Last week's opening day of trout season in the 18-county region of Southeastern Pennsylvania that includes most of the Lehigh Valley wasn't quite a washout, but it was close. After decent morning weather, conditions changed to rainy and cold for the rest of Saturday and on in through Sunday.
Winter's late cold temperatures, frequent snows and late thaw have made the waters colder than normal, resulting in more sluggish trout and fewer fish being caught by the majority of anglers in the region.
The rest of the state will enjoy it's official trout opener on Saturday, April 12, and the bite should be much better by then.
Meantime, the weather heading into this weekend will make the conditions just as wet, but a little warmer.
New Jersey's trout season opens 8 a.m. this Saturday, and New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife has stocked 250,000 trout in 140 waterways through the 21 counties in the Garden State.
While this is the time of the spring to think trout, can shad fishing be far behind?
Keith Wolf, the voice of the Delaware River Shad Fishermen's Association hotline, received reports of shad caught in the Delaware River last Saturday: one at Yardley and the other just below Easton.
If you didn't get out trout fishing last weekend because of the weather, there should be plenty of holdovers from the pre-season stocking eager for some bait. Just remember that the water is still cold, fish with smaller baits, and be careful.
2014 Pennsylvania Fishing Regulations: http://fishinpa.com/
2014 Pennsylvania Trout Stocking Schedule:
Willie's Bait & Tackle, 5105 Main St., Cementon (610-261-2767): Willie says it was a busy weekend with some people catching, some people not. It was the weirdest opening day for him because for the first time in 17 years, he did not weigh or measure a fish, and he still hadn't as of Thursday. He blames it on the weather. People were out there trying. The Jordan anglers did well, as did anglers on sporadic parts of the Little Lehigh, but no one was reporting monster trout. Despite very high water in the Lehigh River, brown trout and rainbows are being caught, some up to 18 inches. The lakes are still in the half-between stage: half thawed, half frozen, so no one is really getting out in boats.
Bob's Wildlife Taxidermy, 4642 Kernsville Road, Orefield (610-398-7609): Bob says with the high cold waters and wind and rain, the first week of trout season is off to a slow start. With light stream pressure and sluggish fish, anglers are reporting better luck in the afternoons due to warmer water and weather. With rain expected over the next few days and a slow temperature rise, the fish feeding activity should increase. Cloudy waters should help so fish are not spooked as easily. Butter worms have been the hottest bait so far, but as the temps rise, good old night crawlers and minnows are sure bets. Reports are that there are plenty of trout in the upper Jordan, but they have been finicky. Several very nice trout brought in for mounting. The best so far was taken by Brandon and Gehris, 13, of Kutztown with a 24-inch palamino caught on his dad's homemade lure on opening day in the Little Lehigh.
Archery @ the Glenn, 7 Auburn St., Allentown, (610-791-7665): Brian says the trout opener diehards endured cool damp conditions with mixed results. Most anglers caught a few, and some scored big. The last few days saw more action for those favoring warm sunny weather. The lakes are slow to open, so call ahead for info Andrew Robles, Allentown, caught a 22 3/4 -inch, 4-pound, 13-ounce palamino using a minnow in the Little Lehigh. Emilio Caraballo caught a 19 3/4 -inch, 5--pound, 1-ounce palamino in the Little Lehigh on PowerBait. Alex Bartholomew caught a 27 1/2 -inch, 11-pound, 8-ounce brown trout in the Little Lehigh on a nightcrawler. Matthew Freitas of Allentown caught an 18 1/2 -inch, 3-pound, 8 ounce rainbow trout in the Lehigh Canal using a Swiss swing. Mike Acerra of Allentown caught a 20-inch, 3-pound, 1-ounce palamino in the Jordan. Andre Eaton caught a 23 1/2 -inch, 6-pound, 1-ounce palamonio in the Little Lehigh on Thursday using a Rapala.
Heritage Fly Shop, 2643 Fish Hatchery Road, Allentown (610-248-8836): Dave says the stream is running a little fast after the recent rains but continues to fish well. The baetis hatch occurs early to mid afternoon and has been consistent, especially with cloud cover or in the rain. Midges are abundant in the mornings. Try using streamers, sculpins and leeches when water conditions are fast or off color.
Indian Creek Farm, 3479 Mango Drive, Danielsville, PA, (610-760-0739): Barry and Corina say fathead minnows, butter worms, and PowerBait seem to be the bait of choice or early season picky trout. Mike Hess brought in a fat 20-inch rainbow from the Petersville area of the Hokendauqua. Russ Scholl said fishing in the upper Jordan in the state game lands was spotty at best. The lake is finally thawed out and is being stocked with trout up to 12 pounds for this Saturday and Sunday's Trout Derby. The weather forecast looks good, so stop in and give it a try. Good Luck.
Mike's Bait & Sports Shop, 328 East Lawn Rd., Nazareth, (610-759-2905): Blaine says the creeks are in real nice shape right now with a good flow. They are higher than normal and there haven't been a lot of reports of a lot of fish being caught. The lower Jordan reported a 6-pound palamino caught. They were ice fishing at Minsi on the opening day of trout season. The main problem is the water temperature, and smaller baits like wax worms seem to be doing better than nightcrawler. The local ponds in Stockertown and Belfast are yielding decent fish.
Klotz's Bait Shop, 216 Hess Ave., Hellertown (610-838-7970): Caroline says there were a lot of complaints about the rain making the water terrible on opening weekend, but people are going out en force this week with the better weather. Two big fish got pulled out of the Lehigh Canal near Sand Island. Anthony Logan used yellow Powerbait to catch a 21-inch, 3.5-pound rainbow trout, and Derrick Smull of Hellertown used the same kind of bait to net as 21-inch, 3-pound rainbow.
Cabela's, 100 Cabela Drive Hamburg, (610-929-7000): Jon Reilly, the fishing and fly fishing department manager at Cabela's, says most anglers reported success catching slow moving trout this past weekend. Sunday rains increased stream levels and many waters were stained from the excessive run off. Plenty of fish are still available for anglers willing to look and work from them. Try early in the morning or deeper darker water for the more finicky fish that survived opening weekend. Slightly warmer temperatures and scattered showers this week should increase fish activity, and higher water usually means less spooky fish. Butter worms have been working well for the finicky trout and are also great bait for larger panfish.
2014 Stocking Schedule
2014 Marine Regulations for New Jersey: