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Anglers glad to be outside

Fishing season

Courtesy photo Danielle Chilcote, Altoona, caught five trout at Canoe Creek on Saturday.

NEWRY — The opening day of the 2021 trout fishing season dawned sunny but with extremely cold temperatures Saturday.

By late morning though, although there was a brisk breeze present, the temperature had warmed up quite a bit.

Bryce Noland, 21, of Ebensburg, was fishing with a good buddy, Joe Wyland, 22, also of Ebensburg, on Poplar Run near Leighty’s Farm Market in Newry when a 10-inch brown trout hit his spinning lure and Noland pulled it through the air and on to the rocky bank alongside the stream.

“I’m feeling pretty good, just being outside,” Noland said. “It’s nice out, and there’s not much else to do.”

Wyland echoed that sentiment, which is why he purchased a fishing license and trout stamp for the first time in four years this spring.

“I was just bored, there’s nothing better to do, so I thought, I may as well,” Wyland said of his decision to buy a license.

Also fishing Poplar Run, several hundred yards in back of Leighty’s, near the Lions Club building, was Dane Williams, 37, of Duncansville, who had grown up fishing the stream.

“It’s great to be outside, it charges your soul,” Williams said. “Newry is my hometown — I grew up down the road from here, and I came back here to see if I could catch a fish.”

Williams was using redworms.

“It was so cold early this morning,” Williams said. “I don’t think that (trout) like to bite when it’s that cold.”

Drew Stranford, 13, of Duncansville, was fishing that town’s Blair Gap Run with his father, John, 39, and by late morning, the two had done very well.

John caught and released eight trout on a silver Cleo spoon lure, while Drew caught and released four using PowerBait.

“I got up at 6 (a.m.), got down here at 7:30, and started fishing at 8,” Drew said of his early-morning itinerary. “Whenever I get a bite on my rod, it’s a big adrenalin rush.”

That timeless thrill of getting a bite is part of what compels trout fishermen to come back for more, day after day, year after year.

Dustin Lewis, 30, of Cresson, was fishing with his buddy Shawn Wilkins, 49, of Altoona, on a stretch of the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River near the Creekside Inn in East Freedom early Saturday afternoon.

Lewis had pretty good success with small plastic worms, catching and releasing six trout after starting at 8 a.m.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for three months — as soon as hunting season was over,” Lewis said.

Wilkins, also using small rubber worms, caught and released four trout.

“The largest was 12 inches,” Wilkins said. “(The fishing) was slow early this morning because it was cold, but it picked up in the last hour or so since it warmed up some.”

Bill Barzensky, 64, of Johnstown, was fishing with his son Evan, 20, on Beaverdam Creek in Claysburg early Saturday afternoon. The two had started at 8 a.m. on Bobs Creek near Pavia, where the crowds were extremely thick.

“We were at Bobs Creek early this morning, and it was unbelievably packed,” Barzensky said. “There was a palamino (golden rainbow trout) up there that was about 20 inches long.”

With COVID-19 still very much a threat, fishermen are still being asked to keep a distance of 6 feet — roughly the length of a fishing rod — between themselves. Barzensky, who was wearing a mask when talking to the Mirror, was adhering to the 6-feet rule, but said that most others whom he saw up on Bobs Creek weren’t.

“It was 26 degrees up on Bobs Creek early this morning — almost unbearable,” Barzensky said. “I saw social gatherings everywhere up there of 20 or 30 people. It was crazy. I didn’t see one person wearing a mask.”

After the ravages of the pandemic over the past year, Drew Stranford was happy just to be out in the fresh air with his father Saturday.

“The sun really opens up the water and you’re able to get a really good view of the fish — especially when you’re wearing (specialized) sunglasses,” Drew said. “It’s very refreshing to get out into the fresh air.”

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