Opening Day on Montour Run

For millions of Pennsylvanians, spring doesn't really begin until the Opening Day of trout season. Folks who fish all year, and even some who don't, wouldn't miss the chance to be knee deep in water at the crack of dawn in April. The Allegheny Front's Deborah Weisberg has the story.

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OPEN: For millions of Pennsylvanians, spring doesn't officially start until the opening day of trout season. Folks who fish all year--and even some who don't--wouldn't miss the chance to be knee deep in water at the crack of dawnÖin early spring. Here's Deborah Weisberg with the story.


DW: On this chilly Saturday morningÖfishermen stand shoulder to shoulder on Montour Run near Pittsburgh. Although most fishermen hate crowdsÖthis is one day of the yearÖwhen crowds are part of the pictureÖ

BODNER AND OTHERS: If you want a little room on the streamÖwait a few weeksÖthere's plenty of roomÖOpening Day is a social eventÖit's about catching a few fish and having a good time.

WEISBERG: Fishing guide John Bodner spends most of his time in ErieÖbut on opening day youíll find him here.

BODNER: I just love it. I fish about every day of the year and I wouldn't miss thisÖif I was beat up batteredÖand they had to wheel me to the streamÖI wouldn't miss thisÖfresh trout out of cold water. Opening day is about catching and eating your limit. It's a lot of fun.

WEISBERG: The state plants trout in streams and lakes all over Pennsylvania. Sportsmenís groups like the one Bodner belongs toÖthe Forest Grove Sportsmen's Association also stock trout. That brings anglers like Ron Kozel to their favorite spot at the crack of dawn.

KOZEL: I was here about quarter to seven this morningÖthis is my 50th or soÖmaybe even more than that (laughs)

WEISBERG: Like most anglersÖ.Kozel has a smorgasbord of baits in his nearby tackle box...

KOZEL: The red balls are salmon eggsÖthen we got powerbaitÖthen we got waxwormsÖpowerbait waxwormsÖmaggotsÖwhatever they hit on thatís what you go after.

WEISBERG: Twenty years ago, Kozel and others fished elsewhere on opening day. Streams like Montour Run were too polluted to hold trout. But watershed and sportsmenís groups across Pennsylvania have transformed waterways like this oneÖby partnering with state agencies on water quality and habitat improvements.

BUCKSHAW: Fifteen years ago, this was an open sewerÖthen Denny Early our chairman of the boardÖof the clubÖtook it upon himself to start cleaning the whole thing upÖand we cleaned it up.

DW: John Buckshaw and Mike Karkalla belong to the Forest Grove Sportsmen's Association. That group and the Montour Run Watershed Association have been pivotal in Montour Run's regeneration.

BUCKSHAW AND KERKELLA: There's been a lot of individual effort to do what we didÖmakes it enjoyable for a lot of peopleÖ(Mike chimes in) especially when people said this stream couldn't hold troutÖand for 15 years proved there's holdovers, can catch, they're breedingÖwater quality is excellentÖhabitatÖwatershed association has turned it aroundÖ

WEISBERG: On Montour RunÖthey've dealt not just with acid mine drainageÖbut with toxic runoff from nearby Greater Pittsburgh Airport. Gary Smith is a biologist with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

SMITH: There's been a lot of improvements from the deicing agents the airport has usedÖit has switched deicers to more environmentally friendly and they're containing them and preventing them to get into stream and cause fish kills like in past.

WEISBERG: Five years ago, Montour Run became healthy enough for the fish commission to add it to the stocking list. But that doesn't mean stream improvements are done. Here's Bodner.

BODNER: The big thing we're worried about now is development and siltation. And warm water going in. But fish do real well here even in summer. It's hard to find anywhere in PA when you can have that.

For the Allegheny Front, I'm Deborah Weisberg.