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Frozen lakes force rescheduling of youth fishing program
By: Maria Miller
EBENSBURG, Pa. -- Halfway through March, most lakes across the region are still covered in ice, some up to almost a foot.
"Around the region right now, most of the lakes have anywhere from 8-10 inches of ice still on them, which is pretty late for this time of year," said Sgt. John Hopkins of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
"We've had ice since, I believe, the first week of December or last week of November and it's pretty much stayed with us," said Albert Colian, a waterways conservation officer.
It's great conditions for those who enjoy ice fishing, but not so much for trout season which begins in just a few weeks away.
"The ice, more than likely, will be gone by April 12, the opening day, but we also have 20-some other streams in the county that are stocked and they're not covered with ice at this time," Colian said.
"Regarding the weather, the guys will still be out there," said Hopkins.
But it's not the avid fishers the commission is worried about. The ice is putting a damper on a program aimed at getting more kids interested in the sport.
"We're trying to get the youth involved because over the years, license sales have been declining and youth participation in the sport is fading," Hopkins said.
For the first time last year, the commission held a Mentored Youth Fishing day where licensed anglers 16 and older were able to bring youth with them to fish before trout season started. The first day of the program this year was supposed to take place this Saturday, but has already been rescheduled to May 10, a month after opening day of trout season.
While Mother Nature may have won this battle, the commission assures kids that they'll still have a chance to reel in.
"The fish will be there, that's one thing you can be sure of," Colian said. "We'll make sure there's plenty of fish to be stocked here."
For more information or how to register for the program visit www.GoneFishingPA.com.