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The end of March is upon us and for most of the Northeast that means the 2017 trout opener is fast approaching. In the sporting goods shops the walls are lined with fresh jars of salmon eggs, CP Swing and Colorado spinners, full rod racks and hip boots. The weekend crowd is comprised of fishing buddies making the annual preparatory shopping trip together, folks buying licenses and parents with kids buying their first fishing rigs. Its exciting time for all involved and I watch the faces of everyone as they scour the walls and racks of fresh new gear.
For most, the opener is an annual event involving each generation within the family, their season begins and ends with the stocked water dates, and the rods get put away for the next April. I remember those days with fondness. They were wonderful times where family and friends came together to enjoy a local stream each year. I learned to fish, identify prime lies, learn what a tail-out was, the head of the pool, a run, riffles, how to rig terminal tackle for spinners, minnows, worms, eggs....etc. That was long before the thought of a fly entered my head. Wonderfully enough, I found later that it all applies to fly fishing as well. If you don't know how to tight line a salmon egg on a size 14 hook on 2 pound tippet knotted to a micro swivel terminated on 4 pound mainline and keep it at the right depth you certainly won't get it done with a nymph on fly gear either. No matter how much money you spend. So I tip my hat to those times, and enjoy seeing the cars lined up along the county roads on opening morning. No angst towards the masses; just a thank you for getting me here.
Though long past are those times, I still partake in the event with my fly gear; even though my season like many other fly fishermen really never ends. There is always open water to visit, no matter what time of the year it is. April to me means that my fingers will no longer be numb while fishing and the hatches will begin. In essence there is no longer a "trout season". My trout fishing revolves around water conditions and hatch activity; a fact that I enjoy immensely. Yet, as I watch the smile on the face of a boy as he stands up and walks through the shop to test his new hip boots fit, then look at his Dad and gave him a 'thumbs up' it brings a smile to my lips."Okay, take them off and put them on the counter, we need to find you a rod too." replies his dad as he smiles back.
As I checked, out I asked the clerk to grab one of the shop logo hats from behind the counter. I paid for it and told him to give it to the youngster when they checked out. I am longing for those times and my mind is swimming in memories. Leaving the shop and walking across the limestone parking lot to my car a voice whispers in my ear, "You never left those times Ralph, you just forgot to smile. Now how about we fish Moore's Run?" Thanks Dad.