HOLLIDAYSBURG - Some rain was expected for this area late Saturday afternoon and into the evening.
For many area trout fishermen, it could not get here soon enough.
The warm, dry weather of March and early April came with a caveat for anglers as the 2012 trout season opened Saturday at 8 a.m. The water levels in several area streams were much lower than normal, and many fishermen weren't having much luck Saturday morning and early Saturday afternoon.
Mirror photo by Gary M.?Baranec
Don Shoeman and his grandson, Christopher McCaulley, enjoy the first day of fishing at Canoe Creek?State Park.
"The water is really low and clear, it's not too good to fish,'' said Bob Habianyak, 69, of Martinsburg, who was fishing a stretch of the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River near the Creekside Inn Restaurant in East Freedom on Saturday morning.
Habianyak began fishing right at 8 a.m. with a variety of bait that included worms and salmon eggs. By noon, he hadn't caught any trout and he was getting ready to depart the stream and head down to Yellow Creek in northern Bedford County.
"The water level sure does make a difference,'' he said. "I've seen a couple of guys catch fish, but I haven't seen too many being caught. It's beautiful [weather] for the first day, though. Sometimes, it's snowing or cold.''
Saturday's morning and early-afternoon temperatures were in the high 60s under partly sunny skies. Even warmer weather is expected for today and Monday. The mild temperatures served as small consolation for fishermen who weren't getting many bites, though.
Poplar Run in Newry was low and clear as well. A group of anglers fishing the stretch of that stream near the Newry Lions Club building in back of the Leighty's Farm Market was having moderate luck.
"It's very low, very low,'' Sheldon Smith, 24, of Altoona said of the water levels on Poplar Run. "I've gotten a couple bites, a couple nibbles. I haven't caught any fish yet. One guy just left here with four of them.''
Jesse Wyles, 32, had his two young sons, Zachary, 11, and Mason, 8, with him on Poplar Run. Zachary Wyles displayed a bag full of three trout, one of which he caught and two others which were caught by Mason. The Wyles family lives in Newry.
"They caught those fish on salmon eggs,'' Jesse Wyles said of his sons.
At Canoe Creek State Park, first-day luck also appeared to favor the very young. Curtis Melton, 44, of Hollidaysburg was taking a break from fishing when he related the story of how a friend's 3-year-old son had hooked a 14-inch trout out of the lake Saturday morning.
"He was the lucky one,'' said Melton, who hadn't caught a fish himself by late morning. "We threw the line out for him, but he reeled [the fish] in himself once he had it hooked.''
Down along the Canoe Creek stream near Turkey Valley Road, vehicles were parked side-by-side and the fishing pressure was heavy. But most fishermen encountered weren't having a lot of luck.
John Saltsgiver, 31, and his older brother, Jim, 37, both of Tyrone, were on the stream by 6 a.m. and making their first casts at 8 a.m. Their first three hours of fishing were uneventful.
"It hasn't been good at all,'' John said. "You have to get here early to get a spot, then you have to stand around and wait. I'm staying for another hour. If we don't catch anything by then, I'm out of here.''
Jim Saltsgiver said their cousin and his son had caught five trout between them on Canoe Creek.
"They're still fishing down there,'' Jim said.
Kevin McGeary, 45, of Altoona, had caught and released three trout on red worms Saturday morning on Canoe Creek.
"I leave them in there for somebody else to take home,'' he said.
Many area fishermen were hoping that they would catch at least one trout to either release back into the water or put into the frying pan.
Ray Gregorchik, 50, who lives along Turkey Valley Road, wasn't having any luck on Canoe Creek Saturday morning. He recited the story of the day.
"Last year, it was raining and the water was high and muddy, and I caught my limit of five,'' he said. "This year, I've only seen two trout get caught.''