Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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No fooling: N.Y. poised for a typical cold trout opener April 1

When New York’s trout season opens on April 1, there will be anglers ready to wet a line no matter what. Regardless of the air temperature, some will likely be wading through snow while others will have open streambanks or ponds to fish on.

The weather pattern that has resulted in a cold and snowy March is only showing minimal signs of relenting. At the time of this writing, at least for most of upstate New York, there were none of those summer-like spring days in the long-range forecast.

Overall, this means streams and rivers should be cold and well-oxygenated while trout ponds in many parts of the state may still have ice on them. And for areas with snow, it translates to a slow, steady runoff, which is good for streams and the bodies of water they flow into.

This continuation of winter simply mirrors what we experienced six months ago with summer-fall transition. I spent some time camping in the Finger Lakes in late September, when those first few days of autumn were dominated by temperatures that reached into the 90s. When the Northern Zone archery season opened a few days later on Sept. 27, I was bowhunting in the southern Adirondacks and my attire was a mesh gille suit with shorts and a T-shirt underneath. I was miserable.

Getting back to spring, some regions will stock some trout, if they can, for opening day. But for the most part, stocking has to wait until the water warms up. So it’s those holdover trout that we’re seeking, which are more challenging and not bad for the frying pan, either, if you decide to keep a few for dinner.

Trout anglers have seen it all on opening day. I’ve trudged though snow up to my knees on the trout opener merely for the pleasure of being out there and saying, “I did it.” I’ve also enjoyed some beautiful spring weather; the type where you sit streamside and become mesmerized by the moving water.

My go-to spot is a small stream very close to my home where catching native brook trout can be very gratifying. Just knowing that this delicate species of fish still survives on its own without stocking efforts is reward enough, and they’re beautiful little fish to lay your eyes on. If I hit this stream, it’s always early in the season, such as opening day before foliation along the banks makes it almost impossible to fish my favorite holes.

What I enjoy most is pond fishing from a canoe or kayak, and like many anglers, I’ve been watching the ice melt ever-so-slowly in hopes that it’s gone by April 1. These ponds are stocked annually with rainbow trout where one can hope to land a sizable holdover fish.

Then, I at least hope for a calm day with no wind, even if the air is cold, so as to drift over the deep holes with a number of lure presentations, including the classic Lake Clear Wabbler with a worm trailer and fly or two.

Nothing says spring like fishing season. Okay, maybe baseball season, too. Here’s hoping you enjoy some opening-day success, which in the end might only mean getting out there.

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