Trout season kicks off with a splash
“Follow the rules and enjoy yourself.” That was the angling advice of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s Deputy Waterways Conservation Officer Don Finn. The aptly named Finn was on hand for Saturday’s starting gun signaling opening day for the state’s regional trout season in effect for 18 counties here in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. Finn, keeping a watchful eye on hopeful anglers awaiting the official 8:00 a.m. start, also encouraged fishermen to police the area, pick up any litter you see, and, if you see a violation occur, report it to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PF&BC).
Finn was joined by a few dozen trout anglers lining the banks of West Valley Creek near Downingtown. Among them was Gary Ware of Downingtown, accompanied by an entourage consisting of Downingtown’s Nicole Moore and her sons Noah, age 15, Logan, age 13, and daughter Keegan, age 11. When it comes to fishing, Ware, age 53, is a seasoned veteran whose vehicle sports a license plate that reads “TROOUT.” “Gary has been fishing since age ten,” said Nicole, “but the rest of us are fishing Newbies. This is our third year trout fishing.”
Like other streamside anglers, Ware and his fishing posse were well armed with an arsenal of baits including worms, corn, and PowerBait. “I love to catch trout,”noted Ware, “but in the end it’s really all about the kids.”
When 8:00 a.m. rolled around a spider web of lines were cast all up and down the stream. The weather was ideal and the trout were eager to cooperate. As soon as his line hit the water, Paul Grabowski, age 55, of Drexel Hill had a fish on. The brook trout had fallen to his PowerBait offering. Grabowski gently unhooked the smallish brookie and returned it to the water.
Grabowski’s fishing buddy, West Bradford’s Bob Gabe, reeled in a trout a moment later. Both Grabowski and Gabe are avid fishermen and hunters as is Gabe’s son, Rob Junior, who was also catching his share of trout that morning. In fact, the trout were hitting almost anything the anglers were throwing at them that morning, and many were collecting their five-trout daily limits within the first fifteen minutes or so. Seasoned angler Ware and his newbie charges had no problem filling their stringers.
As WCO Finn explained, “Although the PFBC doesn’t stock this stretch of stream, the folks at the West Chester Fish, Game, and Wildlife Association (WCFG&W) loaded it up last Saturday morning for the mentored fishing event.” Finn, of Chester Springs, estimated that WCFG&W had stocked some 650 brook and rainbow trout prior to opening day. As a deputy, Finn comes under the supervision of WCO Bob Bonney, who is currently recovering from knee surgery.
That our trout season’s opening day took place the day before Easter Sunday this year suggests at least one parallel between the two events. One timehonored Easter tradition is the storied Easter Egg Hunt where the Easter Bunny hides colored eggs for children to find. In a sense, for trout season here, which is essentially a put-and-take proposition, the PFBC and, in this case, the WCF&G, play the role of Easter Bunny, “hiding” trout in our streams for lucky anglers to find. To take the analogy a step further, collected eggs are often placed in a wicker Easter basket. Collected trout classically are often collected in a modified wicker basket known as a creel (see Orvis, or A River Runs Through It).
One other dapper fisherman on the banks of West Valley creek was Robert Kirkner of Pottstown. Kirkner, age 63, caught and released three trout in the first five minutes. He planned to eventually keep a few and have them for dinner, offering the following Piscine culinary advice: “Better to catch and cook them the same day,” he said. “If you freeze them and thaw them out you might as well be eating fish sticks.”