A guide to the opening of trout season
A handy guide to goings on around the opening day of trout season.
If you want to catch your limit Saturday and perhaps on multiple days thereafter, consider these tips:
Bait: Consider using minnows, worms, salmon eggs, cheese, corn and prepared baits‚ such as Powerbait and similar paste baits — fished on a light wire hooks drifted on the bottom.
Hooks and weights: Bait hooks should be size 8, 10 or 12; consider using egg hooks if you're going with salmon eggs, as they'll hold them better when you cast. A couple of split shot are usually enough for weight, but you may need more or less depending on flows and water levels.
Lures: Spinners (such as those made by Mepps, Blue Fox and Panther Martin are good choices, as can be small minnow and crawfish crankbaits. Smaller is usually better; look for lures that are 1/32- to 1/8-ounce.
Line: Four-pound test is a good all-around choice. You can go as low as 2-pound or as heavy as 8-pound, but that's a bit on the heavy side.
Time: Trout are a cold-water species, so after opening day — 8 a.m. starting time — fish for trout mid-morning early in the season, when the sun warms the streams just a bit and oftentimes prompts hatches or various bugs. As the weather warms into early summer, the fishing is often best in early morning and early evening. Brown trout fishing can be especially productive after dark, though.
FYI: If you want more information on getting ready to fish — be it for trout, bass, bluegills or any other species — the Fish and boat Commission can offer some advice. The agency has a section on its Web site called "fishing fundamentals." It's full of tips on how to get your rods, reels and hooks ready for the season, where and how to fish, what fish are out there and more. You can check it out at http://fishandboat.com/fish_skills.htm .
If you're undecided on where to fish for trout on opening day, the Fish and Boat Commission has some recommendations:
On its web site, the commission has listed "10 top trout streams." The list includes four stocked waters, all of them in Western Pennsylvania. They are the Yough River in Fayette and Somerset counties, Slippery Rock Creek in Butler and Lawrence counties, Neshannock Creek in Lawrence and Mercer counties and Oil Creek in Venango County.
The list also includes six wild-trout streams, several in the northern tier, some in central Pennsylvania, and a couple in the southcentral.
The entire list — with links to each on a GIS map that details stream section limits, stocking information, Class A wild sections, and directions — can be found at http://fishandboat.com/oh/index.htm .
Going fishing for Opening Day of trout season• Here are some rules you need to keep in mind:
» Opening Day officially starts at 8 a.m. Fishing is permitted 24 hours per day thereafter.
» Anglers are allowed to keep five trout per day, combined species, from opening day through Labor Day. The limit is three fish per day from the day after Labor Day to Feb. 28. All fish must be at least 7 inches long.
» All resident anglers 16 to 64 need a general fishing license, which costs $22.70. Seniors 65 and older can get an annual license for $11.70 or a lifetime license for $51.70.
» All anglers 16 and older also need a trout-salmon stamp — or a combination trout-salmon/Lake Erie permit to fish for trout, wild or stocked. Trout stamps are $9.70; combination stamps are $15.70.
» Kids younger than 16 can fish for free.
There's always the chance someone will catch a new state-record trout come opening day. These are the standing marks they could have to eclipse to do so:
Brook trout: 7 pounds; caught from Fishing Creek in Clinton County in 1996.
Brown trout: 19 pounds, 10 ounces; caught from Walnut Creek in Erie County in 2000.
Rainbow trout: 15 pounds, 6.25 ounces; caught from Jordan Creek in Lehigh County in 1986.
Golden rainbow: 13 pounds, 8 ounces; caught from Mahoning Creek in Scuylkill County in 2008.
FYI: If you catch what you think might be a record fish, visit http://fishandboat.com/strecord.htm to see what you need to do to get it certified.