Opening Day Weekend 2015
Winter held on a lot longer than normal this year. I didn't get out trout fishing even once in March.
But signs of spring began to show in early April, as I saw my first coltsfoot blooming on April 6th, which was quite a surprise given the otherwise brown landscape. Normally I see coltsfoot blooming by about the first day of spring. A few years ago when we had an early spring I saw it in its splendor on the first weekend in March.
Though I got out a couple times in early April, I hadn't felt that the conditions were right just yet for an outing in the mountains.
But when I monitored the weather leading up to Opening Day, the weather and water conditions looked favorable for a trip to the mountains where I could scratch a burning itch to catch some native brook trout and wild browns. At daybreak on April 18th, while others were huddled along deep pools on stocked streams preserving their spots for the magic hour of 8:00 a.m., I waded into a non-stocked mountain brook.
The flow as perfect. The water temperature, at 45-degrees, was a degree or two colder than I had hoped. The air temperature was 40-degrees. The sky was clear and brilliant sunshine was expected.
The winter no doubt had been tough on wildlife, though I suspect this buck had its fate determined in hunting season.
Wild trout came to hand slowly. The only thing consistent about the action was that it was inconsistent. Sometimes two or three trout would be fooled by my homemade White Bead Gold spinner in just a few minutes, but other times the action dragged. (Note the beautiful red spots on the adipose fin.)
After 4.50 hours I had caught and released 41 trout, but the action had petered out even though I was a good two miles up the stream beyond civilization. Two small rectangular wet spots on an otherwise dry rock suggested another angler was likely ahead of me, and soon I saw another fisherman heading down the old railroad bed that parallels the stream. He had caught a bunch of trout and had kept three. He graciously told me where he had stopped fishing, so I hiked a good half mile (25 minutes) upstream and started fishing upstream from where he had quit.
I fished for another 3.50 hours and caught 42 additional trout, giving me 83 trout for the day. The largest trout was a 13.5" wild brown, and two 10.5" browns were the only other trout over 10". My longest native brookies were a pair of 9"ers.
The hike back to my SUV took two hours and ten minutes, but I enjoyed being out in the sunshine and the upper 70-degree air temperature. I was glad I had carried an extra bottle of water.
For Sunday morning, April 19th, I chose a Class A limestoner, hoping that other anglers would be pursuing stocked trout. I arrived before daybreak and hiked about twenty-five minutes before beginning to cast.
Old-fashioned daffodils were blooming along the creek in many places.
And it was nice to find some bloodroot.
The watercress looked gorgeous in places.
The action was decent and in 4.25 hours I caught and released 53 trout.
Since the day was still young, I decided to drive to a stocked stream. I think it's always good each year to fish for stockies to remind myself of how lucky I am to have so many wild trout streams here in Pennsylvania.
In 2.50 hours I caught and released 20 more trout, including this stocked brown. Surprisingly, eight of the twenty trout were little native brookies and wild browns, caught mostly in hard-to-reach spots likely overlooked by other anglers. Interestingly, I fished over one mile of stream before running into another angler. Based on the lack of boot tracks, it didn't appear that the fishing pressure had been heavy here this weekend.
Overall it was a decent weekend for spinner fishing, with 156 trout landed. I also enjoyed seeing the early signs of spring, including skunk cabbage. We diehard spinner fishermen know that much better fishing lies ahead once the nights stay consistently warm.
- Frank Nale -