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
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.