2017 was Unique for Many Outdoorsmen

Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni

Just about everyone sits back about now and reflects on the events of the previous year, usually with a stiff drink in one hand or the other, or both. It’s a good thing to do, for the most part, although some might disagree. Studies show that people who reflect on their problem solving achievements are happier later on. If you looked back on situations where you were forced to suck it up, self-esteem grew as well as your confidence to get things done. The opposite occurred if you focused on negative events or disappointing times. The obvious conclusion is to look at the positive which should make you feel more capable and prepared to take on challenges that come your way in the New Year. Consequently, if you didn’t get your big buck or didn’t cash in on a single fishing tournament in 2017, reflect on what you did right. Chances are you’ll be do better in 2018…or not.

While some are looking for ways to improve themselves in 2018, others are simply remembering the unique and interesting things that happen during the year. It’s easier than looking at the “man in the mirror” for sure. As an outdoorsman, a lot that happened in 2017 was unique, thought provoking, and educational. As the year began, the talk going around was that the extreme low water we had at Lake St. Marys, along with a sustained ice cover and potentially heavy snow, would create a fish kill of biblical proportions. That could have happened, I suppose, but by the third week of January the water level was back to normal and ice free. By late January, the lake level was five inches above the cut at the West Bank which was a 22 inch swing from 2016’s lowest level. We had 60 degree temperatures in February and some scientists called 2016 the warmest winter on record. Some number crunchers even went so far as to declare that the planet was now the warmest in the last 125,000 years. To simplify, outdoorsmen gained a month of open water in 2017, and many took advantage of it.

The turkey harvest was up 20% in 2017 which is an interesting statistic. It was especially meaningful since I discovered I finally have a few turkeys running around my neck of the woods, substantiated with trail-cam pictures. While doing some related research, it was interesting to note that turkey chick survival rate is directly proportional to the hatching of locusts. In the years when a brood hatches, young turkeys have a 50% better chance of survival.

The Crappie USA tournament had another successful year, and plans are in place for a tournament at Lake St. Marys in 2018. Although the weather was a challenge, fishermen weighed in some impressive fish and total weights. Crappies continued to cooperate throughout the season at St. Marys , as well as Loramie and Indian Lakes. Because of the guiding and fishing skills of my partner, 2017 was another year where I caught a good number of nice crappies. I improved my pontoon shooting ability which means I’ll catch nice fish in 2018 when the fishing is tough. That goes back to the beginning when I mentioned sucking it up. It might take a bit to learn the jig shooting tactic, but once you do, your crappie catching ability and confidence will get a major boost, guaranteed.

The “Get the Carp Outa Here” tournament was held in 2017 and the results and impact varied, depending on who was doing the talking. Carp removal has been tried and debated for years. Removing enough carp to make a difference is the challenge. Some even mentioned infecting the carp population with a carp herpes virus. This came up after numbers of large carp were found washed up along the rocks and beaches at the north corner of Lake St. Marys. I don’t think there’s a credible fish management person who would go along with that. Then, of course, there are a few who think a big-money, catch-and-release, carp tournament would be a way to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Carp might be a top sport fish in most of the world, but this area isn’t one of them.

There were other events that took place during 2017 that were unique, some good, some bad. The “thumbs-down” award goes to the powers that be who decided that trees needed to be removed along the east and west banks of Lake St. Marys and 200 plus other Ohio lakes that have earthen dams to prevent them from causing a flood catastrophe. The trees were first shredded, then cut. Surprisingly, the west bank wound up looking worse than the east. The removal of trees on the north side of Lake St. Marys for a spoil site also gets a thumbs down. The Scholastic Clay Target Program from the Moulton Gun Club gets a thumbs up for getting youth involved in trap shooting. The young shooters also get a thumbs up for the successful year they had in competition. The same goes to the adults who give the time to make the program work.

So much more happened in the outdoor world in 2017, but at the end of August, my 2017 outdoor activities came to a halt for the most part. I spent most of my time at the hospital dealing with family medical issues. I learned from the experience and found out I was a fairly tough person and my wife even tougher. Five back surgeries proved that. Going through a bad time increases the outlook that the future will be better. That’s the way a person needs to live their life. Somebody once said that tomorrow should be your favorite day. That’s why we wish everyone good health and prosperity. I’ll take both but would also like to win a catfish tournament and catch a big flathead in 2017. I think I have a better chance with the good health and prosperity. Besides, just getting outside has its merits regardless of the results.