"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Strangest Winter Ever Witnessed
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

Well! I do declare, this is the strangest winter these tired old bones has ever witnessed in more than a few years of patrolling the Hoosier State for rabbits and the other so-called critters.

As one reader puts it in e-mail: “Nightcrawlers on my driveway, sprouting daffodils, blossoming dandelions, $1.99 gasoline...we may be finding mushrooms next month.”

And that, my outdoor friends, is only “the tip of the iceberg,” so to speak (write), in tired old idioms.

As this is written, White River south of Noblesville is quitting its banks for the lowlands, probably returning later in the week when colder predicted weather comes along with a cessation of the rain. And that is keeping the season on ducks and geese alive and well in the southern part of the state. (The dates for South and Ohio River zones were included in last week’s column. They don’t last much longer.

In the meantime, if you just want to see ducks or geese, the North Zone (basically the northern third of of the state) is closed for ducks and Canada geese now, but it is hosting ducks in good numbers. Ordinarily, that part of the state is in the deep freeze. However the season is open on light geese (blues and snows), but there are almost none of those in Indiana.

Other hunting opportunities for the remainder of the hunting seasons also were covered in last week’s column.

In the meantime, the earliest I have ever found mushrooms was March 27 (that is morels). That came about in a very early spring. I do not think we will have an early spring this year.


Only the smallest of the small farm ponds has any ice now--and in this case it would be questionable--but some anglers who frequent the small bodies of water are catching some bass now, and a few other species. 

Best bet is a slow-moving bottom bumper of black, but when I write this some angler connects with a bright yellow crank bait.

The reason slow moving baits are best at this time of year is that the metabolism of all cold-blooded critters (including fish) slows to a crawl when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Most standing waters are below that level now. The color is based on the fact that black contrasts well in murky water.

Nightcrawlers, or other forms of soft baits--including live ones--are always a good bet if they are hooked in a manner that makes them relatively weedless.

In the colder months, I fish both shallow water and deeper stuff. But, depending upon what the weather is doing when I am there, I start with deep water when weather is cold or windy; more shallow on bright, sunny days or when it is quite warm. The breaks, areas where shallow drops into depths, can be a good bed at mid-day.


Ted Hamilton e-mails some interesting information picked up in a recent deer butchering seminar (I don't know which one). Deer eat, and like, poison ivy. Thus, to avoid a possible nasty case, it is a good idea to wear plastic or rubber gloves for emergency situations where the stomach or intestines are broken.

I would not think this could otherwise apply, unless possibly through the mouth.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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