Trout sea­son brings sure cure for cabin fever

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - SPORTS - By Tom Ta­tum For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia Tom Ta­tum Colum­nist

It’s been a bru­tal few weeks. March came in like a lion and just kept on com­ing, throw­ing four nor’easter storms our way with plenty of snow, frigid winds, and teeth chat­ter­ing tem­per­a­tures, re­sult­ing in some ma­jor cases of cabin fever for all of us. For­tu­nately, the ul­ti­mate cure for that lin­ger­ing case of cabin fever is just a few days away: the long awaited open­ing day of trout sea­son for the 18 coun­ties in our south­east­ern re­gion. The start­ing gun is set to sound at 8:00 a.m. on Satur­day, March 31, here in our cor­ner of the Com­mon­wealth.

So, as has be­come our tra­di­tion this time of year, we sought out the fish­ing wis­dom of Bob Bon­ney, Wa­ter­ways Con­ser­va­tion Of­fi­cer for North­ern Ch­ester County, for his ex­pert ad­vice. Here’s his sage ad­vice:

The 2018 trout sea­son should be a ban­ner year for us here in Ch­ester, Bucks, and Mont­gomery Coun­ties. The pre­sea­son stock­ings are com­pleted and all that’s left is for an­glers to get out and en­joy na­ture’s in­cred­i­ble gifts. In my 25 years of ser­vice here I don’t be­lieve I’ve seen bet­ter wa­ter con­di­tions this early in the sea­son and, if it holds for the opener on March 31, there should be a lot of sat­is­fied fish­er­men. The rain­bow trout I ob­served be­ing stocked here in the North­ern Ch­ester County streams this year, by our il­lus­tri­ous stock­ing team, are ex­cep­tional look­ing fish. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the PFBC Hunts­dale Hatch­ery for an out­stand­ing job on send­ing some re­ally nice fish to our area this year.

How­ever, when you head out the door on Satur­day with rod in hand keep a few things in mind. As al­ways you must pos­sess and dis­play a valid 2018-Fish­ing Li­cense along with a 2018 Trout Stamp. Af­ter pur­chas­ing and be­fore leav­ing the sport­ing goods store be sure to ask for your copy of the 2018 Sum­mary Book, which has the Rules & Reg­u­la­tions you’ll need to know about prior to hit­ting the streams. If you pur­chased your fish­ing li­cense on line just stop in to any estab­lish­ment that sells fish­ing li­censes and they will be happy to give one to you, there is no charge for the Sum­mary Book. Af­ter that I would strongly urge you to take the time and read up on the rules and reg­u­la­tions for the species you’re fish­ing for.

Now that you’ve read the Sum­mary Book you’ll need to know where you’re fish­ing. We have two types of trout wa­ters here, Ap­proved Trout Wa­ters or Spe­cial Reg­u­la­tion Area. Spe­cial Reg­u­la­tion Ar­eas can be fished 365 days of the year, and are typ­i­cally catch & re­lease, which means you may not have trout in your pos­ses­sion but for the fol­low­ing ex­cep­tion: June 15th to La­bor Day you may keep (3) trout at least 9” per day. And at no time may you have bait in your pos­ses­sion. These ar­eas are well posted so you need to be aware of your sur­round­ings. So if you find your­self itch­ing to get out and wet a line be­fore the opener on the March 31st these are great places to go as they have also been stocked. You don’t want to find your­self in one of these ar­eas with bait and or fish in your pos­ses­sion be­cause if you do it’s a safe bet you’re likely to run into one of us. We have sev­eral ad­di­tional of­fi­cers on the job here this year so there’s a higher prob­a­bil­ity of that chance meet­ing oc­cur­ring.

Once you have all of the rules and regs down pat and you know where the ap­proved trout wa­ters and the spe­cial reg­u­la­tion ar­eas are you’ll want to get out and scout for a good place to start on open­ing day.

When you’ve found that spe­cial place then look for a plan “B”, be­cause you can bet that there will most likely be some stiff com­pe­ti­tion for that very same spot. Since most folks don’t like walk­ing, I rec­om­mend tak­ing a walk (Be­ware of the “No Tres­pass signs), and find your plan “B” spot. Or you could just go straight to that spot to be­gin with! I rec­om­mend plan “B” be­cause streams like French Creek and the East Brandy­wine are float stocked in be­tween the stops that the state stocks. That re­ally helps to spread the fish out and with all of the spring rains they get spread out even more, so don’t be afraid to ex­plore! There’s noth­ing like fish­ing, hook­ing and play­ing fish with no­body else around to crowd you!

As for tackle, if you’re fish­ing with gar­den tackle (worms and such), then a spin­ning rod and reel that will han­dle 2-4 pound line will work nicely, but don’t for­get to loosen that drag. The light line and small hooks will not spook the fish like the heav­ier line and larger hooks do. Use very small bait and small gar­den worms be­cause that’s what trout eat - small things. The spin­ner fish­er­men don’t have that prob­lem be­cause the fish are chas­ing af­ter the lure and there­fore ig­nore the heav­ier line. How­ever, if you’re some­one who en­joys throw­ing lures, then you’ll re­quire a rod and reel that will han­dle 4 and 6-pound test. You’ll want that ex­tra strength be­cause af­ter you break off and lose sev­eral of those lures it gets quite ex­pen­sive at $4 & $5 apiece. One more thing, fish­ing with lures in a crowded hole is not go­ing to be a lot of fun for you or for the oth­ers fish­ing there if you catch my drift (pun in­tended), al­ways be a cour­te­ous and con­sid­er­ate sports­man.

Once you have your rod and reel squared away then you’ll need a pair of hip boots or pos­si­bly chest waders. These are only needed to keep your feet dry, as there is re­ally very lit­tle need for wad­ing in these parts. Each time you step into the creek when you don’t have to you’ll spook the trout and push them from their rest­ing place in front of you to some­one else. So don’t wade if you don’t have to, af­ter all, you have spin­ning gear that will eas­ily cast across any stream we have here and, for that mat­ter, most of the rest of the state.

Also, don’t for­get po­lar­ized sun­glasses so you can eas­ily see into the wa­ter to find your quarry. Re­mem­ber, fish see you eas­ier and bet­ter than you can see them. Also, keep a small plas­tic bag in your vest or fanny pack. Why? Be­cause you’ll need this to pick up any trash that oth­ers leave be­hind. If you don’t, there’s a very good chance you’ll need to find an­other fa­vorite fish­ing spot next year due to the prop­erty be­ing posted by landown­ers who are tired of peo­ple leav­ing their trash be­hind. Re­mem­ber YOU are a guest there, so I strongly sug­gest that you treat it like the priv­i­lege that it is. And should you hap­pen to bump into the prop­erty owner be sure to thank him/her for the priv­i­lege; it will pay huge div­i­dends.

One last thing, whether it’s open­ing day or the end of the sea­son, if you ob­serve un­eth­i­cal be­hav­ior on the stream, such as an in­di­vid­ual tak­ing more than their (5) fish limit or some­one lit­ter­ing please calls us but don’t tell them you’re calling as they typ­i­cally leave prior to our ar­rival. If you don’t have my num­ber (Most fish club mem­bers do) then you can al­ways call 911, and yes it’s ok to call 911 for these of­fenses. Ask for a Con­ser­va­tion Of­fi­cer and be sure you leave a num­ber with the call taker for us to re­turn your call be­cause County Po­lice Ra­dio will con­tact us by ra­dio so we can re­spond much quicker. Good Luck, stay safe and have a fun, safe open­ing day on the wa­ter!

Many thanks to Of­fi­cer Bon­ney for that re­port. Reg­u­lated Trout Wa­ters where an­glers can ex­pect to find fresh trout stocked by the Penn­syl­va­nia Fish and Boat Com­mis­sion here in our neck of Penn’s Woods in­clude the fol­low­ing:

Berks County: Al­legheny Creek , An­ti­etam Creek, An­ti­etam Reser­voir, Fur­nace Creek (Robeso­nia), Hay Creek, Kistler Creek, Lit­tle Lehigh Creek, Lit­tle Swatara Creek, Maiden Creek (con­flu­ence with Kistler Creek in Kemp­ton down­stream to dam in Len­hartsville), Manatawny Creek, Mill Creek (trib. to Sa­cony Creek), Mill Creek (trib. to Schuylkill River), Mill Creek (trib. to Tulpe­hocken Creek), Northkill Creek, On­te­launee Creek (Spring House Road Bridge (SR 4024) down­stream to mouth), Perkiomen Creek, Pine Creek (trib to Maiden Creek), Sa­cony Creek (Bow­ers Road (T-616) down­stream to SR 222 Kutz­town By-pass), Scotts Run Lake, Spring Creek, Swamp Creek (aprox­i­mately 350 yards above pow­er­line, down­stream to mouth in Mor­gan­town), Tulpe­hocken Creek (Mar­ion Twp R&G Club down­stream to vicin­ity of Charm­ing Forge Rd.), Wil­low Creek, Wy­omiss­ing Creek (head­wa­ters down­stream to SR 0222).

Ch­ester County: Beaver Creek (at Down­ing­town), Big Elk Creek, Buck Run (Com­pass Rd. down­stream to SR 372), East Branch Brandy­wine Creek (SR 4031 in Glen­moore down­stream to U S Busi­ness Route 30 in Down­ing­town), East Branch Elk Creek, East Branch White Clay Creek, French Creek, Mid­dle Branch White Clay Creek, Pick­er­ing Creek, Po­cop­son Creek, West Branch Brandy­wine Creek (SR 4005 Cedar Knoll down­stream to SR 0340), West Val­ley Creek, White Clay Creek.

Mont­gomery County: Deep Creek Dam, East Branch Perkiomen Creek (from near Sal­fordville Rd. down­stream to Bergey’s Mill Rd.), Kepner Creek, Loch Alsh Reser­voir, Manatawny Creek, Pen­ny­pack Creek (Lorimer Park), Perkiomen Creek (county line down­stream to first un­named trib down­stream of Fruitville Road (T-414)), Skip­pack Creek, Stony Creek, Unami Creek, Wis­sahickon Creek (from Lafayette Ave. down­stream to Sten­ton Ave.).

Wher­ever Satur­day’s sun­rise finds you, good luck and tight lines.


Satur­day marks the open­ing day of trout sea­son in south­east Pa.

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