Sunday, December 16, 2012

Special Regulations Opening Day

I fondly remember the opening days of my youth.  These New Jersey events happened each year in April and made the closed season very long indeed.  The excitement of that time is still ingrained in my psyche as I now have many opening days to consider and experience.  I feel like a kid in a less than juvenile body.

January 1, April 1, the first Saturday in April, the second Saturday in April, April 15, May 10, June 1, June 11 and June 15.  In addition to these dates there are others that will be important to you especially if you fish ponds and lakes.  Around the country there are many dates that open a season for many different species.  The understanding of these dates and locations will give you an order to your year as an angler.  Start checking the information provided by your states Fish & Game as well as the others near by and you will determine what is important.

Here, where I now live, in New Hampshire we have rivers that don't close.  Some locations receive their best stocking during October and November.  They are a great asset to the state and on some nice late fall and winters days being out and hooking a few fish can't be beat.  The opportunity to fish a twelve month season is possible and I do my best to take advantage of the situation.  Massachusetts holds a few locations with tail water releases that keep things going through the dog days of summer.  Many anglers head that way during July and August.  These kinds of places exist in a number of other states as well.

I remember opening days back in the 1960's where the trout streams were crowded.  If I were very lucky my Mom or Dad would take me to some better locations for the day.  Big Flat Brook was a real high lite and Upper Saddle River or the Ramapo River were the norm.  All well stocked streams and worth a visit even today.  I fished as much as possible and did my best to learn.

It is clearly that feeling of anticipation that keeps my youth alive and my mind fantasizing about the future.   The most important thing any young angler can do is keep a log.  You will have the record of your days and those days hold the forgotten secrets of days to come.   Sadly, I did not do this and have only photos and memories to relive through this blog..  I have no idea what the water temperature was on a given day or the flies that worked best or the conditions that caused a better day.  I do have the collective experience but know that I would be a better angler today if I had that record of events.

Three AM and I am having some coffee.  I'm up when the alarm sounds and doing my best to get out the door.  My gear was already worked on and packed and is ready to put in the car.  January first is the first opening day in the New Hampshire season.  The weather can range from cold to too cold and I have a rule that single digits will keep me home.  Guides freezing is for sure even at higher temperatures while being cold will be kept at bay by wearing multi layers making me feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  Boot foot waders are a must as the difference in foot warmth is dramatic.  Head gear will be used and tip free gloves that I will try all day to keep dry.  A second pair tucked inside my waders in case I catch a big fish that requires getting wet.

A second complete set of clothing will be kept in the car.  Fall in the river with water at 32.6 and you will need to change or go home.  Also in the car is another heavy coat.  When you get too cold to get warm you will want another layer.  I wear two pair s of socks .  The first is a thin nylon and the second rated for 30 below zero.

In sixteen days I will make the one hour drive to meet up with the same crew that I meet each year.  The same friends that share the passion and excitement and banter and joy together for many years.  We fish and sometimes hit the mother load and some time nothing at all.  It simply doesn't matter.  It's opening day, it's a New Year and I am counting down the time right this minute.

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