A return to Pennsylvania trout waters renews the spirit

In a world of never-ending hustle and bustle, one would be hard-pressed to find a more relieving sensation than simply slowing down and wetting a line.

I got a small taste of that “Ahhh, this-is-the-life” feeling during the southeast Pennsylvania trout season opener, when my father-in-law, Trip, and I took my john boat out to fish a local lake stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

Considering fresh snowmelt and nearly non-stop rains have been blowing streams to oblivion lately, we decided to forgo our preferred method of wading and slinging fly-line for the more sensible option of probing the depths of lentic water with light spinning tackle.

With a spotty rain tapering off to overcast skies and a stiff, chilling breeze, we were fortunately dressed for the weather. Fresh coffee and bacon and eggs cooked over a rudimentary camp stove helped warm our insides, while fair fishing action kept our hands busy.

We had a slow start but learned quickly, just by being observant, that those around us catching the most fish were doing so by offering bait on the bottom. On previous outings, I had found much success by running inline spinners high in the water column, but not this time.

After a nearby boat hauled in its second 20-plus-inch golden rainbow, adding to its near-limit in the first hour, we finally resorted to bottom fishing as well, which led to more than a dozen trout landed and released again (plus plenty of misses) over the next two hours.

We likely would’ve tallied many more fish had we made the switch sooner instead of being stubborn, proving even further how much it pays to be adaptable to conditions and let the fish dictate how they want to be caught, rather than forcing them to comply with our own agendas.

Regardless, we had a great time and caught some gorgeous fish. Trip brought in a really nice hen that actually shot eggs all over my boat. It was a little surprising to see, but she had beautiful color, making for a terrific photo opportunity.

Best of all, I didn’t have to think about anything else but enjoying the moment. For a few hours, there were no work deadlines, no bills to pay, no yard chores to catch up on, and no places to be but right there on the water … slowing down and wetting a line.

Ahhh, this is the life.

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