HARRISBURG, Pa. – Following a series of winter storms, parents and kids are eagerly awaiting warmer weather and the start of the 2018 fishing season, which kicks off March 24 with the first of two Mentored Youth Trout Days. The second one is set for April 7.
Now in its fifth 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.
“Our goal is to get more kids involved in fishing and to keep them engaged, and one of the best ways to do that is to make the experience as easy as possible for parents and mentors,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “The Mentored Youth Trout Days program does just that and has developed into the premiere spring event for kids, with more than 30,000 participating last year.”
Beginning at 8 a.m. 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 24 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 – March 31 – 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 7, the Saturday before the April 14 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.
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 $1 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.
The PFBC annually stocks approximately 3.15 million adult trout in 720 streams and 126 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.
In addition to these fish, the PFBC plans to stock about 8,700 trophy golden rainbow trout that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long. Also, PFBC cooperative nurseries run by sportsmen’s clubs across the state will add another 1 million trout to waters open to public angling.