June 22, 2018
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Tom Hennessey | BDN
Tom Hennessey | BDN
"Steamers and Smelts"
By Tom Hennessey

Like all things long-awaited and much-anticipated, springtime usually arrives slowly in this neck of the woods. This year, however, fishermen addicted to trolling for hit-and-run salmon or tug-o’-war togue soon after ice out will have an early start thanks to the premature arrival of the season at hand. Not surprisingly, lakes and ponds began shedding their winter coats when March’s spring fever topped 80 degrees. Then came the gusting winds — aka Mother Nature’s blow-dryer — to sweep the ice-cluttered waters clean.

Thus inspired, casters and trollers alike are hurrying to make ready for spring fishing, which, early or otherwise, passes as quickly as a lunch hour. But owing to the scarcity of snow and runoff, brooks, streams and rivers aren’t rushing into springtime. Accordingly, those waters and the upper levels of lakes and ponds will warm quickly, causing fish to move into deeper, cooler water. Unless, of course, April’s expected showers are fisherman friendly; in other words, cool and frequent.

Surely, more than a few fishermen will be left a day late and a dollar short by this spring running way ahead of schedule. But they can’t say they weren’t forewarned. Woodcock, for example, returned from their southern sojourns before March was a week old. Typically, the elusive game birds arrive after St. Patrick’s Day. Likewise, by the time March was middle-aged, nights were sprinkled with the scent of eau de skunk and the gossiping of northbound geese.

Moreover, the wildlife attracted to my back lot by scattered cracked corn and sunflower seeds reminded me not to dally in registering my boat and trailer. To wit: pairs of mallard ducks, crows breaking twigs from budding maples to use in building nests, chipmunks (true hibernators) emerging from dens burrowed beneath the dog kennel, a pair of tom turkeys fanning their tails and strutting their intentions while six hens scratched and fed without giving the bearded birds so much as a second look. And in the woods between my house and the river, a partridge celebrates spring’s untimely debut with stirring drumrolls. All of which cause me to think smelts will run early and bass will spawn sooner than later.

Nevertheless, mindful of the wind-chilled temperatures and whitewash of “poor man’s fertilizer” that March left as its calling card, savvy spring fishermen aren’t hurrying to shed their long underwear. Though warm with the anticipation of reel-running strikes, they know that eye-watering winds, squalls and finger-numbing cold are part and parcel to April fishing, especially when it arrives nearly a month early.

Tom Hennessey’s columns and artwork can be viewed on the BDN website at www.bangordailynews.com. Tom’s email address is tomhennessey@ymail.com.


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