The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 21, 2012

Ken Maurer's Outdoors column: Go the extra mile

By Ken Maurer
The Daily Item

---- — Trout season will be here before you know it. I’m hoping the mild winter continues right up to and including Mar. 31, when the early trout season opens in the southeastern counties. Who knows, as weird as the weather’s been, we may have to follow a snow plow to the trout streams. I’ve seen snow in April more than once.

On one memorable opener years ago, it was terribly cold with snow spitting down off and on. A friend and I had fished a long stretch away from the closest bridge. We fished hard and had little action, concluding that perhaps some pre-season fishing had gone on in this area, especially since there were an awful lot of boot prints in the dirt already and it was opening morning.

We finally found a pool that had some fish and we were finally catching trout. Low and behold, here comes a canoe. Are these guys crazy? Floating the creek on opening morning? You might as well paint bull’s eyes on your back and hold your “I’m stupid” sign above your head. Of course, rather than pelt them with rocks, we casually pretended to ignore them. Until, much to our surprise, some natural backwoods justice prevailed and they tried to pass under a low overhanging branch. It just doesn’t work in a canoe folks. The canoe keeps going, unmanned. We laughed. The water wasn’t very deep, but it was cold. We laughed some more, then helped them gather their floatable belongings, and build a fire. It was quite a ways to the next bridge.

Don’t get me wrong, I love floating a trout stream with a canoe or kayak. But opening day isn’t the best time to do it on small- to medium-sized streams.

Every year I hear guys say, “I can’t stand the crowds.” I can’t either, and I still fish for trout.

One word ... walk.

If all you want to do is stand by a bridge or wait for the stock truck, I can understand why you quit trout fishing because of the crowds. Who wants to sit there and listen to some loudmouthed lardbutt blather on about all the trout he’s catching? Walk away from the bridge. It’s amazing what a 10 or 15 minute walk can do to improve the trout fishing experience.

What? You might not get your limit? Maybe it’s time you took a second look at trout fishing. It’s not about getting your limit or when and where the stock truck is going to be. It’s about getting out and getting some fresh air. Some exercise. Look at the countryside coming back to life. Catch a nice trout after working for him for a while, then release him.

Look around. There’s nobody watching.

Just you and the trout and you are both still breathing.

Maybe a little kid will catch him later.

Maybe you will catch him later.

Maybe no one will catch him and he’ll morph into one of those old smart fish that inhabit our waters and make us dream about the one that got away.

Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a licensed fishing guide and a regular contributor to the outdoors page. Email comments to kenrose@tds.net.