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Fish On

Fish On

Tis the season. March Madness is fun, but I am only thinking about fishing. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has already placed 3.3 million trout in our many state waterways. Last I heard- the Commonwealth has 697 stocked streams and 129 lakes. Impressive. The PFBC will also coordinate with many others to add an additional one million trout throughout 2024.

The opening day for trout is Saturday, April 6th. Now, many of us purists will fish year-round, but this is when everyone seems to flock to our small towns. Anyone 16 years or older must possess a valid license. They may be purchased online or with your smartphone. Seven hundred retailers here in PA can help.

Pennsylvania will host another Mentored Youth Day on March 30th. One weekend before the opener. This is a fantastic way to help more youngsters get involved — another way to introduce them to the sport. Kids under the age of 16 must obtain a free Mentored Youth Permit from the PFBC and need to be accompanied by a licensed adult. Only those that are considered Youth may catch, play, and fish. The adults are there to simply supervise. Please remember that this event is for the future. Don’t be that guy.

The PFBC plans to stock 2.4 million Rainbows, 700,000 Browns, 120,000 Brook, and 14,000 Golden Rainbows in 2024. Most of these trout are raised in our state-funded nursery. But many other local outfits will help out. The Rainbow is the most popular. They are a very hearty fish. Rainbows are known for their pink or red lateral stripe, a greenish color, dark spots on their tails, and shiny scales. Browns have more of a creamy coffee finish. They have dark and red spots. Browns will have an off-white belly. Brook trout is the official state fish. They are the only native trout in Pennsylvania. They tend to grow small and have a stunning finish. Brooks has a dark body with red and blue halo spots. There is a major difference in color between a wild Brook and a stocked fish. Golden Rainbows are the easiest to identify. They have a deep yellow or orange coloration, and these engineered trout definitely stick out. The Golden Rainbows are a popular target for the younger fisherman. They are very rare and serve as a novelty.

Some folks like to harvest, but I prefer to catch and release. The PFBC offers a few tips to enhance their survival. Use barbless hooks. Try to land your fish as quickly as possible. Always keep the fish in the water. Use gloves or wet your hands. Hold the fish upside down when removing the hooks. Use hemostats or long nose pliers. Always cut the line when a hook is too deep. It will eventually come out. Try not to touch the gills. Allow the fish to swim away under its own power. Hold the fish in a slow current and gently move back and forth until it is ready.

I am looking forward to the 2024 Trout season. OK, I don’t enjoy the crowds, but I love seeing all the youngsters out on our streams. Please take the time to learn all the regulations. Help others who are in need. Remember that fishing is a great activity for all walks of life. I will be following up in the upcoming weeks. Jensen and I are ready. Cheers.