May 14th, 2007

Opening Day
By Dave Pearson, PA

When I first started flipping worms into mountain streams for trout, the season lasted from the first Saturday after April 11th until Labor Day. That was it. Four and a half months of trout fishing, then seven and a half months of waiting for opening day. There were plenty of distractions to take our minds off of trout and trout fishing for those seven and a half months.

September brought school – stiff new clothes, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and clean white stationery, cold mornings and hot afternoons. October meant fall colors, burning leaves, Halloween, and High School football. November was midterms and Thanksgiving... and deer season. Only two weeks for deer. One deer per license. December was Christmas. And big school projects assigned mid-month, due just after vacation. The dedicated among us completed the task before the Christmas holiday.

Those less academically inclined took the project home; vowing to work on it a little each day. But each day passed filled with holiday excitement and the project was put off until the last possible moment. Christmas cheer seasoned with academic anxiety.

By mid January and February, everyone was itching for spring... and opening day.

Trout season began (and still begins!) the first Saturday after April 11th at 8:00 am. Not 12:01 am, not dawn, not 7:59 am – 8:00 am. But this regulation didn't prevent anyone from staking out his favorite spot on the stream well before dawn. Some folks camped the night streamside just to insure that theirs was the first cast into their favorite honey hole come 8 o'clock. This meant a lot of sitting, fidgeting, and waiting...a lot of waiting.

In those days I got streamside as early as I could. It was always dark and always cold. I never dressed warmly enough. Weeks before I had scouted out the perfect spot. My criteria for "a perfect spot" meant a place stocked heavily with trout which was known only to me. So, I hiked in to my place guided by memory, flashlight, and starlight. I'd sit on the bank, shiver in the dark, and wait for 8:00 am.

Every year, at first, every perfect spot started out as just that... perfect. I had the place entirely to myself. But as dawn approached, signaled by the chatter of birds, I'd hear footsteps and conversation. Flashlights would bob like will-o-the-wisps. And my perfect spot was less than perfect.

As the clock crept toward 8 o'clock, more and more people would arrive until the bank was standing room only. And there we stood, shoulder to shoulder, each angler glancing at his timepiece, waiting for exactly 8:00 am and the first cast of the season.

I don't know what possessed me to do this, but one year I decided that a great place to spend the opener was on Penns creek just across the stream from the Boy Scout camp. Those of you familiar with the place are already laughing at me! To say the place is well known and popular would be putting it mildly. Anyway, at the time I knew the place wasn't exactly a secret, but I never dreamed that it would be so crowded. By twenty of eight we had a continuous line of fishermen as far as the eye could see on both sides of the bank. It looked less like a fishing trip and more like the world's biggest game of Red Rover.

From my spot on the bank I could see one of the buildings of the scout camp. I figured a group of folks must have spent the night there and at least one guy had a bit too much to drink. At ten till eight, the door to this building slammed open and a loud voice announced "It's time to catch some G******n fish!" He stumbled and finally fell down the bank to the back of the line across the water. But as he fell, he cast his lure high above the heads of those in front of him. It was one of those Dare Devil spoons. You know the ones, red and white with a big treble hook on the end. They come in many sizes. This one looked like it was sized for pike. All eyes were on the spoon as it careened in a high wobbly arc over the water, catching the morning sun in the most graceful fashion, and plunged into the moving water…a full ten minutes early. And wouldn't you know it? The clown caught a fish!

Well that did it. Trout season began a full ten minutes early for everyone within sight of the drunk with the Dare Devil spoon. He never did land that fish. I never saw him move from that spot. I guess his buddies thought that was as good a place as any for him to sleep it off. ~ Dave - (black gnat)

About Dave:

Dave Pearson lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania with his loving wife, Gillian, and two dogs, Casey and Booboo. His passion is small mountain streams. He teaches guitar for a living. You may contact Dave at: pdewey2@aol.com

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