Mentored Youth Trout season opens Saturday

From checking the selection of mealworms, fishing worms and grubs, to wetting a line, it’s all part of having fun when fishing.

Trout streams are looking good. Snow that accumulated during the first part of the month has been slowly melting.

Yes, streams were bank full for a while, yet not flood stage.

As daytime temperatures began to rise during daylight hours, then drop below freezing overnight, the melt-off of snow remained consistent. And for the most part, streams have remained within their banks.

Across the region, the few patches of snow cover that remained a week or so ago have quickly given way to spring-like conditions. On some North facing slopes, depending on the elevation, patches of white may still be seen. The slow melt-off continues to contribute to maintaining cool water temperatures trout thrive in.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission began stocking trout under its accelerated schedule. The goal has been to have most waters stocked in advance of the Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day.

The Mentored Youth Day, a one-day event, will take place on Saturday, March 27. The statewide opening day of trout season is slated for April 3.

Most streams will be well-stocked again this year. The PF&BC expects to place 3.2 million trout statewide.

The Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day provides a “special day” for young anglers. And there is value in that.

Introducing a child to fishing can lead to a lifetime of adventures and experiences. This coming Saturday provides a great starting point for the adventure to begin.

Yet for many youngsters, the experience has already begun. The journey may have begun while ice fishing. Or in other cases, it’s those visits to a stream recently stocked. Simply walking the streambanks looking for fish and talking about fishing helps to build excitement when returning will be with rod and reel in hand.

Early on, the fishing gear our kids were outfitted with was basic. Each was provided a Zebco 202 spincast combination rod and reel. While considered a basic, the closed face reel was easy to operate and with a bit of coaching, the combo worked just fine.

It is highly recommended to do some backyard fishing prior to going streamside. The backyard experience will pay off big time when it’s time to put some line in the water and actually begin fishing.

Along with the fundamentals of fishing, it is important to include the basics of safety. Looking around before casting and making sure of your footing while along the water’s edge, and the list goes on.

And by all means focus on the child. To do so includes leaving the electronic devices turned off and safely stowed away.

Be sure to fish well-stocked waters. The trout opener provides plenty of great streams to fish, many of which are close to home.

There will be times when the act of fishing may seem boring. It may take a while for the fish to bite. Remind your child to keep the line in the water. But when a fish takes the bait, that is when another level of excitement begins. And be prepared.

As the line begins to vibrate with a fish on the end of the line, talk to your young partner about what it means to catch a fish and guide them through the experience. Also, always keep a landing net nearby to safely retrieve the fish from the water.

Remember to watch the child. After all, kids have a shorter attention span than adults. Some youngsters may want to quit fishing sooner than others, often depending on how the fish are biting.

Don’t forget to take a break and dig into a packed lunch that was brought with you. Set some time aside to let kids be kids.

A year or so ago my two grandsons and their dad and I spent time streamside. While both boys fished, the younger of the two wanted to take a break. It wasn’t long until he found the bait bucket. He was leaning over and sifting through the bedding material and was picking up and inspecting the mealworms that the bucket contained.

As I watched, a smile came across my face, and the thought that ran through my mind was, “He’s exploring and just being a kid.” Glancing back toward the stream, I saw that the other boy was intently watching the bobber in the water. Both were having fun.

To my way of thinking, that was a good day.

(Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net)

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