Stay Off the Ice
Inside the Outdoors, February 19,
2016

Many stories in the past have been related to me concerning eager anglers wanting to hit the ice in order to fish through it only to find themselves under the frozen crystals fighting for their lives.

It may be tempting this time of the year, particularly with the colder temperatures, but how it looks and its actual thickness may be deceiving.

One gentleman approached me the other day to discuss what I thought of the area conditions and then told me his approach. That’s the human approach for people to share their thoughts, but feel they need a neutral lead before making their thoughts known.

It’s a crazy season. Just when it may look good, warmer weather pops up and the sun beats down on the ice and melting takes place in short order.

In talking to Captain Dan Christ of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently, he suggested people stick to stream fishing using minnows to lure trout. Since area streams are loaded with these and other fish, why not stick to stream fishing until there is consistently cold temperatures making it safe to fish from the icy surface.

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It won’t be long until the arrival of April. With it brings the introduction of both youth and old alike, both male and female genders, to finally get out of the homes and into the great outdoors.

For the angler, trout will be the fish that will be on most anglers’ minds. For the hunter, preparation for spring gobbler will be on the minds of these sportsmen. All in all, it looks to be another exciting year.

It won’t be long that people will be following the state stocking trucks as they come to our area as soon as March 3 to unload a number of trout in the Loyalhanna Creek. Also receiving shipments will be Twin Lakes, March 21, Fourmile Run, March 22, and Keystone State Park Lake, March 24. Two other bodies of water in the immediate area of Latrobe that will get their basin full of this sought after fish will be both Donegal and Linn Run in April.

To get the complete stocking schedule, Google Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Main Page, bring up the stocking schedule, and follow the directions. Make sure “Go” is the last word on which one clicks. That will bring up the complete schedule and when and what is brought to the particular waters to be stocked.

April 16 begins opening day trout here in southwestern part of the commonwealth. Weather won’t interfere with most anglers’ attitudes. “To fish or not to fish” is not a matter of question here. “Come sleet, rain, or hail, you know where the angler will go, where 500 hundred or more enthusiasts are gathering, of course.” That’s the way it seems, anyway.

As for the hunter, spring gobbler season always wets the appetite of youth who are ready to push aside their electronic devices to head to the hills to participate in the Mentor Youth Hunt held this year April 23.

Only licenses junior hunters over the age of 7 who are properly permitted may participate. An adult, as required by law, must accompany them.

Recently, Scott Minster, secretary and web designer of Forbes Trail Chapter Trout Unlimited announced that the organization was cancelling its youth group after a success 11 years. The organization’s officers decided to curtail the programming because of the recent Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law and its influence on related activities.

In his words taken from the website, “Although new amendments provide important protection for children, it places a lot more responsibility on those who work with kids.”

I thought his concluding statement was interesting. “The problem is, nobody knows exactly what the law means for TU members. It would require two to three law enforcement clearances for our mentors, training, record keeping and reporting responsibilities.

With his statement in mind, I decided to contact the press secretary of the Pennsylvania Game Commission in Harrisburg, Travis Lau.

He first stated, “I don’t have a position on that.” He was even in question as to whether one should be certified to teach the Hunter Trapper Education Programs. He then added, “We really don’t have anything to do with that. We don’t provide the mentors. We just sell the permits, he said.”

A week later, April 30, statewide spring turkey hunting gets under way. It was last until May 31, 2016.

Hunting hours from April 30 to May 14 of the statewide season begin one-half hour before sunrise and end at noon. Hunters are asked to be out of the woods at 1 p.m. From May 16 to the end of the month, the same morning hours apply, but one may hunt one-half hour after sunset.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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