By: Karen Gainey (Venture Outdoors Participant, Volunteer, and Fishing Guide) & Lora Hutelmyer (Youth Program Manager at Venture Outdoors)
Karen Gainey was a Certified Fishing instructor with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission but had primarily concentrated on lakes and impoundments when she was first asked by Sean Brady to become involved with TriAnglers in 2002. She was skeptical about the quality of fishing that the Pittsburgh rivers offered. She is originally from the Detroit area and the rivers there weren’t the cleanest but agreed to give these rivers a try.
Karen and Sean agreed that Point State Park offered the best location for TriAnglers so Venture Outdoors started advertising the program. On the first day, there were people already waiting at the fountain when the Venture Outdoors staff and volunteers arrived to set up! The first people to sign up were a mother and daughter.
From the inaugural season in 2002, TriAnglers was a great success! There were men wearing suits with their fishing licenses pinned to their neck ties and women in dresses fishing next to dedicated anglers, retirees, and kids. One of the biggest drawing points was that Venture Outdoors provided the rods, reels and bait and would even bait the hooks and remove the fish so the anglers didn’t need to get dirty.
The anglers practiced ‘Catch and Release’ so no fish were harmed. They did take measurements of each species and awarded prizes at the end of the season. No one could believe the number of fish that were caught and that the group had identified over 25 different species in the first season.
During the most recent fishing season in 2015, over 300 participants fished on 20 weekly TriAnglers outings throughout the summer. A total of 182 fish and 24 different species were caught (compared to 936 fish and 25 different species caught during the 2003 season). We were joined by TriAnglers regulars, summer camps, professionals who worked along the rivers, and people who were visiting Pittsburgh for the first time.
The 2015 end-of-season TriAnglers celebration was held on September 15, 2015 and included a potluck style lunch and a relaxed fishing hangout. The anglers enjoyed live music from the PA Songwriters Circle, who did their best not to scare away the fish while playing. Thanks were given to a number of partners who helped make the season a success including Island Firearms Inc. of Neville Island, who donated bait all season long; John Hayes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who wrote about the weekly catches in Friday’s Fish Report; and Cyndi and Dale Kotowski, Venture Outdoors trip leaders who donated Field & Stream awards such as hats, gift cards, and a beautiful new rod.
Fishing awards were presented to the following anglers for their success in the 2015 season:
•Most Unusual Catch – Ken Migliorese (a fish-shaped wallet)
•Most Inches Caught – John Force (376”)
•Largest Catch – Frank McCormick (29.5” Freshwater Drum)
•Generous Sponsor – Island Firearms Inc.
•Most Wacky Bait – Tommy Lippert (chicken nuggets, hot dogs)
•Most Fish Caught – John Force (25 fish)
•Bait Transporter – Karen Gainey
Since its early beginnings in 2002, the lunchtime fishing tradition continues to be a success, connecting the people of Pittsburgh to the rivers in a relaxing and enjoyable way.
Upcoming Venture Outdoors Fishing Opportunities:
TriAnglers Lunchtime Fishing began its 2016 season on Wednesday, May 4 along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail just outside of PNC Park. The fishing outings will be held every Wednesday from 10:00am – 11:30am and will be FREE for all participants, thanks to generous funding received from the Three Rivers Regatta. A valid PA fishing license is required for all participants ages 16 and older; you can register and pay for a license through the PA Fish & Boat Commission. Venture Outdoors staff and volunteers will be on hand to provide bait, rods, hooks, and assistance. We encourage all types of fisherman to join us – young and old, beginner and advanced!