We may finally be experiencing spring-like temperatures — Thursday was the first day of Spring after all — but there is still plenty of ice on the water and snow on the ground, especially in the northern parts of Pennsylvania.
Lee Creyer, the Waterways Conservation Officer of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission who is assigned to Lehigh County, has been saying since trout stocking began on March 1 that the Mentored Youth Fishing Day in the Southeast, which is scheduled for the Lehigh Canal at Sand Island in Bethlehem, was in danger of being postponed due to too much ice.
His prediction came true on Wednesday when the PFBC postponed not only the Southeast Regional MYFD, which was scheduled for Saturday, but the statewide MYFD, which was scheduled for April 5.
The PFBC decided to postpone the date to Saturday, May 10, because the ice was just too thick to successfully stock fish and ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for the youngsters.
"It's a blessing in disguise they're postponing the Mentored Youth Fishing Day," said Bob Danenhower of Bob's Taxidermy in Orefield, who sells bait and tackle through the trout stocking season.
"It's so cold, people can't enjoy it. I'm not a big fan of the early opener, either. This has been an extreme winter, but the first day is always so cold now, and if kids are getting out there by 5 or 6 a.m. to get their spot, they want to go home by 8 o'clock because they're so cold."
The Southeast Region trout season opener is 8 a.m., Saturday, March 29, two full weeks ahead of the statewide opener on April 12. The regional opener was designated in 2007 supposedly to account for warmer weather in the southeastern corner of the Commonwealth and to make for a less cramped preseason stocking schedule across the state.
Mike Dlugos of Mike's Bait & Sports Shop in Nazareth also thinks the March opener is too cold, especially when the Mentored Youth Fishing Day, instituted for the first time last year, occurs a week before the regional opener.
"We're right at the line here where guys from up north come down for our opener and our guys go up there for the statewide opener, but the water is still really cold this time of year," Dlugos said. "The fish will be really sluggish."
Danenhower thinks that while the early regional opener probably gets more people out fishing, it's hurting the Pennsylvania opening day tradition by taking place during a colder time of the season.
"Our family used to camp out for the opener and have a good time," he said. "We tried to do it that first year [in 2007] and it was brutal. I'm not a big fan of it, especially for the kids. It would have been nicer if it just stayed the same."
Regardless, the regional opener is taking place March 29 and the statewide opener April 12. The PFBC standard is to designate the statewide opener on the first Saturday after April 11, and the regional opener the first Saturday after March 28.
The Mentored Youth Fishing Day on May 10 will utilize the waters previously scheduled to host the event. Only MYFD participants will be allowed to fish those waters 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., with anglers limiting out at two trout.
Special stockings will be done for the MYFD. Anglers 16 or older with a valid state fishing license and trout/salmon permit must accompany a mentored youth. Mentored youth must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit, or pay $1 for a voluntary youth license. Each $1 voluntary youth license is matched by $5 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the money will be used specifically for youth fishing programs.
You can register for the permit or voluntary license by going to The Outdoor Shop at http://www.GoneFishingPA.com.
We'll fire up the full Fish Report next week, but here is some info from a few of the local shops to get you dreaming of rainbow trout and brookies.
2014 Pennsylvania Fishing Regulations: http://fishinpa.com/
2014 Pennsylvania Trout Stocking Schedule:
Willie's Bait & Tackle, 5105 Main St., Cementon (610-261-2767): Willie says that the boys are still having fun ice fishing up north at Pecks Pond and Promised Land, catching some nice blue gills, perch and pickerel. Mauch Chunk and Minsi are both melting pretty rapidly. The creeks are closed in advance of trout season.
Bob's WildlifeTaxidermy, 4642 Kernsville Road, Orefield (610-398-7609): Bob is in the midst of getting the bait and tackle set up for the trout stockings and contests. He's anxious to see how Mother Nature contributes with the weather for the Southeast Region opener on March 29.
Archery @ the Glenn, 7 Auburn St., Allentown, (610-791-7665): Brian says the stockings are going well and the minnow tank at the shop is ready for some rosy red minnows for trout season. He's hearing there are still sections of Beltzville have up to 20 inches of ice.
Heritage Fly Shop, 2643 Fish Hatchery Road, Allentown (610-248-8836): Dave says baetis were starting up pretty good in Wednesday's rain, but the best bets on the Little Lehigh are still midges, egg patterns, sucker spawn and San Juans, your typical attracters for when the snow melt drops the water temperature. That should stabilize pretty quickly with as the thaw completes over the next week.
Mike's Bait & Sports Shop, 328 East Lawn Rd., Nazareth, (610-759-2905): Mike says the ice was 12-14 inches thick at Minsi on Monday and guys were reporting good action. He's a little concerned about how cold the water is going to be for the regional opener on March 29 because of the snow melt.
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