With only days to go until April 1, I’m antsy with anticipation. The first day of April marks the opening day of trout fishing on brooks and streams. I’ve gone every opening day for well over 50 years and hope to continue that trend for as long as I’m able.

Using April 1 as a reference point, let me look back through the years and reminisce over different opening days. Some were totally unremarkable, others quite memorable and a few are as well forgotten.

I recall one opening day in the late 1950s or perhaps early 1960s. My grandpa took me out then, since I wasn’t old enough to drive. We got up at daybreak, a prerequisite for any opening day fishing trip, and headed out to a local stream. But it had snowed the night before and not only was it cold and miserable, the water was high. We caught nothing. Of course, Grandpa knew we wouldn’t catch anything. But not wanting to quash my youthful enthusiasm, he took me anyway. That’s just what grandpas do.

It being very early spring, winter conditions can greet hopeful anglers on opening day. But sometimes we get a break and April 1 dawns clear and warm. Such salubrious conditions on the first day don’t come all that often, and when they do, we must avor them with all our might. And that was just what happened on opening day, 2010.

Early opener

Because of an unusually early spring, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIF&W) petitioned the governor to set opening day a week ahead of time. This was totally unexpected, of course, and it caught many off guard. I just happened to be on my computer and checked my email, only to find a press release from DIF&W proclaiming fishing season open. I called DIF&W on the phone, thinking that perhaps this was an email hoax. But it wasn’t.

Without hesitation, I walked, no, ran, outside, dug some earthworms, grabbed my fishing tackle, threw it in the car and headed for my favorite fishing hole. I expected to see crowds, but that was not the case. No one was yet aware that the first day had arrived a week early.

The pool was in perfect shape, not too high and not too low. The usually dark water had a greenish tint to it, indicative of good clarity. A fish bit on the first cast. I set the hook and after a spirited battle, landed my largest-ever opening day brook trout. Several casts later, a rainbow trout nailed my bait. The rainbow was of a similar size to the brookie, and both were far larger than anything I had ever taken on the first day.

I caught and released a number of trout after that. It was like a dream of heaven, or at least what we like to hope heaven might be like. Warm, comfortable temperatures, a smell of newly-thawed earth on the air and countless trout, all of a good size, ready and willing to bite.

The flood

And then we have opening day, 1987. This was the day after the statewide flood that lifted historic Fort Halifax in Winslow off its foundation and floated it down the Kennebec River, the same flood that chewed out a large section of road and also a filling station and parking lot in Dover-Foxcroft. But it was opening day. I went with a buddy, determined to find some place to fish that wasn’t all froth and rushing water.

Of course we never found anywhere to wet our lines. Even the smallest brooks were turned to raging torrents by the flood water. Seasonal trickles leapt over their banks. We persisted, driving all over Waldo County and, as I recall, even tried a few sleeper spots in Knox County. But flood waters covered everything. That was an opening day best forgotten.

Last chance

Then there was the opening day back in the early 1970s that I had to work. Usually, I managed to wangle a day off every April 1. But not this time. After getting home from work with only a few hours of daylight left at best, I drove from one brook to another, only to find muddy boot prints along each stream. Others had fished all the places ahead of me.

Time was dwindling and now, with perhaps a half-hour of daylight remaining, I called to mind a little brook that I had found the previous fall while rabbit hunting. I remembered seeing trout darting back and forth and I recalled making a mental note to return the following spring. It was my last chance. I drove to the little brook.

The water was high and discolored, kind of a brownish-gray, the result of melting snow running over and through clay banks. Viewing it, it seemed that I had made a bad decision. But there was nothing for it except to try my luck and hope for a miracle. And to my utter amazement, something bit my worm on the first cast. Poor timing resulted in my missing the bite. Another cast and another bite.

This time my reflexes were better and soon, an 8-inch brook trout lay flopping in the granular snow at my feet. This trout was quickly followed by a bunch more and as darkness settled in the little valley where the brook flowed, I climbed the bank toward my car, my creel heavy with a limit of 7- to 9-inch brook trout. That was another opening day to remember.

The present

And now in 2013, with opening day just days away, I wonder what the day will bring? Will fish bite? Will the water be too high? Will snow and ice block access to the best holes?

These are the questions I ask myself every year about this time. And even though I’m older than I care to admit, I feel like a child on Christmas Eve. Sleep won’t come easy the night before opening day. And when Morpheus finally does relent, dreams are of trout, old friends, days past and anxiety over what daylight will bring.

Does it seem silly for a grown man to become so engrossed in something as seemingly inconsequential as the opening day of trout season? I leave that for readers to decide. For my part, dreaming of opening day year-round keeps me going, keeps me young. Thank goodness for opening day.