The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 23, 2013

Ken Maurer column: Visions of trout fishing

By Ken Maurer
For The Daily Item

— I know it’s still winter, but I find myself daydreaming about warm air, green leaves and the soft burble of a riffle on a trout stream.

Sure it’s cold, snow and slop right now, but trout season will be here before you know it.

Trout fishermen are an interesting bunch. They run the gamut from the freezer-filler following the stock truck (a mouthful, I know, pun intended) to the catch-and-release fly fisherman hiking in a mile on a brookie stream.

Some are loners, preferring the solitude and conversation only with the stream and the fish. For others, trout season is a party. The gang’s all here, I catch more trout than you, I hope you fall in, get out of my hole, etc. It is also a time for family members to get together, a spring reunion of sorts.

Trout fishing around here is a put-and-take thing on some streams. Many streams cannot hold trout over during the hot summer months, but in April and May, they are decent for trout. On such streams, it’s not a bad idea to keep them. On better quality streams where they carry over and reproduce, catch-and-release is a good thing.

The “stock truck” thing gets out of hand. There are “trout fishermen” who won’t even go unless they know where a stream just got stocked, and they darn better get their limit. I think they have the wrong idea about what trout fishing is really all about.

At the other end of that spectrum is the guy who never kills a fish. I have no problem with people who release all their fish, but perhaps they too are missing something.

Then there is the gear, tackle and tactics involved. Perhaps the simplest and best way to catch a trout is to tie a size 10 hook on the end of 4-pound test line on a small rod, impale a small bait such as a redworm, and drift it in the current.

There are, however, about 18 zillion other ways to catch trout. The dry fly purists among us are probably still recoiled in horror from the redworm statement, since in this case they are at the other end of the spectrum.

I just realized that there is a sort of false or imagined hierarchy in the trout anglers kingdom. I believe it goes something like this: At the top (grain of salt, please) is the dry fly purist. He will only use a dry fly.

Nymphs and wet flies are for slackers and miscreants, and only Neanderthals use bait. Next may be the all-around fly fisherman. He uses any type of fly, but only a fly rod. To him, the previously mentioned purist is missing a few strands of DNA, and he knows that he is just a little better than the guy downstream flinging hardware. Then comes the thundering herd of spin fishermen.

They too are divided, in their case among live and artificial bait. The guys using artificials have somewhat of a chip on their shoulder; they don’t need live bait to catch fish. At the bottom of the triangle are the bait fishermen. These guys probably catch more fish than anyone else. But even they are divided. Minnows, waxworms, redworms, nightcrawlers and so on all have their champions.

A lot of us are a mixture of the above and in a few short weeks, we will be united in the joy of battle, fresh air and cold water over the hip boots.

Email comments to kenrose@tds.net.