The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 5, 2014

Don Steese outdoors column: Early birds wet the worms

By Don Steese
For The Daily Item

— My buddy and I managed to get out this past Monday to try for a few of those “rebel” trout (that’s trout who were stocked in the southern part of the state).

It was, for lack of a better term, a unique experience.

We left Northumberland with no snow on the ground and headed south expecting to find bare ground, pleasant temperatures and streams a little high and a bit cloudy.

What we found was 6 to 8 inches of snow and chocolate-colored streams running at near flood stage.

 The Mahantango, Wiconisco, Clarks, Powells and at least one other were checked and found to be unfishable.

We finally did find a stream near Lykens, I believe the locals called it “The Glen,” which was high but fishable. Some fellas were even catching a few.

Lacking any good alternatives we thought we’d give it a try. It was nice to get out but the fishing was, at least for us, unproductive.

We did find something, though. I was crossing a little bridge and there beside a little snowbank was some fella’s fishing license. Obviously it had fallen off his vest.

Since he lived in Williamstown and we were heading in that direction anyhow, we delevered it back to him. He wasn’t even aware that he’d lost it but was mighty glad to get it back!

It really isn’t a problem getting a replacement, but we saved the guy a bit of a hassle. I would hope someone would do the same for me.

We decided to head back out later in the week when the streams are back to normal. I have to think that, considering the weather on opening weekend, there should be a lot of trout left. Rain on Saturday and a near blizzard on Sunday doesn’t make for very productive fishing conditions.

This Friday we’ll be heading north for a few days at the cabin to celebrate the traditional trout opener.

The fishing can be better a bit later, but opening weekend is as much a rite of spring as ham and dandelion dinners and the Easter Parade.

Up in the northern tier, ham and dandelion dinners give way to ham and leeks dinners. You can find one at local fire companies and clubs throughout northern Pennsylvania. I can’t say that I’ve ever tried ham and leeks, but a lot of people say it’s great. I’m open to try it if I ever get the opportunity.

The “traditional” opener is set for 8 a.m. this Saturday and the PFBC has released 3.2 million trout in preperation for the big day.

For those who prefer wild trout, there are said to be 10,000 miles of wild trout water to be explored.

On Saturday we’ll likely be on a tiny mountain stream near our camp.

The commission doesn’t stock it anymore but the local sportsmen’s club still dumps a few in and we’re usually able to land a few. The stream also has a nice population of native brookies and a few wild browns, although not as many as there used to be.

The little stream is in a nice mountaintop location so that if the fishing is slow you can spend the day just drinking in the beauty of it all. There are bigger, more well-known streams in the area that have a lot more trout, but they also have a lot more angling pressure. We much prefer the relative solitude of our little run.

Wherever you’re headed next weekend, we wish you tight lines — and be sure to take the time to smell the skunk cabbage!

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