RYERSON – After a seemingly endless winter, it was good to see people in short sleeves Saturday morning, as sunlight spilled through budding branches along the stream that flows into the remnants of Duke Lake at Ryerson Station State Park in Richhill Township.
Fishing rods were also out at the spillway of the broken dam, plying pools of water that held the promise of a fresh, pan-fried dinner. Saturday was the first day of trout season and the weather was perfect.
In Pennsylvania, trout season runs from 8 a.m. on the first Saturday after April 11 to midnight, Labor Day.
And across Greene County, there were plenty of places well-stocked and waiting for the Saturday morning rush, from the multiple branches of Enlow Creek to Dunkard Creek, Browns Creek and Lake Wilma on the Pennsylvania side of Blacksville,W.Va.
“We’ve been coming here for years and now we bring our kids,” Beaver Falls teacher Alex Olshanski of Upper St. Clair said, stopping to show off the day’s catch – two sleek rainbow trout that would soon be dinner.
His daughter, 7-year-old Luianna, and her friend, Logan Dody, 8, were armed with rods and clearly enjoying themselves, as were other kids who came to the Enlow Fork of Wheeling Creek to fish with their parents.
Vehicles filled the parking lot, emerald green trillium were just beginning to poke through the brown leaf litter and the promise of spring was everywhere.
Thanks to drilling operations in the area, the usually rutted dirt road leading to State Gamelands 302 is now graveled and the last wooden bridge is nicely restored, all good news for those who come to fish, and for the birdwatchers and nature lovers who will be descending into this valley for the Enlow Wildflower Walk April 27.
Wildflowers and nesting songbirds have been drawing crowds for more than 30 years, and despite the activity of nearby Bailey Mine, including an above ground beltway to transport coal, the valley still remains a place of seculsion and natural beauty.
This annual walk brings together bird clubs, botanical organizations, watershed groups and visitors from the tri-state area to enjoy nature at its springtime finest.
This year’s activities includes experts from Western PA Conservancy, Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania and local and regional bird clubs.
Biologist Lou Reynolds will bring equipment to do a stream presentation that includes shocking the waters of the creek to reveal the various native fish species, from chubs to minnows.
Any educator, naturalist or individual wishing to present information or bring student groups to participate, can call Wheeling Creek Watershed Conservancy President Attilia Shumaker 724-627-7871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The bird walk begins at 7:45 a.m. and guided wildflower walks start at 10:30 a.m.
For photographs of the wildflowers to be found and driving directions, visit www.enlowfork.tripod.com
For a complete listing of Greene County creeks that are stocked, visit http://fbweb.pa.gov/stocking/TroutStockingDetails_GIS.aspx.