More free fishing on the horizon
In order to encourage more people to develop an interest in the sport of fishing, and to rekindle interest among former anglers who have discontinued the pastime, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has, for many years, offered “Fish for Free Days” on the state’s lakes and streams.
Last Sunday, May 24, was Pennsylvania’s first of two Fish for Free Days in 2020. Fish for Free Days are days on which a trout/salmon and Lake Erie permit are not required for any resident or non-resident to fish within the state, but fishermen are required to abide by all the PFBC’s other rules and regulations, such as creel limits and minimum size for fish kept.
The PFBC’s second Fish for Free Day this year will be Saturday, July 4.
Jerimiah Spade, 41, of Altoona is a big fan of the event.
“I think it’s nice,” Spade said of the free fishing day while casting a line into the lake at Canoe Creek State Park last Sunday. “It gets people introduced to fishing who ordinarily might not be interested.
“Some people might not have the time to fish, and some other people may not be able to afford to buy a license,” Spade added. “Hopefully, these days introduce people to the sport.”
Spade needed no introduction to fishing. He began fishing early in his life, at the age of 5. He hadn’t bought a 2020 fishing license as of last Sunday, but said that he was planning to do so.
He appreciated the fact that he could fish for free last Sunday.
“I usually get a license, I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I’m going to buy one real soon,” said Spade, who was fishing the lake with his fiancee, Jen Love, 22, also of Altoona. “It’s nice just to be out in the fresh air.”
Until last Sunday, Love hadn’t gone fishing for over a decade. She said that she just enjoys being near the water, and the Fish for Free Day gave her an opportunity to do that.
“I normally don’t fish, I’m a big hunter, but whatever makes him happy, makes me happy,” Love said, alluding to Spade. “This is my first time doing the Fish for Free (Day), and it’s the first time that I’ve fished since I was 11 years old.
“I’m a water freak,” Love said. “I normally swim, and I love the water, and this gives me a chance to be at a place that I love.”
Several other people at the lake at Canoe Creek State Park last Sunday were also taking advantage of the free fishing opportunity, but they declined to be interviewed by the Mirror.
One other person who was willing to go on the record about the fishing experience was Crystal Nolan of Altoona, who was fishing with her fiance, Randy Burket, 49, and her son, C.J., 21, also both of Altoona.
Burket and C.J. Nolan had purchased fishing licenses this season. Crystal Nolan had not purchased a license, and she appreciated the privilege, for one day, of being able to fish without one.
“I love being out here in the fresh air, this gives me more time to spend with my boys,” Crystal Nolan said, referencing her son and fiance. “It’s relaxing, and I like the conversation. It’s a nice family day.”
Crystal Nolan said that she plans to repeat the experience when July 4 rolls around.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have the time to fish, so why should they want to buy a license?” she said. “This gives everybody another reason to just get out and enjoy nature.”