Next Saturday is the opening day of the 2002 Pennsylvania trout season.
If you have plans to try your luck on some of the state's fine trout fishing, then there are a few things you should do before you go.
First and foremost, make sure you have the proper state licenses and stamps. You don't want your day marred by a citation or arrest for fishing without a license.
License fees: For Keystone State residents, the cost is $16.25 plus a 75-cent issuing agent fee.
Other categories include senior residents, $3.25; senior lifetime, $ 15.25; nonresident, $34.25; 7-day tourist, $29.25; 3-day tourist, $14.25; trout/salmon stamp, $5 plus a 50-cent agent fee.
Check your gear: Next, make sure you check your fishing equipment thoroughly. That includes examining your chest or hip waders for holes or worn spots, checking flies, lines and all other related gear as well. No sense getting out to a favorite stream or creek and finding your equipment in bad shape.
Now, about the fish themselves. For the past few months, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has been stocking about 5,000 stream miles with trout that can be caught and kept.
Because these fish are at least 7 inches long -- the minimum size for trout -- they are described as "catchable."
Stocking activity: There is still some late season stocking still being done. The white PFBC tank trucks will be out this week at various stream locations in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Venango, Warren, Washington, and Westmoreland counties in western Pennsylvania.
Specific stocking sites and how many fish per site, as well as times and where to meet the trucks can be viewed at http://sites.state.pa.us /PA_Exec/Fish_Boat/stockpre.htm, on the official PFBC Web site.
Wild trout areas: But, above and beyond these stocked waters, there are also areas that the state leaves alone and are still an excellent place to drop a line.
These areas contain wild trout, fish that were not hatchery raised but earned their spots growing up in a wild place.
The PFBC calls these areas "wild trout waters" and there are nearly 1,500 stream miles of them, just full of wild brookies.
These areas are also under special fishing conditions, shorter seasons, activity restrictions and minimum-size rules.
The locations of these areas can also be viewed at the PFBC web site.