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Opening Day - the trout season opener

Judy Van Put
Posted 4/2/24

After several cold, gloomy and dreary days, this past Easter weekend brought glorious sunshine that lifted spirits. Our rivers and streams are in good shape for the beginning of the trout season and …

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Opening Day - the trout season opener


After several cold, gloomy and dreary days, this past Easter weekend brought glorious sunshine that lifted spirits. Our rivers and streams are in good shape for the beginning of the trout season and are actually at a lower than average flow. Up until last Wednesday flows were well above average but dropped down by Thursday afternoon. 

On Sunday evening, the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at 681 cubic feet per second - a very fishable level - although lower than the Median average flow on this date of 956 cfs over 110 years of record-keeping. 

The lowest recorded flow on March 31 was 226 cfs in 2006, while the highest flow was 13,300 - above flood stage - back in 1951. With the weather forecast for April showers all week, and even some snow on Wednesday and Thursday, no doubt river levels will rise to at least the average flow by the weekend.

Despite all the controversial changes that the DEC had made to the trout fishing regulations a couple of years ago, permitting catch-and-release fishing year-round, most trout fishers still cling to that time-honored tradition of Opening Day of the trout season on April 1. And even now, although some have been seen fishing in the No-Kill catch-and-release areas earlier last month, April 1 remains the opening of the “regular” trout fishing season, when fish can be kept outside of the No-Kill sections.

Some of my earliest memories as a child were of eagerly looking forward to April 1, when my dad and I would fish together on Opening Day, no matter what the weather, anxious to catch a trout to proudly bring home to mom for dinner. The night before we would get our fishing rods and tackle ready, lay out warm clothing, prepare thermoses and the like. 

After making all our preparations, it was difficult to get to sleep and then rouse the next morning. But sharing that wonderful camaraderie with my dad was special, and fond memories remain of those days long ago.

Years later, the anticipation of the April 1 opener still remains. I remember some years back waking up early on Opening Day only to find that about three feet of snow had fallen during the night - but I still pulled on my waders and dutifully headed down to Junction Pool at 7:00 am. It was the first time in recent memory that no one was there - due to the snow, it took a while before anyone was able to get out and set up.

And another memorable April 1 Trout opener occurred when the river was at flood stage, and a TV crew was set up on the Roscoe athletic fields to broadcast the “first cast” event at Junction Pool. Members of the crew asked if those of us who were suited up could get in the river to cast - my response was “only if I swim” - but no one dared. It was daunting even to make a cast from the safety of high ground too near the swirling water’s edge. My family was at home getting ready for school and watching the event on television hoping that their mom would not get swept away!

We are fortunate to be here in the Catskills and share in the history and the traditions of trout fishing that were made so long ago.  It will feel good to get out on the river again and reminisce on times past, joining with the spirits of those great anglers who have fished these same waters and have now passed on. 

After the long winter, seeing friends old and new, celebrating another spring and anticipating the new fishing season is part of the lure of Opening Day. It is heartwarming to experience the support of our river communities, and visit with those who come out to celebrate, offering hospitality, hot beverages, pastries, smiles and encouragement. Tight lines, and happy trout fishing season!


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