George Block

Column George Block

George Block is a sports columnist who loves the outdoors.

Cabin fever starting to set in

Cabin fever starting to set in

March 9, 2013

We all learned a lesson. You can’t believe a groundhog.

It’s probably safe to say that we are all suffering from cabin fever. I know I am.

With that in mind, I am thinking about trout fishing. Last year, I was relieving the fishing bug by catching crappie at Cross Creek Lake and various water dams in the area.

It was mid-March and I was spending most of my time at the hospital with my wife, Eileen, when my daughter, Kathy, suggested that Tom Campbell, who was visiting, and I take a break and go fishing for a couple of hours.

I hesitated, but common sense told me that I should go. Tom and I went to a local lake and caught crappie. That trip holds a special place in my memory. Thank you Kathy and Tom.

I have never claimed to be a fly fisherman, but I have dabbled in the art.

Eileen and I were fishing Laurel Hill one day and stopped at a location where the stream was close to the road. It was a warm summer day and the surface of the stream was covered with flotsam and jetsam. I’m not sure what either is, but you know what I mean.

Among the debris, little circles kept appearing. As any angler knows, that means the trout were feeding on the surface.

Now was my chance. I retrieved my fly rod and put my spinning rod away, doing my best imitation of Isaak Walton, laying a humpy among the junk on the surface.

Immediately, it was struck by a fish. I was late setting the hook and realized I had better stay alert. The next cast resulted in a 10-inch brown trout.

I believe I landed five or six trout and missed a few more when I mistook my fly for debris on the water.

Just as soon as they hit, the strikes stopped. I couldn’t understand it because they were still dimpling the surface. I hate to admit it, but after five or six fruitless casts, I stopped, scratched my head and looked at the humpy tied to my leader. It was gone.

No wonder they weren’t hitting. I was fishing a bare line.

Trout may not be smart, but fishermen do dumb things as well.

Another time I was fishing with Eileen along Sugar Creek in Venango County and had left here along a nice hold while I moved a few hundred yards above her. I caught one trout after another, placing five in a canvas creel hanging from my shoulder.

There were trout hitting upstream and downstream as well, and I went back to get Eileen and do a little bragging. She hadn’t caught anything, and I told her of my success, opening the creel to show her supper.

There were no trout in my creel, only an unnoticed hole in the bottom. I was catching them and releasing them right through the bottom of my creel.

To this day I don’t think she believed me. Even I could not help but think I was catching the same trout over and over.

Nah, they’re not that dumb.

A long time ago, we spent a nice, warm June day fishing the East Fork of the Sinnemahoning Creek near Warton. We had caught a few trout and stopped for lunch.

A fellow sitting at another table asked if we had done good, and we struck up a conversation. It turned out he wasn’t fishing, he was catching rattlesnakes.

He had three in a bag, but the catcher was that he had caught them where we were fishing and said he had seen us along the creek.

Needless to say, I never fished there again.

John Dino and I were fishing along Laurel Hill Creek last year, and I had caught three trout and placed them in a cool, shady spot 10 yards behind me. A fellow came along, and we spoke momentarily before he went on his way.

As soon as he left, I caught another trout and went over to place it with the others, only to discover a trout was missing.

“Hey,” I yelled to John, “that fellow stole one of my trout.”

“No he didn’t,” John replied. “I was watching him.”

There was a trout missing and he was the only one we had seen. Dead trout don’t walk away.

I was just about to hunt the man down when I noticed a crow about 30 yards away pecking at something. You guessed it. That black bandit stole my fish. How he got the 12-inch trout that far away, I’ll never know. The fish had to weigh as much as the bird.

Oh well. Maybe he needed a meal as much as I did.

It’s still winter, but trout season is getting closer.

• While looking through an edition of Pennsylvania Angler, which is published by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, I read a review of 22 fatal boating accidents in the commonwealth last year.

Think about something. There are never that many fatalities in a year involving hunting.

Despite nearly one million hunters in the woods, all of whom are carrying rifles, hunting is safer than boating.

At least it seems that way.

George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.



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