Mentored Youth Trout Day on Saturday: Everything you need to know

Mentored Youth Trout Day — just one statewide this year and annual in the future — begins Saturday, March 26 at 8 a.m. for children under 16 and their mentors at stocked trout waters throughout Pennsylvania.

The one-day season lasts until 7:30 p.m. on the same day.

Each child is allowed to keep two trout, each at least 7 inches long.

Mentors are allowed to fish but must release any trout they catch and are encouraged to fish with the children by providing encouragement and tips. You are also encouraged to fish near the children, with these children actively fishing.

Every young angler is required to have a supervised youth permit or volunteer youth fishing license from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, but the commission has announced that the 2020 permits and youth licenses will be recognized this year. Mentored Youth Trout Day 2020 has been canceled due to the Commission’s response to the pandemic.

Mentor must have a Pennsylvania fishing license and trout license.

The Supervised Youth Permit (Free), Volunteer Youth Fishing License ($2.97), Regular Fishing License ($22.97) and Trout Stamp ($9.97) are available through the online fishing, boating and hunting license platform . Hunt Fish PA.

The commission noted that it “offers an opportunity for young people to fish with their mentors and is not intended as a chance for mentors to get an early start to the trout season.”

Mentors fishing with youth on these dates should follow these guidelines:

Youth should be able to fish alone with limited mentor support.

The mentor should fish at a reasonable distance from actively fishing youth.

The commission also discourages youth organizations from using the Mentored Youth Trout Day as an opportunity to get a large group of youth fishing with minimal adult supervision.

The Commission held its first Mentored Youth Trout Day in March 2013 and later that year described it as “an instant hit with adult anglers and the children in their lives” that had attracted more than 3,700 adult anglers and 5,110 children.

A follow-up survey of participants found that 89 percent of registered youth fished that day; most mentors were family members; and more than 80 percent of mentors said they were satisfied with the experience. The children and their mentors fished 7,727 hours and reported putting out 4,405 trout and harvesting 1,183. Almost 80 percent of the mentors said they usually fish on the opening day of the trout season. However, more than a third of those surveyed said they typically do not take youngsters out on opening day.

It was only open on a dozen lakes: Waynesboro Reservoir in Adams County, Antietam Lake and Scotts Run Lake in Berks County, Levittown Lake in Bucks County, Children’s Lake and Doubling Gap Lake in Cumberland County, Middletown Reservoir in Dauphin County, Muddy Run Recreational Lake in Lancaster County, Lions Lake in Lebanon County, Lehigh Canal Section 8 in Lehigh County, Green Lake in Montgomery County, and Locust Lake in Schuylkill County.

In 2014 it was extended to two regional days on a total of 41 waters and in 2015 to all stocked trout waters.

The commission reverted the state to a single statewide opening day for the trout season last October, as was the practice for decades prior to 2007, when the commission switched to a statewide opening Saturday, preceded by an earlier regional opening Saturday in 18 Southeast counties.

Along with this change, the commission also voted to hold only one mentoring youth day each year, one week before the regular season opening day.

In 2007, switching to two days of operation was presented as a means of increasing the survival of stocked trout in the southeastern part of the state, where spring water in the creeks warms to fish-threatening levels earlier than elsewhere in the state.

However, due to pandemic restrictions and concerns, the opening days in 2020 and 2021 have been combined into just one statewide opening day per year.

Angler response to this schedule appears to have been the final evidence the Commission needed to move back to the historic single day schedule after 25 years of the two open plan.

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“More anglers are enjoying trout fishing in the last two seasons than in previous decades,” said Tim Schaeffer, executive director of the Commission. “For reasons of public safety, we have merged into a single nationwide opening day.

“While the last two years have presented a challenge for Pennsylvania anglers and the commission, they have presented an unprecedented opportunity to consider how best to deliver an opening day experience. Through a wealth of public input, including angler surveys presenting options for opening day, it has become clear that our agency and most anglers in Pennsylvania appreciate and prefer a single opening day of the trout season.”

According to Kris Kuhn, director of the Bureau of Fisheries, an email poll found that more than 65 percent of responding anglers favor the single day open.

And waterway safety officers reported similar sentiments among anglers they encountered in the field and supported the other two measures.

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