Fish and Boat Commission expected president facing scrutiny, criticism

Glade Squires is expected to be named the president of the Fish and Boat Commission Board of Commissioners. His selection comes with much scrutiny and criticism.
Glade Squires is expected to be named the president of the Fish and Boat Commission Board of Commissioners. His selection comes with much scrutiny and criticism. Photo provided

Glade Squires has been a very outspoken — and at times contentious — member of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. He was sworn in as a commissioner in October 2010, and is the commission’s current vice president.

Come Tuesday, Squires will likely become the new president of the Board of Commissioners.

What can anglers expect from a Squires-led Commission?

Based on past performance during meeting discussions and his voting record with the commission, Squires has been a strong proponent of the agency’s Cooperative Trout Nursery program and he has opposed what he believes are restrictive fishing regulations. If there is a Class A Wild Trout Stream that he thinks should be stocked, you can count on Squires to vote in favor or even propose the motion.

At the commission’s January meeting Squires made a motion to continue stocking hatchery trout into two newly-designated Class A Wild Trout stream sections — section 14 of Fishing Creek in Clinton County and section 5 of Kishacoquillas Creek in Mifflin County. This was also the staff recommendation for these stream sections.

Squires has been particularly vocal in complaining about the Class A, Trophy-Trout-Artificial-Lures-Only management of a section of Saucon Creek that flows through a park in Bethlehem, Northampton County — within his district. Squires claims that these regulations — which prohibit bait fishing — essentially preclude families and children from fishing in the creek. Even though the stream is loaded with naturally-reproduced brown trout, he proposed stocking the section with rainbow trout and allowing bait fishing.

All of this has made friends with one group of anglers, but put Squires at odds with some fly anglers and many wild trout advocates. Rightly or wrongly so, he has taken a lot of flak on fly-fishing message boards. Chaz MacDonald recently posted on paflyfish about a Squires’ PFBC presidency, “… in my book he will set back fishing in PA 100 years.”

The Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide ran this statement in their June-July 2016 issue: “If … Glade Squires is elected president of the Commission at the July meeting as expected, his avowed mission is to completely do away with all special regulations areas and downgrade any Class A wild trout streams so that they can be temporarily filled with stockers.”

One commissioner even shared privately, “Watch out when Squires is president, there will be a war against wild trout.”

I had the privilege of interviewing Squires a few days ago. When asked about these accusations and other important matters facing the Commission, a different picture seemed to emerge.

Saucon Creek: “I brought that before the Commission because I received a petition from local residents who wanted a change,” Squires said. “We addressed Saucon Park because of their request. We are going to discuss that at our next meeting, but I really don’t believe that there will be any change in Saucon Park. I am not personally disappointed about this, but I think that it will be a disappointment to the people who brought the petition.”

What about you threatening to take a group of kids fishing bait in Saucon Creek — defying the special regulations?: “There was resistance from a number of areas for the Commission to even consider the petition about Saucon Park,” Squires explained. “We live in a democracy and the Commission also runs that way. I think that everyone has a right to question things. That statement was just me planting a flag — telling those individuals that we would listen and that we would explore options and allow staff and others to determine what is the best course.”

Criticism in Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide: “My first response is to laugh, because none of us commissioners would have that level of authority to do [away with special regulations and downgrade Class A waters]. It is completely up to staff. Staff makes recommendations about regulations and brings them before the commissioners. My past comments about special regulations have probably been misconstrued. That quote [from the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide] is totally off base.”

Special regulations: “I feel that our regulations are rather complicated for people to figure out where they can fish and where they can’t. When you are trying to figure where you are on a stream, the special regulations have put a layer of complexity into it. I would support simplifying regulations and I’d like to see a more specific description of where each area is. People need to know exactly where they are whether they are fishing flies, bait or artificial lures. There has been a good first cut, but I think that there is more work to be done to simplify regulations. I’m showing my age, but I remember when the regulation booklet was real small. You could put it in your tackle box or fishing vest.

“I’ve been out patrolling with conservation officers that have come across people in special regulations areas — maybe they parked somewhere else and just wandered in. Some were written up because they took fish out with bait and some were warned because they hadn’t kept any fish. They always say, ‘I don’t know where I am supposed to be.’ We need to find a way to simplify the regulations and get rid of the complexity.”

What about wild trout?: “I think that [classifying streams Wild Trout or Class A Wild Trout] is a great thing. The effort to identify these streams has been tremendous, and we have had help from a number of individuals and colleges. The real driver has been the development of the gas industry. I think that it is great that we can identify these streams and put them aside and protect them. It seems like we have 99 new ones to classify each meeting, and the list continues to grow. I think that this is completely in line with the mission of the Fish and Boat Commission.”

Stocking Class A Wild Trout Waters: “I have voted to stock some class A waters because I think that those sections of streams have demonstrated that they could be stocked and that there was a balance between the wild and the stocked trout. It is a matter of providing angling opportunities. The stream has shown that it can be stocked and still have wild trout, so I think that it is important to maintain that balance.”

Interviewing Squires proved to be an interesting exchange regarding commission practices. However, I have to say that certainly left me wondering.

Is Squires the anti-wild-trout, anti-special-regulations guy who might set trout fishing back a century, or he is a mild-mannered pragmatist who will help guide the Commission into the future? Will the “real” Glade Squires please stand up?

Mark Nale, who lives in the Bald Eagle Valley, is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and can be reached at MarkAngler@aol.com