Until your local golf course dries out, let's talk fishing for a minute.
If you need the newspaper to tell you trout season opens on Saturday, April 3, at 8 a.m., then this article is for you. If you already knew that, then reading this story can only motivate you to find your tackle box.
Technically, April 3 is opening day only for the Pennsylvania's 18 southeastern counties, including Chester; the rest of the state will wait until April 17.
In any case, let's say you are not really an avid fisherman, but your son or daughter is getting old enough to enjoy a few hours outside, alongside a stream or pond-baiting, casting, reeling in, repeat -- and will tough it out with you for a few hours of quality time. What are the essentials you might need for such an outing?
Start by visiting your nearest hunting and fishing supply store. Find them in the yellow pages; but if you live near Kennett Square, try Buck's Hunting and Dog Obedience Supply Store. Buck Showalter (yes, there's really a guy named Buck at the store) is more than willing to help you get started. His friendly store is on Cypress, heading east out of Kennett Square, on the right, just a quarter mile past Walnut Street and the Country Butcher.
Because you are a self-described beginner, or at least your child or brother-in-law is new to fishing, you can rule out his or her need for a fly rod, lures, or a complex spinning outfit. You'll want to stick to the basic rod, reel, and bait.
Buck said, "For $22, I've got combos-the starter kit for kids-that include a 5-foot rod, a decent reel, and the fishing line already loaded on the reel." He said short rods are best for use around creeks-they don't get snagged in the overgrown foliage edging the water.
One of Buck's customers, Tommy Rupert, described other nice-to-have-but-not-absolutely-necessary equipment for the new fisherperson. Tommy said, "You might want a net for capturing the fish as it gets close enough to grab, stringers for attaching the fish and leaving it staked and tethered in the water for freshness, and be sure to have a plastic bag to carry the fish home in."
Tommy also said some kind of metal forceps come in handy for extracting the hook from the fish's mouth, or at least some nail clippers to snip off the line.
The plain and messy truth is that you can't catch fish without bait. But don't anguish over which bait to buy. Just ask Buck or his counterpart at any bait shop. He's got trout worms, night-crawlers, meal worms, live minnows, glow worms (green dye makes them glow in the water). For the squeamish, Buck has some stuff called Power Bait that is the consistency of cookie dough. You roll it into a little ball and thread onto your hook.
Now you are outfitted and ready to fish. Where do you go?
Before leaving Buck's store, ask him for the 2010 Pennsylvania Fishing Summary. Not only does it list on p. 11 the 13 approved trout waters in Chester County, within its 43 pages you'll also find a wealth of information on regulations, licenses, catch-and-release fishing programs, minimum size regulations (you have to throw back trout less than 7 inches), and other essential information about fishing.
Buck said, "A person needs to fish near where they stock the water with fish, like the White Clay Creek near Landenberg or Pocopson Creek near Route 52 and Lenape-Unionville Road."
Finally, don't leave Buck's without your 2010 fishing license if you are 16 or more years old. The cost for a resident aged 16 to 64 is $22.70 (seniors pay $11.70 and can get a lifetime license as well), with a $9.70 add-on for a trout stamp, bringing the total trout license to $32.40.
To become even more steeped in fishing-for example, to find out the stocking day of various trout streams and lakes near you or to get better acquainted with the regulations-visit www.fishandboat.com.