Soon, homes all over Pennsylvania will be enjoying fresh trout dinners, including mine.
I love trout, yes, even stocked trout. I like them cooked simply like this. I slit a cleaned trout right along the backbone on the inside so it lies flat then I just salt it and roll it in breadcrumbs, cracker meal, flour or whatever your preference and saut it in butter or oil until it is golden brown on both sides. Eat with fresh bread and coffee. That's it. I have company recipes but I seldom serve trout for company.
If I have a few fish I want to freeze for later, Here is the best way I have found to do it. I put each trout into a large zip-log bag or a small milk carton and fill it with water. Pop it in the freezer. The trout encased in the ice keeps them fresh and firm. Very simple.
The couple weeks between now and the opening of spring gobbler season on May 3 are prime, not only for trout fishing but for gobbler scouting. Here's a good time to get two birds with one stone, so to speak. On Saturday, if that is your only day to fish, or on any day you can get out, put your fishing gear in the back and go to your favorite gobbler-listening spot just at daylight. Pinpoint a couple birds and then put on the gear and hip boots and go to the stream or lake and catch a few fish. Makes for an early day but a satisfying one.
April, however, is a terrific time to scout for gobblers while you are fishing streamside. There is little foliage to impede the sound and if you just keep your ears open you'll hear gobbles coming from the mountains sides throughout the day. Mark that in your memory and figure out how to get to that spot from the top of the mountain so you don't have to climb up from the bottom.
Prime time for this roosting-fishing duet is at dusk however. I've often scouted in the early morning hours, taken a nap in my vehicle mid-morning and then gone fishing in the afternoon. Fish often bite better in the late afternoon when fishing pressure has usually subsided a bit. And gobblers, heading off for the roost, are vocal. When they fly up to roost at dusk, they like to sound off to let their hens know just where they are. If there is a stream or lake around, gobblers very often prefer to roost on the side that faces the water.
Some years ago, I was fishing one of my favorite trout streams, Schrader Creek in Bradford County, and I was a couple miles up the old railroad bed that bordered the stream and the bottom of the mountain. As I cast over a big pool, I heard several thunderous gobbles coming from near the top of the mountain. Each successive gobble told me this was a hot bird I could interest in the morning.
I didn't know how to get to that particular hollow from the top of the mountain so I knew that if I wanted to work that bird in the morning, I'd have to walk in to this very spot in the morning, climb the ridge (I don't do this anymore) and be in place near him by dawn.
The next morning, I parked my truck at the Game Commission gate along the stream. It was 3 a.m.; very still and very dark. I relished the two-mile hike up that old railroad bed, led by mini-mag flashlight. I didn't relish the climb so much but this was all such a challenge. When he sounded off at dawn, I was right in place.
I'd like to be able to spin a story of how I worked that gobbler and finally bagged him but not that day. He was smarter than I. He had a harem and I was not able to draw him away from them that morning. But I had an exciting hunt and knew where he was. I went back and worked him later in the season. When the hunt was over, I hiked back to my truck, had my peanut butter sandwich and granola bar, took a snooze and went fishing later. In my opinion, that is the life.
I've located many a gobbler while I was trout fishing. That's the reason I always have a mouth call along with me when I go up any trout stream. When there is no other angler near me to hear, I let go with a few yelps to see if I get an answer and I often do. It's an especially good way to locate gobblers in more remote places, gobblers that probably have not been shafted around much by other hunters and may not be so hard to interest.
If a stream is running high and noisy or the wind is blowing hard you might not be able to hear a gobbler over the noise but on most spring evenings, if I put my ears into listening mode, I am quite often tipped off to a gobbler's hangout.