April 1, 2009, Field and Stream: Merwin: Lost Magic & Opening Day

April 01, 2009

Merwin: Lost Magic & Opening Day


Today is the traditional Opening Day of trout season in New York state. It is also April Fool’s Day. Some will wisely assume the two are somehow connected.

The water temperature of the Beaverkill, that most famous of Catskill trout rivers,  this morning is 42 degrees. The weather forecast calls for cloudy skies with afternoon rain showers and air temperatures also in the 40s. It is a lovely day for playing cribbage by a warm wood stove; somewhat less lovely for trout fishing.

Many fishermen, of course, will be undeterred by the weather. Any fishing is better than no fishing, and April 1st is as much a celebration of the start of a new season as it is about trout. At least I hope it is. Standing in a cold rain and trying to catch a 9-inch brown trout from a snow-melt swollen river might otherwise be hard to justify.

For many of this country’s trout rivers, there no longer is an Opening Day. Fishing seasons often now extend year ‘round, sometimes with very short seasonal closures to protect spawning fish. The annual April start of Catskill trout fishing used to be a serious event, duly reported on by New York metro newspapers such as the Times and the sadly defunct Herald-Tribune. These days it passes without a ripple in the news.

When I was a kid, Opening Day was like Christmas morning. It was impossible to sleep the night before because of all the anticipation. I think as the idea of Opening Day seems to be slowly disappearing that we’re losing much of the magic, too....

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