Opening Day

Does April 13th mean anything to you? Besides your taxes being due in two days?

If you are in Pennsylvania, you have this Saturday circled on the calendar as Opening Day of Trout Season. The southeast part of the state opened their season last month, and dates around the country vary, so check your state’s schedule.

Over 3 million brook, brown, and rainbow trout have been released in chosen Pennsylvania streams over the last month. The result is a fever pitch of excitement, ala Christmas Eve, except these “presents” are slippery and can bite. Anglers will assemble along streams early that morning to get a good spot, but won’t be able to cast until 8:00 a.m.

In the south, there generally is no traditional “Opening Day”. Fishing season is year round. This anticipation is new to my 10 year old son, whose lone trout experience is somewhat tainted. On the final day of a Colorado vacation, I had forgotten the net, fumbled the landing of his 19” rainbow trout, and in a flash, it was gone. That was 1 year, 8 months, and 17 days ago. Or so he says.

We’ll begin our Opening Day with the alarm going off at about 4:30 a.m. (But it won’t be necessary; we will not be sleeping anyway.) Though there are closer streams, we are joining some friends who have done this for 20 years or more, and driving an hour to a prime stretch of water. When we get close, first protocol is breakfast. Over a pile of white, buttered toast and bacon, my son will get to hear some colorful fishing stories and check his watch every few seconds. By 7:00 a.m., we’ll find our stream location, but still cannot fish for another hour. That leaves plenty of time for him to savor the possibilities of the cool, babbling water at his feet, plan a strategy, check and recheck knots, peek at his watch a few more times, and oh yeah, make sure his Dad is ready with a net this time.

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.