Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission makes the right decision with respect to adult mentors not keeping trout
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission's Mentored Youth Trout Days are a good idea – as demonstrated by the growth in the number of participants. The program has grown from 5,110 kids in 2013, to over 28,000 youths in 2015.
However, last years' expansion of the program to all stocked waters was not perfect, and I'm glad that the Commission just corrected the major problem. Adult mentors should not have been allowed to keep trout then and – hurray – they will not be allowed to creel trout this year.
This change for the better was made NOT because of law breakers, but because of angler suggestions.
Last year, I visited several Centre County trout streams during the Mentored Youth Trout Day and interviewed anglers. Overwhelmingly, the people who I talked with suggested that the adult mentors should not be allowed to keep trout. Some of the dads, moms and granddads were not even fishing – they were helping the youth, which is what the day is supposed to be all about.
I had also fielded a lot of adult complaints about the program prior to last year's expansion of the waters included. To a T, all complaints centered around the idea that mentors would also be able to keep trout. Many of the people to whom I had talked asked that I not use their names because they didn't want to be tagged as opposed to kids fishing.
In fact, any early creeling of trout, by the mentors or youths, is unnecessary and it does subtract from everyone else's "magic" on the opening morning. If you don't understand this, on Mentored Youth Day, imagine driving past the pool where you planned to start on the normal opening day of trout season.
As you pass, you see six youths and six mentors lined up fishing. If the adults are any kind of skilled anglers at all, the pool could easily be minus 24 trout. If you don't think that would make a dent in the success of anglers there on the real opener – just a week away – then you don't fish small streams. On smaller waters, a nice spot might see one bucket of stocked trout at best.
This year, the Mentored Youth Trout Days are March 26 – in 18 southeastern counties – and on April 9, across the remainder of the state. Why not get the free permit (or better yet, an inexpensive voluntary youth license) and take a youth out fishing. However, please carefully release your trout so that they can be enjoyed again by the anglers on the traditional openers.
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