It took 6-year-old William Hules just 20 minutes to catch his limit of five trout on Saturday’s season opener.
The rest of the morning Hules caught and released several more while his father, Milton, watched him fish along Solomon’s Creek in a children’s derby conducted by the Ashley Area Trout Stocking Association.
For Hules, who was fishing for trout for the first time, it wasn’t a bad start to his angling career.
“It was a really fun day,” he said. “I caught a brook trout on my first cast.”
Turnout in the area was strong for Saturday’s start to trout season. Anglers lined the banks of just about every stream and lake that was stocked with fish. While the morning started off foggy and cool, the sun appeared later and made for a nice opening day.
“You can’t beat this weather,” said Mike Yamelski, who brought his son, Leighton, and several of his friends to the kids derby in Ashley. Yamelski, who owns Yamelski’s Bugs N’ Grubs in West Nanticoke, was busy selling bait to anglers until 10:30 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, Yamelski opened up at 4:30 a.m. and stayed busy until 7:30 a.m., when he made some time to take his son and a friend, 8-year-old Luke William-West, fishing.
It’s a good thing he did.
Leighton, 12, landed 13 trout by 10 a.m., capping off an eventful morning without much sleep.
“I couldn’t get tired at all last night,” he said. “I didn’t fall asleep until midnight and then I was up at 5 a.m. I was just excited to get out here for the first day.”
While the turnout was strong, the bite was slow in many areas. Waterways Conservation Officer John Cummings said the fishing was good at Harveys Lake in the morning, but anglers at Harveys Creek and Lake Took-a-While, along with Fishing Creek in Benton, found things a little slow.
Cummings attributed the slower than normal action to a high-pressure, clear day and cooler water temperatures that made trout less active.
“When we were stocking, the water temperatures were barely over 40 degrees and it hasn’t had a chance to warm up,” Cummings said. “While it may have been a perfect day to fish, it might not have been the best day to catch fish.”
With a slower bite, Cummings said many stocked waters will have plenty of trout left throughout the week for anglers. Those that did do well along Harveys Creek were using minnows and yellow salmon eggs, according to Cummings.
In Wyoming County, anglers fishing along Martins Creek had to quickly find another place to fish as a pollution event turned the water a milky grey in the morning. WCO Kadin Thompson runoff from a stone quarry entered the stream, making it virtually unfishable.
There was no evidence of a fish kill, Thompson said.
“It really ruined the fishing in the morning and most of the anglers didn’t stick around long,” Thompson said. “But it should clear up by the end of the day and there will be plenty of fish left.”
Cummings began his day at Harveys Lake before the 8 a.m. start to remind those anglers using a boat about the requirement to wear a life jacket up until April 30. Most of the anglers were aware of the requirement, Cummings said, and he then hit the road to make stops at Harveys Creek, Lake Took-a-While, Pine Creek, Huntington Creek, Fishing Creek and West Creek in the Benton area all by noon.
“It’s been a busy day so far but it’s good to see the turnout, especially the kids,” Cummings said.
At the derby in Ashley, several hundred children fished under the watchful eye of their parents. The association stocked 2,000 trout in the stretch of Solomon’s Creek known as Chester’s Hole, and some of the fish were tagged that could be turned in for a prize.
Eight-year-old Tanner Yanchick caught 10 trout at the derby.
“I caught one after three casts and I was like ‘Wow,’” Yanchick said. “I was hoping one would have a tag, but it was fun. I want to go again.”
John McGovern, secretary of the association, said the derby has been held for at least 30 years and the trout are purchased through donations from local businesses. The event has become a tradition in the area, much like the first day of trout season statewide.
“Some of the kids don’t have an opportunity to fish elsewhere, so this is an introduction for them,” McGovern said. “A chance to catch their first fish.”
And a chance to learn. Tanner’s father, Ray Yanchick, said the derby is beneficial for kids because they don’t have to compete with adult anglers on other area streams and lakes.
“It’s tough to teach them on other creeks because of the crowds and pressure,” he said. “This is a nice place. They can have fun and learn how to fish here.”