Streams flooded with anglers, then rainwater for Southeast trout opener

Though it had been anticipated for weeks, opening day of the early southeast trout season has already come and gone. After a long, enduring winter, thousands of anglers congregated along stream banks in 18 southeastern Pennsylvania counties, eager for tight lines and fish tales.

But unless they arrived early Saturday morning, it’s likely they had a tough time beating the crowds. At least that was the case for the local creek at which my brother and I, along with our wives, began our 2014 trout-fishing season.

Pulling off the roadside near our pre-scouted fishing destination around 6 a.m., we were alarmed to discover there were several other vehicles already parked there with fishermen staking out the banks above all the best runs and pools.

Knowing we had gotten a later start than I would have liked, we settled for a mediocre turn hole that should have held some fish. As we awaited the 8-o’clock start, we chatted with fellow anglers, rigged up our lines and emptied out our coffee thermos.

By the time of the first cast, 23 vehicles had accumulated up by the road, and anglers were pretty much standing elbow to elbow. Because I was fishing a fly rod, which requires more drift space, and because my wife could only fish for an hour before having to go coach a soccer game, I stood back and let the others fish first.

Folks were catching trout on both sides of us. My brother caught and released two decent brookies using threaded fathead minnows, but the girls struck out with their dough baits.

A gentleman just around the turn from us filled his stringer in 20- minutes by dangling weighted wax worms through a hole in a logjam. The man next to us caught two fish, smoked a cigar, and left. The crowd to our right took turns throwing everything they had at a finicky golden rainbow, but to no avail.

By 9 o’clock, I was finally fishing, but an hour and a half of working over a tight run with various underwater tandem rigs produced only one strike, which I missed of course. Just as I was thinking it was time to try a new spot, the rain began to fall.

Hoping this might clear things out a bit, I put on my rain jacket and headed to a more promising location. Here I found fewer anglers and more cooperative fish. In 25 minutes I netted and released three nice rainbows before the steady downpour clouded up the creek and shut things down.

Moving yet again to one last location, I waded a remote half-mile stretch of stream only one other angler was fishing. The only action I experienced was a lone trout rising from beneath a cutout bank to tick at a black wooly bugger I stripped upstream. With evening now setting in, and the rain still coming down heavily, the swollen creeks proved to be too choppy, so I hung it up for the day.

Though it wasn’t the most stellar opening day I’ve ever experienced, I caught a few fish and it was a lot of fun being out on the stream again with my family. I suppose that’s what matters most – even if you’re not hooking up on every cast.

Looking on the bright side of things, the heavy angler traffic means the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission must be selling more licenses, which is good for the future of fishing in our state.

And because the rain deluge washed out the streams a bit and sent most anglers packing, it’s likely that fewer fish were caught, leaving a more dispersed selection of stockies to try for later this week when stream conditions improve.

One should always look at the glass half-full.

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