ZEKE WILSON: Many will enjoy opening day of trout
Trout season will open at 8 a.m. Saturday, and the weather forecast appears to be cooperating for an enjoyable day on the water.
The anticipation and excitement of the first day is a combination of tradition and enjoying our trout waters. Many who annually participate in the opener would not describe themselves as dedicated anglers, but they would miss the event only if something unavoidable came up.
The spring season is a favorite for many, and standing alongside a trout stream or lake soaking in the sights, smells and sounds is an excellent way to experience it.
The promise of trout stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission turns many waterways that otherwise are underutilized into at times an almost carnival-like atmosphere. On a number of occasions I have purchased hot dogs from a fundraising group right at my fishing destination.
With so much hype surrounding the opener, it stands to reason that competition for fishing spots and fish can be fierce at times. Some destinations see much higher use and quickly develop muddy angler trails along the banks.
Access and the amount of trout stocked impact usage, as can the weather. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the general public does not have to create heartburn, although quite often it can. Areas that are more difficult to fish are often less crowded, and thick brush and swift currents hold many anglers back.
Unfortunately, the same barriers that inhibit angling pressure also restrict stocking efforts. Luckily, high waters will distribute trout quickly, and streams stocked with rainbows see almost instant dispersal.
On a couple occasions I waited until 8 a.m. to cast into a hole and soon discovered it held no trout. Such an experience can be a little disheartening, but often the honey hole that produces best is not found until after noon. When the crowds are thick and the bites slow, sometimes walking around the next bend is all that is needed to turn the day around.
Another way to fight the crowd is to arrive at your destination with a number of acquaintances, and that way you can at least insure you will be tangled up with someone you know.
With a recently reduced creel limit of five trout measuring at least seven inches and catch-and-release common practice among many, the fishing can remain good throughout the day.
The second day of the season is rarely as good as the opener, but it offers a more solitude setting.
On Monday, in-season stocking efforts will begin, and at times these stockings can offer better action than the opener. Last year, I experienced a number of good days on the water, although it quickly becomes evident many don’t work for a living. These in-season stockings offer fewer fish, and supplies can quickly be exhausted.
If one is serious about trout fishing, taking a day off to help stock is worth the money. Learning which areas are stocked and with how many fish will allow one to understand what to expect as the season progresses. In most instances the day after the stocking is the best fishing.
Although the good, old days of put-and-take trout fishing are in the past due to costs, the experience and chance at dinner are still much the same.
• The Blackleggs Creek Trout Nursery and Watershed Association will serve breakfast beginning at 4 a.m. Saturday at Blackleggs Memorial Park along Shrokman and Cribbs roads in Young Township.