Cold spring shouldn’t affect trout opener

BY PAT FARNELLI

The harsh winter and below average spring temperatures shouldn’t impact this year’s trout season.

Walt Dietz, Northeast Regional Outreach & Education Coordinator for the PA Fish and Boat Commission, said, “The streams and lakes are open and being stocked. Some waterways are still ice covered. There is no longer adequate thickness for ice fishing, although in the northern areas you will still find some streams and ponds that are still ice covered. This rain (Monday afternoon) will deteriorate the ice.”

Dietz said opening day weather conditions, like wind and rain, can affect the people fishing much more than it does the fish. “Rain doesn’t make a big difference in feeding,” he said. “Really cold water could have an effect,” though.”

Trout season opens Saturday, April 12.

There are several classifications of trout streams, according to Allan Schreffler, Regional Education Specialist for the state Fish and Boat Commission. A list of available locations is available on the Fish and Boat Commission website by clicking on each classification. These include: Approved Trout Waters, Class A Wild Trout Streams, Special Regulation Areas, Stream Sections that Support Natural Reproduction of Trout, and Wilderness Trout Streams.

“Many waters in Pennsylvania are on private property,” Schreffler said. “The listing or mapping of waters by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission does not guarantee public access. Always obtain permission to fish on private property.”

While many streams in Susquehanna County have a healthy population of wild, naturally producing trout, others are stocked to maintain populations.

“We stock three species: brown trout, rainbow and brook,” Dietz said. In addition, there’s a variety of rainbow, called golden rainbow or palamino, which we also stock, that some consider a sort of fourth species. They look like a rainbow trout but are an orange color like a gold fish.”

Stocking takes place leading up to opening day early in April, and then continues throughout the season. “Our biologist determines which trout will do well before stocking,” Dietz said. “Brook trout survive better in more acidic waterways, which the others do not.”

Trout must be at least seven inches to keep; and the bag limit is five.

Dietz said the Fish & Boat Commission views safety as a priority for those out on the water and the shoreline.

“Wear a PFD (personal flotation device) or “life jacket;” he advised. “If fishing from boats, make sure the boat is registered, and have proper safety equipment,” Dietz said.

“For the shore angler, banks are slippery especially after rain,” Dietz said. Wearing waders with metal studs or cleats is recommended.

Dietz said, “It’s a good idea for a wader to wear a PFD, even if it is not required, in case of slipping, especially for older anglers or those whose footing is unsure for any reason.”

Carrying a wading stick – or wading staff – is also recommended; and iInstructions on making you own can be found on the PA Fish and Boat Commission website.

Dietz recommends, “Be cognizant of other anglers while casting, and make sure your vehicle is pulled all the way off the roadway. Watch your ins and outs.”

Anglers are also looking for the right bait that will reel in those prize trout.

Dietz said, “It really runs the gamut in the springtime, usually everything works at the season opening. Sometimes nothing works, with anglers throwing absolutely everything at them. They can be spooked by lots of lines and anglers along the stream, and refuse to bite.”

He said that everyone fishing will have a different opinion about what bait works best. “You hear a lot of them say they like worms, doughballs, or corn, but plenty have success with wax worms, minnows, or paste bait that looks like PlayDoh and comes in a jar.”

For dry casters, lures and spinners are always popular, Dietz said.