Read the Signs

Successful anglers are puzzle solvers. They take cues from nature for lure selection, such as fly fishermen “matching the hatch” during an aquatic insect emergence. For locating fish many anglers watch for bird activity, such as seagulls feeding on large baitfish schools. But anglers also have to pay attention to any actually printed, posted signs.

Stapled to every 10th roadside tree is the Pennsylvania state flower, the yellow “Posted, Private Property” sign.  Closer inspection around streams may also reveal white signs, stating something to the effect that the stream is a designated trout water and the landowner permits anglers to fish.  According to Pennsylvania trout regulations, “approved trout waters” have “significant portions open to public fishing.” However, you are not allowed to cross a through a “No Trespassing” area to gain access to it.

While I’m still getting to know the areas landowners, I prefer to know that my access is welcome.  One of my favorite signs in this region is a white sign exclaiming “Fishing Permitted! Walk in Only!” I even found a green sign reminding anglers to catch and release to increase opportunities for kids.

Here are five tips regarding access to fishing areas:

1) Areas around bridges often provide access to streams. Watch for signs in these areas to know if you need to keep driving.

2) If a landowner grants permission to fish, ask about preferred places to park. The last thing you want to do is block a driveway.

3) If you carry a digital camera, take a picture of the sign(s) that supports your permission.

4) Some signs have phone numbers on them so a quick cell phone call may clear up any confusion.

5) Have a small trash bag stuffed in your pocket and pick up any litter. Not only does this improve the stream, it contributes greatly toward goodwill 

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to since 2011.