Winter has not been receptive to giving way to spring. However weather forecasters indicate a warming trend is at hand. Yet between now and the opening of trout season the number of more seasonal days will outnumber the ones winter provided.
When I was a youngster, our house became headquarters for a number of anglers when trout season opened. Those were the days when the first day opened at 8 a.m. Well before the start time Albert and his wife, Geraldine, would join us for breakfast.
Once the meal was complete it was off to Clover Creek or another local stream of our choosing to begin the day with Dad and our friends.
Some will say, “The serious fishing doesn’t start until after the first day.” Well, you never fished with these folks. Geraldine was serious about her time working the water for trout; Albert was more laid back. You could say he wasn’t that serious, but deep down the guy liked to catch fish just the same. After all, that’s why we go fishing. The neat thing is all of us had plenty of fun along the way.
Years ago weather forecasts were not as detailed as they are today, but they were accurate for the day. However Dad relied on a barometer housed in a round brass plated case that hung on the wall near the kitchen door. The device is a scientific instrument used in meteorology to measure atmospheric pressure. Those readings can detect short term changes in the weather. To a watchful eye, a barometer’s measurements of local air pressure can indicate a short term local weather analysis, indicating show weather troughs, high pressure systems, and frontal boundaries.
First thing in the morning Dad would check the device. If the indicator changed positon it was readily seen when compared to where the pointer was set when the device was last observed.
Dad and many others learned to rely on barometer readings. A rising, falling or steady reading helped to frame weather conditions, not to mention the movement of game or how the fish should be biting.
One element that is bound to affect fish is the weather. While the outside temperature and conditions will make their effects felt on us, weather and stream conditions will affect the fish we are trying to catch.
Dad and Albert were weather forecasting machines.
At streamside Albert said, “Last week air temperatures were down. That will bring stream temperatures down a few degrees too. If we get warmer weather, especially when combined with a warm rain, the following day will be a great day for bait fishermen. Trout tend to react and are more actively feeding when water temperatures are on the rise or when they are falling.”
While we were rigging up our lines Geraldine asked, “Have any split shot for your line?”
“Sure, but I’m going to go kind’a light at first,” I said.
“Go heavy,” was Geraldine’s reply. “Trout tend to hug the bottom this time of year. Go deep, and then if you can’t get the fish to bite, then lighten up on the weight on your line and allow the bait to come “up” a little bit from the bottom.” The advice was taken, and it wasn’t long until I set the hook on my first trout of the season.
It’s always fun to get out and work the water for trout. Everyone you see fishing is in high gear. But if you were watching the trio of seasoned anglers I was with, they seemed to be in slow motion.
Albert said, “Hey, look at how your Dad is fishing. Gotta slow down. Everyone is in such a rush to get things done, but when you’re fish’n and want to catch something, you need to slow it down a bit. When you do time will be on your side.”
Dad was one who believed in “reading the water”. The more I fished with him it quickly became evident he was good at it.
“I like to fish deep at first, and right on the bottom to be exact. However there are times when you need to change your style. When the water is slightly cloudy and relatively warm, baits will be taken from every depth. If water levels are high, fish the quiet pockets along the edge of the stream or around big obstructions.
Trout won’t hang around in rough water. They will find areas where they can rest and expend as little energy as possible to obtain a meal, and that’s where you need to float your bait,” Dad pointed out.
If you think fancy casting is a must to get a lure to the right spot, then you don’t want to be seen with Albert.
“I like a weighted line and a simple underhanded toss. The key is not so much in how you cast, but where the lure lands. Sure there are all types of ways to cast a line, but my method is to keep it simple. The kind of streams I like to fish have a lot of obstructions overhead and behind to snag a line before it hits the water,” Albert said.
Salmon eggs, worms, spinners, and minnows are Dad and Albert’s favorites. Heck, the pair even made up some of their own lures, blending cheese and marshmallows, and who knows what else. But it worked, and we sure did have fun. A good portion of my time fishing was spent watching what these two come up with next just to try and fool a fish.
You can bet that in the evening the frypan back home would hold a couple of frying fish. We kept trout for a meal or two and no more. Even while bait-fishing, more than half the trout we caught were released. In the case of fish hooked too deep, they would make the trip back home with us.
Those were the days when fishing was taught one on one streamside. And these adventures were not limited to a special day or onetime event. But, it was a time when parents and good friends took pride in spending time with their kids. Guess you could say they were the good ole days. But keep in mind, if you have kids or grandkids you can provide them with similar experiences. Take a kid fishing and pass forward what so many of us enjoy today. And when you do chances are that one day they’ll remember the time when they too went fishing during the “the good old days”.
Mentored Trout for young anglers takes place on April 7th and the regular trout season opens on the 14th of April. Take a kid fishing, and you’ll have a fishing buddy for life.
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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net