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Hoping Opening Day Wasn’t Washed Out

The first day of trout season in Pennsylvania has been a long-time tradition. It’s a day shared by family and friends to celebrate something near and dear to their hearts. It is a day that many PA anglers dream about on cold winter nights. Chilly temperatures, rain, and even snow go hand in hand with the first cast of the year. So do the fishermen’s breakfasts, sharing time at camp or the cabin, and, of course, the stories of the big ones that got away. Trout fishermen, as a whole, are a pretty loyal bunch and, in most cases, are very conscientious about the waters they fish.

As I pen these words, the 8 a.m. kick-off time is less than 24 hours away. With all the recent rain this past week, the creeks and streams are high, and I wonder how many trout have made it to the Susquehanna River by now. I also wonder how our local lakes and dams have been affected for those fishing there.

The kick-off to trout season also provides a little economic boost to local restaurants, bait shops, and small businesses near fishing destinations. Not as much as in years past, but still important to these businesses in the turbulent economic world of today.

On a much bigger economic level, just imagine the money the state takes in from license sales. Yes, I know many of these sales will still occur later in the fishing season. However, the opening of trout season usually does mark the day many have purchased the adult license for $27.97 and the trout stamp for $14.97. That may seem a little costly to many, and I completely understand that Americans’ wallets are under attack on every purchase. This may even be a contributor to lower license sales. I will give the Pennsylvania State Fish and Boat Commission a little break as all of their costs have also increased.

A quick look at the numbers from a Ken Hunter article earlier in the year shows that there will be 3.2 million trout stocked in 129 lakes and 697 streams. With an additional 800,000 or more released into PA waters by Cooperative Nurseries. This includes over 70,000 trophy trout. That’s a lot of fish.

Pennsylvania has a mentored trout day for those 15 and under that is free as long as the adult mentoring has a valid fishing license and trout stamp that took place March 30th. This is a great way to get the next generation of fishing men and women involved and educated. They also have first shot at one of those trophy trout.

Ken made a great point that trout fishing in Pennsylvania is a little complicated, and the best thing to do is refer to your Pennsylvania Fishing Summary booklet to clarify things. Complete info can also be found online at

Just a few thoughts about taking a child out fishing for the first time, a young person who has not fished before, or maybe a more senior individual looking for a new hobby. They might not have the same ambition or willingness to be out in the cold or fight the high water and wind as you. Believe me, I understand how dedicated many fishermen are, but don’t make their first time out miserable. Remember, this is just a trial run for hopefully some fun.

My thoughts also don’t mean that it has to be a perfect weather day to get out; if safe, a little weather adversity is a good fishing lesson to teach. It’s easy to tell by an icicle hanging off the end of the pole or the chattering of teeth it may be time to call it quits. The key to being a good mentor is that the person you are mentoring and hopefully educating wants to go with you the next time.

Personally, I think I’ll wait for a warm sunny day, a nice farm pond to fish, and my son Jimmy to mentor me. This includes him driving us to the spot so I can nap on the way home. Of course, bating my hook as I did for him when he was young. This also includes removing the hook if I’m lucky enough to catch anything. I always provided a snack and a cold beverage, which, of course, Jimmy can now do for me. I think I’ll request some ice-cold Miller Lites and venison jerky. Maybe on the way home I’ll even let him buy me dinner as I’m a big believer in and taught him to catch and release. Now that’s my idea of a great day of fishing.

On a more serious note, please make sure you leave nothing behind but the fish you didn’t catch. Leave the spot you’re fishing better than you found it, even if you pick up after someone else.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb