Excitement is building among anglers and kids for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) popular Mentored Youth Fishing Day, which will be held on May 10 on 41 waters across the state.
So far, nearly 1,800 kids have obtained a free permit to fish on the day, and another 1,300 have purchased a voluntary youth fishing license.
“We’re excited that so many mentors and kids are making plans to participate in the program,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “This program is designed to encourage adults to take kids fishing, to show them that fishing is fun, and to promote active, outdoor recreation. With warmer weather now here, we are prepared to deliver a great experience.”
The program was originally scheduled over two days, March 22 and April 5, but was rescheduled into one statewide day because of unusually cold weather and unexpected ice cover.
“The pilot program last year was a huge hit with anglers and their friends and we have received nothing but positive comments about it,” Arway added. “Adults and kids are excited and we want to keep it that way.”
“To ensure kids and their mentors have an outstanding chance to catch fish on May 10, we will stock a fresh load of trout at each water on May 9,” he added. “Then the waters will be closed to all fishing from noon on May 9 until 8 a.m. on May 10.”
The program waters will be open on May 10 only for mentored youth day participants from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and anglers may keep two trout. After 7:30 p.m. the waters will be open to all anglers and the standard regulations on those waters will apply.
To participate, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid fishing license and trout/salmon permit and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit or a voluntary youth fishing license. Both are available at www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the more than 900 licensing agents across the state.
Also, the PFBC is reminding anglers that the process to participate this year has changed. Last year, participants registered online.
Because the program is expanding statewide this year, and with an eye to the future, the PFBC is now using the Pennsylvania Automated License Service (PALS) to issue youth permits and voluntary licenses.
“Issuing permits and licenses through PALS allows us to collect and manage information regarding youth anglers,” said Carl Richardson, PFBC education section manager. “Specifically, this process provides us with more customer data for better assessment of lifelong fishing license buying habits and to develop programs designed to retain anglers.”
As a result, anglers must create a separate customer account for each child in the PALS system. In order to obtain the permit or voluntary license, the youth’s address, social security number, date of birth, height and eye color must be provided at the time of the transaction. Phone number and e-mail address are optional. These may be added to the customer’s profile at a later time by following the instructions in The Outdoor Shop at www.GoneFishingPA.com. Click here for detailed instructions.
For every voluntary youth license sold, the PFBC will receive approximately $5 in federal revenue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Act program, which provides funds to states based on a formula that includes the number of licenses a state sells. All revenues earned from a voluntary youth fishing license will be dedicated to youth fishing programs.
Also, vouchers for the voluntary license will be available at the 900 license-issuing agents and online. A voucher acts as a gift card and does not require any personal information at the time of sale. Clubs, organizations, businesses, and individuals who are interested in promoting youth angling can purchase quantities of voluntary youth license vouchers to distribute to children. Personal information is required at the time the voucher is redeemed and a customer identification number is issued.
“Based on last year’s event, we expect that lots of fish will be caught, many memories will be made and there will be plenty of fun to go around,” said Arway. “Don’t miss out on this special opportunity.”
More information about the program, including a list of the waters, is available at www.GoneFishingPa.com.