George Block Column
Don’t let the wet weather douse your spirit for the outdoors
Rain, rain go away. The farmers cannot cut their hay.
The fields are high and that interferes with groundhog hunting. The waters are so high and murky thast a lure or live bait almost have to bump a fish in the nose for it to see it.
Then there is the human factor. The grass is wet, so groundhog hunters have to find a position that doesn’t call for them to lie on the ground. If you can find a field that is cut and huntable, you had better take a tarp or table to shoot from. And remember, shooting from a vehicle is illegal.
Anglers have a similar problem dealing with muddy and slippery shorelines. There is some hope, however, since most local ponds are spring fed and don’t get as muddy as streams or stream-fed ponds.
Many local farm ponds hold bluegill and largemouth bass. Gaining the required permission to fish those ponds often takes no more than asking.
If turned down at one place, just move to another and ask again. At least 50 percent of owners will allow fishing if you don’t litter. Remember, bait containers and cigarette butts are litter.
In most cases, you’re not eating the bass anyway, so catching and releasing is not a problem. Most of us know that panfish should be removed from ponds before they become too numerous. Once that happens, the fish become stunted. Even knowing that, when fishing a private pond, don’t kill the bluegill without permission. After all, you’re a guest and you might want to return.
Unless I am targeting bluegill, I avoid live bait when fishing farm ponds. Why? Panfish will be on the worm before bass and minnows are a no-no when pond fishing. Those minnows can introduce unwanted fish into the pond.
Another common problem caused by anglers is related to discarded line. We all get an occasional bird nest and get frustrated trying to untangle the mess. But whatever you do, don’t cut it off and leave it on the bank.
I once had to run down a hen that had a piece of line wrapped around its leg. I wanted to save the darned critter, but have you ever tried to chase a guinea hen?
Animals and birds with some kind of fishing line tangled around them is not all that unusual. In some spots, I have burned tangled line to be rid of it.
Whatever you are doing, be it an hour or two of hunting or an evening of bass fishing, show respect to the landowner. Never assume that because he allowed you to be there two years ago, the same is true of today. Unless specified, I always stop by the house and ask. In fact, after I’m finished, I stop by and say thanks as well. It is nothing more than common courtesy.
I usually travel light when farm pond fishing. A few spinner baits and plastic worms with the necessary hooks and sliding sinkers will do the trick. I also need my Leatherman and sunglasses.
With that equipment, I can catch fish. And isn’t that what matters? I could expand and carry a black Jitterbug for late evening, or a couple of rattletraps in case the spinners aren’t working, but I keep it simple.
I probably could catch a fish with nothing more than the plastic worm, but it is more exciting to use the spinner. Anglers tend to use spinners and rattletraps over worms because of the slowness of plastic worm fishing.
The spinner is cast and retrieved, while the worm is brought in very slowly.
The creeks and hay might be high, and the banks and fields are wet, but there is still something to do outside.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.