It started for many back in boyhood when there was still an “opening day” for season. That is as opposed to the bounteous year-round venue of today. Do I hear a lot of amens out there from the geezer cohorts? And you younger folk just stay with us.
Back when you had to travel afar to the high country likes of Spruce Knob Lake or a handful of other famous waterways like the South Branch, Williams and Cranberry Rivers. Why, because they were the only ones to darn well harbor stocked trout.
Though warm water species had to reproduce on their own, the sporting public demanded that state and federal agencies rear trout and plenty of them. Hatcheries were and still are mostly budgeted for trout because we just have to have them. Now for that trip back in time for when the “elbow to elbow” figure of speech for crowding got coined.
To stake out your streamside claim for that one and only annual “opening” morning you had to arrive early and with a gold rush mentality. It was usually blue cold and snowing while your hip boots leaked X-amount no matter what. This was the only way you had a chance to hook and get your hands on one of ‘em, you know, a trout!
To top all, there was also the folly of opening hour! That added further intensity which in hindsight could be better described as entertainment value. Usually, someone cast the first baited line about eight minutes prior to the legal hour. The majority quickly followed suit surmising all their timepieces slow by the same amount knowing full well they weren’t. The remaining few quickly obliged by casting their lines likewise into the lot. Quickly came the cob-webs, we mean tangles of lines, so much like a mid-stream of monofilament spaghetti.
A few arguments ensued but generally without bloodshed for most were good sports with a similar affliction for trout. The crowds quickly thinned to allow for warm-ups and coffee at the campfire mixed in with some yarns or “tangles” spinned in.
Every now and again someone actually netted one to which all eyes turned as if a pretty mermaid had just surfaced. Fishermen in proximity noted the species, size, bait type and reach of stream from whence the trout came. More anglers were seemingly hooked by the trout as opposed to the vice versa. In testament, they came back year in, year out, brought their friends and families who followed suit.
Though the season is now year round and the list of available waters has grown like wildfire in the interim, the trout are still working their charm. In reality, times really haven’t changed that much while the opportunities have grown immensely. There is no longer any official opening day or hour, but one thing is for certain. It’s that trout fishing time of year again. Enjoy.