Pennsylvania is good to anglers. Throughout the year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) releases hatchery-raised trout into streams and lakes across the state, making the region’s waterways ideal for lifelong anglers and novices alike. “In Pennsylvania, we raise about 3.2 million stock trout that get placed into nearly 900 waterways across the state,” says Mike Parker of the PFBC.
The official opening day (typically the first week of April) is the big kickoff, says Parker, “when people celebrate, that’s the tradition.” Translation: crowds. It’s a festive crowd to be sure, so it can be a lot of fun, but the fishing is still excellent after the opening-day excitement. “The PFBC will continue to stock trout for weeks afterward in most of the popular waterways, be they lakes or streams,” says Parker.
Braving the crowds? Parker recommends applying some of the social-distancing measures we’ve all learned in the last two years. “If you can hold your fishing pole out to either side and give that much space to the person next to you, then you’ll help prevent tangles with others,” he says.
On Mentored Youth Fishing Day, you’ll find fewer crowds and a lot of positive spirit. As the name implies, any licensed adult parent or mentor can bring any child under 16 years old fishing on this day. “Any adult supervising can fish also, but the creel limit is limited to two fish that day, as opposed to five during opening day,” says Parker. “It's not as crowded, the fish are freshly stocked, and most small kids are good to go after a few hours.”
Red tape: Kids must have a free Youth Mentor permit which helps fund the PAFCB. “The free youth mentor pass lets us know how many people are participating,” says Parker. Get both at huntfish.pa.gov.
Get a Permit
Anyone who’s 16 and older is required to have a fishing license and, for trout, a Trout Permit . Permits are available from Public Lands stores and at huntfish.pa.gov.
Where does this money go? Directly to the program that stocks and manages fish. “The PFBC is not funded by tax dollars,” says Parker. “Most wildlife agencies aren’t. It’s a user-pays, user-benefits model. That’s how we’re able to fund our agency and manage our resources.”
Get ready with the right fishing tackle and tips. Here are few key considerations.
Rod and reel combo: Look for a rod that’s 5 to 7 feet in length and suitable for lightweight lines. A combo kit can offer good value.
Lightweight lines: Your line should be nearly invisible in the water so it won’t spook the fish. Look for lines in the 2- to 4-pound test range.
Lures: Artificial lures come in many different designs, from abstract spoons and spinners to more natural looking baits like minnows and crawfish. They all tend to be cast-and-retrieve style baits and can work well for anglers of all levels.
Live bait and manufactured attractants: To put it simply, anything that attracts a fish passes as bait, from canned corn, marshmallows, bread, and shrimp to nightcrawlers and salmon eggs. Manufactured attractants offer a reliable version of other live baits in the form of malleable dough and fish egg-size balls, which can easily be slipped onto a hook.