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Lingering ice reschedules mentored trout fishing

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 10:16 p.m.

It's officially spring, but you wouldn't know it by the conditions of some lakes in Western Pennsylvania.

You can still walk across them. That ice has and continues to offer up some great fishing, but it's also caused the delay of Western Pennsylvania's first attempt at hosting a mentored youth trout fishing day.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission piloted mentored fishing in southeastern Pennsylvania last spring. It allowed children younger than 16 and their adult mentors to fish for stocked trout one week prior to opening day. Kids and adults were allowed to keep two trout each.

The program proved so popular that the commission expanded it statewide this year.

Mentored trout day in the southeast was to be March 22; locally, it was to be April 5.

Because so many of the lakes scheduled to be part of the program remain frozen over, though — in some cases with as much as 19 inches of ice — the commission has changed its plans. Now, there will be one mentored youth trout day this year, all across the state, but it won't be until May 10.

“This program is designed to encourage adults to take kids fishing, to show them that fishing is fun, and to promote active, outdoor recreation,” said the commission's executive director, John Arway. “We will be better prepared to deliver this experience at this later date when the weather is warmer, and the waters are free from ice.”

The change will keep other anglers off some stocked waters temporarily. Lakes in the program, such as North Park Lake in Allegheny County, Mammoth and Lower Twin in Westmoreland, Canonsburg in Washington, Harbar Acres in Butler and Dunlap Creek in Fayette, among others, will close to fishing from noon May 9 until 8 a.m. May 10. They will then reopen, but only to kids and adults fishing in the mentor program.

After 7:30 p.m. May 10 waters in the program will re-open to everyone.

A spokesman from Espyville Outdoors said, ice fishermen are on Pymatuning Lake in Crawford County, with the section of lake between Tuttle Point and the Spillway especially productive.

Fishermen are getting crappies and yellow perch in about 8 feet of water using live minnows as bait.

Reports from Fish and Boat Commission conservation officers, anglers are taking fish through the ice on several lakes. One took a 31-inch northern pike from Cranberry Glade Lake. They are getting panfish from Lake Somerset.

Pike, including a 34-incher, were caught at Glendale Lake in Cambria County.

Lake Arthur in Butler County is giving up panfish and bass, with maggot-tipped jigs and minnows the hot baits. Harbar Acres Lake is giving up trout to ice anglers, though there's no harvest allowed from now through opening day.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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