Early run leaves anglers dangling
Written by Rochester Democrat and Chronicle   
Sunday, 26 March 2006 13:10

The two old-timers standing too many rows back in the crowd to see the rainbow trout being weighed and checked by the Department of Environmental Conservation biologists knew the score.

"With the weather we've had," said one man, standing along the Route 245 bridge north of the Ontario County village, "I bet they've spawned."

"Yup," said the other man, "in and out."

Right you are, gents.

"It looks like we're toward the end of the run," fishery biologist Brad Hammers confirmed as the DEC crew was midstream in its annual sampling of Naples Creek on Thursday.

The only thing shocking about this was the 150 volts of electricity emanating from a wand manned by a technician. The result: some stunned fish, which were examined and released.

Among the fish netted was a 27½-inch, 7.4-pound rainbow that thrilled the camera-packing Carhartt and Cabela's crowd of 200 to 300 following the biologists along the Canandaigua Lake tributary, where opening day will be embraced on Saturday.

"It's much smaller than we're used to seeing," Hammers said about the public turnout.

The number of trout fans may have had a direct correlation to reports coming out of this trout-fishing hot spot — that rainbows were running in January and February.

"They verified what we thought," angler Gordon Young of Farmington said about the DEC sampling.

Young said he was "hoping" to see different results. "But it was a mild winter. When the water temperature is up, they run early.

"But there's probably still fish to come up," he said, in a hope-springs-eternal tone of voice.

Hammers agreed, adding: "There are still a lot of fish in here. Our concern is if it warms up too much, they'll run out of here. If it stays cold, the fish may stay in. Cold water keeps the fish in holes."

The water temperature Thursday was 33 degrees. There was some ice on trees coming in contact with the creek and a few flakes of snow in the chilly air. However, air temperatures in the 40s have been forecast leading into the traditional statewide April 1 opener.

"Last year was a washout on opening day," Hammers recalled. "There was a lot of rain and the creek was very high."

Water was low and clear during the shocking.

Young wished only to see more silver-colored trout. "That means there hasn't been a fresh run," he said about the lack of silver. "I'm surprised."

The color and spawning stage of the fish in the creek may have been disappointing. Biologists also observed more suckers than usual.

"Suckers run after the trout," he said, referring to the fish, not the fishermen. "All indications are we're pretty much toward the tail-end of things."

But true anglers won't be dissuaded. Opening day is opening day, after all.

"That's a holy day, in my opinion," said Mike Linse of Canandaigua. "I wouldn't miss it." He fishes crowded Naples Creek every opening day, which poses a challenge because he is a fly fisherman.

"You have to use a different technique," Linse said. "You can't use your normal presentation. You have to drift the fly with the other spin-casting fishermen in here. I view it as a festival. I come for the celebration."

Never mind the news of early spawning runs or the threats of weather that might spoil any other day.

"It's a tradition," Young said. "You've got to get somewhere."

That might mean fishing in Irondequoit Creek for trout released by the Fish Hatchery at Powder Mills Park or casting about on Catharine Creek south of Seneca Lake in Schuyler County, Cold Brook south of Keuka Lake in Steuben County, the Cohocton River in Steuben County, the Oatka and Spring Creeks near Caledonia, Livingston County, or Naples Creek.

"With a Saturday opener, it's going to be a zoo here," Young said from the bank of the Naples. "If they'd gotten better results, this place would really be a zoo."

The best results aren't what show up in the DEC nets. It's what anglers hook when the season starts.

As fishery biologist Web Pearsall observed when asked about opening-day prospects: "Fishing's always good."

 
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