Conditions are conducive for area fishermen

By John Hartsock

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Sunny skies and warm, very comfortable temperatures greeted area fishermen for the opening of the 2018 trout season in Blair and surrounding counties Saturday morning.

It was optimal weather for fishing, and Eric Mortimer and Stacy Scarpelli had enjoyed a perfect day astream.

Mortimer, 39, of Altoona, and Scarpelli, 42, of Curwensville had each caught their limit of five trout on rosy red minnows, and had placed the fish on two separate stringers before leaving a Canoe Creek fishing spot along Beaver Dam Road about mid-morning.

“We got our limit of five apiece,” Mortimer said. “(The fishing) is good. They were biting hard. I caught a fish on my first cast this morning.”

Mortimer is a regular fisherman at Canoe Creek.

“I’ve been coming here for 15 years,” Mortimer said. “I know the stream pretty well. I come here on the first day every year.”

The warm weather, with temperatures expected to surpass the 80-degree mark by afternoon, was a bonus as well.

“It’s gorgeous,” Scarpelli said.

Jeffrey Williams, 33, of Altoona, and his younger brother, Cory, 23, of Canoe Creek were having some luck fishing under a bridge upstream from Mortimer and Scarpelli.

Jeffrey Williams was using a fly rod with yellow PowerBait on his hook, and had a couple 12 to 13-inch trout on his stringer within the first hour of Saturday’s 8 a.m. start.

“It’s been pretty good so far,” he said. “I’ve had three casts and three bites so far. They love yellow PowerBait.”

Jeffrey anticipated that he would switch to flies for bait later in the day.

“I’ll start using flies when the fish start getting spooky, maybe about halfway through the day,” he said.

Cory Williams was using a brown stone fly that he had pulled out of the stream himself. Cory had caught one trout on the fly early in the morning.

The water level in the stream, after a couple of dry days locally, was ideal as well. Clear water is a deterrent for fishing, because it enables even freshly-stocked trout to detect the presence of fishermen along the stream. The waters were moderately cloudy on Saturday and provided good cover for bait presentation.

“The creek’s perfect,” Cory Williams said. “It’s a little bit cloudy. You don’t want it clear. You don’t want to see the fish.”

Tanner Nichols, 22, of Hollidaysburg, was fishing with two friends in the same spot where Mortimer and Scarpelli had experienced their success.

Nichols and his friends were using PowerBait, and Nichols had caught three trout early Saturday.

“On the first day of trout season, the thing that looks like a pellet bait works,” Nichols said.

Nichols pointed out that weather on the first day of trout season can be dicey, even though Saturday’s weather was very pleasant.

“It’s nice today, but you either get sunburned, or you freeze to death on the first day,” Nichols said.

Matthew Corle, 30, of Altoona, was fishing a pool less than a mile downstream from Nichols, and having success with waxworms and PowerBait.

“I caught four or five, and kept a couple for lunch,” Corle said. “The wather is nice, but I’ve seen the fishing better. There doesn’t seem like there’s many in there.”

Tim Gardner, 67, of Altoona, who had caught one trout on a nightcrawler in the same fishing spot as Corle, agreed.

“They don’t stock like they used to,” Gardner said of the Fish and Boat Commission. “I doubt that they threw more than a bucket in here. They used to stock several buckets of trout at several different spots along this stretch of the creek.”

Some people are fair-weather fishermen. Corle insisted that he isn’t one of them.

“I go every year on the first day,” he said. “It’s nicer when it’s warm, but if it was raining, I’d probably still be here.”