Something 'fishy' happening this Sunday

The weather's usually nasty – cold with a raw wind that seems to blow from every direction, regardless of which way you're facing. The fast-flowing water is often the color of polished steel with a hint of greenish hue. Fingers that were so nimble when tying knots on tiny hooks the night before now struggle just to grasp the zipper and pull it higher on your winter parka. It must be the opening day of trout season in "upstate" New York.

Many of us older anglers recognized the irony when the DEC changed the statewide trout opener from the traditional second Saturday in April, to April First ... or April Fool's Day. It wasn't so much the earliness, since anytime during the first two weeks in April can bring snotty weather, but the unintentional humor of the move. Seeing a diehard angler fishing a trout stream in a snowstorm was funny enough, but now he had a name. Saner individuals passing by in the warmth of their vehicles could now point, laugh and say, "There's another 'April Fool.'"

Even though the opener's rollback amounted to just a week or two each year, it had a higher potential impact on the stream conditions than such a short period might otherwise suggest, especially in our neck of the trout woods. March is often a major snowfall month, and it sometimes flatly refuses to exit "like a lamb." This means there often will be a substantial amount of snow left, and even under ideal weather conditions, that snow has to start melting before spring can unofficially arrive. When it does, trout streams swell with icy water, and early April – and especially Day One – is often not an opportune time for the faint-of-heart or sun worshipper to be astream. Thanks to a very cold February, a short thaw in March, then a substantial snowfall, one of the main concerns for this year's opening day was snowmelt runoff, especially from the higher elevations which thaw last. However, Mother Nature has been very cooperative this week, with warm temperatures and rain that have accelerated the snow melt. So Sunday's stream levels may not be as high and roiled as they could have been. But that doesn't mean they'll be perfect for fishing. It's rather rare in early April to have above-normal temperatures AND lower stream levels. And I suspect Sunday's conditions won't be an exception.

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