Outdoors notebook: Habitat key to finding ducks
By Bob Frye
Published: Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 10:33 p.m.
If you want to find wood ducks, go north and look for beavers.
Duck season is here — it runs through Saturday in the state's south zone and through Nov. 30 in the north zone — and as always, beautiful wood ducks will be a favorite target of hunters.
The birds are certainly doing well. Despite five years of having a three-bird-per-day limit, populations “remain healthy,” said Kevin Jacobs, waterfowl biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Pennsylvania's northwest counties are about the best places to find the birds. Roughly 14.5 percent of wood ducks taken across the state last year came from Crawford County. No other county came close to that.
Mercer County accounted for 7 percent of the woodies taken by hunters, Lawrence County 3 percent and Butler County 2.
Wherever you hunt wood ducks, seek out newly flooded beaver dams, Jacobs said. Beaver dams less than 5 years old offer the best spots for wood duck habitat, he added.
Anglers have been complaining over the past few years about how hard it is to catch fish from Lake Wilhelm in M.K. Goddard State Park in Mercer County.
Blame it on the alewives. Fish and Boat Commission and park officials said populations of the minnow-like fish have exploded, reducing panfish numbers and making it hard to tempt gamefish into biting.
At a recent meeting, though, commission officials said they've tried to address the problem by stocking the lake with fingerling walleyes and largemouth bass this year to introduce more predators. The park is studying how and where it might reduce the nutrients that are flowing into the lake and supporting the shad.
More people tried fishing for the first time last year than ever before.
Research done for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation found that 4.5 million people cast their first lines in 2012. That was part of a trend that saw more people fishing overall. According to the survey, 47 million Americans fished last year, up from 46.2 million in 2011.
A 12-year-old boy recently caught the Maryland record largemouth bass while fishing a farm pond. It weighed 11 pounds, 6 ounces.
A Virginia man caught the world record snakehead in that state. It weighed 17 pounds, 6 ounces, topping the previous record, which came from Japan, the species' native range.
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.