The Eagle's outdoor reporter highlights the latest hunting, fishing and wildlife news.
You can't tell this largemouth bass it isn't spring
02/27/2011 12:00 AM
02/27/2011 12:06 AM
Wind-driven sleet is pounding the windows and it's skin-numbing cold outside.
But I'm telling you, spring is here.
Calendar be danged. That March 21 thing is the mark of equal days and equal nights.
That means very little.
Springtime is a feel in the air, an attitude we get and different ways of experiencing the outdoors.
For me, spring sprung loose at about 4 p.m. Wednesday. It was ushered in by a 14-inch largemouth bass and a few other wild critters.
I'm usually a bit physically exhausted from more than five months of going strong when hunting seasons close in mid-February.
My mind can be equally numb after a four-day weekend at the Kansas Sports Boat and Travel show that always follows.
It's my least favorite time of the year until springtime finds me, like it did Wednesday.
Temperatures were in the high 60s when I headed to scout for beaver damage at a friend's watershed lake.
Time was tight, but I took a spinning rod and one small spinnerbait.
Several hundred migrating geese flushed when I arrived. I wished it was still winter goose season.
My plan was to quickly motor along the shoreline looking for beaver dens and freshly-cut trees.
Then I felt weight on the line on my third cast. I don't know who was more surprised, me or the bass.
I put a bit more thought and accuracy into my next cast and it was taken by a slightly larger fish.
There were probably geese still circling the pond, but I didn't notice.
Both bass had been very shallow, so I headed to the lake's thinnest end and started casting in earnest.
I found the fish in about one foot of liquid, no doubt there enjoying the sun-warmed water temperatures.
Some were so shallow I saw wakes coming toward the small lure. Twice I cast ahead of moving wakes in the shallows and got strikes.
There were no summertime acrobatics as the cold-blooded bass just bulldogged when hooked. But they were strong and fat as hogs.
After living in ice water all winter, they were feeding heavily in the shallows to build their bodies for spawn.
I'm sure the best of the day, an 18-incher of a guestimated three pounds, was a sow fish with developing eggs.
Other creatures were also showing spring was on their minds.
Two geese, probably a mating pair, flushed a few yards off the bow from the island where they'll probably soon nest.
On an open mud flat, the first returning killdeer I've seen this year trotted back and forth.
From the highest branch of the tallest tree on a tiny island a male red-winged blackbird sang and sang his territorial song as if it were May.
The fish quit biting as soon as sunshine left the water, but the bird sang nearly non-stop as I beached the Scanoe and unloaded gear.
I'm guessing he wasn't on that wide-open limb to sing through Thursday and Friday's flashback to December.
But in the bird's mind it is springtime and he'll surely return with the next warm day. I guess I'm largely of the same mind and see such wintry days as temporary distractions.
After Wednesday afternoon, my springtime is most certainly here.