Opening Day finally arrived. Now all the trout fishing fanatics can get out there and beat the water to a froth in seek of their quarry. While the state sets the official date, I learned long ago that opening day is really set by The Good Lord. In wet years when there is a huge snow pack the real opening day may well be the middle of June, while in drought years the first of May might be a realistic opening date. In any event, trout season has begun and we can begin our search for our wary quarry in earnest.
To me, opening day is many things. It is a reminder of the cyclical nature of life, “To everything there is a season.” It is a reminder of the miracle of renewal, what were once frozen trickles surrounded by snow are now tumbling creeks surrounded by flowers. One of my favorite early season streams has a plethora of wild azaleas growing along its banks. Oftentimes you can smell the scent of the flowers drifting up the canyon before you even get close to the water. Wading into a knee-deep creek surrounded by a wall of magnificent flowers is about as close as we’re going to get to Heaven without dying.
The real magic of opening day is the anticipation of things to come. This may be the year when you finally land that monster Brown Trout you’ve been hoping for. I am reminded of fish that got away and of fish that didn’t. There was a giant Rainbow on the Tuolumne that snapped my leader just before I could net him. The same year, 20 miles further upstream, there was another Rainbow just as big who broke my leader just after I netted him. There is the simple satisfaction of building a fire on a streamside sandbar and roasting fresh Brookies on a stick for lunch. Trout doesn’t get any fresher than that. I used to call it “flopping fresh.” The Good Lord smiles on us.
Opening Day is also a harbinger of the vast array of things that accompany your fishing expeditions. From the giant rattler as big as your arm, to the Shooting Stars and Monkey Flowers alongside you as you stop for a brief rest. It is the sight of a majestic Bald Eagle soaring overhead or the sound of a flock of wild turkey you flush on the way to the stream. With any luck at all, you may come across rusty relics of the Forty Niners and be amazed by their ingenuity. Several times I’ve found beautiful Indian arrowheads on the way to the stream. You may spot deer or even a mink searching for food. Opening Day is your passport to adventure and discovery. Get out there and explore the wonderful world around you. Opening Day just gives you an excuse.
Until next time, Tight Lines.
Don Moyer is a longtime Central Valley resident and avid outdoorsman. He contributes occasional columns.