Written by John A. Straitiff | Photos submitted to PAGO Big Fish Contest

Growing up with parents who owned a bait shop, few Saturdays in the year in my childhood were met with more anticipation than the opening day of trout season. I fondly remember my first opener with my father fishing the icy mountain waters of Clear Run. From the moment that I hooked that first brook trout, I was and am still to this day, hooked on fishing. I recall another night on trout-eve, staying in a pop-up camper with my grandfather, my brother, and several other relatives near that year’s chosen starting spot and the hilarious owl story…“Grandpa, somebody is running through the creek and yelling who…who…who and they’re scaring all of the fish!”

These days you are mostly likely to find me far away from the crowds on some small isolated mountain stream chasing native brook trout or after smallmouth bass on some remote stretch of river.

The best thing about being a fisherman here, is the fact that the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region is blessed to have so many waterways that are stocked with trout each spring and many small streams with thriving native brook trout populations. For a list of stocked trout streams go to VisitPAGO.com/troutfishing/. Smallmouth bass provide fast action in the rivers during summer. With autumn comes “the fall bite” for the top predators like big musky, brown trout, and walleye. Winter finds perch and other panfish, as well as trout, active and hitting through the ice. Visitors can wet a line in the Wild & Scenic Allegheny and Clarion Rivers. The Clarion was named Pennsylvania’s 2019 River of the Year and will also be honored on the 2019 U.S. Postal Service Forever Stamp. Plus, there are many mountain streams, peaceful lakes, and secluded ponds to explore.

For fully guided fish adventures in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region, check out Keystone Predator Outfitters https://visitpago.com/listings/keystone-predator-outfitters/ and Performance Kayak-Brookville. https://visitpago.com/listings/performance-kayak/

Keystone Predator Outfitters is based in beautiful Sinnemahoning Valley and guide Todd Deluccia is a former World Musky Fly-Fishing Champion. Todd and I have appeared on the TV show Friends in Wilds Places which runs nationally on Pursuit Channel and AT&T SportsNet. We chased brook trout on mountain streams on Season 6: You Must Lose a Fly to Catch a Trout https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naSG-Ry12kg&t=713s and spent a day in Sinnemahoning on drift boat after smallmouth bass Season 7: Here Fishy-Fishy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po75YqFzSwM

Performance-Kayak of Brookville offers guiding kayak fishing adventures. Fishing from a kayak gives fisherman a chance to experience angling in a new, fun, and exciting way. Go with one of the best paddlers around, owner Hansel Lucas is a 3-time National Champion kayak racer and avid kayak fisherman with a passion for big musky. Epic Musky Trip in the Kayaks! Performance Kayak https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9jaHyQrTbI

Make sure to snap a photo of your catch and enter it in the PA Great Outdoors Big Fish Contest. VisitPAGO.com/BigFish Many area sporting organizations and clubs hold youth fishing derbies across the region. Elk County has a Trout-A-Thon with prizes for tagged fish and Straub Brewery has stocked tagged fish that are good for a free case of beer. This year make plans to take a kid to cast a line, drown a few worms, and make some memories. By the way, always bring dry clothes and an extra pair of shoes…they’re going to fall in. Heck, I fall in at least once or twice a year. Find more information about fishing in the PA Great Outdoors region online at VisitPAGO.com or call (814) 849-5197.

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