HARRISBURG, Pa. – This winter’s unseasonably warm weather has parents and kids eagerly awaiting the start of the 2017 fishing season, which kicks off March 25 with the first of two Mentored Youth Trout Days. The second one is set for April 8.
Now in its fourth year, the popular program provides adult mentors with an opportunity to take kids fishing before the traditional rush of the regional and statewide opening days of trout season.
“The Mentored Youth Trout Days program has developed into our premiere spring event for kids,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Pennsylvania is a trout state and we have a rich history of celebrating the opening days with family and friends. The mentored youth program adds another chapter to this history by focusing solely on kids. It’s an opportunity to show them that fishing if fun and to promote active outdoor recreation.”
Last year, more than 25,600 kids signed up to participate, either by purchasing a $1 voluntary youth fishing license or by acquiring a free mentored youth fishing permit.
On these two days, participants can fish in any PFBC stocked trout water. Kids can keep two trout, which must measure at least seven inches. Mentors must have a fishing license and trout stamp. Because the program is focused on kids, adult mentors are encouraged to fish with the children and provide encouragement and tips, but they must release their catch to the water unharmed.
The March 25 Mentored Youth Trout Day takes place in 18 southeastern counties, including: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York.
The following weekend – April 1 – kicks off the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season in the same 18 southeastern counties.
A second Mentored Youth Trout Day will be held on April 8, the Saturday before the April 15 statewide opening day of trout season.
A majority of the trout waters will be stocked in advance of the mentored youth days. But some of the waters may not be stocked in time due to weather, water conditions and scheduling logistics. Also, special regulation areas, like Catch and Release Fly-Fishing Only or Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only, are not included in the mentored youth program.
“It’s important for anglers to visit the PFBC stocking page for an updated list so they know exactly what waters are being stocked,” added Arway. “We want mentors and kids to have fun and to catch fish, so we don’t want them to inadvertently show up at waters which have not been stocked.”
For anglers with smartphones, an even easier way to view the stocking schedules is through the FishBoatPA app, which is available for free from the Apple App and Google Play stores.
The PFBC annually stocks approximately 3.15 million adult trout in more than 720 streams and 120 lakes open to public angling. These figures include approximately 2 million rainbow trout; 640,000 brown trout; and 500,000 brook trout. As with past practice, the average size of the trout produced for stocking is 11 inches in length.
To participate, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid fishing license and trout/salmon permit and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit, or a voluntary youth fishing license. Both are available at www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the more than 900 licensing agents across the state.
For every voluntary youth license sold, the PFBC will receive approximately $5 in federal revenue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Act program, which provides funds to states based on a formula that includes the number of licenses a state sells. All revenues earned from a voluntary youth fishing license will be dedicated to youth fishing programs.