Results from trout opener were mixed across state

By Deborah Weisberg

Contributing Writer

Pittsburgh – Angling pressure and catch rates varied in the 45
counties that kicked off trout season April 14 as much as they had
March 31, when southcentral and southeastern Pennsylvania
celebrated a regional opening day.

Although temperatures across the state were much lower than
normal, rain held off for most of opening day, then turned into
heavy rains and snow in the northcentral and northeastern counties
the following day.

&#8220The water is way colder than normal,” said one of the
regulars at Wallenpaupack Sports Shop in Pike County, opening day,
&#8220but conditions were decent, guys went out, and they
seemed to be doing okay.”

It was a far different scenario the following Monday, when a
freak snowstorm hammered the region.

Anglers at North Park Lake, Pine Creek and other popular
Allegheny County destinations seemed to find the size and number of
trout more than okay, but S & S Bait and Tackle in Chalk Hill,
Fayette County, hadn’t weighed a single fish by 1 p.m.

”We sold a ton of bait last night, but we haven’t seen a fish,”
remarked shop owner Scott Gates. &#8220The reports we’re
getting from guys on Meadow Run, Mill Run and Dunlap Creek Lake is,
‘It’s slow, really slow.’”

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission had aimed for an
11-inch average in the size of its rainbow trout – although that
means 800,000 fewer fish will be stocked across the state – and
opening day veterans say their catches generally measured up.

&#8220They’re a better quality than in other years,” said
Tom Mason, who, with his 8-year-old son, Jake, had released 38
rainbows up to 15 inches on homemade jigs at North Park in
Pittsburgh by 10:15 a.m. Mason, 43, of Glenshaw, has fished the
lake since his father took him there as a child. &#8220These
are some of the nicest fish I’ve ever caught at the start of the
season.”

Mason said he is used to big crowds, and unfazed by weather,
which typically has less impact on lakes than on streams.
&#8220My brother didn’t want to come with us because he thought
it would be too cold,” Mason said. &#8220When he sees how well
we did, he’ll be sorry.”

Cold weather through mid-April put a damper on opening day
conditions and catch rates in some parts of the state.
&#8220The fishing has been inconsistent in Indiana County,”
said Fish & Boat Commission waterways conservation officer
Matthew Sodmont. &#8220Some of the streams are fishing well,
but some of the bigger ones, like Cush Cushion Creek, were fishing
poorly, probably because the water was just 40 degrees.”

Low water temperatures also were blamed for the poor bite on
some Somerset, Armstrong, and Westmoreland county fisheries,
although a trio of trophy-sized golden rainbows brightened the day.
They included a 25-inch, 8-pounder with 14-inch girth that Paul
Mastrippolito, of Jeannette, caught on a butter worm on Mill Creek,
and a 27-inch, 91/2- pounder that Chris Theys, of Ligonier, landed
on Loyalhanna Creek.

In Lycoming County, Pine Creek’s newest delayed-harvest section,
which got both a private and a state stocking, was giving up big
numbers of trout, while neighboring waters were hit or miss. Glen
McConnell, of McConnell’s Country Store, said even anglers who
limited out were more willing this year to walk away empty-handed
in an effort to protect a limited resource.

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