Frye: Weather hints at things to come
It was like a scene out of a Russell Annabel book, but in reverse.
Annabel, for those who don't know, was an Alaskan adventurer, hunting guide and writer in the early to middle years of the 20th century. His wonderful books are full of tales of hunting and trapping, run-ins with bears and wolves, rogue pack horses, “dude” hunters and more.
Often, he writes about how veterans of the backcountry looked forward to getting out of the wilds at the end of a long, hard winter and spending some time indoors, enjoying “civilization.”
I saw just the opposite locally this past week.
With temperatures hitting the 60s in spots, fishermen, hikers and others sprouted from the ground like spring's first buds.
Driving along the delayed harvest section of Loyalhanna Creek, I saw probably 20 people fishing. Some were in the water, dressed Orvis-style, with neoprene waders and fly rods. Others were on the bank in jeans and T-shirts, casting — judging from the sparkle — metal spinners for trout.
Indian Creek had a handful of anglers on it, too.
Three trailhead parking lots in Forbes State Forest also had vehicles in them. I'm sure they belonged to hikers, excited to be able to tromp the woods without snow reaching over their boot tops.
I got into the act myself. Driving from interview to interview, I stopped long enough to pick up a couple of launch permits. I won't be putting a canoe or kayak on a lake anytime soon, not unless I can get some kind of cutter to break the remaining ice. But it won't be long now.
As sportsmen and women, we can always find something to do outside. Every season has its pluses, and you've got to take them as you can, without missing out on what one offers while pining for the next.
It was fun to spend some time snowshoeing this winter, and hunting in the snow is always a favorite. Ice fishermen had their longest season in years.
But the warm weather this past week hints at what's up next.
Stocked trout fishing on streams and lakes. Spawning pike in the shallows. Crappies in near-shore brush piles. Gobblers sounding off in the woods.
There's a lot to look forward to.
It's sometimes hard to remember how fun the outdoors can be when you get caught up in following the politics of it all. The state House of Representatives game and fisheries committee will hold a hearing this week to discuss deer management, so there will be plenty of debate about too many deer, too few and who's to blame. The Pennsylvania Game Commission seems to be a den of chaos at the moment, with the Governor's office debating the legality of a promised payment of $220,000 to the executive director who just left and the wisdom of possibly hiring a man allegedly under investigation by the State Ethics Commission as his replacement. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is warning it might have to cut back on trout stockings if it can't get help meeting its pension fund obligations.
Talk about depressing.
Going to the woods or to the water is great cure, though. So I'll be putting stickers on my boats and waiting, none too patiently.