By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY March 29, 2002 April Fools Day will have a lot of folks out to hook the big one this year.
The biggest jokesters day of the year also happens to be the opening day of trout season in New York State.
With the cooperation of Mother Nature, the local fishing industry hopes to have a successful kick off to the season.
Last year there was still a pile of snow on the ground and the water was almost unfishable, said Tony Ritter, owner of Gone Fishing Guide Services in Narrowsburg.
But with the two to three inches of rain which fell this week to boost the river flow and the hint of spring in the air, there should be a larger number than usual of folks dropping a line in the Beaverkill and Willowemoc rivers this April, local fishing industry experts say.
(Trout season will not officially begin on the Delaware River until April 13. Creeks from Callicoon northward which run into the Delaware will also be closed until the later date).
The waters certainly more fishable this year, Ritter explained. I think you can count on more people being out there this year.
I think it will be a great weekend, added Joe McFadden, owner of McFaddens Fly Fishing shop in Hankins. It will probably be one of the better years weve had.
Usually youre dealing with snow this time of year, which we dont have, he explained. Right now youre dealing with high water, but that should recede by Monday to where it belongs.
According to Ritter, the trout are still running a little sluggish at this point because the water temperatures are still low.
They dont really start running until the water gets up to about 50 degrees, he said.
With temperatures still dropping to below freezing on recent nights, the water will take a while longer to warm up.
But the fish are out there and waiting to be hooked by the early bird.
The trout are in good shape, McFadden said. Theyve been working on top for the past two weeks.
Usually at this time of the year, we dont have that, he added.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation will be stocking approximately 2.27 million catchable-size trout in lakes, ponds and streams across the state. The state is expected to wait until later in the month to stock the Willowemoc, Beaverkill and Neversink rivers to give the water temperature a chance to rise.
But the fishing promises to be good for all at the beginning of the season.
Even the serious drought the local water supply has been facing all winter is expected to remain in the background at least through April when the temperatures are still cool and there is little foliage to soak up the moisture.
I just hope we continue getting showers week in and week out, Ritter said.
The rivers are doing well, he noted, but we still have a long way to go as far as resolving the drought conditions.