Steve Landberg of Cortland cast out his spinning lure into Durkee Memorial Park Pond and methodically twitched the rod tip back toward shore. It bent over within seconds but as the brook trout surfaced, the hook broke from its fragile mouth.
Landberg hadn’t fished Durkee Park yet this season and that would have been his first fish of the day, he said.
“I tried the West Branch of the Tioughnioga this morning but didn’t see any people and didn’t catch anything,” Landberg said.
A few times a week, Landberg, his wife and his son will go fishing, he said. Although he prefers Otselic River, Fall Creek or Butternut Creek when he’s alone, Durkee Memorial Park Pond is easier for them to fish as a family.
A few ponds over, Fred Bennett of McGraw was having similar luck.
“This is my first time fishing over here at Casterline Pond,” Bennett said. “I usually fish in Cincinnatus from the bridge by the fire station.”
Last weekend, Bennett and his grandson caught eight trout there. On Saturday, he wasn’t faring well.
“We heard it did well this morning,” Bennett said. “But we’ve caught nothing yet today.”
Bennett and his grandson try to go fishing every weekend but with Bennett being unemployed because of the pandemic, they’ve been fishing a lot more.
“The season is starting off well, we’ve done pretty good,” Bennett said.
Cortland County rests on top of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, said Jared Popoli, conservation assistant with Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation, in March when discussing the season opener. Many of the streams and lakes are high quality, healthy waterways with clear water, making it easier to spot spawning trout.
Casterline Pond and Durkee Memorial Park Pond were both on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s list for spring trout stocking in Cortland County, according to the DEC website.
The DEC stocked Cortland County waterways with 12,000 fish in anticipation for the April 1 season opener, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in March.
Casterline Pond received 250 brown trout and 720 rainbow trout while Durkee Memorial Park Pond received 250 brown trout and 400 rainbow trout, according to the DEC website. None of the bodies of water in Cortland County were stocked with brook trout and both Casterline and Durkee were the only two to receive rainbow trout.
“The warmer the weather, the more people there are fishing,” Landberg said Saturday. “But there are not any more people than usual.”