Trout sea­son kicks off with a splash

The Boyertown Area Times - - SPORTS - By Tom Ta­tum For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

“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.”

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