Ten-year-old Maximis Claflin woke early Saturday, jazzed by the prospect of catching a fish.
Max had fished plenty of times before, even cooked and eaten a big mouth bass he’d caught with his dad on the Youghiogheny River. But Saturday would be the first time that he and his brother, Declan, 7, would be out for the opening day of trout season. The boys zipped tackle boxes into back packs and their dad, Craig Claflin, drove them to Peters Creek, just off Route 51 near Jefferson Hills, Penn.
The Elizabeth Township family arrived as the sun was still rising and the temperature was below freezing, the three of them trudging through brush flecked with green buds as the conk-la-ree screech of red-wing blackbirds marked the return of spring. The stream was being reborn as well — years of restoration work had turned a one-time industrial sewer into Pennsylvania’s newest state-stocked trout waters.
Word of the stream’s transformation had gotten around. By early morning, the banks were lined with anglers — grandfathers, children, grandchildren — all with visions of hungry trout.
But catching a fish wasn’t the boys’ only concern. There was the business of baiting hooks with pieces of earthworms and untangling lines.
“Snagged up, Max?” Mr. Claflin asked after his son had tried to cast to the far side of the stream.
“I’m in a tree,” the boy answered, “on the bobber.”
“Work the problem snag,” the father said. “Go slower.”
A few minutes later, Max was jubilant. “I did it, Daddy,” he said. “I untangled it!”
At a spot farther upstream, it was Declan’s turn to get his line caught.