The first day of the 2022 trout season was fabulous for Oscar Padilla.
Padilla, 44, of Roaring Spring – who fished the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River with his sons Caelan, 13, and Mateo, 11 – landed a huge trophy of rainbow trout around 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Padilla tricked the fish onto a nymph, and the trout gave a heated battle before Padilla was able to drag her out of the water and onto a rope.
“I have light gear,” Padilla said, pointing out that his two sons also caught a smaller trout each. “It took me 10 minutes to get the fish in. He kept running and running. It’s good. It’s wonderful — I like to fish with my sons.
At Canoe Creek, the usual neck and neck opening day crowds and fish-filled stringers were nowhere to be found on a few popular spots off Beaver Dam Road.
Greg Householder, 65, and his son, Jason, 43, both of Altoona, weren’t having much luck mid-morning in a deep pool where they were the only ones fishing.
“It’s the slowest I’ve ever seen on opening day,” said Greg, who landed a one-foot rainbow trout on a nightcrawler. “I don’t think they stocked that area much this year. I heard they were having trouble finding (volunteers) to help stock.
“It’s a matter of patience, but I’ve been fishing here since I was 18, and some years I hit my limit here at 9 a.m.,” Greg added.
The weather on Saturday was rather chilly for the start of the season at 8 a.m. By noon, however, the sun had come out and the temperature had warmed up to the mid-50s.
“The weather was cold early this morning – maybe that had something to do with it,” Jason Householder said of the slow fishing and lack of people around the creek. “After two hours of fishing here and not much, I don’t want to stay here any longer.”
Benny Port, 44, and Jinnette Gibson, both of Altoona, also didn’t have much luck much further down the line.
Port caught a 15-inch rainbow trout on a spinning lure shortly after 8 a.m., but it was all luck.
“I only got that one,” Port said. “The fishing was good last Saturday when we were here for Young Mentee Trout Day, but not today.
Jinnette added that “A person walked past us this morning and said he only had one bite.”
The crowds were heavier on Canoe Lake, but the fish weren’t much more active.
“Things are a bit slow,” said Barry Claar, 79, of Duncansville, who was fishing with Dan Snyder, 52, also of Duncansville. “I had a bump on my line earlier, but the fish came and went.
The two were heading to the nearby creek later on Saturday.
“We’re worried the creek is high because of all the rain we got earlier in the week,” Snyder said.
Zeth Osborn, 22, was fishing with his father, Dan, 63, both of Altoona, on the lake.
“We haven’t had anything yet,” Zeth said. “We started at the creek but got nothing. We thought people here were catching fish. If nothing else, if we don’t catch them here, we just like to watch others catch them.
Dan was grateful for the gradual warming in temperature.
“We had a few bites,” Dan said. “At least the weather is getting decent.
John Burk of Duncansville was lucky with salmon roe at Blairs Creek near the Sunbrook Manor Apartment complexes mid-morning Saturday.
“I caught two and released them,” Burk said. “I don’t eat them, and I tell myself that if you don’t eat them, why keep them?
Both Burk’s grandson and granddaughter had caught fish in the creek early Saturday morning, but the cool temperatures gave Burk reason to start fishing later.
“It was too cold for me,” Burk said. “I stayed in my car for a while and drank coffee.
Bobs Creek in Bedford County is a popular trout stream, with cars stopped along the road and fishermen lining the banks at frequent intervals on Saturday mornings.
In Osterburg, the area where Bobs Creek Road crosses Bobs Creek attracts a significant number of fishermen and women throughout the year.
On Saturday, more than two dozen people from Greensburg and local towns gathered early — around 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. — to secure prime locations for opening day.
While the water was high, those gathered said it was not as high as in years past. One year, the Greensburg group said the water was coming up to the road, making the area unsafe. That year they returned to camp and went back to bed.
Those scattered along both sides of the creek said the fish bit for about half an hour after the 8 a.m. opening, but the bites subsided until shortly after noon when several were able to reel in the keepers – although few have actually ended up keeping the fish.
“We usually keep a few of the really big ones,” Greensburg’s John Testa said. Fish deemed large enough will be taken back to base camp where they will be cooked over the campfire, group members said.
Testa said the group of friends had been gathering along Bobs Creek on opening day for years.
“It’s a tradition,” he said, adding that it goes back 30 years or more.
On the opposite shore, a group of local friends said they had been fishing together on opening day for probably four years.
The group — Quentyn Riggleman, 18, from Bedford; Justin Dull, 15, of Pleasantville; Logan Montz, 18, of Osterburg; Daniel Moore, 18, of Hyndman; and Nason Gomez, 18, of Fishertown — made an early morning stop at Sheetz for snacks before heading to their favorite fishing hole.
Although they had some success bringing in fish, they didn’t always catch trout, with one group catching fall fish one after the other.
Sitting and standing along the shore and talking across the water to the Greensburg group, the teens said they liked to fish, but without big bites, they were about to call it a day to 13 hours.
“We love fishing” they said, but admitted they were getting hungry.