The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commissions fleet of white stocking trucks are on the roll, stocking trout for the March 23 Youth Fishing Day and regional trout opener on March 30 in 18 southeast region waters.
If you’d like to introduce your youngster to the sport of fishing, the Youth Fishing Day is an opportune time for them to experience catching their first trout. It’s also an opportune time since there’s no fishing pressure from adults, and there will be loads of freshly stocked trout to be caught.
The rules for this special day are that youths participating need to have a Mentored Youth Fishing Permit or Voluntary Youth Fishing License. The Mentored Youth Permit is free while the Voluntary Youth License (VYL) is $2.50. ($1.00 cost plus 1.90 to the issuing agent). Both may be gotten at local tackle shops and the Army-Navy store in Whitehall.
The VYL helps both the PF&BC and their youth outreach programs in that the agency gets $5 in federally reimbursed funding for each license sold.
To participate, an adult angler (16 or older) must accompany a youth angler and the adult must have a current fishing license and Trout/Salmon Permit (stamp). Adult anglers may not harvest any trout and must release them unharmed, while youth anglers may harvest up to two trout with a minimum size of seven inches.
If you’re a first time angler and wonder what gear and bait is needed, it’s the old KISS rule. For small youngsters, a push button Zebco type reel on a small compatible rod is how I started my son on his first fishing experience, as this combo is simple to use. But if the reel comes spooled, it’s usually with 10-12-pound test line. Pull most of that out and attach some 4-pound test line. It will cast easier, farther and if getting snagged on underwater rocks or brush, will be easier to break off.
As for bait, simple garden worms, whole corn or stale bread (which is firmer than fresh and will stay on the hook longer) will work. For more exotic fare, fathead minnows and mealworms always tempt a few. Then there’s Berkley’s artificial Power Bait, the scented doughy stuff in a jar that’s good, but can be tough to keep on the hook.
Depending on the stream’s flow speed and depth, a split shot or two pinched about 12 inches above the hook will keep the bait where the trout can see it and the weight will make casting easier with longer distance. And remember when using bait, cast it upstream and allow it to drift downstream with the natural speed of the water.
After all that, just watch the excitement and enjoyment on the youngster’s face when they hook their first trout. If it’s a big one, get ready to net it. Then use your smartphone and take a few memorable, keepsake photo’s.
GIANT CATFISH CAUGHT
If you haven’t heard, one Berks County angler caught a huge 43.78-pound flathead catfish last week in the spillway at Blue Marsh Lake in upper Berks. There have been several reports of large walleye being taken from there as well.
And by the way, unless we get freezing temps again, Leaser Lake is almost void of ice. Only the coves have thin, unsafe ice.
But it will be stocked with trout on March 26, in time for the Youth Fishing Day and the regional trout opener March 30.
There was initial information that Leaser would no longer receive trout stockings because the trout creel return was almost non-existent there. But according to Mike Parker, PF&BC Communications Director, fisheries biologists took a portion of Leaser’s trout allocation and stocked them in Kaercher Creek Lake in upper Berks County. Kaercher, said Parker, is a smaller lake and should have better yield results.
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.