If trout shocking results for Naples Creek Thursday is a good gauge, anglers should have an enjoyable start when the inland trout season opens Friday.
That was the overall assessment DEC Region 8 senior aquatic biologist Pete Austerman offered at the end of the day of shocking Naples Creek waters.
Austerman headed a crew of biologists, technicians, volunteers and retired DEC personnel on a trek upstream with shocking wands, dip nets, a holding net, and record-keepers to log their catches and releases.
Senior aquatic biologist Brad Hammers assisted in the Naples effort. His crew would be working the Cold Brook (Keuka Lake inlet) waters the next day.
"Like here, we have been seeing good fish movement at Cold Brook," Hammers noted.
Bright sunlight put a glow on things, but bitter-cold hefty northeast winds moving across the valley at 9 a.m. did not warm hearts gathered at and around the Route 245 Bridge down stream from the village of Naples.
Nonetheless, when the crew walked some 300 yards down stream and began shocking mildly stained, modest current, about 50 onlookers gathered to view the catch.
"We probably drew about 75 people throughout the day, but last year the weather was nice here and we must have had 150 onlookers when we worked Naples Creek," Austerman said of the gathering next to the Department of Environmental Conservation operations center on Route 245.
People suffered the cold but the fish found Naples a comfortable spawning spot. As soon as technicians Bob Deres and Dan Mulhall put shocking wands into the water below the bridge, a trout escaped down stream.
Not many got away after that. "We ended with a total of 65 trout spread out throughout the creek," Austerman noted. Most of the fish caught, measured, weighed, and examined were females. A scale sample is taken from each fish.
Some impressive rainbows showed up that day, but none met the 10-pound mark that usually gets posted during the Naples Creek Rainbow Trout Derby. Tops for weight that day was an 8.2-pound female checked at the Mark's Circle area of the stream.
Locals have seen early "hens," female trout setting up nesting sites, move up stream two weeks earlier during that warming period. But Austerman's assessment based on trout checked during this survey is that most females are in their very early stages of egg-laying. That means trout will be holding in Naples and other area trout streams well into the spring fishing season.
It also means promising results for entrants in the 50th Annual Naples Creek Rainbow Trout Derby. Anglers can pre-register during business hours at Sutton's Sporting Goods on Main Street in Naples or drop by the Maxfield Fire House (Derby headquarters) 5-10 p.m. Thursday or 4-7 a.m. Friday before starting to fish the contest.
For complete details on this derby, check with Jane Schenk, derby co-chair, at (585) 374-2608.
Despite high waters, Randolph crews were able to stock the Genesee River system thoroughly.
"It's been very cold but we haven't had to cancel any days," said Randolph Hatchery manager Rich Borner.
On Thursday, the Cattaraugus Creek stocking was completed. Borner sees all stocking sites completed this week prior to the season opener on Friday. Listings of those sites, species, and numbers delivered will begin in the April 6 Fishing Line column.
A special stocking of trout with adipose fins clipped will be done in East Koy Creek on Monday. Surveyors will check fish caught during and after the trout-season opener to study dynamics for that creek.
Check to make sure you have renewed that New York State fishing license before heading out Friday morning or when taking that first trout trip. Also, make sure to clean boot and wader soles and bottoms when heading between streams.
That dreaded rock snot -- and other invasive aquatic creatures -- have easy passage in foot-gear crevasses, especially felt-bottom soles.
Happy trout opener.