Most of the Keystone State's stocked trout streams have been closed to fishing since March 1. The opening day of Pennsylvania's trout season – or more specifically when all stocked trout streams open for fishing – will occur in 16 southeastern and southcentral counties on April 4, and for the remainder of the state the big day is April 18.
Traditionally these have been long awaited days – days for all anglers to have an opportunity to fish over relatively large populations of uneducated stocked trout.
That will not quite be the case this year. The anglers getting the first crack at the stocked trout will be those participating in the mentored youth trout fishing days that occur on the Saturday one week prior to each respective opening day.
This year, for the first time, all "approved trout waters" (stocked trout streams) will be open to the adult mentors and registered youth for one day. Both the adult mentor and the youth are allowed to keep two trout each. This is an experiment.
Some fishermen fear that these mentored youth days will foster cheating and take away the "magic" from the traditional opening days. It is true that fewer trout will be available on the traditional openers, but I suspect that a noticeable impact on opening day success will be variable. This will depend on the weather on the mentored youth days, as well as their participation on specific stream sections. Only time will tell if the mentored youth days will dampen opening day success.
To participate in a mentored youth fishing day, anglers 16 years of age or older must possess a 2015 Pennsylvania fishing license and a 2015 trout stamp and be accompanied by a youth under 16 years of age. The youth must have either a free mentored youth fishing permit or the voluntary youth fishing license, which costs $2.70. These can be obtained at issuing agents.
The agency hopes that anglers will spend the couple of dollars to purchase the voluntary youth license. For each $2.70 license purchased, the commission receives back about $5 in reimbursement from the federal excise tax on fishing equipment.
According to the commission, the intent of the mentored youth days is for one mentor to legally fish with each registered youth.
So what are you waiting for? Get the free permit for a youngster (or better yet, buy him or her a voluntary youth license) and plan to fish on one or both of the mentored youth days.