One week from today, the general statewide trout season opens, and participating anglers are keeping their collective fingers crossed that Mother Nature doesn’t pull an April Fool’s joke that day. Historically, the April 1 trout opener has run the gambit from naughty to nice, sunny to snowstorms, low water to flood waters. Savvy anglers accept that this early in the Spring, you get what you get and try to make the best of it.
This year, the DEC plans to stock 2.34 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in more than 300 lakes and ponds and roughly 2,990 miles of streams across the state. Spring stockings will include 1.78 million brown trout, 409,500 rainbow trout and 153,000 brook trout. Approximately 100,000 two-year-old brown trout 12-13 inches in length will also be stocked into lakes and streams across the state. For a complete list of waters to be stocked with trout this spring, go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.htmlwww.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html.
When I was a youngster, nothing, save for a blizzard or mumps, could keep me from wetting a line on opening day, but as I’ve “matured,” that old affliction, common sense, has made some major in-roads to my anticipation and follow-through once the calendar changes from March 31 to April 1. No longer is there any sense of panic if my trout gear remains in the basement for another few days. I know better days will come, albeit sometimes agonizingly slow in some years.
Fishing for trout on opening day sometimes takes on similar appearances to ice fishing; red-faced anglers are bundled in insulated clothing and wearing gloves. And a thermos of hot coffee or other warming beverage is never too far away. While they may not have to keep skimming ice off the hole they’re fishing through, some years require they pause frequently to remove the accumulated ice that builds up on their rod guides and line. And all in an effort to catch a fish usually less than a foot in length – in winter that would be a perch or sunfish, while on April 1 it’s a “pan-size” trout.