State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Fishermen Gear Up for Start of Trout Season

by on April 17, 2015 6:40 AM

Most people probably don’t get excited when they think about bugs hatching come springtime.

But for fishermen, those bugs are one of the most exciting things that the springtime brings – because once the bugs are here to stay, the fish will all come out to play.

“Trout primarily feed on insects, and as the water warms up they become more active,” says George Costa, manager of the State College TCO Fly Fishing shop. “… Now the mayflies and caddis are hatching, making this a better time to fish.”

Trout season officially opens across most of Pennsylvania on Saturday, giving fisherman of all stripes the opportunity to take advantage of the warm waters and plentiful fish.

Although some southeastern counties have been bagging trout since April 4, this Saturday will see a mad rush of fishermen hitting the waters for the first time this year. Costa says the season stays in full swing until around mid-June, when things begin to taper off.

“Opening day has an atmosphere all its own,” says Paul Wagner, a manager with Appalachian Outdoors and an avid fly fisher.  “You’ll see tons of people come out. It’s just elbow to elbow.”

Wagner says the opening day of trout season is a little different than what he typically enjoys. He usually likes to take the time to enjoy the quiet solitude of nature when he fishes – something that’s next to impossible on opening day. 

But instead of complaining about the crowds (or, perish the thought, not going fishing), Wagner uses opening day as a chance to spend time with his friends while they enjoy the day alongside everyone else with a line in the water.

“It’s really fun in its own right,” Wagner says. “I put in some 80 to 100 days on the water myself a year, so it’s nice to get out there with everyone and enjoy a little variety.”

Costa moved to the State College area from Philadelphia only a few months ago, and so far he seems pretty pleased with his decision. Going from a major urban area to a smaller college town has taken some adjusting, but “there are so many more options for fishing around here.”

Lebanon County resident Steve Hendricks was in State College on Thursday, stocking up on fishing line and other gear for the coming weekend. A fly fisher for nearly 50 years, Hendricks likes to take advantage of the fishing spots in Centre and Union Counties.

He says he enjoys the quiet that comes with fishing in the off season, but he doesn’t plan to miss out on a perfect fishing weekend just because every other fisherman will be out and about too. 

“I’m going to be out because it’s going to be a beautiful weekend … but I’ll be in a quiet, special regulation area,” he says with a sly smile.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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