Frosty air, frigid water cannot spoil Pennsylvania trout opener 


For those trout anglers who complained in Pennsylvania on the first day of the season, the cold weather and water left them lacking the high catch rates they associate with the start of the season. They are simply missing the true spirit and blessings that this opening day offers.

My own start to the trout season began with a late Friday morning trip to camp in the heart of Tioga County. There are numerous filled creeks that are fairly easy to get to near the camp, but I only planned one place to start the season and that was Big Pine Creek.

I love this wide creek, especially when it turns off its parallel course along Route 6 and flows into the heart of the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. With such an abundance of running water, it will never be overfished. In the early season, many anglers can live in some easily accessible spots, but in general almost all fishermen willing to walk or cycle have trout with no human company.

When insect hatches start heating water, it is both exciting and rewarding to fish the upper river of the great creek and watch a trout perform a hand-tied imitation at the end of your leader.

On the opening day on Saturday morning, the temperature on the outdoor thermometer was 18 degrees. Local weather forecasters had the “real feeling” at 6 degrees. Anglers weren’t expecting a cool start debate.

I waited an hour after the opening minute before going to a place where I often fish. The distance I had to walk a few hundred meters was empty, but a bridge that crossed the creek on the road I covered to get there and had a couple of anglers thrown into the water above my fishing spot, to assure me that the garter truck had stopped at one point to “empty” some trout.

The water was cold. On the opposite bank, large ice sickles held their place over the flowing water, frozen in place and not yet ready to fall into the creek when the temperatures finally warm.

An hour and a half of large black Wooly Buggers, weighted Hare’s Ears, and Pheasant Tails being kneaded and pulled didn’t result in a single blow. I returned to the camp.

I was back in the afternoon, this time with a spinning rod with imitation minnow. No luck over a period of two hours. I spoke to a couple of young anglers who had a fish between them. They complained about the bad fishing, one of them accusing the Fish & Boat Commission of having started the season too early. It’s always someone’s fault when things don’t go right.

The late Sunday morning was a bit warmer and the trout more cooperative with imitation minnows. I had a pair of rainbows for a camp lunch and tried this delicious fish for the first time since last spring.

I met more anglers when I left the water. Some complained about the cold weather and poor fishing, others accepted the conditions but wished it was warmer. I let their comments slip by without commenting on them, but I knew in my own mind what they had not understood.

We had just gone through a year that no one could foresee. We had encountered difficulties that no one had ever experienced before and we are all still trapped in a place that we will hopefully get around and never return. But this opening of trout fishing, at least similar to the openings in previous years, offers hope and promise that the world will finally begin to move forward in a normal way.

For me, cold weather and cold water with little fishing action cannot change or change that feeling.