My first order of business this week is to correct an error I made in the first paragraph of last week's column in which I erroneously listed the first day of the statewide trout season as April 5.
The correct date for our trout opener is April 12, of course, and quite a few folks reminded me of my mistake last week. I am extremely careful when reporting such details, and in more than 25 years, I believe that is the first time I got a date wrong. I sincerely apologize for any confusion it caused.
To be honest, April 5 was to be the first Mentored Youth Fishing Day for most of the state this year, which I also covered in last week's column, but the second order of business this week is to provide an important update regarding that event. The April 5 youth day was scheduled for 29 designated lakes and ponds throughout Pennsylvania.
My remark was something like "Hopefully, the ice will be gone from these waters in time for the youth day." The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission wasn't so optimistic about having ice-out on those waters and early last week officially canceled the early youth day and rescheduled the event for May 10.
All of the rules in place for the original fishing day will still apply to the May event, which means anglers under the age of 16 must have either a Mentored Youth Fishing Permit or Voluntary Youth Fishing License and be accompanied by an angler 16 years of age or older who possesses a valid Pennsylvania fishing license and current trout/salmon permit.
The Mentored Youth Fishing Permit is free, and the Voluntary Youth Fishing License costs $2.70. Either of these can be obtained at any fishing license issuing agent or online at www.GoneFishingPA.com.
Having the special youth day on a few selected waters the week before the regular opening of trout season was intended to provide some extra incentive for kids and their mentors to get out fishing. Therefore, I'm sure many folks might be wondering why anyone would bother getting a permit or paying for a "voluntary" youth license for the youth day in May when all kids under 16 can fish anywhere for any kind of fish without any special paperwork. As an enticement to participate in the rescheduled Mentored Youth Fishing Day, the PFBC will stock an extra batch of trout in each of the 41 designated youth day waters throughout the state.
All the Mentored Youth Fishing Day waters will then be closed to all fishing from noon May 9 until 8 a.m. on May 10. From 8 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., only youths with the proper permit and their adult mentors will be permitted to fish on Mentored Youth Fishing Day waters.
Both the young angler and his or her mentor or mentors are permitted to fish on the youth day, and each angler is permitted to keep two trout. After 7:30 p.m., those waters will again be open to all anglers. The lakes in our area that are designated for the Mentored Youth Fishing Day include: Lake Rowena in Cambria County; Cold Stream Dam in Centre County; Janesville Dam and Parker Lake at Parker Dam State Park in Clearfield County, and Whipple Lake at Whipple Dam State Park in Huntingdon County. For the list of all the Mentored Youth Fishing Day waters around the state, check www.GoneFishingPA.com.
It will be interesting to see just how successful this restructured youth day will be this year. At the very least, there are likely to be folks who show up for a regular day of fishing at some of the designated waters, only to learn they cannot because of the youth event. Hopefully any such confusion will be kept to a minimum.
I would also like to remind all the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts or friends who might have an aspiring young angler in their life that there is no need to wait for a "special" day to take a young person fishing. A few hours spent together on the water can be a rewarding experience for all of those involved, and watching someone catch his or her first fish is a life memory both of you will always remember.
And a day of fishing needn't be just about fish either. Take time to allow your young fishing partners to learn and appreciate the natural world around them.