LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

I think we’re getting close.

We’re already seeing the first signs of spring.

Preparations to ensure that this year's trout season is a good one are already underway.

Surely it means spring is on the way.

Over the next week or so, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will kick off its annual preseason trout stocking by releasing thousands of trout into the state's streams, creeks and lakes. The fish stocked will have less than one month until thousands of fishermen flock to the stream banks in hopes of catching their limits.

Without the stocking efforts of the commission and other organizations, trout fishing in Pennsylvania would be nearly non-existent. As we turn the calendar from February to March, the agency will be busy loading its iconic white stocking trucks with rainbows, browns and brookies, and working to prime the area’s waterways for a couple of big days on the horizon. In all, the commission and its volunteers will plant close to 4 million trout across the Keystone State.

But those fish don’t have long before they are targeted by a mass of eager anglers. In fact, the first trout of the season will be added to a lucky angler’s creel in just one month.

Youth day: A year after the unique program debuted, the Fish and Boat Commission will again open stocked trout waters across the state to anglers under the age of 16. It’s part of the agency’s mentored youth fishing program. It lets the youngsters have the first shot at the state’s prized trout. In this region, the mentored youth day March 26.

The rules for the mentored youth day are fairly simple. Go to commission’s website or a local license issuer and get a youth voucher. They’re free. From there, the mentor must have a valid fishing license and trout stamp, as well. Once properly licensed, the youth angler— not the adult — can harvest two trout that reach the minimum legal length of seven inches.

This relatively new opportunity is the perfect reason to invite a youngster to go fishing. Even if you don’t have school-aged children of your own, borrow some for the day. Ask a neighbor, a nephew or a kid from church to spend the day with you. Not only will you give him or her a day filled with memories, you'll get the chance to hit the water a week early.

If you don’t have many friends that meet the definition of “youth,” don’t worry. You won’t have long to wait until you can hit the local streams. The regional opening day of trout season is April 2. That’s when the carnival that is opening day roars into town, marking the true start of spring.

Help with stocking: If you’ve never helped stock the state’s trout, this is your invitation. The commission will take all the volunteers it can get. All the information you need about stocking, or the opportunity to take advantage of the mentored youth program, are available on the commission’s website.

There’s no doubt this winter has been unusual. We had record heat followed by record snowfall. But soon it won’t matter. Spring is on its way.

We’ll see the first signs of it when that big white truck filled with trout goes rumbling down the county’s back roads over the next few weeks.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE