Sunday, April 8, 2012

Opening Day Of Trout Approaches

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Opening day of trout season Saturday will find some anglers standing in the same place they were last year, and the year before that and the year before that.
That`s part of the tradition.
But if you`re undecided about whether to fish, or where to go or what to do when you get there, here are some things to consider:
Think big early
Are big fish important to you?
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks 8,500 trophy golden trout and 20,000 brook, brown and rainbow trout brooders annually. They average 16 to 20 inches long and sometimes go as big as 24. Notably, 70 percent of them are stocked for opening day.
"So, yes, the first week is your best time to catch something that`s bigger than average," said Tom Greene, coldwater unit leader for the Fish and Boat Commission.
Stocking dates
When was the waterway you`re looking at last stocked?
Typically, lakes and streams lose about 1 percent of their trout — to natural causes, predation, movement or poaching — each day after being stocked, said Rick Lorson, the commission`s fisheries manager in Somerset. That means a waterway stocked one week before the opener will have more fish than one stocked with a similar number of trout three weeks earlier, Lorson said.
Types of trout
What kind of trout do you want to catch?
The commission often puts more than one kind of trout in the same waterway. But, as a general rule, lakes get mostly rainbows, while streams in the Laurel Highlands get a lot of brooks and browns and those in Allegheny County and points west get browns and rainbows.
Of the three, brook trout are the easiest to catch, browns the hardest, Lorson said. That makes brookie streams good bets early in the season, brownie streams good later.
Solitude or socialization
Is your priority solitude or camaraderie?
If it`s the former, look at the stocking list and pick a short stream in a rural area that gets just one load of fish. The commission stocks trout on a per-acre basis, with more fish put more often in waters near population centers. If a stream is getting few fish, that means it also sees relatively few anglers, Lorson said.
But if you prefer company — and often more parking, easier access, facilities like restrooms and even special services — consider lakes. At Keystone State Park, for example, its Friends group, which raises money for projects like developing fish habitat, will staff a concession stand at the boat rental Saturday. Between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., anglers can get a cup of coffee, a sandwich or snacks for the kids.
"It`s a lot of fun for us. And I think the fishermen really appreciate it, too," said Pam McQuistan, the park`s environmental educator.
Move and wait
Most stocked trout don`t venture more than a few hundred yards from where they were released, Lorson said. So if you`re not catching fish and someone up or downstream is, move in when they leave, he said. Just don`t give up.
"The fish are going to be there," he said. "Sometimes it just takes patience."

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