The first time I break out my trout stream fishing gear each spring is always about more than catching fish.
It's an acknowledgement that our long, hard winter is over, or at least almost over. It's a re-birth of the seasons to get outside and enjoy the weather without having to bundle up and wear snowshoes or skis.
I had been eyeing the weather forecast for Sunday, with temperatures expected to rise into the 60s, for a few days, and thankfully my schedule worked out to get a couple of hours in Granville on the Mettawee and Indian rivers. Thanks to a slow, gradual snow melt over the past few weeks, stream levels and clarity were very good for this time of year.
Water temperatures are not, though. The Indian River was a crisp 43 degrees, the Mettawee 44.
I'm generally not a big fan of early season trout fishing, as the fish typically aren't very active and fishing is slow until streams warm. You can catch some nice fish when the weather conditions are right, but they will generally be few and far between until water temps rise into the mid 50s.
Neither river had been stocked as of Sunday, either. The state has stocked some of southern Washington County's streams, but the north end could get its fish as soon as this week.
I don't use any live bait anymore, and for spin anglers that's what will work best for fish early in the season, nightcrawlers or minnows fished slowly. Weighted stonefly nymphs will get some action on a fly rod, and I did see some stonefly hatches on Sunday.
I used a few of my trusty spinner options, and had one decent hit on the Indian River, a solid jolt that almost yanked the rod from my hand. Otherwise it was a day to wander in the sun, and see the changes that occurred from winter's ice jams and ice floes.
The Mettawee in particular is an ever-changing river, and there is plenty of new cover in the form of dead trees in the river downstream of the village of Granville. Some massive chunks of ice remained along the streams as well.
There was plenty of junk too, unfortunately. I found an abandoned campsite, with three tents, sleeping bags, beer and food cans and dirty diapers piled on a bank above the river. I'm not sure who owns the property where this is located, but they won't be happy to find this mess.
I saw a few other anglers who had similarly slow action. But like me, they weren't perturbed, instead simply happy that spring was finally here.