Anticipating the Opening Day of Trout Season (Part 1 of 2)

Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II

Did you know there is a difference between the astrological and meteorological definitions of the seasons? According to the astrological definition of Spring, which is based on the Earth’s position in its annual orbit around the Sun, the official first day of Spring was March 20, which was the Spring Equinox. Astronomical Spring runs through the Summer Solstice on June 21. However, meteorologists have come up with their own definitions of the seasons, based on our prevalent weather patterns. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Meteorological Spring started March 1 and runs through May 31. When you think about it, the meteorological seasons make sense based on the weather we typically experience. So meteorologically speaking, Spring consists of March, April, and May; Summer runs June, July, and August; Fall includes September, October, and November; and finally, Winter is comprised of December, January, and February. However, either way you look at it, astronomically or meteorologically, Spring is synonymous with unpredictable weather here in Pennsylvania. Which is why we can have 60-some degree weather one day at the end of March and wake up to snow on the ground on April 1st. (It wasn’t just God’s way of saying “April Fools”, as some have suggested.) Knowing we typically do have unpredictable weather at this time of year, I’ve begun my daily ritual of checking the weather forecast multiple times to try to get some idea of what water conditions might be on local streams, creeks, and rivers on opening day, and how to dress for whatever weather conditions come our way. There have been past years when waters have approached flood level on the opening day of trout season, other years when waterways looked like we were experiencing a drought, and many times when conditions were just right for an enjoyable day of fishing. Then there’s the weather, which can be all over the place in mid-April. I can recall a time it was snowing when 8 AM arrived on opening day and it was fi nally the appointed moment to make the first cast of the new season. Many years, wet-weather gear has been a necessity, since opening day brought showers or even heavy downpours that kept many “fair-weather” anglers off the water. Then, there have been a few times when sunscreen has been required, since blue skies and temperatures in the 70’s brought sunburn to the ill-prepared. Yes, the weather and water conditions on opening day of trout season can be unpredictable, but that’s one of the things that makes it so enjoyable as you try to figure out where to go, how to dress, and what the fi sh will be biting given the circumstances you encounter on the water. For the past several years, there have been two trout openers in PA. For 18 counties in Southeastern PA, where Spring tends to come earlier than in the rest of the Commonwealth, their opening day was last Saturday, March 30, 2019. However, across the remaining 49 counties that comprise the vast majority of our state, opening day of 2019 trout season arrives on Sat., April 13, 2019 at 8 AM. Over the next week, there are a lot of preparations you can be making, if you haven’t already got them done. You might want to respool your reel(s) with new fishing line, if you haven’t done it recently. Also, take a quick inventory of your fishing gear and make certain you have an ample supply of hooks, sinkers, spinners, flies, bait, or whatever other terminal tackle you prefer to toss at the trout in your favorite waters. Also, look over your waders, net, and all your other assorted items (vest, forceps, line clippers, etc.) to make certain all is ready. Finally, make sure you’ve purchased your 2019 PA fishing license and the required trout/combo permit (or the multi-year license and permit you previously purchased is valid through 2019). With 16,000 miles of wild trout streams, 5,000 miles of stocked trout streams, and 125 stocked trout lakes, PA has abundant fishing opportunities for every angler. Remember, Sat., April 6 is Mentored Youth Trout Day for those under age 16! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors! ©WBB 2019

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