(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — It’s an annual tradition — young anglers and their favorite adult anglers will hit the water together for Pennsylvania’s Mentored Youth Trout Day on March 25. At Poor Richard’s Bait and Tackle Shop in Fairview, soon-to-be anglers already are making their way into the fishing shop to gather supplies and bait for the day.
“There has been a steady stream of customers — the kids all have to get licenses,” owner Brittany Campanella said. “There’s supposed to be a little bit of weather, so (the customer traffic) isn’t crazy. It always gets busy the night before, so later on we’ll get a lot of traffic.”
The National Weather Service is forecasting rain with thunderstorms possible after 1 p.m. on Saturday. While rain can make fishing difficult on local creeks, most of the mentored youth anglers likely won’t be fishing the creeks.
“(The creeks are) not usually stocked with fish until the night before the first day of trout season,” Campanella explained. “Typically, kids are fishing stocked ponds, like the Gravel Pit and Presque Isle.”
For Mentored Youth Trout Day, young anglers must first get a Mentored Youth fishing permit, which is free, and be accompanied by a licensed adult angler with a trout stamp. The youth fishing permit can be purchased anywhere fishing licenses are sold, or online. Mentors can fish but must release any fish they catch.
Campanella recommends that mentors choose multiple bait options, and to have the fishing rods ready to go before they get to the water. She also recommends having extra fishing rods readied.
“When you’re out there in the cold, it’s good to have options in case one tangles,” Campanella said.
A voluntary youth fishing license also is available for $2.97. Funds raised through that voluntary license results in a federal reimbursement of about $5 per license to the Fish and Boat Commission for youth outreach and education programs.
“The program is important because it gets the kids out. They can learn to fish and learn to get outdoors and get into the sport,” Campanella said. “It’s very important to get the kids involved in the sport as something to do for them and to get them outdoors. It’s a good way to show them how fun it can be to get out of the house and stop playing video games.”