What really tells me that it is time to go fishing are the bright yellow daffodils that are now blooming. By now, the kitchen should give off the aroma of trout sizzling in the skillet.
Even if no trout were caught Saturday, it still had to be a better day than one spent working.
I have already caught and released over 20 trout, but as of this writing, I was still not sure where I was going to go on opening day. I might have travelled to Laurel Highlands to fish the creek with the same name. Or perhaps I stayed home and fished Little Chartiers Creek in the afternoon after many have limited out or just got tired and went home.
There was also the possibility that I would just go to Cross Creek and catch a few crappie. After all, they are better on the table.
If I did go trout fishing and the water was not muddy, you would have seen me retrieving a spinner. You can’t beat a pair of clean hands.
Worms are good bait, but are a bit dirty, while Power Bait is sticky. My apologies to Joe Smith and his bait shop, but it’s spinners for old George.
There are a few lessons I have learned over the years. We all know that creeks such as Mingo have been heavily fished, and there’s nary a spot that hasn’t been trampled. A trick I learned a long time ago is to hit the spots that don’t look good.
Most anglers don’t fish water that doesn’t look like it will hold a minnow let alone a trout.
Another trick is to use an uncommon bait. If everyone is tossing worms into the water, why not try a minnow or hellgramite?
If the fellow fishing in front of you is using a Rooster Tail, while not try a Panther Martin? Be a bit different.
Remember, by noon on opening day, every trout in the water has seen a lure, ignored a lure or has been hooked and returned to the water. The weakness of the fish is that it is still hungry or a bit angry, and perhaps a different approach will trigger a strike.
Moving away from trout, the crappie are hitting at Cross Creek Lake.
The problem with that involves the weather. If the temperatures take a nose dive, the fish usually move to deeper water and are more difficult to catch. If the warm weather holds, crappie will be in cover near the shore.
As most anglers know, crappie are minnow eaters, though there are many artificials that will work well on this fish.
I like a small jug and a Mister Twister grub.
Sometimes, tipping the jog with a maggot or meal worm helps, and a light-action rod and light line are preferred.
The crappie is known by many names, such as croppie, calico bass, white perch and papermouth bass. The latter name is fitting since crappie do have a mouth that is easily torn.
This means that the hook should be set gently and they should not be horsed into shore.
Whatever your angling preference, this is fishing season. There is a lot to do on or near the water in April and May.
• I have been asked by many non-hunters and target shooters why firearms owners are opposed to a ban on “assault” weapon look alikes and increased background checks.
A ban on semi-automatic rifles is based on looks, not function. And Pennsylvania can’t keep up with the background checks it has to do now.
What would the state do if its workload increased on background checks?
There is no doubt in my mind that the proposed new laws will not affect those who break the law. But they will place a burden on hunters, collectors and others who never even think of violating the law.
It will also increase the cost of firearms unnecessarily.
The end result will be another terrible act by some whacko and a new cry for more gun laws. Anyone out there want to place a wager?
• It seems to me that the Pennsylvania Game Commission thinks that eliminating antler restrictions for senior hunters will harm its deer programs.
I recently read that the commission says 30 percent of its hunters are seniors.
There were nearly 700,000 resident adult licenses sold in 2011 and nearly 30,000 senior licenses and lifetime licenses sold that same year. That’s 30 percent?
Even if you add all of the senior licenses sold from 2000 through 2011, it only comes to 100,000, which my math says is not 30 percent.
Let’s face reality. How many people are seriously hunting after they turn 70, even if they still hold a license?
And of those who bought a lifetime license between 2000 and 2011, I would bet that some of them are gone.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.