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Youth Bass Anglers Conservation School a boost to fishing interest

| Sunday, March 6, 2005

With the excitement over this year's Bassmasters Classic being held in July on the local waterways, it's likely that young anglers in our area will have more interest in bass fishing.

At least we hope so.

To help foster the youth interest in bass fishing, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officials have announced that young anglers can enroll for the Youth Bass Anglers Conservation School being held this summer.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Penn State, the Marsh Creek Bass Club and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society are joining the cooperative effort with the fish and boat commission and the DCNR State Parks to conduct the youth angling school.

Application and enrollment for the bass fishing youth camp began Monday for students ages 14-17.

The five-day/four-night program will be July 17-21 on Lake Perez at the Penn State's Stone Valley Recreation Area.

Some of the study topics will include fish biology, fisheries management, habitat improvement, boating safety, fishing skills and techniques, fish and boating law enforcement, fisheries and conservation careers and tournament angling.

State agency officials recognize the importance of youth fishing education and enjoyment.

"Students will learn from experts and professionals in various conservation fields from across Pennsylvania and the nation," PFBC executive director Douglas Austen said. "Instruction will be geared toward youth who already possess some basic outdoor skills and fishing experience but want to further develop those skills and learn more about bass angling."

As many of our state park facilities include fishing areas, the cooperation from the Bureau of State Parks is a perfect fit for the program.

"We are proud to join in this cooperative educational effort to provide angling youth with a solid foundation in warm-water aquatic ecosystems and their management as they apply to bass and bass angling," said Roger Fickes, DCNR's Bureau of State Parks Director. "Participants will improve their stewardship skills and leave the school better equipped to serve as leaders in conservation. They also have a heck of a lot of fun learning."

Allegheny County has more licensed anglers than any other county in the state. The adjoining counties in our area also seem to have a large number of adult anglers as well -- many of whom can be seen with their children and grandchildren along the local waterways and lakes casting to fish, including bass.

You seldom see a shortage of young anglers on local lakes such as Northmoreland Park Lake, Lake Arthur or North Park Lake.

With heavy fishing interest throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley, competition for acceptance into the youth fishing school might be as challenging as catching a big Allegheny River smallmouth bass because only 20 students will be selected.

Student applicants must submit a written essay on the topics, "What fishing means to me," and the importance of conservation, as well as a letter of recommendation from a teacher or close associate.

As a $100 enrollment fee will be charged upon acceptance, students are encouraged to seek organizational sponsorship through sporting, community or civic groups, especially local sportsmen's clubs.

Traditionally, our very generous local sportsmen's clubs have always been very supportive of youth programs -- and sponsorship, including pay the tuition for youth participants in outdoors programs, has not been a problem.

Fishing is a fundamental outdoors activity for children, and the more we can encourage the sport, the brighter the future of the sport of fishing will be for everyone.

The more we can teach the local youngsters about bass and other fishing activities, the better.

For an enrollment application or more details, contact Spring Reilly at 814- 625-9369, or by e-mail at spreilly@state.pa.us.

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