Sam Luptak Jr.
New Castle News
A brisk, cold morning and cloudy, sometimes rainy, skies greeted residents of Lawrence County on Saturday morning.
But that wasn’t enough to keep local fishermen away from their favorite fishing spots as Pennsylvania ushered in the first day of trout season statewide.
Officially, the season began at 8 a.m. Saturday as anglers lined up across the county to try and catch some of the three million adult brook, brown and rainbow trout stocked in lakes and creeks across the state by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Commission executive director John Arway says the opening day tradition is as much about gathering with friends and family as it is about fishing. Locally, that certainly seemed to be the case at Deer Creek in New Bedford and Pulaski Township. Fathers and sons, and larger extended family groups and friends all lined the banks of the creek, trying to be the ones that pulled in that big trout.
Rick Kinkela and his 12-year-old son Matthew fished the creek from the banks of the Rolling Hills Golf Course, which Kinkela owns.
“I just started fishing again,” he said. “It’s a great way to spend time with my boy instead of working.”
Matthew had pulled in three fish before noon.
“He’s out fishing his old man,” the elder Kinkela said proudly.
Matthew, who has been fishing since he was four, said this was the first time he was fishing in a regular creek and not at the kid’s station, further downstream.
Mark Dewberry of Neshannock Township was out with his 11-year-old niece, Madison Fitzgerald.
“This is my third year coming out fishing.” said Fitzgerald, also of Neshannock. “I love the excitement of catching fish. And I like to bait the hooks and do the worms,” she said beaming.
When asked if the cold bothered her or her uncle, both said it didn’t.
“We’re staying till we run out of bait,” Dewberry said.
The kids and disabled fishing area of Deer Creek, near the Pulaski Township building, was lined with children and their fathers and other adults who accompanied them. At least 40 children lined the banks and several were pulling in fish with some regularity.
Robert Fusco of New Castle, a disabled fisherman, was not among those having early success. Fusco, who was there with his wife, Evetta, and twin nine-year-old sons, Robert and Milan, arrived around seven for their day of fishing.
“We haven’t had any luck so far.” Fusco said, “The water is running a little fast and it is murky, but we just have to find out what the fish want. It all depends on what they were fed at the hatcheries.”
The bait of choice, and having the most success, at least in this spot, seemed to be red worms. It appeared most of the successful catches had hit on red worms and so more and more anglers were changing to that bait.
Folks from as far away as McDonald, Ohio, and Beaver County lined the banks at Deer Creek, and all seemed to be having a great time despite the cold and the damp. Fish were biting and that seemed to keep the kids excited and the fathers ready to stay on the banks.
The regular trout season runs through Labor Day, and many of those fishing today said they planned to return throughout the summer.
According to the Fish and Boat Commission, more than 850,000 anglers buy a fishing license each year.
A one-year resident fishing license costs $22.70 and a trout-salmon permit is $9.70. A license is required for anyone 16 and older and a trout permit is required for trout fishing. Licenses can be purchased at sporting goods stores and online at www.gonefishingpa.com.
For the first time this year, anglers can purchase multi-year fishing licenses, including a resident three-year license for $64.70 or a resident five-year license for $106.70. Resident three-year and five-year trout permits cost $25.70 and $41.70.
A fish warden was on site to answer questions and see that the laws were properly followed, but no problems or discrepancies had arisen and all present were having a great time, with several stringers full of fish and families talking about the fresh trout they were going to have for supper.