ZEKE WILSON: Time to gear up for trout season
March 25, 2014 10:35 AM

As the opening day of trout season approaches, the demand for fishing licenses naturally increases. The chances of waiting in line will rise in the weeks to come, but ordering online is always an option.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission also offers multiple-year licenses so one can worry less about obtaining one and more on fishing when the opportunity presents itself.

With the new offering of a limited-waters junior fishing day a week prior to the region’s regular season opener, parents in particular should be gearing up. Many parents are new to the junior license, with some having the impression it was done to create revenue. The minimal amount charged goes to an outsourced license issuing system. The license was designed to promote youth fishing by finally providing the agency with the statistics to do so.

Across the nation hunting and fishing license sales are plummeting as fish and wildlife officials scramble to promote the sport to upcoming candidates. Having numbers to compare to ad campaigns and outreach programs will allow the PFBC the chance to see what works and what doesn’t.

Such decisions often result in initial criticism from the general public, but they usually bear fruit.

• The decision to stop stocking walleyes on the Allegheny River was not popular among area anglers, but in just a few years it was revealed the agency had been stocking the wrong strain of walleye. Similar steps by the agency to improve fisheries across the state occur daily, and independence suits Pennsylvania anglers best.

Uneducated taxpayers often clamor to combine the PFBC and Pennsylvania Game Commission in the sake of saving a dollar even though their interest in either is zero until they purchase a license. I would rather pay more in license fees and never hear of the general public and its representatives wanting to put their hand in the current independent agencies.

A recently drained and reworked Opossum Lake in Cumberland County is now fixed and full again. While still a catch-and-release lake for all other species to allow repopulation, it has been stocked with trout and awaiting the eastern opener. Work to the dam took time and money, but it will now offer fishing adventures long after I’m gone.

If fish and game agencies were consolidated, the number of such improvements to our fisheries would surely decline.

• Freshly stocked trout await anglers in a number of special regulations waters, including Little Mahoning, Chest Creek and the North Fork of Redbank Creek. Although the cold persists, once the temperature climbs a good day on the stream surely awaits.

• A flock of trumpeter swans on a local lake caught my eye Sunday, with perhaps 50 birds to the flock of white monarchs. Closer inspection through 15-power revealed a dozen Canada geese and a handful of diving buffleheads in tow.

It is hoped the eldest swans and their hitch-hiking migrators are a definite indicator that spring is here.

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