A Slow Start to Spring
Here it is, April 15th, 2018, and I have yet to see my first mown lawn of the year here in south-central Pennsylvania. Yesterday I saw my first forsythia bush just starting to bloom. I’ve seen just one dandelion blooming so far. It has certainly been a late spring compared to recent years.
To fill in my time I’ve been taking a lot of hikes in the mountains to try to stay in shape. One day I saw the telltale tracks of a ruffed grouse in the snow followed by the spot where it took flight.
I didn’t fish even once in February, but I got out twice in March when the weather moderated for a few days. On Wednesday, March 28th, I caught 100 trout in 9.75 hours, and on Friday, March 30th, I tallied 101 in 9.00 hours. I pursued wild brown trout on both days and caught mostly little trout. The photo below was my biggest fish, but I won’t reveal how long it was since the photo makes it look a lot bigger than it really was.
Recently though I just ended a mini fishing binge.
On Thursday, April 12th, I decided to fish a small limestone stream that I fish much too often. Despite not having fished there since last autumn, the trout seemed to still be quite educated in the subject of heavy metal and were reluctant to hit my homemade White Bead Gold spinner.
I fished three stretches of water that day in 8.00 hours and caught and released only 64 wild brown trout. Despite the slow action it was good to be out again to hear the birds singing and the peepers peeping.
On Friday, April 13th, I had the itch to fish a little mountain stream. I figured it had been warm enough for a long enough time that the snow would be long gone in the deep hollow and the water temperature would be high enough to produce some good fishing. The air temperature was 65-degrees when I left my residence well before dawn and remained at 65-degrees when I checked it several times during the long drive. It stayed the same so long that I stopped checking it. When I pulled in along the nicely flowing stream I glanced down at the car thermometer one last time. I was shocked to see that it had plummeted to 44-degrees. Yikes!
The water temperature checked in at 43-degrees. I walked downstream well out of sight of the creek for about a hundred yards before beginning to fish. In the first nine minutes I cranked out three native brookies (7.5”, 8” and 10”) and one 8.5” wild brown. I thought, “This is going to be an awesome day!”
Then the action died beginning at my parking spot. I fished pool after pool and only got as much as an occasional whiff. At the two-hour mark my little notepad showed just five more trout had been caught. To say I was disappointed would be a gross understatement, particularly considering the fast start.
Despite the slow action, I had pretty much decided to stick it out since Opening Day hadn’t arrived yet and many streams were off limits to trout fishing. Besides, this was my first day in a long time to pursue wild trout in the mountains. To me there is something special about catching those little gems.
When the fishing is slow and I catch a particularly colorful fish I often seize the opportunity to take several photos of the same trout, always keeping it under water except for holding it up for a quick snap of the shutter.
I covered several miles of water, always hoping that the action would get better.
Unfortunately, with rare exception the action stayed very slow, likely because another spinner angler had fished the water recently. After 7.25 hours I had just 62 trout and decided it was time to hike out. It took me two hours and two minutes to walk back to my SUV. The air temperature was 87-degrees at my SUV and the sun was blazing. I saw six deer and one grouse during the walk.
Saturday, April 14th was the Opening Day for grown-ups here in my area of south-central PA. Like I often do, I decided to fish for wild trout early to avoid the 8:00 a.m. crowds and then go to a stocked stream a little later.
I began casting at 6:30 a.m. at a very popular destination and caught 30 wild brown trout in 2.50 hours. There were five other vehicles parked beside mine as I was leaving. Luckily, all of those anglers must have started downstream of me since I didn’t see anyone else while fishing, and the action, though slow, was consistent, indicating no one fished ahead of me. While fishing I flushed a mature bald eagle out of a streamside willow tree.
From there I drove to a stocked stream to see if I could catch some freshly stocked trout.
Like it often is when fishing for stockies, the action varied directly in relation to where the trout had been dumped into the creek, the spots of which were unknown to me. At times I would fool ten to fifteen trout in a few minutes, and then I’d go a half hour or more with little action. I caught mostly rainbow trout, but a few brookies and browns were in the mix as well.
In 5.25 hours I duped 90 trout, of which five or six were small wild browns. In total, for the day I caught 120 trout in 7.75 hours. Like the prior day, it was 87-degrees during the hike back to my SUV.
Cooler weather is forecast for the next several days along with some heavy precipitation. Hopefully I’ll be able to get into some good action.