Coming off the sensational week of weather we experienced Feb. 19-25, I don't have to tell anyone that spring has come early this year.
I was among the many who couldn't pass up a chance to wet a line, hitting one of my springtime haunts just to see if the fish were biting.
While the weather was nice, that didn't mean I got the boat out, as it's still in winter storage and missing tags and insurance. So, I packed up some gear and headed for Canal Fulton to fish the overflow out of Lake Lucerne that flows into the Tuscarawas River.
I've written about this little stretch of water many times before. It's the kind of place you'd go right by if you didn't know its history. Barely 150 feet from the pipe under the Erie Canal Towpatch to the Tusc, it's not much more than a ditch. But, every spring the locals flock to the pool that keeps on producing.
I wasn't alone Wednesday afternoon, as 10 people fished the now not-so secret spot in the hour-and-a-half that I was there. And while we weren't lined up like anglers fishing the spring walleye run on the Maumee River, on this day we were relinquished to precious little space.
Luckily, I was the second one there, and picked out a spot where I could fish a sunken tree branch. Across the pool, an oldtimer was catching bluegills on minnows under a bobber.
I was just flipping a small jig with a plastic trailer, something that usually works in the pool that always seems to have a willing population of crappie -- albeit small ones.
I wasn't looking for supper, I just wanted to feel the tug on my line after a winter of no fishing of any kind. In fact, the last time I was out was in early December on Lake Erie walleye fishing.
Soon, more and more people began to show up, some high schoolers just out of school, a mom and her son, and some men just off work.
The oldtimer was uncomfortable with the building crowd of fishermen, so he decided to leave, but not before offering me some of his leftover minnows on his way to the parking lot.
Not to look gift horse in the mouth, I accepted the offer, thinking at the time the bait would be my best bet to catch some of those crappies.
I found a discarded plastic bottle (why do people have to litter?), cut off the top half, and filled it with minnows and water.
It wasn't long before I started pulling fish off that branch, but, they weren't crappie. It seems the only thing biting on this day was bass.
And while they were all small ones, it was still fun to catch fish in shirtsleeves in Ohio in the last week of February.
I ended up with 10 bass in an hour-and-a-half of fishing, and at one time, there were four of us around the pool with bass on at the same time. They were all nearly identical, 7-inches and hungry, all chasing minnows, spinners or jigs and twister tails. One angler did haul in a nice 2-pounder dragging a Senko on the bottom.
My original plan was to catch a crappie on light line in the pool, then head to the Tusc to fish for pike. But, the gift of live bait and the promise of another bite changed my plans.
Not a bad way to kick off my 2017 fishing season.
SPRING MIGRATION -- 17th nnnual Shreve Spring Migration Sensation to be held Saturday, March 18. The event is sponsored by the ODNR Division of Wildlife, Friends of the Killbuck Marsh, Inc., The Wilderness Center, Greater Mohican Audubon Society, Triway Local Schools, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist, Shreve Library and Shreve Business & Community Association.
The event takes place at the Shreve Elementary School, Whispering Hills Jellystone Campground and at the nearby Killbuck Marsh.
This peak spring bird migration event includes self-guided tours with experts located at help stations in the nearby Killbuck Marsh, Shreve Lake, Brown's Bog and Funk Bottoms wildlife areas, Ohio's largest inland natural wetland complex, covering 5,671 acres.
At the school enjoy a full day of "family-friendly activities in addition to the six workshops held by well known experts in their fields.
Registration begins and the Birder's Market Place opens at 8 a.m., help stations are open 8 a.m. to noon.
A $15 admission ($20per immediate family) includes any or all events and six workshops. Register at the school or at Whispering Hills Jellystone Campground with FREE MAPS to the help stations located in the marsh.
DOW OPEN HOUSE -- Ohioans are invited to offer public comment regarding the proposed and future hunting, trapping and fishing regulations at open houses scheduled across the state. The open houses will be held today (March 4), between noon and 3 p.m., and online comments will be accepted through Sunday, March 5.
Open houses provide opportunities for anyone interested in sharing input and participating in Ohio's professional fish and wildlife management process. ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists and law enforcement officers will be available to answer questions and receive comments. Those unable to attend an open house can provide comments online at wildohio.gov. All interested Ohioans are encouraged to participate.
For Daily Record-area readers, the open house will be held at Wildlife District Three office, 912 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron 44319; 330-644-2293.
A statewide hearing on all of the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife's District One office Thursday, March 16, at 9 a.m.
GET YOUR LICENCE -- Ohio hunting and fishing licenses expired March 1. New licenses can be purchased online at wildohio.gov, or at your local license agent. Resident hunting and fishing licenses are $19 each.
Outdoor Editor Art Holden can be reached at 330-287-1650 mornings, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.