The famous 20th century English Poet Ted Hughes once said: “Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.”

     Sitting at the river’s side, listening to the gentle sound of water is wonderfully relaxing. When you’re fishing and you hear the wind softly rustling the leaves, the stress, responsibilities, and burdens of life are far away. Fishing does not only relieve stress and pressure, but it also helps you to find peace of mind. At the same time, fishing helps you to focus on what is really important. When you’re sitting at the lake, casting your spinning reel, there’s simply no place for the problems and challenges of your regular life. In fact, fishing requires you to be mindful and to be fully present in the moment to fully immerse yourself in the experience. 

     Our home state, Pennsylvania, is ranked one of the best states for fishing in the US. With that being said, There are more than 86,000 miles of streams and rivers, along with 4,000 inland lakes and ponds covering 160,000 acres, plus 470,000 acres of Lake Erie. The waters of Pennsylvania have always provided outstanding and substantial fishing opportunities to all and a major part of this would be Trout season. 

     Brook Trout, Lake Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Steel-head and Golden Trout are most commonly found in the waters of Pennsylvania. The most popular places for fishing near the Norwin area would be the Youghiogheny River in West Newton, Twin Lakes in Latrobe, Sewickley Creek in Sewickley, Kooser State Park in Somerset, Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe, Keystone State Park in Derry, and Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset. With trout season starting on April 3rd this year, all of the above places have been stocking the waters in preparation and are going to continue to do so. 

    Environmental Education Specialist Kimberly Peck works for PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources at the Laurel Hill State Park Complex. She works with things from helping set up programs in the parks for the community to helping people with everyday questions about the outdoors to helping keep the parks in order.

        “We are going to try and follow all of the protocol for COVID-19 as best as possible. Even though we are outdoors we still need to remain distanced and if you are close to someone be wearing a mask to be appropriate. There is one statewide opening day on April 3rd. We expect to be a lot busier than usual,” said Peck.

     With trout season this year, some things are for sure going to look different with the surrounding circumstances; COVID-19. Contrary to prior years, this year there is going to be only: “a single, statewide Opening Day of Trout Season will begin at 8:00 a.m. Anglers are reminded that there will be no separate regional mentored youth trout fishing day or regional opening day in 2021,” according to

     “In general in the outdoors we are busier than ever. We have contacted people who haven’t fished in years and are coming out to do so, so definitely and increase. There has been just more people fishing in general,” said Peck.

     With more people fishing that means a need for more fish. Stocking the waterways; lakes, streams, creeks, etc. plays a big role in this to keep the population sufficient enough for all those who fish.      

     “All of our stocking is run through the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,” said Peck.  “They make all of our connections with the hatcheries and schedule the stockings and then our law enforcement officers here at the park get in contact with them to make sure they are able to get their vehicles back into the park. Sometimes they physically need help with putting the fish in the stream and other times they can pump them right into it. Local waterways conservation helps us determine how many fish are able to go into a specific area and where it is best to load the fish.” 

     As one can see, a lot of prep work goes into the starting process of getting ready for opening day of Trout fishing. They continue to stock streams and rivers throughout the season but they do most of the work the upcoming months and weeks before opening day. All of the dates of stocking of the waterways around can be found at PA Fish and Boat Commissions website. 

     With all of these fresh trout coming in for fishing,  you, of course, have to have the choice fishing rod to use along with your bait of choice. Laurel Hill is one of the many parks in PA that has sections of the stream where you can use only artificial lures such as craws, Gulp worms, and rattling rigs and then parts where you can only use fresh bait such as minnows, nightcrawlers, and crayfish. 

     “Up here at Laurel Hill we see a little bit of everything. It really depends on the season but we definitely see more of close-real, open-real, and spinning rod for the first day of Trout up here,” said Peck.

     Now with that being said, Laurel Hill is for sure nothing short of being one of the most popular places for a good catch around here especially on opening day. 

     “We maintain a fairly busy season most of the year,” said Peck. “We provide really high quality streams for Western Pennsylvania in particular. Johns Mill run is of exceptional value, Laurel Hill Creek is a high quality cold water creek, our lakes are considered high quality cold water fisheries and they are all super popular for Trout. We always have people here.” 

     Because of the popularity the fisheries in Western Pennsylvania, they  provide great opportunities for people just wanting to start to fish. There are a plethora of options to choose from for starting to fish around here. 

     “A really great spot for first time fishing is Kooser State Park,” added Peck. “You have great shoreline access and you can spread out a bit to have space to learn how to use your rod. It also has really cold water so it is great for Trout and other cold water fish.” 

     When fishing in a new place for the first time it can be hard to find just the right spot to get a lot of fish. But once you have been at a place for so long you learn the ins and outs of the waterways and find good little sweet spots for good fishing. 

     “Jones Mill Run in general is great. Whether you’re fishing the impoundment above the dam  or the stream itself; there is something special about it there. You have the good coverage and it is well shaded and stays nice and cool and is great for Trout yet again,” said Peck

     With all of these great fisheries  so near home it is sure to have some great fishermen in our area. Norwin High School in particular has some fish savvy people who enjoy a good day on the water and taking home a good catch; Lucas Schmondiuk and Kevin Skweres .

     When fishing there are so many places you can fish and so many different types of experiences you will get at

Lucas Schmondiuk with his first catch of the year last year.

each place you go to. 

     “My favorite place to fish for trout would be where there is running water,” said Skweres. “That can also answer your question that when I’m trout fishing I normally fish streams and creeks due to them constantly flowing and having rapids.” 

     “My favorite place to fish would be the streams up in Somerset County by Seven Springs and Hidden Valley. The type of place I fish the most would be mostly stream and lake fishing,” said Schmondiuk.

     Fishing where there is moving water provides normally cooler water and has more oxygen in the water.  Fishing in moving waters is also possessed as more of a challenge than fishing in still waters. Fishing in streams and rivers offers different challenges than fishing in lakes and ponds because you have to deal with moving water. River and stream fishing means knowing where the water is moving and how fish behave in it. 

     Being an avid fisherman means you are going to have your preference of what kind of rod and bait you will prefer to use. Oftentimes the type of bait and word you use will depend on the location of where you are at. 

     “I use spinning rods such as Shimano and Daiwa,” said Schmonduik. 

     “ The type of rod that I like to use when trout fishing would be a light action or a medium action rod. I like the challenge of having these fish fight with super light tackle,” said Skweres. 

     With being able to know what you like comes the time you’ve spent fishing. Oftentimes people will start fishing when they are younger because a parent or family member introduced them to it and then they fell in love with it. But many people also start on their own terms just out of curiosity. 

     “I have been fishing ever since I was little. My dad loves it and ended up taking me when I was 4 and I absolutely fell in love with it!” said Skweres. 

     “I’ve been fishing since I was about 3 years old,” said Schmonduik. 

     With fishing that long often comes the opportunity or want to compete for the biggest catch or catch a certain type of fish to win a prize. Lucas Schmondiuk can definitely say he had his share in competing in fishing competitions. But competition doesn’t just have to be with people you don’t know, it can also be just amongst those close to you, which is what Kevin Skweres prefers to do, keep it close to heart.

Kevin Skweres catch of the day; top is a Brooke Trout and the bottom is a Rainbow Trout.

     “I’ve entered a few fishing competitions like bass leagues (Pittsburgh junior bass league),” said Schmonduik. 

     “ I can say that I  never entered any competitions, but my brother and I always have competitions of our own. We always compete against each other with things like who caught the most fish, who caught the biggest fish etc.” said Skweres.

Lucas Schmondiuk with his first catch of the day.

     Being this avid of a fishermen definitely means they are out bright and early on opening day of trout waiting to get their catches of the day to take them on home and eat them on up. For some people this means so much to them it’s like a holiday to them and they have traditions of what they do on opening day every year. 

     “As long as the weather is nice I normally go on the first day of trout. I have had great success and got my limit of trout for the day despite it being pretty crowded,” said Skweres.

     “I’ve never missed an opening day of trout and a little tradition me and my dad do every year for opening day is he buys me a brand new rod and reel,” said Schmonduik.

     With doing all of this fishing you definitely have a personal record for fish whether it be the type of how rare the fish is you caught or how large and heavy the Trout is you caught. 

 “The most prized trout I have ever caught would have to be a 16”-17” tiger trout on my fly rod out of yellow creek hatchery,” said Schmonduik.

     “My most prized trout would have to be the yellow one I am holding in the picture. It is actually called a palomino trout or a golden trout. It was a huge fish and they are hard to catch,” said Skweres.

Kevin Skweres with his prize Golden Palomino Trout.

     Being able to have the patience and willingness to sit for hours on end waiting to get a bite on your rod is a skill unlike any other. People don’t go fishing to escape their outside lives, they go fishing to live their lives.  Fishing is the lure for some people to be able to enjoy the outdoors and to just spend time on the water wherever it may be.