Wicker Creels hung beneath flaring apple trees on the banks of New York's fabled Esopus remind the restive angler with nostalgic eloquence that April, the month of the trout, is again upon him. In a matter of days, from East to Far West, he will follow the compelling call, ignoring the sudden freshet which hopelessly roils his pet stream or the dying touch of winter which skims his lake with ice—for his is a passion bred of tradition.
By April's end the waters of 34 states will be formally open to trout fishing, and laggards soon will follow as spring finds its way to snowbound high country. Only seven states bear no trout, so by June 1 the nation's 10 species will be fair game for an awesome host of some 20 million fresh-water anglers, a host for' which state and federal fisheries biologists have been quietly laboring for many months. Already Wyoming has stocked more than 5 million fish in its myriad of streams. Yet the angler there, as in many other western states, still creels three native trout to every hatchery-reared one. In the urban East the ratio of wild to tame is radically reversed, but even if eastern trout are largely stocked that can scarcely dampen the pleasures of a blue sky, the raucous voice of water tumbling over rock and riffle and all the other intangibles which lend trout fishing its very particular flavor. And, for the truly dedicated, like A. Wells Peck of Connecticut, shown on the cover, there are the ancient and ponderous brown trout in the pools of such hallowed eastern streams as the Broadheads and Beaverkill. They are lords of their pools, and when in the twilight they rise to a fluttering moth anglers are stricken to reverent silence. These are the special quarry of the practiced and the patient, the disciples of Theodore Gordon, George LaBranche, Edward Hewitt and other high priests of the venerable art of fly angling. To them a spinning rod is a sacrilege, a worm an abomination. But, for all trout anglers, the purists as well as that legion which simply likes to go fishing, April is the door to long-awaited days on stream and lake. Below, from special correspondents in every corner of the land, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED presents the latest reports on what awaits them as the season opens.
THE TROUT CALENDAR, STATE BY STATE
Arizona. Season open all year. Rain and snow have refreshed dry streams, and conditions are excellent. Best fishing is in the northern half of the state, especially in the White mountains, where the wilderness streams of the Apache Reservation are giving up some fat trout. Visiting anglers must purchase a special $6 license from the Indians, but fishing on the White River and remote lakes is well worth the price. And Apaches will act as guides if you are unfamiliar with the country.
Arkansas. Season open all year. Flow of cold water from Bull Shoals and Norfork dams has turned White and Northforkrivers into two of the nation's top trout streams. Five-pound rainbows and brownies biting regularly, and a few anglers report taking 10-pounders.
California. General season runs from April 27 to Oct. 31 but special local regulations should be checked. Most waters are now at normal height, and Sierra snowpack is heavy enough to promise an excellent late-summer runoff. Good bets for opening day include Crowley Lake, Owens River and Hot Creek on east slope of the Sierra. Latter is early-season hot spot for dry-fly artists. West Slope of Sierra may be spotting, but the Kern River from the gorge to Isabella Lake offers fair possibilities. Trinity Alps area and Trinity and Klamath River watersheds will probably be snowbound. However, Almanor and Shasta lakes are now open.
Colorado. May 18 to Oct. 31. New stocking of trout plus carryover from 21,198,522 put in last year promises healthy catch in Colorado. Exceptionally heavy snowpack in such important regions as the Colorado, Arkansas and South Platte drainage areas guarantees optimum water levels throughout season.
Connecticut. April 20 to Oct. 31. Rain needed, but general outlook is good, with 53 ponds and over 280 streams scheduled for state stocking. Most trout angling in Connecticut is put-and-take, but smart fishermen can take sleek sea-run browns in Latimer's Brook and in the Hammonasset, West, Farm and Saugatuck rivers.
Delaware. April 13 to Aug. 10. There is virtually no trout fishing in Delaware. Exceptions are White Clay Creek and Mill Creek, both stocked with Pennsylvania-hatched trout.
Georgia. April 1 to Oct. 15; lakes open all year. Lake Burton and other Georgia and TVA power project lakes in fine condition, with chunky rainbows taking to streamers and trolled spoons. Streams are at normal height, and opening-day anglers report gratifying results.
Idaho. General season runs from June 4 to Nov. 30 but special local regulations should be checked. Some low-altitude ponds and streams already open, but high country still under snow and ice. Bait fishing excellent on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Snake River very productive, particularly at American Falls below Glenns Ferry and at Strike Dam. Thousand Springs still yielding five-pounders where clear spring water pours into the Snake. For airborne anglers, a few Primitive Area landing strips are open, such as Thomas Creek, Loon Creek, Mahoney Bar, Flying B and Taylor's, but fliers are warned to watch out for game on all landing strips. Indian and Sulphur Creek strips are still snowed in.
Maine. April 1 to Aug. 15 for brooks and streams. Stream temperatures are low and heavy runoff is anticipated. Ice in lakes, however, is breaking up early, and Moose-head, Rangeley, East and West Grand lakes should be clear in two weeks.
Maryland. April 15 to Sept. 15. Streams are expected to be normal and clear this week. By opening day more than 100,000 legal-size seven-inch rainbows, browns and brookies will have been stocked in at least 36 creeks. Big Hunting Creek in Frederick County near Thurmont will be open to fly angling only, but Savage River, Fishing Creek, Jones Falls and Beetree Run are unrestricted.
Massachusetts. April 20 to Feb. 28. Shasheen, Ipswich and Deerfield rivers are normal and clear, but best fishing in Massachusetts is on Cape Cod, where Goose, Peter's, Flax and other reclaimed ponds boast large browns and where small tidal streams still yield sea-run brookies.
Michigan. April 27 to Sept. 8. Lower Peninsula conditions indicate that opening day will find streams normal or slightly low. In western state watershed there is little or no snowpack in headwater swamps of Tamarack, 'Little Muskegon, Hersey Creek, White River, other excellent streams in Muskegon River system. Same applies to tributaries of Pere Marquette and Manistee. South Boardman is decidedly on low side. Early dry flies may be effective. Possibility exists of heavy runoff on Sturgeon, Pigeon and in Black River system; but Ocqueoc, Au Sable, Au Gres and Tibawassee in eastern watershed are all low and gin-clear. Lamprey depradations have seriously cut spawning runs of large rainbows at spots like Tippey Dam on the Manistique and all along Platte, Betsy and Au Gres rivers. However, Sturgeon River is relatively free of eels, so rainbow run there should be good.
New Hampshire. April 22 to Sept. 2 for bait casters; fly-fishing till Oct. 31, except in Coos County, which closes Oct. 15. Majority of northern ponds and lakes will still be frozen by opening day, but early ice-out is expected. It will leave northern treams still either roiled or cold, with fishing poor. However, in southern streams, like he Souhegan at Milford, the South Branch of the Piscataquog at New Boston and isinglass River at Stratford, there may be early fly activity. Best stream angling will be in May, when far northern Connecticut River and other stream water in that region reaches warmer temperatures.
New Jersey. April 13 to Nov. 30. Openingday anglers will be lucky to find casting room in state's generously stocked streams. Nevertheless, Big Flat Brook, South Branch of the Raritan, the Paulinskill and the Musconetcong can all provide pleasant fishing, particularly on uncrowded weekdays.
New York. April 13 to Sunday after Labor Day. Adirondack waters will still be cold but open though streams in lower part of state are in excellent condition. Famed Fly Tyer Harry Darbee reports little snow in Catskill back country and says that the Willowemoc and Beaverkill are in the best shape he has seen for years. Local spies have spotted isolated early hatches on the Schoharie, Esopus, Ten Mile and Never-sink. Lake trout opened April 1, with good catches on Catherine Creek, a tributary of Seneca Lake, one of the larger Finger Lakes.
North Carolina. April 6 to Aug. 31, except in Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties, where Season closes July 31. Outlook good for opening day, with more than a thousand miles of streams in the state's westernmost counties stocked and waiting for anglers. Some streams, such as Fires Creek, Hurricane Creek, Hickory Fork, Lower South Mills River and others have open fishing dates, and state regulations must be checked.
Pennsylvania. April 15 to Sept. 2. Water a bit high now in 52 lakes and 4,444 miles of streams stocked by state. Barring heavy rain, however, levels should be normal on opening day. Tionesta Creek and its branches are favorites in western part of state. Easterners heading, as usual, for time-honored Pocono streams such as the Broadheads. Further south in limestone belt the Yellow Breeches affords excellent angling. Most warming news is that once-famous Big Spring has just been rehabilitated, cleaned up by volunteer citizens and is once more a fine trout stream.
South Dakota. Season open all year. Ice now breaking up, and anglers in Black Hills country getting ready to go after large native stocks of brown, rainbow and brook trout.
Tennessee. March 15 to Sept. 30, except tail waters of dams, which are open all year. Despite early floods in some areas, general conditions are good. Anglers report heavy catches from such popular waters as Tellico River, Citico Creek watershed, Doe Creek, Beaver Dam Creek and Abrams Creek in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. State stocks 63 streams and approximately 100 miles of open water in the Tellico Wildlife Management Area watershed.
Washington. Lowland lakes open April 14, streams and high lakes May 19. General closing is Oct. 31, but special local regulations should be checked. Fine lowland opener is predicted for Washington. Biologist Clarence Pautzke advises that ice capping of west-side lakes has kept bottom water shielded and warm and discouraged wild fowl predation. Lakes in all but the extreme northwest are 4° to 5° warmer than usual. All streams are in heavy runoff, but angling for cutthroat and rainbow will be productive in another five or six weeks. Best lakes for April 14 are Silver, Toad and Cain in Whatcom County, Deer and Lone in Island County, Hummel on Lopez Island, Cascade on Orcas Island, Ki and Serene in Snohomish County, Meridan, Steel and Shadow lakes in King County, Clear Lake in Bald Hills in Thurston County, Jameson in Douglas County, Horseshoe in Kitsap County, and Grant County's famous Blue Lake. Skagit County will be somewhat slow.
Wyoming. General season is from May 1 to Oct. 31, but Wyoming seasons open by area and state regulations should be checked. East Fork of the Sweetwater and the Little Popo Agie look promising for opening day but require some hiking. Other famous Wyoming waters like Shoshone, Wind, Snake, Gros Ventre, Yellowstone, Big Horn rivers will get annual heavy pressure and surrender annual heavy catch of native trout. Central and east central areas of the state will not be up to snuff because of critical drought conditions.
OTHER OPENINGS FOR 1957
Illinois. No closed season.
Indiana. Streams, May 1 to Aug. 31; lakes, no closed season.
Iowa. No closed season.
Kentucky. No closed season.
Minnesota. 23 northern streams, April 1-Oct. 31. General, May 4 to Sept. 15.
Missouri. March 1 to Oct. 31.
Montana. May 26 to Nov. 30 with local variations.
Nebraska. No closed season.
Nevada. May 12 to Oct. 31 with local variations.
New Mexico. May 1 to Nov. 30 with local variations.
North Dakota May 11 to Sept. 30.
Oklahoma. No closed season.
Oregon. April 27 to Oct. 31.
Rhode Island. April 20 to Oct. 21.
South Carolina. Jan. 1 to Oct. 1.
Utah. June 1 to Oct. 6.
Vermont. Streams, May 1 to Aug. 14; lakes, May 10 to Aug. 31.
Virginia. April 13 to Dec. 31.
West Virginia. April 27 to Oct. 10.
Wisconsin May 1 to Sept. 7 with local variations.