Spring Trout Season Starts With Fervor In Ill.

fromWUIS

Fishing fanatics have been waiting months for the first cast of Illinois' spring trout season. More than 60,000 rainbow trout have been stocked into waterways throughout the state. In the next few weeks, nearly a quarter of those fish will be caught by seasoned anglers and newcomers to the sport.

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April means trout season in many places. And Illinois anglers were up hours before the sun this past weekend to be among the first to cast their lines. Reporter Jenna Dooley, of member station WNIJ in DeKalb, found herself in a long line to get to the water.

JENNA DOOLEY, BYLINE: In waterways across Illinois, rainbow trout lurk just beneath the surface but won't be there long. In the past few weeks, state officials trucked in 60,000 one pound rainbow trout from Missouri hatcheries. They stocked more than 40 lakes. And on opening day at northern Illinois' Silver Lake, it's every fisherman for himself, or herself - if you're Lusay Muyaki(ph).

LUSAY MUYAKI: It's that bite.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MUYAKI: The feeling of the bite just kind of make you hooked on it.

DOOLEY: Muyaki is among hundreds of early risers here. If you want to fish, you have to buy a fishing stamp. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources sells those stamps to pay for the program. And it's been a huge hit. Silver Lake fisheries biologist Don LaBrose says these trout won't last long.

DON LABROSE: Over the years, typically, opening weekend, anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of the fish are caught.

DOOLEY: Even with stocked fish, it takes some strategy to get them out of the water. A quick survey of the crowd and it really comes down to two types of bait: live minnows or power bait, a pea-sized ball that kind of feels like silly putty that has a scent that trouts supposedly go mad for. Emilia Cameron Uffer(ph) and her little brother Hugh joined their dad for opening day. Emilia is using power bait but not having a lot of luck.

EMILIA CAMERON UFFER: We have a strategy of being patient. That's what I have.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: That's a good strategy.

DOOLEY: Just minutes later, her outlook changes.

UFFER: I saw some ripples on mine. Something's got it. Dad, look. Look.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I know.

DOOLEY: But Emilia has to go back to waiting. Trout fishing seems to attract families, young and old. Joe King and his grown sons Tim and Shawn(ph) have already pulled a few fish out of the water. They were among the first to get into the lake after waiting several hours just to get through the gate. They killed the time by - in their words - sleeping, talking and drinking coffee. Joe says his sons are the ones that pull him out of bed for the spring trout season.

JOE KING: For us...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: There is no competition.

KING: ...it's fun. It's just fun just being out here with my boys. That's all it is. You can't put a price on that.

DOOLEY: So what's the best way to eat the catch of the day? The Kings say it's a pretty simple recipe.

KING: We grill them, probably grill them.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Fork and a knife and a lot of butter.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DOOLEY: While some take a more leisurely pace, there are plenty of hard-core anglers for Illinois' trout season, like Alex Silpaperdist(ph).

ALEX SILPAPERDIST: I do this for a lot of openers. Yeah. It's just the thrill of being - my waiting 10 hours to fish. I don't know. I just - I love fishing. I do all the time. It - when I'm off, I'm fishing. When I'm at work, I go before I work, you know? Just - I love it.

DOOLEY: Within 45 minutes of opening day, Anthony Perquluwitz(ph) caught his fifth trout and the legal limit for the day. So after waiting eight hours just to get through the gate, he's already done. Hardly seems worth it, right?

ANTHONY PERQULUWITZ: I don't mind it at all.

DOOLEY: Neither does the next person waiting to get his prime spot. For NPR News, I'm Jenna Dooley in DeKalb, Illinois.

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