It’s a great time to be a Pennsylvania trout angler
There was no shortage of lines hitting the water at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 30 to kick-start Pennsylvania’s southeast regional trout season opener. With overcast skies and mild morning temperatures, the increasing afternoon winds were the only thing keeping the day from being just about perfect for fishing.
Still, it was a great deal better than the previous week’s mentored youth trout day, which saw upper 30-degree temps, harsh wind chills, and rushing, swollen creeks following heavy rains late in the week.
We roughed it for an hour that day, and my bundled-up, soon-to-be 4-year-old nabbed a beautiful golden rainbow from the murky-brown depths of a bridge hole before my frozen fingertips stopped functioning about 30-minutes later. Though it was the only bite he had that morning, it was a pretty sweet surprise for both of us in such tough conditions.
Seven days later, it was a totally different story. I hit a local lake with my father-in-law, and pretty much everyone was reeling in fish. In fact, 20-minutes into it, I joked that he and I were probably the only two anglers on the lake without a hookup yet. But soon enough, our fishless streak was broken, and we ended the morning with 21 wigglers brought to boat and released again.
In the afternoon, with warmer conditions, I took my son out to a nearby stream. It had cleared out significantly from the overcrowded morning lineup, but several people still fished nearby.
We tried drifting dough baits for a while, but no fish was interested. One guy caught a small rainbow and brought it over for my son to see before tossing it back, which was a nice gesture considering we weren’t doing much.
Another dad was hooking up regularly, and his 4-year-old son was having a great time reeling in trout. “I promised myself I wasn’t going to use spinners today,” the father said to me with a smile. “And yet, here I am.”
Not too proud to glean useful wisdom from more successful anglers, this exchange of words prompted a change in tactics on my end, and sure enough, my boy soon was able to reel in two colorful fish of his own.
Before we left, a gentleman who was fishing about 20 yards upstream hooked up with a solid fish. As soon as it splashed I could tell it was a big one, and I rushed to get both our lines out of the water. The guy who originally stopped to show my son his rainbow also took notice and sprang into action, running over to ask if he could borrow my net laying in the grass behind us.
In no time, this dude was sliding down the bank and coaching the other angler to carefully direct the fish toward the waiting net. After a few tense seconds, he heaved the big rainbow onto firm ground and high-fives ensued. I snapped a photo of the two laying tape on the 22-inch behemoth to capture this special moment of strangers helping strangers, connected by a common passion for the outdoors.
My son ran over and was celebrating along with them as they admired the big fish and recounted the action as it played out. I didn’t catch anyone’s names, but I’m thankful we could be a part of this experience and my boy could witness this all-around positive camaraderie along the stream. That education by example is invaluable for young anglers, and it’s what the sport really is all about.
All in all, it was a great start to the 2019 trout season, and we’re just getting started. With longer days on the horizon, we’ll schedule subsequent trips to the water, likely catch more fish, and forge additional memories. It’s a great time to be a Pennsylvania trout angler.