George Block Column

Trout opener still holds special meaning

Trout opener holds special meaning

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One of the big days of the year is almost here. I’m not referring to Christmas or Thanksgiving. My big days are the first day of buck season and the official opening day of trout season.


I, like many others, have already caught trout in places such as Canonsburg Lake and the Youghiogheny tailrace, but it’s just not the same.


In March, the waters are extremely cold and the fish are usually sluggish.


To catch trout in those conditions, I usually use Power Bait. It works, but my favorite method is to walk a stream utilizing spinner baits.


This style of fishing reminds me of a hunter moving slowly and silently through thick cover looking for deer. The angler is working the water, looking for a pocket where a big brown trout lurks.


It might be under a fallen tree or behind a big rock where the current eases a bit. I learned long ago that much of a stream is devoid of fish, and to catch fish regularly, not only does the bait have to be right, but the placement has to be right as well.


When spinning in moving water, the angler must take line drag created by the current into consideration. If the trout is stationed near a rock in the middle of the stream, placing the lure directly across from its hiding place will not bring it near him when retrieved. The current will take the lure downstream, with the distance affected by the strength of the water flow.


When retrieving the line, always return in a curve. In moving water, cast the spinner upstream from where you want it to pass.


Many times, reaching the right spot takes a few casts.


I have also said if you are not losing a few lures along the stream, you aren’t fishing properly.


While this is often said with tongue planted firmly in cheek, there is a bit of truth to it.


There are days when a trout won’t venture far from its lair to hit a lure. Under those circumstances, the lure must be put back in the tangles where it is lurking. You know what that means.


A week ago, I was fishing Canonsburg Lake and catching one trout after another. Just a short distance from me were two teenage boys using the same bait as me and they weren’t getting a hit.


One of them walked over and asked what I was using. I handed him my rod and told him to try it.


He cast it out and immediately caught a trout. He said my rod cast much more smoothly than his.


I explained it wasn’t so much the rod and reel, but the line instead. While I was using 2-pound test, his reel was full of line that looked like rope. It had to be 20-pound test.


He just couldn’t cast that heavy line. I told him to keep the rod and reel but refill it with 6-pound test, and things would improve.


Actually, I use 4-pound line when trout fishing and see little need for anything heavier. The lighter lines do cast better and can be helpful placing the lure or bait where fish are located. It’s not distance I’m talking about here, but accuracy instead.


One other trick I have utilized on the opening day of trout is to fish for a different species to avoid the crowds.


Not long ago, my wife, Eileen, and I would head for Pymatuning on the opening day of trout. I missed working a stream but walleye do taste better and trout season lasts for a while.


• I read an interesting article in this paper last week on the relationship between gas drilling and wildlife.


It was coincidental, but my grandson, James Ward, is a biology major at Westminster College and recently was involved in a study on the exact same subject. He made a presentation on it at William & Mary.


I asked him about the results and said he could find no evidence of drilling having a major impact on birds and other wildlife.


Perhaps I will touch on this matter in depth at a later time when he is home and I can spend more time discussing the issue with him.


After some of what I have witnessed with drilling activities and being run off the road by their trucks, I have little sympathy for them, but right is right.



George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.


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