Social media has been speckled this week with images of smiling kids, proud moms and dads, and frowning trout.

Mentored Youth Trout Day last Saturday cast plenty of compliments for the early-season opportunity to get youngsters under onto trout, as guided by licensed mentoring anglers.

The past month has been intense for Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission staff and volunteers releasing stocked rainbows, brown and brookies ahead of the big day and beyond.

The Youth Day was a terrific success. Ask the kids.

As expected, we also heard about a few slobs.

“I also saw 3 dead trout in the stream in a 100-yard stretch and fresh fisherman trash on the ground. Since it is a mentored day, maybe the fines should be doubled for game laws or littering laws. It is so disappointing that someone would mentor a youth and teach them to throw back dead/dying fish and/or leave litter along the stream.”

Sad but true. We can only hope such trashy, low-regard for wildlife behavior isn’t the first impression kids get when fishing or any time spent outdoors. It is not okay to throw or leave trash or fishing equipment on the ground. It’s also not acceptable to think that rules apply only when someone is watching.

Now that the warmup act is history and it’s time for the main event.

Youth Trout Day is a fun memory, and the mentoring between young and old should continue beyond tomorrow’s statewide Opening Day.

This had me thinking about some of my own fishing mentors.

Think about yours.

I have my maternal grandfather to thank for the getting me started in fishing.

Pappy Hankey, when he wasn’t working the corner grocery at High and Washington, took his own boys fishing and I was allowed to tag along with my uncles who weren’t much older than me.

I can still see us fishing near the Sach’s covered bridge and Waterworks on an occasional warm Sunday afternoon after church.

There were mornings throwing lines into the pond at the Moose Park along York Road. Is it still there? The Park, I mean. I can say that I don’t remember ever seeing Pap fish.

He was a good mentor. He didn’t litter and he didn’t break rules.

He did pass the time at the Moose pond by kathunking the surface of the water with sling-shotted marbles landing near turtles. I don’t think he ever hit one.

My father did not fish. He set a good example, along with my Pap, as a deer hunter. My paternal grandfather Jake was a marksman with a .22 pistol. Hunting small game, he’d take the eye out of sitting rabbit where it thought it had safely hidden.

Along with mentorship comes memories made. They are more deeply rooted and precious than learned techniques from others. Memories last longer than remembering how many fish were caught on given days.

Mentoring young anglers is important this trout season, just as it has been for us graybeards.

It is mentorship and memories that allows our appreciation of time spent wading or walking to carry on in others.

It’s people, not the prey.

Pass it on!


South Central Outdoors for Youth and sponsoring a free Youth Field Day on Saturday, June 4 for kids 6 to 17, at Adams County Fish & Game, 955 Jack Road, Orrtanna.

Coaching will be available for activities like shotgun and .22 shooting for 12-year-olds and up, fishing and fly tying, trapping, and more. Equipment is provided at no charge.

Sign-in starts at 6:30 a.m. and activities start at 8:30, rain or shine. Lunch, t-shirts and outdoor demos are free.

A door prize drawing will be at about 12:30 p.m. and the winner must be present to win.

Register online by May 15 at

Send your wild thoughts, fish tales, and photos to

Contact Josh Martin at Follow on Twitter at @JoshMartin33

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