OUTDOORS with Bill Wehrle
By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor
With the closing of rabbit and squirrel seasons last Monday, about the only hunting available now is for snow geese under the Light Goose Conservation Order, but I honestly don’t know where the snow geese disappeared to during the recent snow and bitter cold. Maybe they went further south?
Anyway, unless you want to try coyote or crow hunting, there’s not much left to hunt until April and turkey season rolls around in a couple months.
Maybe we ought to switch our outdoor emphasis to fishing. Ice fishing, anyone?
I’ve lived in Chillicothe for more than 50 years now and have observed that not every winter provides safe ice on ponds and lakes for ice fishing. It seems to me, however, that the close-to-zero and sub-zero temperatures starting two weeks ago might just have frozen some of our fish environment solid enough to be safe to walk on.
In this area there are lots and lots of ponds that we know have fish in them. All we’ve got to do is find the one with the hungry fish in it.
Crappie, bluegill, and bass are all catchable from under the ice, and anglers in more northern climates catch lots of them every winter.
You need to recall where you found schools of fish last summer, as there should be some of these still close to that location.
Finding bait won’t be easy, but it’s possible to make some doughball time baits; small spinners with tails also should work.
I’d suggest packing a heater and your equipment on a sled to make transportation easier, and, for crying out loud, be sure to keep a check on ice thickness.
I’ve always spent so much of my outdoor time in the winter hunting that I never really got involved with fishing through the ice. But the air is fresh, there’s no germs in it – COVID-19 can’t survive subzero, can it? – and it’ll take away the winter blahs.
My mom lived on an Iowa farm with a good fishing lake and she allowed polite people who asked permission to fish it. I can remember her telling me that a couple young men who fished there brought her a post-Christmas present of almost 200 filleted and frozen bluegills that they’d caught from her pond one cold winter. They sure were tasty!
If you’re still looking for ammo and finding it hard to locate, don’t give up.
From time to time, new shipments are arriving, but they’re being snapped up pretty fast. A couple of weeks ago, Rogers Sporting Goods in Liberty had a couple of pallets of new trap/sporting clays loads that lasted about a week. And the price has more than doubled from last summer’s cost, but, if you want to shoot this summer, you’ll probably have to pay the higher prices. Keep checking; something should show up sooner or later.
I know the snow and cold can really wear on us outdoor folks, but keep positive thoughts in mind. It won’t be long until there’ll be sunshine and 50-degrees days and the turkeys will be gobbling. Be ready to get out and scout as soon as the weather breaks (snow makes turkeys easier to see in the woods).
(Bill Wehrle’s outdoors sports column appears in the Constitution-Tribune each Saturday.)