Pennsylvania anglers have long considered the opening day of trout season as an unofficial state holiday.
In recent years, with more and more people recognizing the importance of introducing and retaining youngsters to the joy of fishing, it is also the ideal time for bounding with family members and friends.
This year, the Southeast Region trout opener is Saturday, April 2, at 8 a.m., and the statewide season opens two weeks later, Saturday, 16, at 8 a.m. Many anglers now celebrate both opening days by planning trips as carefully as they do between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Locally, anglers will be able to participate in the April 2 opening day in Berks, Lehigh and Schuylkill county waters. Other counties open for the early opener are Adams, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia and York.
"Opening day is a time-honored tradition that families and kids look forward to every year," Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission executive director John Arway said. "It's a huge event for so many families and their children.
"I remember fishing with my parents on opening day and the excitement we all felt.
Now I'm able to spend this day with my grandkids and they just love it.
"It is truly a special time in so many families' lives. Opening day is special because it signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It's great if you catch trout, but the day is really about getting out of the house, enjoying the outdoors and spending quality time with family and friends."
According to PFBC statistics, opening day is one of the biggest fishing days of the year, with the agency's "great white fleet" of stocking trucks being busy since mid-February replenishing Pennsylvania's waterways with a fresh supply of brook, brown and rainbow trout. Every year the PFBC stocks about 3.2 million trout in waterways across the state.
Based on firsthand experience, for youngsters – other than toddlers – to get the most enjoyment out of fishing, supply them with an ultra-light spinning or spin casting rod-and-reel combo.
Using "real" tackle is easier for kids to use, as it is more efficient in hooking and landing fish that those cartoon-character rods designed to "catch" kids through brand association.
Kids also like fishing with tackle that looks just like the "grownups" are using and usually holds their interest longer.
These downsized rod-and-reel combos are also easier to deal with streamside when it comes to changing baits or lures and dealing with tangled line.
Another thing to r