Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
For many sportsmen January and February are transition months between the hunting and fishing seasons. Of course, there are a few who enjoy the cold winter weather and the outdoor activities that go with them, but by and large, the average hunter and fisherman, especially the older ones, prefer activities that provide more comfortable conditions. For example, there’s a reason that sport shows, at least in this part of the country, take place during the coldest months of the year. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the mega retail outlets like Cabela’s, Bass Pro, and the like, do a booming business during these transition months.
On the flip-side, however, are sportsmen who like the worst winter has to offer. Ice fishermen want it to stay as cold as possible for as long as possible so they can get more days on the ice. That’s difficult to do in this part of Ohio and points south because the temperatures fluctuate so much creating ice conditions that are always changing. So far this season, we’ve had at least two good cold spells that have brought ice fishermen out in numbers. Warm fronts have also sent ice fishermen packing at least two times, but early February forecasts are calling for more cold and ice fishermen will love that. The first three weeks of February are supposed to be especially frigid, but after February 19, the weather is predicted to become quite mild. If that becomes a reality, the lake could be ice-free before the usual March 15 opening date.
Die-hard waterfowl hunters are also preparing to wrap up their year. Sunday, January 28, is the last day of the duck season in the south zone. According to the Division of Wildlife’s January 18 aerial survey, the majority of ducks remaining in Ohio are located on the major rivers and other open water areas along these same rivers. Mallards and blacks, the hardiest, make up the majority of the estimated 10,000 migrating ducks remaining in the state. Over 40,000 Canada geese were counted along the Scioto, Ohio, and Great Miami Rivers. That number does not include the various resident flocks that hang around the rest of the state. Overall, these large goose numbers should provide excellent hunting for those who want to take the time and make the effort. The goose season continues in the south zone until February 10.
I doubt if I will hunt either ducks or geese during the remainder of this season although I’ve had a good invitation or two. I didn’t have the opportunity to get out very much this year, so I’ll just plan to make up for it during the 2018-19 waterfowl season. As far as ice fishing is concerned, that’s a sport I just can’t seem to get interested in. I prefer open-water fishing, if and when I get the time. Usually, I participate in a few tournaments just to give myself a reason to get on the water. Catfish tournaments usually start in late March, but I haven’t seen any dates for those yet. I also enjoy fishing the Grand Lake Crappie Series. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s not true. I’ve learned more about catching crappies and catfish in the last few years from my fishing partners and definitely have caught a lot of bigger fish. I also have to update my bass fishing skills or lack thereof. I don’t have the ability to compete with any of the most serious bass fishermen. Even so, I still might try to take part in one or two bass tournaments in 2018. Again, if it gets me on the water for a day, it can’t be all that bad.
I don’t know when spring will arrive, the lake will be free of ice, and I will feel like spending some serious time outdoors. Weather experts can call for cold and snow, but I hope that prediction isn’t the case. I do know that January has an overall average temperature of 33 degrees. By February 5, the average temperature is 35. A week later, it’s 37 degrees, and by the end of the third week it’s 39 degrees. The average temperature for the last day of February is 42 degrees. Consequently, the arrival of spring is inevitable. I just hope it gets here sooner rather than later…and not every outdoorsman agrees with that.