Catch a Fish in Your Mouth, Go to Jail

AP-Emil Svetahor has worked for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission for almost three decades and has yet to nab anybody trying to catch a fish with his mouth.

Call a Cop? — Pennsylvania authorities rarely cite anglers for violating a state law that prohibits people from catching fish in their mouth. Properly licensed cats are presumably exempted.

But it is against the law in Pennsylvania to use your mouth, your hands or dynamite to catch fish. Anglers who use their hands are usually the ones who get cited under this statute.

“It’s not used that often,” explained Svetahor, law enforcement supervisor for the Southwest Region. “Sometimes people get frustrated trying to catch them and jump in, (and) start throwing them up on shore.”

However, if he ever does find some angler with a trout in his mouth, he’ll hand him a $100 fine, Svetahor said.

Pennsylvania — like many other states — has numerous old laws on the books that are no longer enforced. It is illegal, for example, to sleep on a refrigerator outdoors. And no married man can legally buy alcohol without written permission from his wife.

The state periodically does a housecleaning of old bills, said Robert W. Zech Jr., director of the Legislative Reference Bureau in Harrisburg. The Legislature repealed a number of statutes in 1982 and 1992 — but many more of those odd, archaic laws live on.

The laws, many of which date to the 1700s, can be difficult to research, said Joel Fishman, assistant director of the Allegheny County Law Library.

Fishman said he’s only asked about the refrigerator law about once a year — “usually by a reporter.”


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Filed under Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Sailing News

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