Dust off your fishing gear and grab some bait — Saturday is the first day of trout season in Franklin County beginning at 8 a.m.
Along with Franklin County, Saturday also will be opening day of the trout-fishing season in 17 other Pennsylvania jurisdictions, including neighboring Adams, Cumberland, Juniata and Perry counties.
April 14 is opening day for the rest of the state. Trout fishing season ends on Labor Day.
The two-week early start to trout season in the 18 counties has a lot to do with water temperature, said state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York.
Alloway, chairman of the Pennsylvania Game and Fisheries Committee, said the water in those counties tends to be a little warmer than the water in the rest of the state.
An avid fisherman, Alloway is eager to grab his fishing pole and reel in his first trout.
“It’s a family bonding time, and it’s also to enjoy the outdoors and nature,” Alloway said.
With a 22 percent increase in fishing license sales over last year coupled with this spring’s warm weather, opening day should be a busy one, said John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
“Last year, we had a cold and wet start to the fishing season,” Arway said. “This year, we’ve had so much warm weather that anglers everywhere are excited to get out and start the season. And we’re seeing that excitement represented in our sales (of licenses). People want to be out fishing.”
More than 850,000 anglers buy a fishing license every year, said Eric Levis, press secretary of the commission.
A resident license costs $22.70, and a trout-salmon permit costs $9.70. A license is required for anyone 16 and older.
Licenses can be purchased at sporting goods stores and online at www.fishandboat.com.
Fishing is a relatively inexpensive family activity, Levis said.
“I have children, and if you go out in the evening to do some activities or go out to eat, it costs a whole lot more than $35,” Levis said.
Every year, the commission stocks about 3.2 million trout in waterways across the state, Levis said.
The commission’s fleet of trucks has been replenishing Pennsylvania’s waterways since mid-February with brook, brown and rainbow trout.
While Alloway won’t be fishing on opening day due to work commitments, he’ll grab his fishing pole as soon as he can.
“I just love being outside in the woods and on the water,” Alloway said. “Fishing continues to grow in Pennsylvania, and we want it to continue to grow. We want more people to get out and enjoy the water of Pennsylvania.”
Editor's note — This story was edited March 29, 2012, to correct the number of fishing licenses sold each year in Pennsylvania to more than 850,000.