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Pa. Fish and Boat Commission plans mentored fishing initiative

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 10:27 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Nothing says fishing like the sight of a youngster smiling while holding a bluegill below a bobber. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commissioners are trying to tap into that iconic image.

The agency announced at its quarterly meeting in Harrisburg on Monday the launching of two initiatives aimed at getting people fishing.

First, it will host a mentored youth day on its 17 panfish enhancement lakes Sept. 1. Children and their adult mentors who register in advance will be able to fish on waters specifically managed to hold good populations of bluegills, yellow perch and crappies. The size restrictions normally in place will be waived.

The commission chose Labor Day because it's an opportunity to show that fishing doesn't have to end with the close of summer, executive director John Arway said.

“This is just a way to keep the excitement for fishing going for Pennsylvania,” he said.

The commission has hosted one-day, one-time learn-to-fish events in the past, said Tim Schaeffer, deputy director for policy and planning. They're good so far as they go, but mentored events are better long-term at getting people involved in fishing, he added.

“That instruction, that one-on-one mentor relationship, is really indispensable,” he said.

Children must get a mentored youth permit or buy a voluntary youth fishing license to participate. Adult mentors need a license, too.

That's where the second initiative comes in.

The commission will sell a $1 fishing license good for Labor Day only. Available to residents and nonresidents, it will actually cost $2.70 out of pocket, once issuing agent and transaction fees are figured in.

But that's substantially less then the regular cost of a one-day license, which is $11.70 for residents and $26.70 for nonresidents.

The commission has typically sold 98 percent of all the licenses it's going to in a calendar year by then, so there's little risk financially, Schaeffer said, “and in fact we may gain.”

That's because, in addition to perhaps getting $1 from people who might not have otherwise bought a license at all, the commission will get about $5 in federal reimbursements per license, he said.

The commission also will be able to market additional fishing and boating programs to that “new audience” in the future, Arway said.

The one-day license is not tied specifically to the mentored panfish day. Adults who buy one will be able to use them anywhere in the state on Labor Day. They will be available starting July 21 via The Outdoor Shop at the commission website, fishandboat.com, and from some issuing agents. They'll be available everywhere licenses are sold no later than Aug. 24, said Bernie Matscavage, director of the bureau of administration.

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

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