HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 26) - The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is offering two new youth fishing opportunities this summer in the state’s largest urban areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

The programs will give kids and their families and adult mentors the chance to target catfish in Pittsburgh’s North Park Lake and along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia City.

“Youth can never have enough opportunities to fish,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “The Commission is committed to providing youth and their mentors with many different opportunities to learn fishing skills and to participate in special Mentored Youth Days. These two programs are specifically designed to show kids who live in urban environments that there are good fishing opportunities close to their cities.”

The first opportunity will be near Pittsburgh at North Park, Allegheny County, and a Family Fishing Festival will be held on site at the park on July 29 to kick off the opportunity. The festival will run from 4 - 6 p.m. that afternoon and will prepare youth and mentors for the fishing that will follow. During the festival, staff will provide presentations on catfish biology and management, basic angling techniques for catfish, and how to prepare fish for consumption. This is a cooperative effort involving Allegheny County Parks and volunteer groups assisting onsite.

Beginning at 6 p.m., properly licensed or permitted youth and mentors will have the opportunity to participate in the mentored youth summer catfish days. Fishing will continue from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and again from dawn until 11 p.m. on July 30. PFBC staff, partners and volunteers will be on hand both days to help participants.

The catfish population at North Park Lake will be heavily supplemented with a stocking of catfish prior to the program, with additional fish stocked during the festival. The stocked catfish will range from 14 inches up to a hefty size of 24 inches. Youth will be able to harvest two catfish per day, but for mentors the event will be catch and release.

“Catfish are an increasingly popular gamefish targeted by anglers,” said Rick Lorson, the PFBC Fisheries Manager for Area 8, which includes the southwest counties. “Anglers like catfish because of their abundance, catchability, and natural existence in so many locations. Catfish are found in nearly all of our public impoundments and large rivers statewide.”

Pre-registration will be required. The North Park Family Fishing Festival featuring catfish will be open to anyone, but the fishing that follows will be will be only available to holders of mentored youth permits or voluntary youth licenses, and will require a mentor be present while the youth is fishing. Youth and mentors will have access to loaner rods from PFBC during the event. Participation in the festival is not required in order to take advantage of the mentored youth opportunity.

To participate in the mentored youth program, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid Pennsylvania fishing license and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers can obtain their free PFBC-issued permit or a purchase a voluntary youth fishing license at www.GoneFishingPA.com.

North Park Lake is located north of Pittsburgh at 10301 Pearce Mill Road, Allison Park, PA 15101.

A second Family Catfish Fishing Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Aug. 5 at the Walnut Street Fishing Pier on the Schuylkill Banks Trail in Philadelphia. The pier is located at 2436 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

PFBC staff and partners will provide families with hands-on instruction on basic skills needed to catch catfish, as well as catfish biology and the care and preparation of the catch. Participants can then practice their fishing skills in the Schuylkill River.

The event is open to anyone, but pre-registration is required. During the Philadelphia event, the PFBC is waiving the fishing license requirement for registered participants age 16 and older.

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