Plans to expand the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s popular Mentored Youth Fishing Day program across the state in 2014 were unveiled during the PFBC’s recent business meeting.
Launched this past spring as a pilot program on the Saturday preceding the regional opening day of trout season, Mentored Youth Fishing Day was an immediate hit with adult anglers and the kids in their lives. More than 3,700 adult anglers registered 5,110 kids for the fishing opportunity.
“This new program turned out to be very popular with anglers and their friends and family,” PFBC Executive Director John Arway said. “We had a great turnout at every location and we received a lot of thanks from participants, who said they were happy to have a special day to fish with their children in advance of the opening day. We expect the same level of enthusiasm and turnout when we expand it statewide this spring.”
For the 2014 fishing season, the first Mentored Youth Fishing Day will be held on approximately a dozen waters on March 22, the Saturday before the regional opening day of trout season in 18 southcentral and southeast counties. The second one will be held on approximately two dozen waters on April 5, the weekend before the traditional statewide opening day of trout season.
“We are still finalizing the exact number of waters and will publicly announce the list in December before the holiday season, sort of our gift to anglers,” Arway said.
A follow-up survey of participants found that 89 percent of the registered youth fished that day; a majority of mentors were family members; and more than 80 percent of the mentors said they were satisfied with the experience. All total, the kids and their mentors fished 7,727 hours and reported releasing 4,405 trout and harvesting 1,183. Nearly 80 percent of the mentors said they usually fish the opening day of trout season. However, more than one-third of respondents said that they do not typically take youth out on opening day.
In other action of local interest at the business meeting, PFBC commissioners:
n Adopted a change in its boating regulations intended to provide additional safety to passengers when a motorboat is operating at greater than slow, no-wake speeds. In these instances, the regulation prohibits individuals from riding outside the passenger carrying area or from riding on bow decking, gunwales, transoms or motor covers. The amendment becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014.
“Waterways conservation officers are regularly called to assist with incidents where an individual was standing or sitting on the bow or transom and were thrown into the water when the boat hit an unexpected wake or made a sudden turn,” said Corey Britcher, PFBC Director of Law Enforcement. “It is simply unsafe to be at these spots when a boat is underway.”
n Approved a federal pass-through grant of $374,016 to the Regional Science Consortium in Erie to conduct a comprehensive barrier assessment and prioritization of barriers for removal in Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie tributaries. In the Great Lakes, barrier removal or modification can impact not only the movement of sport fish, such as steelhead, but also aquatic invasive species, such as sea lamprey and round goby. The funding comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.