Smack dab in the middle of the month, as winter seems to fade to memory, city folk drive out to the country to buy worms. They join locals, shoulder-to-shoulder, at 8 a.m. on a weekend to toss lines into the the shimmering water as they soak in the unofficial holiday known as the "First Day Of Trout."
Oh, but how things have changed since the COVID-19 outbreak brought this planet's primary sentient population to its knees. Now Uncle's Sam's stern "I Want You" face is covered in a mask and the April 15 tax deadline has been pushed back three months.
Pennsylvania's Trout season opener, which usually spurs on outdoor family reunions and homecomings for many friends, was scheduled for April 18.
Instead, according to a release the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), in consultation with the Office of the Governor, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), it opened statewide today.
Social distancing edicts made the sight of hundreds of people gathering at their favorite spots perhaps a little too costly an option than holding steady to the "it's the way we've always done it." principle.
“We realize that this announcement is another disruption to tradition, but it is in the best interest of public health and safety,” said Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director in a press release. "The trout we have been stocking have had time to spread out, and so should you.”
Tuesday's announcement warns the change in date doesn't change the rules. Anglers must still be fully licensed and adhere to the same rules as always.
The length of arm with an outstretched fishing rod is a good guide
“Outdoor recreational activities, including fishing, lift our spirits and help relieve stress, but they need to be done with attention to social distancing guidelines to help protect ourselves and others, and slow the spread of COVID-19,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “That means practicing physical distancing of six feet, avoiding crowds and staying close to home, and being prepared with a mask and hand sanitizer.”
To keep with social distancing guidelines the PFBC are suggesting everyone stay at least an outstretched arm and fishing pole distance apart. And they suggest only fishing with members of the family sharing a roof and to not swap fishing gear with each other.
Stocking schedules will not be released this year, but the PFBC will continue to stock waterways. Further restrictions to waterways may be put in place by landowners and municipalities.
Another victim of this virus is the Mentored Youth Trout Day. Today's news also announced its cancelling. The PFBC will honor all Voluntary Youth Fishing Licenses purchased in 2020 for all mentored youth fishing opportunities during the 2021 season.
One last reminder to hit the can before leaving home. Public restrooms in state or local parks may be closed.