February is history and March now takes over. Since I don’t sit on a bucket staring at a hole in the ice, March is usually the month in which I begin fishing.
John Dino brought up a good question when he asked how long it will take the ice covering Canonsburg and Dutch Fork lakes to melt.
Like many who are winter depressed, I am drawn to these lakes with a desire to dunk some Power Bait. I usually catch a few trout, but to do this, the ice must melt and the water temperatures must rise above 40.
It seems like an eternity, but it was just three or four years ago that my wife, Eileen, went with me to Canonsburg Lake to see if the ice melted. When we arrived, the lake was still covered with ice except in a small area near the boat launch.
The opening was about the size of our living room and right near the shore.
I almost left, but told Eileen to throw a line out into the opening.
She cast her line out with a Power Bait covering her No. 8 hook. Before I could bait my own tackle, she had a trout on the line.We did OK that sunny day but the wind was cold and I noticed the open water changing color.
I figured I had better check my bait – or should I say, try to check my bait. While we were there, the water had frozen around my line and I couldn’t reel it in.
Not only that, but I could feel movement on the end of my line. It was trapped in the ice and I had a trout on the other end.
The fish escaped and I broke off the line and went home. But that first trout of the year does make spring more tolerable.
Dutch Fork was another lake we fished in March.
There was a certain rock where we sat and caught fish on Power Bait. Of course, that was before they drained the reservoir.
I can’t think about Canonsburg Lake without remembering the late Dave George. Nobody caught more fish in that lake than Dave.
Many times we would depart home with a rifle on the back seat and our fishing tackle in the trunk. We didn’t really know what we wanted to do, hunt groundhogs or fish for crappie.
We caught a lot of nice-sized crappie from the old Alcoa dam.
How long has it been since you called Canonsburg Lake the Alcoa?
The reason is that the dam was created in the early 1940s by the Aluminum Company of America. World War II ended before the lake was used by the company and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in the 1970s. The commission began using it as a trout lake.
But before that, Dave and I caught crappie, smallmouth and big channel cats there. Back then, a good place to catch the big catfish was below the dam.
It those days, I was the pupil and Dave was the teacher. We were fishing Will’s Creek upstream from Hyndman and Dave was going to take us to a new spot on a Brush Creek, which was a feeder stream to Will’s Creek.
We finally found the spot at the small falls and covered bridge, and as usual, Dave was the first to exit the ca and scramble down the bank where three men were fishing.
Dave stopped and asked if any of them were doing any good. They hadn’t had a bite.
They were fishing a nice big hole since the sun had come up. Dave moved downstream a bit and cast upstream.
His rod immediately doubled over and he reeled the fish in and turned it loose. Another cast yielded another trout.
Each time he shouted for the trout to, “come in out of the wet,” as he played it.
After a dozen trout, the three anglers who had been sitting there without so much as a nibble cranked in their bait and left.
We all learn something every day and I have to admit that Dave taught me a lot. I can’t help but wonder if their are lakes and creeks in heaven or that other place I won’t mention.
The head honcho at that place might have his eye on me.
But if there is fishing water in the afterlife, Dave might have them fished out before I get there. Of course, I’m in no hurry to get there and find out.
George H. Block writes an Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.