A couple days after the start of fishing season, my brother and I hit my favorite spot up late in the evening hoping something would bite. I had heard from the fish whisperer himself, local legend Nate Zook, that a Palamino trout was treading the great waters of the Manatawny. So it was in the back of my mind that I wanted to catch this bright orange and huge trophy fish known as the Palamino trout, which are notoriously good at escaping.
Josh was focused on catching something when my rod almost flew out of my hand! What a bite, I thought as I saw a flash of orange in the mostly clear water. I knew the hook didn’t set well, so I quickly yanked back on the fishing rod, then started to reel. The fish was going nuts, and I knew it was going to be an epic battle.
I saw Josh out of the corner of my eye with his jaw open like he had seen a ghost, and I knew I needed to get this fish in. I reel in some more and then gave the line some slack, getting it closer to my net in order to grab it soon. I swear the Palamino looked at me and for a brief moment I thought I had him. Then he whipped his head up, flapped his tail, and with a splash, he took the bait hook and everything on my string away in a blink. I stood there in shock and threw my rod onto the bank.
I have been fishing since I was little, and I have always fished the Manatawny Creek for trout. I live a quarter mile from the creek, and it is one of the most popular locations for trout fishing in Berks County. I know the best spots on the Manatwany for fishing that I have shared with my friends and family for many years, but I also have found some secret honey holes that always produce fish.
All the creeks in Berks County that are for public fishing do not contain native trout. The creeks here are stocked, which means that fish hatcheries load up a truck with fish and they put them in the creeks in our area. It is a cool thing, but also sad. Way back in our country’s history, there were no limits or regulations to hunting and fishing. People went fishing and would take as many fish as they wanted and didn’t conserve. All the native rainbow, brown, brook, golden, and Palamino trout were taken and the population in the creeks in our area were destroyed. When Pennsylvania Fish and Game was founded, they made regulations: you can now only keep five trout a day and you have to pay for a license to help conservation and hatchery efforts. That is the reason why the creeks are stocked now so we can enjoy our fishing heritage and the fish population can grow again.
Trout season had been underway since March 31st and it has kicked off the fishing season for most anglers. Some fishermen fish for bass year round, but for most anglers, trout season is also like an unofficial start to bass fishing too. Fishermen take off work and go all morning and evening to fish for trout. You will see rows of cars and trucks parked near the best spots of the creeks around our area. It is an exciting day and always stays crowded for a couple weeks. The hard core anglers stick it out throughout the whole summer even when there are less fish. It is more of a challenge and some people like that, including me.
I love to fish and I went opening day this year with my brother Josh and my best friend and huntin’ and fishin’ buddy Ian Fabian. We headed to my favorite spot around 7:30 a.m. right before the trout get to biting. We use the lightest and shortest rods we could get with 4lb. test line. We use small trout hooks and the secret weapon that stocked trout will bite and never let go… POWER BAIT! It works every time and the trout love it.
Continuing on opening day, there were about 15 other anglers fishing my favorite spot down at my buddy Ken’s farm. The start time on opening day is 8am, so everyone said get at it at 8 and about 20 lines went in the water. We fished until lunch time and hauled in a whopping 18 trout: 16 rainbows and 2 brown trout. I kept 3, Josh kept 2, and Ian kept 3. With the biggest smile on his face Josh, reeled in the biggest fish, a huge 20 inch rainbow trout with a huge belly. Ian was catchin’ em left and right: he was rippin’ the lips right off those suckers and havin’ fun doing it. Apparently the brown trout liked the yellow corn power bait I was using cause I couldn’t stop catching those things. We had a good day, and I processed the fish we kept and gave them to Ian for a nice fish fry.
Even though I’ve caught some fish this season, I won’t quit until I get that trophy fish (the elusive Palamino from the opening story my brother named “Hook Eater”) on my line and in my net by the time the season is over (unless you come catch it: yes, you). Try fishing: it is relaxing and catching a fish is an amazing feeling, as is releasing it back in the water, preserving the population for generations to come. Maybe one day they won’t need to stock the creeks.
I guess you could say we were hooked on fishing because Josh, Ian, and I went pretty much every day after opening day. Sometimes it was me and Ian trying new spots with the legend himself Matt Bercek, or just me and my bro snaggin’ some rainbows in my secret spots. We had great times and good memories in this first week or so of fishing season. Hopefully our success will keep on coming and good luck to you too if you’re are an angler. But if you’re not and want to start fishing, come talk to Ian or me about catching some fish because we love to do it and want to help future anglers.