By Aaron Hepler
When it comes to fishing, opinions and styles differ. Some want catch and release fishing only. Some would like to keep every little minnow.
Styles vary widely. Wilderness fishing, fly fishing, spin fishing, bait lures, dry flies, nymphs - take your pick. It can be competitive, and occasionally can become a source of tension amount anglers.
Laying out a plan for when and where to fish will help you uncover a place to accomplish your fishing goals.
Whether it’s a summertime fish fry or a mountain stream experience you’re after, no doubt you’ll find it in PA.
There are a few different types of trout streams to choose from. We have them in three categories - with a few extra bits of information thrown in.
Stocked Trout Streams
Indisputably, this is the kind of trout stream that will be piled with cars on opening morning. Get yourself a bag of frozen sweet corn, power bait, trout magnets, or earthworms, and you’ll fit right in!
Often for the Zebco-wielding, spin-fishing maniacs, these are good spots to catch yourself a mid-April fish fry.
These streams often have some kind of public access, or landowners are often willing to allow people to use the stream with permission.
They are also a great place to take kids and get those Mickey Mouse fishing lines screamin’.
Stocked trout streams have two sub-categories: Keystone Select Stocked Streams, which hold fish that are generally larger or trophy-sized trout, and Natural Reproduction, which may hold a population of wild trout in addition to an area that is stocked with trout on a regular basis.
Class A Trout Streams
Class A trout streams are gems. These are streams that support a large population of wild trout.
They provide top trout habitat and healthy waterways. Often, Class A streams are sought after by the fly fishing community.
Anglers that frequent these places generally appreciate catch and release fishing. Recreational anglers might get a sideways glance if using bait in an area like this one.
Class A streams are sometimes accompanied by a subcategory of stream where special regulations may apply. Usually these regulations are posted on trailheads, parking lots, or on the edges of the streams.
Regulations may include delayed harvest, which usually means no allowed harvest until June; limited harvest, which is a lower than normal, statewide, daily limit of trout; fly fishing; or artificial lures only. That’s right, it does NOT mean synthetic bait. Lures or flies only in these places!
Wilderness Trout Waters
Most often, wilderness streams are the small mountain streams and streams found in the PA Wilds region.
These are the streams that make awesome experiences and adorn pages of trout enthusiast’s social media accounts. They are stunning as far as landscape and waters are concerned.
Wilderness trout streams are usually teeming with hungry brook trout, but you’ll likely have to work very hard to catch a trophy fish in a wilderness stream. The trophy here is in the experience.
Among BHA members, wilderness designated streams tend to be a favorite.
Find a Trout Stream to Fit Your Style
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has made it easy to find trout streams via its interactive mapping system.
Just get on the website, click on the link for trout, find the interactive maps, and start picking the legend options to match your desired type of trout stream.
Fish for Free and Mentored Youth Fishing Days
If trout fishing hasn’t been in your arsenal of things to do, give PA’s Fish-For-Free Days a try. This year’s free fishing days are Sunday, May 30 and Sunday, July 4.
A second thought: if you know youths who would benefit from outdoor activities, check into the mentored youth fishing days! After all, without the next generation, our passions could be forgotten.