THE PROBLEM: “The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission wants to address the problems caused by nighttime bow fishing, which has become extremely popular on the lower Susquehanna River in recent years,” reported the writer of outdoors PJ Reilly in the Sunday LNP | Lancasters online. According to “agency officials, most bowfishing complaints in Pennsylvania come from the south-central region, which includes Lancaster and York counties under the state division of the Fish and Boat Commission”. Reilly reported that the lower Susquehanna – particularly from Washington Boro north to Harrisburg – “is one of the most popular areas in Pennsylvania for bow fishing, and there are many houses and camps along the river in this stretch”.
We’ve always thought of fishing as a peaceful, almost contemplative activity that allows us to enjoy nature while trying to catch dinner.
Night bow fishing is clearly different.
Bowfishing is exactly what it sounds like: it’s hunting fish with a bow and arrow. (Under state law, bowfishing is limited to catching carp, suckers, and catfish.)
Like NL | LancasterOnline outdoor columnist Ad Crable explained in a 2010 article that bowfishing is like “stalking a deer but it’s a fish. It’s like trying to land a big game fish but with a bow fitted with a fishing reel.
It’s a “combination of hunting and fishing” that some people find addictive, Crable noted.
It has also become a headache for people who live in homes along the lower Susquehanna River.
“The biggest complaint that law enforcement receives is the number of houses lit up by this activity,” Col. Clyde Warner, director of the Office of Law Enforcement for the Fisheries and Oceans Commission, told PJ Reilly. state ships.
Another common complaint is the excessive noise from the generators that power the special lights used for bow fishing.
As Reilly explained, “boats specially equipped for bow fishing have a series of lights mounted on the sides and front to illuminate the water around the boat where anglers shoot arrows at fish. To power these lights, boat operators often use gasoline-powered generators, which can be noisy.”
Noise and light make the nights unpleasant.
If we lived in a house along the lower Susquehanna, we would also be annoyed by nighttime noise and lights. Especially if we had young children and/or dogs.
We therefore commend the Fish and Boat Commission for granting preliminary approval to three new rules targeting bowfishing.
Reilly outlined the new rules under consideration:
– The first rule would make “bowfishing, spearfishing and jigging illegal on all specially regulated trout waters, such as those classified as Catch and Release All Tackle, Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only and Trophy Trout All Tackle , among others”. (We admit we first read this as a “laugh” and were momentarily confused.)
“In Lancaster County, these waters would be the Catch-and-Release, Fly-Fishing Only sections of Donegal Creek and West Branch Octoraro Creek.”
The purpose of this rule, Reilly noted, would be to “minimize conflicts between bowfishers and trout anglers on waters designated specifically for trout fishing.”
— The second rule would prohibit the use of generators whose sound level exceeds 90 decibels during bow fishing on boats.
Noise pollution can be unpleasant and disturbing no matter where it comes from.
– The third proposed rule would declare, under the section of the state law that deals with bow fishing gear, that it is illegal to shine a light from any type of craft directly at any occupied building or boat.
As Reilly pointed out, existing law already states that it is illegal to use mooring lights while underway, “except when mooring and the boat is moving at a slow speed, without a wake and is within 100 feet of the approach to a dock, mooring buoy, or shore.”
Under the law, he noted, a searchlight is defined as a “mooring light.”
But the Fish and Boat Commission wants to highlight illegal lighting in the bowfishing rules section.
“Ideally, boats with lights specially equipped for bow fishing only shine downwards,” Reilly explained. “But sometimes they throw light horizontally on the water.” And sometimes, “fishermen simply shine the spotlight on areas where they are looking for fish.”
According to Reilly’s report, some commissioners are concerned that adding a new lights rule to the bow fishing regulations will make it look like lighting a house is legal as long as you’re not fishing. not bow.
So the wording may need to be adjusted before a final vote, which could happen when commissioners meet in late April.
The commissioners said they wanted to get public comment on what’s being proposed, and we think that’s smart – and, frankly, should be part of any rule-making process in government.
We imagine that many homeowners who reside along the Susquehanna have been drawn to riverside living by its peaceful pleasures, and are therefore annoyed with having to deal with disturbances. We would be too.
According to the previous LNP | LancasterOnline reporting bowfishing has also generated complaints because irresponsible bowfishermen illegally dumped injured fish along the river, leaving the fish to rot; responsible archers also complained.
We hope the fish are not killed and then discarded illegally. We hope that edible fish will be consumed and not wasted. If anglers want to fish with bows, they must do so in a way that allows them to coexist peacefully with other people.
If bow fishing is to be practiced ethically, it must be regulated. Kudos to the National Fisheries and Boats Commission for seeking to tighten the rules.