and, what the heck, let's throw in a doozy of a hangnail, too.
Clearly, you need care.
And your doctor's response?
He asks if you've been taking your vitamins. He wonders if you've considered getting more exercise. He suggests you fundraise to buy bandages and promises you baby aspirin, maybe, later, if you can convince the neighbors you need them.
That's how Pennsylvania lawmakers treated sportsmen last week.
The executive directors of the Pennsylvania Game and Fish and Boat commissions delivered their annual reports to the members of the House of Representatives game and fisheries committee. As expected, both spent a significant portion of their time asking for money.
Hunting and furtaking license prices haven't changed since 1999; fishing licenses not since 2005.
Increasingly, that's leading to consequences.
The Game Commission has already closed two pheasant farms, something that will mean 50,000 fewer pheasants ­­— at least — for hunters this fall. Next up, said executive director Matt Hough, might be the shuttering of the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and Howard Nursery, which provides trees and shrubs for game lands.
The Fish and Boat Commission, meanwhile, will have no choice but to make “deep program cuts” starting in 2018 without additional revenue, said executive director John Arway. It's likely some of those will come via hatcheries, he warned.
Both agencies are short on law enforcement officers — the front line against poaching — and may get shorter, the directors said.
That's all on lawmakers.
Only they can increase prices. The fact that they haven't in so long is, as Wes Waldron of the United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania said recently, “at best unconscionable.”
What's the holdup?
Naked self preservation.
Lawmakers didn't display any animus toward the commissions, unlike in times past. But they danced all around the fee issue.
They quizzed the agencies on whether they're cutting costs. They suggested other ways of raising revenue, like selling permits to allow people to use ATVs on game lands. One offered to propose giving each $1 million in general tax money — something that's unprecedented — to tide them over until something, meaning who knows what, changes.
That's all fine as far as it goes. The commissions should be pressured to be efficient and creative.
But none of those ideas will solve their problems or help sportsmen.
Several lawmakers said they understand that and have heard virtually every statewide sportsmen's group say they favor fee hikes.
But they also made clear they won't risk votes back home to do anything about it, not until the commissions can somehow prove an even wider groundswell of support.
Enough's enough.
No one likes paying more for anything. But the time's come.
Sportsmen who value fish and wildlife and the recreation they provide must tell lawmakers to properly our natural resource agencies.
If not, we'll all pay the price in other ways.
Bob Frye is the Tribune-Review outdoors editor. Reach him at 412-216-0193 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rest In Peace Tony Dan

Long time club member, kitchen master and one of our hardest working members Tony Dan passed away this past week.

Anthony "Tony" Guy Dan, 74, of Valencia passed away Sunday at UPMC Passavant. 
Born Oct. 15, 1942, he was the son of the late Guy and Laura Dan.
Tony was a graduate of Har-Brack High School, Class of 1960. He attended Duff's Business School, Forbes Trail Technical School and the University of Pittsburgh. Tony worked on mainframe computers for 45 years. He enjoyed oldies, camping, hunting, campfires and fishing.

He leaves behind two sons, Adam (Erin Maxa) Dan and Eric (Sunshine Centennial) Dan; and three grandchildren, Isaac, Ellis and Liam Dan.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 35 years, Ida Mary Dravis Dan; his sister, Adelaide Dan Robins; his half brother, George Altmas; and his half sister, Sally Nolker. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Catch trout with the bugs of late winterx`

By John Hayes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When the last gusts of winter have yet to blow, and the first rays of spring sunshine are still weeks away, macroinvertabrates already are active in streams across Pennsylvania and most of the eastern United States.

Greg Hoover, an author, fly fisherman and recently retired Penn State entomologist will talk about early season fly fishing Feb. 19 at Cabin Fever, an annual fly fishing expo benefiting Penn’s Woods West Trout Unlimited at the Marriott Pittsburgh North in Cranberry.

“A lot of people I think don’t know that you can [fly fish] all year long,” he said. “To be effective, folks should be prepared with patterns imitating the various life stages of the common Big Three groups.”

It’s no surprise that mayfly, caddisfly and stonefly nymphs drifted slowly near the bottom of the deepest pools can draw winter strikes.

“I would expect some Slender Winter Stoneflies to work -- just a few millimeters wide, very narrow in body profile and a total length that may not exceed a half inch,” Hoover said. “Also try a Little Black Stonefly Nymph, size 16 or 18, fished very slowly on the bottom.”

Before the spring rains, native trout and even stocked holdovers can be tempted by well-played wet flies, he said.

“One good subsurface imitation is the Zebra Midge. It imitates a wide range of midge pupae, and size 18 or 20 can be effective,” he said. “Midges emerge 13 months of the year, but [in winter] when we have thaw days, the pupa stage swims to the surface.”

It may seem counterintuitive that in the slow-metabolism months of late winter trout would sacrifice energy to chase minnows. But Hoover said it can be a good time of year to tie on streamers.

“The bigger adult fish are coming out of a period of spawning,” he said. “They’re really aggressive. Recovering is causing them to look for big chunks of protein.”

Try 3- to 5-inch streamers with articulated shanks and long tails.

“You’re fishing them slow, not really stripping them through the water like a baitfish would move in May or June,” he said. “Before spring sets in, try fishing streamers when we get high-water events. Fish them in the eddies and along the banks.”

Soon after ice-out, trout start looking to the surface for food. A difference of even a couple of degrees can determine when and where liftoff might occur.

“Sometimes on the same river, one stretch will have nothing happening and another will have a hatch. One stretch they’ll be eating females and on another they’ll be eating males,” Hoover said. “Mayfly emergence begins with males — for fly fishermen that’s the Red Quill. When the water gets warmer you get females, imitated by the Hendrickson. Even early in the spring, be ready with both.”

People have been tying fur and feathers to “angles” in hopes of catching trout since ancient times. What actually triggers feeding and preference remains a mystery.

“It’s easier in May and June to know what the hatch will be. Earlier than that, in March and April, sometimes you have to be ready for just about anything,” Hoover said.

Don’t have what the fish want? Improvise. Even in late winter, when patterns are fished slowly and deliberately, approximations can work.

“If it’s a choice between having the right color or the right size, go with size,” he said. “Say a trout is near the bottom and when it looks up, the insect is in its window of vision. What it’s seeing is the outline of the insect — seldom is the color apparent when viewed from below.”

Cabin Fever opens 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 19 at Marriott Pittsburgh North, 100 Cranberry Woods Drive, Cranberry. 724-772-3700, Admission $10, 12 and under free.

Greg Hoover speaks on Pennsylvania entomology at 2 p.m., and presents a tying demo at 3 p.m.