Opening day. It used to be a long-awaited day which meant I could go trout fishing again. I was lucky to live within driving distance to rivers emptying into the Pacific Ocean with runs of salmon and steelhead. I fished for them during the winter months, but opening day of trout season was a red-letter day on my calendar. When is opening day of fishing for you?
When I lived in the Oregon’s Willamette Valley, I waited with anticipation for opening day. Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife called it the Willamette Zone. I recall driving up the South Santiam River above Foster Reservoir and fly fish for trout a late April during a snow storm. But I was fishing on opening day!
I looked forward to the Central Zone, which included my favorite river, the Metolius. Those were the days hatchery fish were still stocked in the river, a practice they stopped in 1995.
There have been dramatic changes in regulations since then. Catch and release regulations now allow many rivers to be open year-round. That wasn’t the case when I was much younger. There were two openers. The first was in late April and a month later the remaining waters would open up. The major reason was to allow salmon and steelhead smolts, which were in the 6 to 9 inch range, an opportunity to move downstream unencumbered to the ocean.
In fact, this Saturday is opening day for many waters in Oregon – April 22. The lakes will be open, but it sounds like most of them are still frozen over from the late season snowfall.
The second opener is 5/22. Be sure to consult your state’s fishing regulations to make sure which water is open or closed.
One river many anticipate opening is the Warm Springs to Trout Creek section on the Lower Deschutes. Most of the rainbow trout have spawned in that section and moved back to their normal holding water. There may still be a few on the redds, so please be observant and avoid those areas. We hope to catch those fish who hatch this year in 3 or 4 years.
So my question for you today is, when is your opening day and what water are you looking forward to fishing?
Lastly, if you are fishing the Metolius River, remember the river above Allingham Bridge is closed until 5/22.