Niskanen on Bylsma, Shero and free agency - 06-26-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


Matt Niskanen's offseason is on the verge of getting pretty hectic and it has nothing to do with his status of potentially being one of the top free agent defensemen on the market come July 1, the first day teams can sign players.

He's getting married in his native Minnesota Saturday.

Beyond the exchange of vows and the specter of the Chicken Dance, Niskanen will have to make another important decision with regard to his future. With an impressive 2013-14 season on his resume which saw him set career-bests in games played (81), goals (10) and points (46), a lean free agent market for defensemen and a rise in the salary cap, Niskanen has already garnered a lot of attention from potential suitors who have already contacted his agent during the NHL's free agency interview period which began Wednesday.

All those factors would lead most to assume Niskanen is poised to cash in big time.

Don't count Niskanen among those making that assumption. Earlier this week, he talked about his status as a free agent, his time in Pittsburgh, the Penguins' turbulent offseason and what he values as a free agent.

(Note: This interview was conducted before Wednesday's hiring of head coach Mike Johnston and assistant coach Rick Tocchet as well as the firings of assistant coaches Tony Granato and Todd Reirden.)

Have you talked with new general manager Jim Rutherford yet?

"I haven’t personally spoken with him. Neil Sheehy, my agent, has. I haven’t talked with him yet."

What did you make out of Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma being fired?

"Those are two of the biggest changes that can happen really. The leaders of the organization, aside from [the owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux] were let go. The two guys that have the biggest impact in leading the hockey team were let go. It’s significant change obviously. Mostly thankful for what they did for me. Ray bringing me there and giving me another contract [in the 2012 offseason] while I was in Pittsburgh and they way he dealt with me was nothing but positive. Dan was very good for my career as well. Taught me a lot. I learned a lot about details of the game. He helped me get better to get to this position. I’m nothing but thankful for Ray and Dan and all the coaches really."

Did changes of this magnitude feel inevitable after losing in the second round of the playoffs?

"I felt that there was a really good chance of it. It wasn’t a certainty. I think everyone kind of assumed Dan was going to be the guy who took the fall for that. Ray was a little bit of a surprise. But those things happen, especially with a team in the position that we are. We’re trying to win. Everyone in town and everyone in the organization believes you have a chance to win every year. For one reason or another, you don’t get as far as you like or get that opportunity to get to a final and have another crack at it, that’s just how it works in our league. They’re going got to be changes. Those are the easiest things to do [changing management]. Especially with [players’] contracts the way they are nowadays with no-movement clauses, that sort of thing. It’s easier to make a change with those people. It’s understandable."

You could be part of further change. Has there been one overlying factor which has given the Penguins troubles in having postseason success the last few seasons?

"It’s hard to point to one thing. I’ve been there for four playoff seasons now and each year we lost for a different reason. What was the primary reason? One thing… I just can’t put my finger on it. I wish I had that answer. We’re all searching for that. After the [loss to the Flyers in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinal round], that was pretty easy to point out. There were some things that were pretty obvious that we did wrong in that series. We couldn’t score against Boston [in the 2013 Eastern Conference final]. This year [against the Rangers in the second round] was the hardest one to figure out probably. We were in a great position to get to the conference final against a team everyone thought we could perhaps have success. It’s never easy. If we play the conference final and play Montreal, we certainly would have to play well but we’re one series away from having a chance to [go to the Stanley Cup Final]."

"I lost a lot of sleep for several, several nights thinking about how what we could have done different against the Rangers. We’re up 3-1. We’re in a great position. I’ve been trying to justify it one way or another. I guess the only thing I keep telling myself is it’s really hard. I think we all realize that. The further you go, the harder it gets. [Rangers goaltender Henrik] Lundqvist played really well. I hate to just say well the other goalie was good. [Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury] played well in the playoffs. It’s just hard. These are the questions I ask guys who have won [the Stanley Cup] before. What was the feeling like? How did the games go? A lot of them, they can’t really explain one particularly thing. Those are the type of things that when they fall together, it just happens… I think."

How acclimated are you to the possibility you might not have a place with the Penguins any longer?

"In the world where there’s a salary cap, it’s math. You can’t fit. You can’t keep everybody for a lot of time anymore. I would completely understand if they thought the numbers aren’t going to work or if they want to make change for the sake of change, especially with the pipeline of defenseman who are knocking on the door and are going to be even closer this year. Who would blame them if they wanted to change direction because of that or change to make change? I certainly understand that. I certainly hope we could work something that that works great for both sides. I’ll just sit and wait and see what they say and what they want to do with me."

How much do you like playing in Pittsburgh with the Penguins and with some high-end teammates like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin versus playing for Bylsma or Reirden?

"I think there’s two sides to that. For one, it was a change of scenery and a wake-up call the day I got traded. You look at the terms of the trade and I’m the ‘throw-in guy.’ That’s a wake-up call. I come to a new place. The players and the atmosphere in place and the winning attitude, that was really contagious. The work ethic and just being in that locker room, the practice habits and the way the players play the game and compete, that was contagious so I think that part helped me. And I’ve said on numerous times how much all the coaches – Dan, Tony Granato and Todd Reirden specifically - how he took me aside and we set up a plan and said we want to get you to here. It’s taken me four years to be the type of defenseman we talked about four years ago when I first got there. He helped me the whole way. The coaches did nothing but help me become a better player and become a more reliable defenseman. All those things have kind of helped me."

How much does a coach factor into whatever decision you make as a free agent?

"It’s not everything. I know I can play well with the players. A number of our guys but [Crosby and Malkin] specifically … they’re going to make everyone around them better. I know how that works. I’ve gotten better at fitting in with them the longer I’ve been in Pittsburgh. That could be a factor. That alone, I’d be crazy to not weigh that heavily. Probably the most important thing, if you those two guys on the roster, you like to think you always have a chance. A lot of things have to come together. You’ve got to play well at the right time. Like I said earlier, it’s really hard to win. But if you have those two on your team, you’ve got a chance. Winning is really important."

"Obviously there’s a business side but the hockey fit is really important and the coach search is part of the hockey fit. How is he going to use you? How is he going to run the team? Maybe the coach comes in and he hates my rotten guts. That’s not a good situation to be in. Being a free agent, everyone thinks top-dollar this or years this. But to me, it’s the power to chose and you look for the right hockey fit and what’s best for your career and see where you have a chance to win. That’s definitely what I’m looking at more. I certainly hope it works [with the Penguins] but for the first time in my career, I get a chance to see what the fit is going to be like."

Defensemen such as Montreal's Andre Markov (three years/$5.75 million salary cap hit) and Philadelphia's Andrew MacDonald (six years/$5 million salary cap hit) have signed contract extensions in recent weeks. Do you pay attention to signings for the sake of comparisons to your situation?

"I bet my agent does… I know what’s happening around the league and the situation that I’m in here that’s probably going to unfold the next week or two. That’s really isn’t the most important thing. Whether I get this amount or that amount, my lifestyle isn’t going to change that much. I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a business side to it. There is. We’re all human. To me, I’m probably going to get more years that I’ve ever had in my career so you want to make sure you get it right."

Does length of a deal have more importance than money?

"It’s hard to say exactly until you start hearing what teams are offering. I don’t have a set dollar amount or set years in my head but I think in a black and white way to answer your question, I’d say yeah."

You finished 11th in voting for the Norris Trophy with 36 points...


Yeah. You finished ahead of guys like Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall and Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban who won the award last year. If you were told a year ago, you would be in that company, what would your reaction be?

"I would have laughed. Let’s call a spade a spade. I think generally those guys are better players over a consistency of years. But I had a good year. That’s something to be proud of. I’m really happy with the year I had. But to answer your question, a year ago… no. I didn’t think it was going to go down like that. Obviously, a lot of things fell into place for me this year. The challenge for me is the repeat of that. Not just goals and assists but the level of play."

How do you assess your time in Pittsburgh thus far? As you said, you were a throw-in to a trade. Since then, there have been doubts on your place on this roster for various reasons.

"I come in the first year and things are new. I’m learning a new system. I’m learning a ton of new details of the game that I hadn’t really seen yet or hadn’t quite picked up on yet. That first spring was getting used to things. Had a pretty good camp [at the start of the 2011-12 season]. Earned a regular spot on the roster and started playing well. What I’ve tried to do and what Todd really helped me was how do we get this a little bit better today or this week or this season. I really do think I’ve done that. I’ve gotten more and more responsibility through four seasons there. There certainly was some pretty uneasy times mostly with trade deadlines and offseasons as far if you’re still going to be there. I think there always is on a team that’s trying to win. That part was a little uneasy but I still liked it in Pittsburgh. I had four years to get my career back on track and up to the level where I thought I could be. Now I believe I am. I have more responsibility. Hopefully we can get things cleared up and try to get something done so I can stay and try to continue that."

(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 06-26-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Mike Johnston era begins.

-What does Johnston need to do now that he has the job?

-Rick Tocchet (above, with Johnston) was hired as an assistant coach while Tony Granato and Todd Reirden were fired.

-Later in the day, Reirden was hired by the Capitals as an assistant coach.

-EN Says: Reirden did wonders for some individuals on the Penguins' blue line. He helped save Matt Niskanen's career. He'll face a tall task with the Capitals' defense, particularly with former Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green.

-“Saves me some gas money." - Tocchet on no longer having to commute from Mt. Lebanon to Philadelphia to work as a broadcaster for Comcast Sportsnet.

-Jim Rutherford, Johnston and Tocchet speak:

-“I don’t feel like I’ve missed a season, if that makes any sense. I know what to do, I’ve played the game for 30 years. I played over 700 games in the NHL, I know mentally what I need to do.” - Tomas Vokoun on being sidelined all of 2013-14 due to blood clots. Vokoun, a pending unrestricted free agent, still wants to play next season.

-The NHL's free agency interview period has begun.

-Former Penguins forward Brett Sterling has joined EC Salzburg of Austria's EBEL.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-"For me, to go outside the bubble, that’s something I never did. So it will be interesting." - Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on potentially leaving New Jersey as an unrestricted free agent.

Atlantic Division

-The Lightning has opted to use a compliance buyout on the contract of former Penguins forward Ryan Malone (right). The move will spare the Lightning from a salary cap hit of $4.5 million.

-The Lightning re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Ryan Callahan to a six-year contract extension worth a total of $34.8 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $4.275 million, Callahan's new deal will have a cap hit of $5.8 million. Callahan, 29, appeared in 65 games last season and scored 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists).

-EN Says: This is an overpayment for a player with limited impact who plays a style which will wear out his aging body. Callahan isn't ancient by means but he's almost 30. And considering he blocks a lot of shots and throws a bunch of hits, he has a lot of miles on his tires already. If healthy, he can offer a respectable 20 goals per season and brings plenty of intangibles as a leader, but not exactly a true top-line forward.

-With Callahan re-signing with the Lightning, the Lightning will send a second-round pick in 2015 to the Rangers while the Rangers will send a seventh-round pick in 2015 to the Lightning as a condition of a March trade which brought Callahan to Tampa Bay.

-The Lightning re-signed restricted free agent forward J.T. Brown to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $874,125, his new deal will have a cap it of $950,000. In 63 games last season, Brown, 23, scored 19 points (four goals, 15 assists).

-EN Says: Brown is a solid skater with some offensive upside. He needs to improve his consistency.

-“I feel comfortable in Montreal. My first priority was to sign there. I didn’t think about other (UFA) options. Maybe if I go on the free market I can get more. But after the money, maybe I lose more – maybe I lose the atmosphere, the city and the organization of Montreal." - Defenseman Andrei Markov (right) on his decision to re-sign with the Canadiens.

Central Division

-How did a move to left wing help Stars captain Jamie Benn break out as an all-star?

Pacific Division

-The Kings re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Marian Gaborik to a seven-year contract worth a total of $34.125 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $7.5 million, Gaborik's new deal will have a cap hit of $4.875 million. Gaborik, 32, appeared in 41 games last season and scored 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists). In 26 games this past postseason, Gaborik scored 22 points (14 goals, eight assists).

-EN Says: At first glance, this contract has a lot of question marks. Given Gaborik's age and propensity to suffer injuries, a seven-year commitment seems excessive. That said, the deal is front loaded as Gaborik will make $6.075 million in the first three years of the contract and "only" $3.075 million the final two years. Should Gaborik want to retire at any point, the team would not incur any of the "over-35" penalties team must absorb when a player over the age signs a contract. Gaborik was outstanding in the postseason and was a big reason the Kings won the Stanley Cup. That said, his health is always a factor.

-The Oilers acquired defenseman Nikita Nikitin from the the Blue Jackets in exchange for a fifth-round pick in this weekend's draft. After the trade, the Oilers signed Nikitin, a pending unrestricted free agent, to a two-year contract worth a total of $9 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.15 million, Nikitin's new deal will have a salary cap hit of $4.5 million.

-EN Says: With the emergence of David Savard, Dalton Prout and Tim Erixon, the Blue Jackets have plenty of options for bottom pairing defensemen so Nikitin (right) was expendable. They were able to move him for a future asset. For the Oilers, they have had a seemingly never-ending hole on defense. Nikitin brings an all-around game to Edmonton but he can be prone to bouts of inconsistencies. And despite having decent size (6-foot-4, 223 pounds), he's not overly physical. He's capable of playing 20-plus minutes a game and moving the puck.

Norris Division

-Windsor Spitfire forward Joshua Ho-Sang, one of the top forwards available in the draft, has taken the path less traveled to the NHL.

-Former Blue Jackets/Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla has joined HC Trinec of the Czech Republic's ELH.

-Former Bruins/Lightning/Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Lashoff has joined Metallurg Novokuznetsk of Russia's KHL.

-Former Panthers/Jets forward Kenndal McArdle has joined Malmö of Sweden's SHL.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Mike Carlson/Getty Images, Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images and Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

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Reader Fish Photos, update Sept. 12

Written by John Hayes on .

Share your fish photos with Post-Gazette readers. Submit high-resolution .jpgs to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Include angler's name, age (if a minor), town, species, size, where caught and optional details of the catch.


On Sept. 12, during a Key West vacation, Derek Gabrish of Bloomfield caught this grouper.


Around midnight Sept. 6, Will Dwyer, 13, of Shaler caught this 37 1/2-inch flathead on a large shiner near Brunot Island on the Ohio River.


While fishing with minnow-tipped jigs at Deep Creek, Md., Johnny Aiello (left), 15, of Monroeville boated a 16 3/4-inch walleye at exactly the same time that Jimmie Koch (right), 14, of Bethel Park was pulling in a 13-inch smallmouth.


While fishing on the Juniata River near Woy Bridge Campground in Bedford County, Sophia Stoicovy, 10, of Jefferson Hills pulled in this 16-inch smallmouth.


With a little help from grandpap Dave Gallagher of Peters, Jacob Gallagher, 2, of North Strabane caught his first fish. Four bluegills were pulled from an Allegheny County pond using meal worms.

Justin Covelli, 14, of Jefferson Hills caught this brown trout on a fly rod at Rockwell Springs Trout Club in Clyde, Ohio. It measured 27 inches and weighed 11 pounds.


Jake Bartos, 5, of Canonsburg wore gloves for this photo because he didn’t like touching the 15- and 13-inch rainbow trout he caught at Raccoon Creek State Park.


Three muskies, two anglers, one fishing trip. On the Allegheny River near Kittanning, Luke Wholey of Pittsburgh released muskellunge measuring 37 inches and 45 inches, 25 1/2 pounds, and Nicholas Colangelo of Pittsburgh released a 40-incher. The pair have landed 16 muskies in western Pennsylvania in 2014.

Nicholas Colangelo

Luke Wholey

Luke Wholey

Luke Wholey and Nicholas Colangelo


Felicia Cianciarulo of Kennedy caught this longnose gar in the Ohio River near Neville Island on Aug. 12. It was caught on chicken liver and was more than 3 foot long.


Giovanni Roscoe, 19, of Greenfield caught this flathead catfish on a bluegill while night fishing on the Mon near the Hot Metal Bridge on Aug. 13.


On July 26, Chuckie Buggey of the North Side landed this 18-inch channel cat on the Allegheny River near Washington's Landing.


Siera Bennett, 6, of Bethel Park caught her very first fish, a bass, at North Park Lake on a night crawler.



At around 6:30 a.m. July 26, Scott Kozelnik of Ross caught two rainbow trout on Pine Creek near the Sample Road bridge.



The first fish ever caught by Zaira Gilliland, 6, of Slippery Rock, a sunfish, was also the first fish caught at the Post-Gazette Family Fishing area at the 2014 Regatta at Lake Arthur, Moraine State Park, Aug. 2-3.



Trina Cheng, 8, of Frederick, Md., caught her first fish, a bluegill, at the Regatta.



Shey Clark, 5, of Mars released a bluegill and a perch at Lake Arthur.



Craig Denny, 9, of Fenelton, Pa., released this sunfish during the Regatta.



Max Donald Brenner, 6, of Beaver released a sunfish at the regatta's Post-Gazette Family Fishing area.



Cheyenne Scott, 12, of Glassport was very happy about catching a bluegill at the Regatta at Lake Arthur.



Owen Winter, 4, of Richmond, Va., caught the first fish of his life, a sunfish, at the Regatta at Lake Arthur.



The Froggy radio mascot didn't get a bite.



Veteran angler Kevin Corless, 12, of Aliquippa released a bluegill and this yellow perch at the Post-Gazette Family Fishing area.



First fish ever: Savi Dillan, 4, of Garfield was excited about the yellow perch he caught at the Post-Gazette Family Fishing Area at the Regatta at Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park.



Nicholas Varhola, 2 1/2, shown with his father, Rick Varhola, screamed with delight when he caught his first fish, a 5-inch yellow perch. Nick was on vacation with family at Conneaut Lake and was using his new Spiderman fishing rod.



May 21: Bryce Boyles, 12, of Clairton on the Monongahela River as part of a Sense of Place Learning fishing field trip.
Photo by Dave Hennon.



Max McKitrick, 14, of Bethel Park caught many smallmouths fishing in Lake Erie out of Buffalo with Captain Tim Braun of Braun's Outdoors.




On the evening of July 25 at Pine Creek, Allegheny County, Everett Anderson, 4, of Downingtown, Pa., and his grandfather Dave Anderson of Allison Park landed about 15 smallmouths up to 12 inches and a 15-inch sucker pitching red worms with ultra-light spinning gear.




Gary Eakins (top) and Randy Brandt (bottom) caught these 43-inch and 39-inch muskies within 30 minutes on the evening of July 19 on the Monongahela River.
"Best half hour of fishing we ever had," said Eakins.



Bill Fogel of Valencia (top) caught this 23-inch channel cat on a dough ball. Chad Gibson (bottom) of Charleroi released a dozen bluegills and sunfish. Both were fishing with former guide Jim Burr and his dog Suzi at Lake Arthur on July 23.



Frank Zuber of West View knows his flathead catfish weighed 36 pounds, but his 40-inch tape measure was too short to record the length. Nevertheless, it was the biggest fish he's ever caught. He took it on a bluegill at North Park Lake using a medium-action rod and reel spooled with 12-pound test line.



Emma Walsh, 14, of Cranberry was given a state Fish and Boat Commission certificate for the 27-inch, 7-pound walleye she boated at Pymatuning Reservoir, Crawford County. The fish took a crawler-tipped jig. She's been fishing with her dad Tom Walsh for more than 11 years.



On July 6, Allison Druga, 6, of Plum caught her first fish -- a 6-inch bluegill -- at Northmoreland Park, Westmoreland County.


Max [last name withheld by request], 6, of Franklin Park, promised to catch five fish – one for every member of his family. On his first fishing trip, at North Park Lake, he kept his promise.



Paul Pindel caught this nice pike -- more than 30 inches -- June 24 in Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park.


Karlee Shannon Shae Lang, 5, of Brookline caught a baby shark on a child's fishing pole while vacationing in North Topsail Beach, NC. She's a little girl who loves all animals and was thrilled with her catch. Naturally, she threw it back to be with its family.



Mathew Singiser caught this bass July 6 in the State Game Lands at Hillman State Park.



Riley Tapolci, 5, of North Strabane went on his first fishing trip to a local pond with his grandpap, Dave Gallaher of McMurray In about 90 minutes he landed nine bluegills, using meal worms as bait. This is his first catch of his young life. Grandpap is very proud of his fishing buddy.



Jonathan Aloisio, 2, of Pleasant Hills recently caught his first fish, bluegill, on a red worm under a bobber at Helen Lake, Somerset County.



Fishing in the Allegheny River, Downtown, Michael Kirshenbaum of Squirrel Hill landed a 26-inch carp on french fries July 11. He brought in a 17-inch walleye on a crawler July 14.



Alan Suchy, of Baldwin caught this big mouth in a private pond while in South Carolina. It weigh 14 pounds, 6 ounces.



Cecilia Griffith of Troy Hill caught this flathead catfish on the night of June 29 on the Allegheny River.







Luke Wholey of Wild Alaska Grille caught these flatheads and northern pike on the Allegheny River in Armstrong and Allegheny counties.



Ken Ringel of Carnegie caught this 14-inch rainbow trout in Chartiers
Creek in Carnegie at 7:30 p.m. June 17. In addition, he caught a
walleye and five sauger within an hour.



Brian Gordon of Evans City caught his first fish at Lake Arthur during Moraine State Park's celebration of National Get Outdoors Day at the Post-Gazette Family Fishing Tent. Gordon and his family were fishing for the first time, considering more time on the water this summer.



Michael Turk, 10, of Lynders, Pa., caught this green sunfish at the Post-Gazette Family Fishing Tent at Lake Arthur during Moraine State Park's Get Outdoors Day Festival.



Evan Walsh, 12, of Shaler caught two bluegills at the Post-Gazette Family Fishing Tent at Moraine State Park's Get Outdoors Festival.



Mikell Gordon, 9, of New Castle caught a perch during Moraine State Park's Get Outdoors Day Festival at the Post-Gazette Family Fishing Tent.



Smokey Bear did a little fishing and a lot waving at kids during Moraine State Park's Get Outdoors Day Festival.



While researching a story about lake trout during a Reel Obsession charter on Lake Erie, outdoors editor John Hayes released three including this 28-incher.



Rick Paolino of Plum released this 27-inch 9-pound lake trout during a Reel Obsession charter on Lake Erie.



Fish on. Rick Paolino of Plum during a Reel Obsession charter on Lake Erie.



Justin Paolino of Kittanning released this 30-inch, 12-pound 10-ounce lake trout during a Reel Obsession charter on Lake Erie.



Outdoors editor John Hayes caught this walleye in Lake Erie off North East during a Reel Obsession charter.




Benjamin Saks of Garfield released these largemouth bass, estimated 18 and 19 1/2 inches, at Raccoon Creek State Park.




Joe Brown of East Pittsburgh caught the channel cat above -- estimated 24 inches, 10 pounds -- on the Monongahela River near Braddock. Following a 15- to 20-minute fight, he landed the the 38-inch, 10 1/2-pound carp in the same area.



Cooper Dietz, 6, of Hays holding a 38-inch flathead catfish that almost pulled him into the Monongahela River near Duck Hollow.



Cara J. Della Toffalo, 9, of Harmony with her first catfish -- a 29-inch, 12-pound channel cat -- caught June 1 on a crawler with an ultra-light rod and 4-pound test line at Lake Arthur.



John Kampian of Joffre, Pa., with a 44-inch, 24-pound muskie -- his first in 61 years -- released May 9 at Pymatuning Reservoir. 



On April 26, 2014, Tim Mance, 11, caught this 17 1/2-inch golden rainbow trout at Oil Creek in Tionesta, Pa.
Photo taken by his father Mike Mance.



David Higgins of Hickory, Pa., caught this 15 1/2-inch, 1 3/4-pound crappie at Cross Creek Lake, Washington County, in 4 to 5 feet using a silver-white tube jig.





On his first cast from the shore of Tionesta Creek, Mike Hetrick caught this 43-inch muskellunge.




Luke Wholey, owner and chef of Wild Alaskan Grille restaurant in the Strip District, has released 10 muskies on the Allegheny River in 2014. Nine were pulled through the ice, the most recent was released June 16.



Ralph Brunner of South Park caught this 24-inch, 5-pound rainbow trout at Pine Creek, Allegheny County.
Photo by Danielle Brunner.




Doug Leichliter of Greensburg. Rainbow trout caught on a red plastic worm. Mill Creek, Westmoreland County.



First time fly casting, Sadie Greene, 4, caught eight fish in 40 minutes, including this bluegill, at Lake Arther, Moraine State Park, Butler County.


Cara J. Della Toffalo, age 9, of Harmony

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Post-Gazette Trout Photo Contest

Written by John Hayes on .

 Big Fish


 WINNER: Nathan Quince, 17, Imperial.


"On April 17, I caught a 26-inch rainbow that weighed 5 pounds 7 ounces at Raccoon Creek State Park on a Trout Magnet. I caught him on a 9-foot ultralight with 4-pound test line. The fight was incredible and lasted about 15 minutes."
- Nathan Quince

Photo by Deb Quince


Ryan Duchi caught this 25-inch rainbow on Allegheny County's Pine Creek below Willow Run at around 4 p.m. on the opening day of trout season.


blogCONTESTaccettulla - Copy

Mark Accettulla of Oakmont caught this 24-inch 5-pound golden rainbow trout on Easter Sunday in Corey Creek, Tioga County.
Self-photographed using a tripod and time delay.

He caught this 21-inch, 3 1/2-pound rainbow trout April 27.


On May 8, Tim Warner, 13, of McDonald caught this 24-inch rainbow on Raccoon Lake using a Joe's Fly on an ultra-light spinning rod with 2-pound test line.
Photo by Shawn Lenhart.



Phil Coffin caught this 22-inch 5-pound golden rainbow at Loyalhanna Creek.



On opening day, Alyssa Harris of Butler caught two 21-inch rainbows at Deer Lakes using yellow PowerBait. She's pictured here with her sister Kali Harris (left) and dad Michael Harris.
Photo Robert Ventorini, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.


This 21 3/4-inch, 4-pound 1-ounce rainbow was caught by Lou Davies III, 7, of Fayette City in the Virgin Run Lake outflow on May 4.


Doug Leichliter of Greensburg released this 19-inch 2.4-pounder, caught on a spinner at Loyalhanna Creek.
Photo Dennis Irwin, Ligonier.



Post-Gazette outdoors editor John Hayes released three lake trout May 11, including this 28-incher, during a Reel Obsessions guide trip on Lake Erie while researching a story on lake trout.

He released two fat rainbows during a Wilderness Voyagers guide trip on the Youghiogheny River April 26 while researching a story on fracking in trout country.




WINNER: First Opening Day, First Trout
Adrian Jerabek, 3, of Robinson caught his trout at Raccoon Creek.
"Saturday was the first of many opening days of the Pennsylvania trout fishing season for me and my 3-year-old son Adrian," said Kelly Jerabek, who took the photo. "He had a blast, but I think I had an even better time!"



"My first trout, with help from my big brother Ty and my Dad."
Noah Troxell, 3, of Moose Creek, Clearfield County.
Photo Joel Troxell.


On April 27, Lily Jester, 5, of Moon caught her first two trout on Montour Run using her pink Barbie fishing pole with the assistance of her dad Jason Jester.
Photo by Abigail Jester, 10.



Ethan Murick, 3, of Franklin Park, during his first fishing trip at Dunlap Lake on the opening day of trout season, 2014.
Photo by dad Darren Murick.




Kendra Onuska, 6, of Independence, Beaver County, landed this 21-inch golden rainbow trout on Easter morning while trolling on Raccoon Lake at Raccoon Creek State Park.
Photo by dad Steve Onuska.


On the opening day of trout season, Jake Callahan, 13, of Cranberry caught this 20-inch brook trout at North Fork Creek near Richardsville, Pa.
Photo by Bill Callahan.


Megan Russell, 14, of Valencia with one of a dozen trout caught on grubs and pressed eggs and released on Deer Run.
Photo by Jeff Russell.


Nate Crum holds a trout, with his dad Jeff Crum in the background, during a Post-Gazette fly fishing bus trip to Ohiopyle/Meadow Run, May 10.


TJ Rice, 12, of West Pittsburg, Lawrence County, c
aught his first career trout April 19 at Mahoning Sportsman's Association in Hillsville, Pa., using a small minnow.
Photo by Terry Rice.


MacKenzie Crispin, 11, of Latrobe, caught her trout on a live minnow April 19 at lower Twin Lakes, Greensburg.


Max Kaufer, 14, of Greensburg caught this 17-incher at lower Twin Lakes on Easter Sunday with a spinner.
Photo Bruce Kaufer.



Luke Fotta, 15, of Ross released nine trout at North Park Lake, Allegheny County.



First Trout
Despite high water on opening day, Chase Kean, 17, of Conneaut Lake, caught this 12-inch rainbow at Sandy Creek, Mercer County, on a spinner.


Cole Roberts, 8, of Castle Shannon caught this 16-inch golden rainbow and 19-inch rainbow while fishing Marvin Creek in McKean County with his mom Christy Allison and stepfather JP Allison.
Photo Christy Allison


Artsy Shots

WINNER: Greg Reynolds, Penn Township.
This rainbow trout was caught on Laurel Hill Creek at the lower Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only area near Humbert, Somerset County.

A nice Meadow Run rainbow caught at the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only area in Ohiopyle State Park, Fayette County.

An extreme closeup of a steelhead from Elk Creek caught near Sterretania, Erie County.
Each fish was caught on flies using split bamboo fly rods, and released. Photographed using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 point-and-shoot camera.


15-inch tiger trout, Loyalhanna Creek, Westmoreland County.
Released and photographed by Doug Leichliter of Greensburg.

Colorful 14-inch rainbow, released at Loyalhanna.
Photo Doug Leichliter

Last-cast brookie, released April 21 at Loyalhanna.
Photo Doug Leichliter



blogCONTESTkozelnik - Copy

During a morning snowfall on April 15, Scott Kozelnik of Ross caught five rainbow trout at Pine Creek.
Photo by Scott Kozelnik.

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