Saturday's opener for trout season found anglers fighting, for a change, high water conditions.
Streams were flowing fast so live bait fishing was at its best and no doubt more trout were harvested in this annual "bank yank" by good old garden worms than by wet or dry flies or lures. And that's OK; I am myself much more of a confirmed bait fisherman, using spinning gear than a fly fishing purist. Walt Young once tried to teach me the basics of fly-fishing. He wasn't too successful at converting me to flinging flies the size of a speck of dandruff.
All the wet weather has made digging for worms quite easy and now is the time to gather enough worms for an entire season. Six weeks from now, when the ground is hard and worms have entrenched themselves deep into the ground, it will be a tough chore to find enough for a good day's fishing. So now is the time to dig worms en masse.
Of course, once unearthed, worms have to be preserved and that takes more than just dumping them into a bucket somewhere. If you intend to keep worms in a container for weeks, it has to be aerated. But don't put worms in a box or bucket and then put a couple holes in the top of the container; the little buggers will crawl right out the holes. In my opinion, screening (very small mesh) makes the best topper for a bucket of worms.
They need to be fed and coffee ground and cornmeal are a couple good things to use but don't drown them in coffee grounds. They must have their container kept moist, but not soaked or they will drown. You can purchase worm containers made of a fibrous material and commercial worm food, which makes this whole chore easier,
I have for years used gang hooks for worms. I buy snelled hooks for the purpose, size no larger than No. 12. I put split shot on the line a bout a foot above the hooks. I then put the top hook in the worm's collar and the lower hook in the worm's body and cast the whole thing in with the current and let it drift naturally along the body, reeling in the slack as I need. I prefer the removable split shot because then I can remove one if I come to a hole that isn't so deep and it comes off easily.
Using line and gear appropriate for worm fishing in a stream is vital. I've seen so many folks out on a stream with line and reels better used for salmon fishing. You want line and weight just enough to allow you to cast your line across a small stream and then have it sink close to the bottom and go with the current. I personally use 4 or 6 pound monofilament, no more, for trout fishing. I have a push button spinning reel that I love.
This coming Saturday is the spring gobbler youth day and I urge you to find a youth you can take out on this day. The rewards are so worth it. Trophy Mt. Lodge near Huntingdon has long sponsored several youth hunting events a year. It was at that lodge last year that I was able to accompany John Boss of Alexandria on a spring hunt. It took a lot of doing since John was confined to a wheelchair and his stepfather had to get up mighty early and get John loaded into the van and drive us to a spot where he had to then unload the wheelchair and get John into a position to shoot if the opportunity arose.
But to have this oportunity with someone who cannot participate without help is a satisfying event for your own soul, not to mention theirs.
Youth day hunting is not reserved just for those who may be disabled. Any youth who needs to have some hands-on coaching about safety and techniques and the basics of spring gobbler hunting is a prime candidate for this hunt. There are lots of youth - including girls - that would welcome the invitation to go out that day.
It's zero hour now for scouting and locating gobblers. With the gas prices in the stratosphere, a lot of preseason scouting forays have been eliminated from the schedule. Let me remind you, however, that a lot of scouting can be done while you are trout fishing. Turkeys love to roost and feed on ridges close to streams and fields that border trout waters are prime places for strutting.
If you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll hear gobblers sounding off all day long. Sometimes it's hard to hear them when water is high and noisy but if you train your ears to pick out that glorious sound, you'll be surprised at how often you do. Turkey tracks in the mud, droppings and feathers are all signs you can find in the mud if you just take a moment to observe as you go. You alertness this coming week can result in some secret pockets of good gobblers hunting this next month.