Has spring finally sprung!?

Assuming the weather forecast is correct, it appears that spring is finally here. Or is it merely an illusion brought about by our communal desire?

It would be nice to catch up on the things we have been missing. But that is not going to happen. Fishing patterns that are missed for whatever reason will have to wait until the next year. That was then, and this is now. There are more things to do now than we could ever get done.

Spring gobbler season will be al all-consuming quest for many local hunters. The prospects are very good. According to Mary Jo Casalena, Turkey biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the wild turkey population has been increasing on the Allegheny National Forest. This is great news after a few down years.

The more proficient spring gobbler hunters had no trouble getting their birds even in what have been called down years, which demonstrates that down years were not drastically down. In fact, across Pennsylvania wild turkey numbers can be considered down only in comparison with the peak years not so long ago.

My own observations agree with the Game Commission estimation, which is more scientific than my observations of course. Just a few days ago I came very close to hitting a pair of jakes that flew from a 12-foot bank on the right side of the road. Were my truck a foot higher, or had they flown a foot lower, I would have been over my season limit on spring gobblers.

Like most years, I have been spending a lot of time driving the back roads of the Allegheny National Forest. The number of wild turkeys seen has been well above numbers seen over the past few years. Of course most were hens, several were jakes, but enough were mature gobblers to get me enthused about spring gobbler hunting.

The only real problem with spring gobbler hunting is that it detracts from time spend on several spring fishing peaks.

Pike are feeding ravenously following their annual early spring spawn. This is one kind of fishing that high river flows do not hurt. High flows create more backwaters, and the strong current pushes pike, and other fishes, into the calm backwaters.

Get along one of these backwaters, coves and calm water below points or sharp bends and toss a medium-size minnow, under a bobber, and wait.

We have some of the largest northern pike in the U.S. in local waters.

Crappie fishing, maybe more popular than trout fishing over the long run, has been lousy this spring, other than a brief period weeks back when we had a few warm, sunny days.

Forget any nonsense about the water being too cold for crappie. They hit just fine under the ice, which clearly demonstrates that the water is not too cold now.

The problem with crappie fishing over the past few weeks has been that the water has been either losing energy or remaining stable, neither of which leads to good crappie fishing. If you think back on good crappie fishing days in the past, you may recall that crappie hit best while the water is warming, while it is gaining energy. Who knows why, but do we react the same way to this lousy spring weather we have endured.

If we get some warm days, in the 70s as predicted, there should be some great crappie fishing. Get to the water that warms fastest, generally shallow, dark bottom bays on the north sides of lakes. Or get to the windward sides of lakes if there has been a steady wind for at least a few hours. Wind pushes the warmer surface water, accumulating it along the windward shores, especially in shallow bays.

Trout fishing also should greatly improve with warmer weather, if stream flows are not high. Rain has spoiled trout fishing more than cool weather.

Good grief, we had sub-freezing temperatures in Warren County early this week. It is well into May for goodness sake.

Some good hatches have been happening during the brief periods when flows were moderate enough to bring anglers to the streams. Some of the best fly fishing of the year should happen during the next several weeks. Get out there and match the hatch if you wish. Me, I will be using by Royal Wulff and other highly visible flies. Gary Kell said this is fine, and I will go along with what he says.

Wasting any nice spring days that we may get would be a crime against nature.