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Anglers head to waterways in Berks County for first day of trout season

Apr. 6—Carl Kramer was sitting by himself Saturday morning, parked on a camping chair on the bank of Antietam Lake.

But he wasn't alone. His best friend for 40 years, Dave Houser, was there too. Not in body, but in spirit. Houser passed away in March of 2022.

Houser and Kramer had spent countless hours together fishing. That time together was priceless, Kramer said. It gave them a chance to talk, to enjoy each others company.

"I could not catch a fish all day and I'd be happy," he explained.

The past two years, partly because of Houser's passing and partly due to shoulder surgery, Kramer hadn't dusted off his rod and reel. But on Saturday, the first day of trout season in Pennsylvania, he decided it was time.

So, he headed to Antietam Lake with three rods — two of his own and one that had belonged to Houser. He baited them, cast the lines into the water and waited, basking in the morning sun.

"That's his rod right there," he said, pointing to the one set up to his left. "I didn't get anything on it yet. He's probably up there watching me, laughing."

Kramer, who lives in Topton, said he was glad he decided to come to the lake. It was a beautiful morning, and he had met a few fellow anglers to chat with.

But, most importantly, it gave him a chance to feel close once again to his dear, departed friend.

"It's a bit of a memorial for me," he said, smiling.

Kramer was one of hundreds of fishermen who headed out to creeks, streams and lakes across Berks County on Saturday to enjoy the first day of trout season. A few yards down the bank from him, members of the Swoyer family were trying their luck.

"So far, mom is winning," 10-year-old Charlie Swoyer said before scampering off to fetch the fish his mom had caught.

Indeed, after fishing for almost two hours, Jackie Swoyer was the only member of the family to reel anything in. Charlie and his dad, Charles, had come up empty.

But that didn't dull the fun they were having.

"I just like being outdoors, being with family," Charles Swoyer said.

Charles Swoyer has been fishing for as long as he can remember, and he started taking his son with him when the boy was just 2 years old. Jackie Swoyer is a lifelong angler as well, saying it's a pastime passed down from her father and grandfather.

"It's a family thing; we've been fishing for generations," she said.

While Jackie Swoyer was proud of her catch Saturday, she admitted that hooking her own fish isn't her favorite part of fishing.

"I get excited when he catches a fish," she said, nodding toward her son.

Trout season in Pennsylvania will run until midnight on Labor Day, which this year is on Sept. 2.