HOLLIDAYSBURG - The weather for the opening day of trout season in central Pennsylvania each April can be a real crap shoot, and Saturday, the dice came up, well, crappy.
Chilly, early-morning temperatures, gusty winds, ashen skies, and a steady drizzle confronted fishermen trying their luck at Canoe Creek and Canoe Lake on the opening day of the 2011 season, and made catching fish more of a challenge for many.
Up on the lake, four Hollidaysburg Area High School students - Brandon Hoover, 18, Gary Lingenfelter, 17, Zack Burchfield, 17, and Kaylee Burket, 16 - all hadn't had any luck in the first hour following Saturday's 8 a.m. official start to the area trout season.
"I think the wind is bothering things,'' Burchfield said.
Hoover also thought the raw weather was a negative factor in the party's fishing fortunes.
"We've had bites, but we haven't caught anything,'' he said. "It's just not a real calm day. There's rain and wind, then it calms down, then there's more rain and more wind.''
Lingenfelter said he saw others catching fish, but not many.
"We saw two [trout] pulled out this morning, but that's all we've seen,'' he said.
Rain jackets and ponchos were the order of the day on the creek as well as the lake, as fishermen battled the elements as well as the trout.
Monford Pattillo of Altoona pulled in a fat rainbow trout using minnows on one of his opening casts of the season. Pattillo and two of his buddies, Ricky and Steven Jones [no relation], were among a group of about 10 anglers fishing a large hole off Beaver Dam Road.
The adverse weather conditions didn't bother Pattillo - who was bundled up from head to toe in a brown waterproof hunting outfit - in the least. In fact, he believed the conditions to be quite advantageous.
"I hunt in [this weather], I fish in it, I just go along with it,'' he said."I think today's weather is probably better than a sunshiny day. It's overcast, and the fish can't see you.''
The water levels in the creek were also somewhat elevated from days of precipitation earlier in the week.
Steven Jones, covered in yellow rain gear, took everything in stride.
"You have to be prepared for anything,'' he said. "I'm not mad, it's the first day, it's great to get out and fish. This is usually a pretty good spot for the first day.''
Jason Gochnour, 24, and his pal, Ken Brazile, 23, both of Altoona, staked out the same hole before daybreak, but they were moving on by 8:30 a.m.
"I caught three and missed three in that hole,'' said Brazile, who was successful with power bait. "We're moving on so [Gochnour] can get a chance to fish with flies.''
Saturday's weather wasn't real conducive to fishing with flies, but Gochnour was able to keep his sense of humor, anyhow.
"It's a wonderful day to be out, isn't it?'' he said with a wry smile.