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Wicker Creels hung beneath flaring apple trees on the banks of New York's fabled Esopus remind the restive angler with nostalgic eloquence that April, the month of the trout, is again upon him. In a matter of days, from East to Far West, he will follow the compelling call, ignoring the sudden freshet which hopelessly roils his pet stream or the dying touch of winter which skims his lake with ice—for his is a passion bred of tradition.
By April's end the waters of 34 states will be formally open to trout fishing, and laggards soon will follow as spring finds its way to snowbound high country. Only seven states bear no trout, so by June 1 the nation's 10 species will be fair game for an awesome host of some 20 million fresh-water anglers, a host for' which state and federal fisheries biologists have been quietly laboring for many months. Already Wyoming has stocked more than 5 million fish in its myriad of streams. Yet the angler there, as in many other western states, still creels three native trout to every hatchery-reared one. In the urban East the ratio of wild to tame is radically reversed, but even if eastern trout are largely stocked that can scarcely dampen the pleasures of a blue sky, the raucous voice of water tumbling over rock and riffle and all the other intangibles which lend trout fishing its very particular flavor. And, for the truly dedicated, like A. Wells Peck of Connecticut, shown on the cover, there are the ancient and ponderous brown trout in the pools of such hallowed eastern streams as the Broadheads and Beaverkill. They are lords of their pools, and when in the twilight they rise to a fluttering moth anglers are stricken to reverent silence. These are the special quarry of the practiced and the patient, the disciples of Theodore Gordon, George LaBranche, Edward Hewitt and other high priests of the venerable art of fly angling. To them a spinning rod is a sacrilege, a worm an abomination. But, for all trout anglers, the purists as well as that legion which simply likes to go fishing, April is the door to long-awaited days on stream and lake. Below, from special correspondents in every corner of the land, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED presents the latest reports on what awaits them as the season opens.
THE TROUT CALENDAR, STATE BY STATE
Arizona . Season open all year. Rain and snow have refreshed dry streams, and conditions are excellent. Best fishing is in the northern half of the state, especially in the White mountains, where the wilderness streams of the Apache Reservation are giving up some fat trout. Visiting anglers must purchase a special $6 license from the Indians, but fishing on the White River and remote lakes is well worth the price. And Apaches will act as guides if you are unfamiliar with the country.
Arkansas . Season open all year. Flow of cold water from Bull Shoals and Norfork dams has turned White and Northforkrivers into two of the nation's top trout streams. Five-pound rainbows and brownies biting regularly, and a few anglers report taking 10-pounders.
California . General season runs from April 27 to Oct. 31 but special local regulations should be checked. Most waters are now at normal height, and Sierra snowpack is heavy enough to promise an excellent late-summer runoff. Good bets for opening day include Crowley Lake, Owens River and Hot Creek on east slope of the Sierra. Latter is early-season hot spot for dry-fly artists. West Slope of Sierra may be spotting, but the Kern River from the gorge to Isabella Lake offers fair possibilities. Trinity Alps area and Trinity and Klamath River watersheds will probably be snowbound. However, Almanor and Shasta lakes are now open.
Colorado . May 18 to Oct. 31. New stocking of trout plus carryover from 21,198,522 put in last year promises healthy catch in Colorado. Exceptionally heavy snowpack in such important regions as the Colorado, Arkansas and South Platte drainage areas guarantees optimum water levels throughout season.
Connecticut . April 20 to Oct. 31. Rain needed, but general outlook is good, with 53 ponds and over 280 streams scheduled for state stocking. Most trout angling in Connecticut is put-and-take, but smart fishermen can take sleek sea-run browns in Latimer's Brook and in the Hammonasset, West, Farm and Saugatuck rivers.
Georgia . April 1 to Oct. 15; lakes open all year. Lake Burton and other Georgia and TVA power project lakes in fine condition, with chunky rainbows taking to streamers and trolled spoons. Streams are at normal height, and opening-day anglers report gratifying results.