Trout fishing kicks off in Southeast Pennsylvania
I don’t mean to incite envy among my fellow angling friends from locales further north and west, but where I come from, we’re already trout fishing.
For several years now, 18 southeastern counties experiencing early-warming waters have been granted a two-week head start for the regional trout season opener. With this privilege, however, we often experience a great deal of crowding on the water, from anglers near and far, all looking for the same thing – hot trout fishing action as early as possible.
This year, I decided to forgo the streamside congestion for a more relaxed lake-fishing experience via the comfort of my little Johnboat. I headed to a popular still-water destination in Lebanon County and launched my boat before dawn.
Trolling over to a 12-foot-deep location where a subtle point of land juts out toward the water, I dropped anchor and settled in for the morning. Despite a slow on and off drizzle, I was dressed appropriately for the weather, enjoying a hot thermos of coffee as 20 other boats chose their spots, and firm-soil casters placed pop-up chairs around the lake’s perimeter.
The hour preceding 8 o’clock was spent rigging my rods, organizing lures and snacking on cold breakfast items to pass the time. I watched children over by their tents chasing geese and being chased in return- only to be scolded by their parents. The great angling melting pot produced people of all races, genders and ages turning out for this anticipated occasion.
By 7:50, a young boy in the boat next to me already had a worm on his hook, standing at the bow, anxiously waiting for his father to give him the green light to cast. He must have asked his dad what time it was over a dozen times. I recalled the days of my youth when that final 10 minutes felt like hours, too. Seeing this youngster’s eagerness made me smile.
Around 7:55, someone around the bend jumped the gun and started fishing early. I couldn’t see this mystery angler, but I saw the fish splashing as he or she reeled it in. So did everyone else on the lake, and they didn’t hold back. Chastising remarks came from hundreds of yards away, urging the angler to get a new watch.
Finally, the clock officially struck eight, and a foghorn sounded from somewhere in the distance. Within seconds, dozens of trout were wiggling on the business end of taught fishing lines, bringing whoops and hollers from excited anglers all around.
A slowly retrieved black and gold Panther Martin spinner proved to be the ticket for me, as it landed the majority of my 16 trout – all briefly admired and released back into the water to be caught another day.
It was a good three hours on the lake. I witnessed many families having a great time together, and a good number of people left with their five fish limits. A lot of folks turned out, but I still had plenty of elbowroom for casting.
I think this might become a new tradition for me on opening day. Perhaps next year, though, I’ll follow the lead of one of the other boats and bring along a camp stove for boat-side bacon and eggs. We all know a hot breakfast trumps a cold one – even when trout fishing.