DANDELIONS AND LOW WATER – AN EARLY SEASON? (May 1/98)

You won’t believe this,” Granny, the household’s unofficial head announced. “I found a dandelion in bloom on our lawn.”

The date the dandelion bloomed was April 21. After she checked her home diary, Granny told me that last year it was May 13 before the first dandelion blossomed. Granny concluded from her observation of the dandelion that spring was “early” this year. That same day on a radio show I heard an agricultural expert advising farmers that the season was a good two weeks earlier than last year.

I really didn’t need dandelions or farming conditions to determine that we may be having what old-timers called an “early fishing spring.” Several days before the solitary dandelion blossom was spotted, I had spent a disappointing afternoon on a local trout stream. Usually by mid-April fishing conditions on the stream are ideal and it yields a feed or two of pink brookies. This year I missed the prime time, by at least a week and maybe more. Water levels in the stream were already low – at what they would normally be in mid or late May – when I fished it on April 18.

The following day I heard other news that verified I had missed the period in spring when streams and brooks are best. At a local tackle shop an angler told me that at the lake his camp was on, Mayflies had already started. A note he’d made on his camp calendar indicated the hatch started 13 days earlier this year.

Early dandelions and early hatches: What they may indicate – and I emphasize “may” – is that the prime spring fishing period won’t last long. Spring is the best time to fish for brook trout. In spring there’s a period when water levels and water temperatures are perfect for trouting. If conditions are right this period may last for weeks, up until early summer, in fact. With an early spring, however, those perfect conditions come and go quickly, and we lose what is normally good trouting time.

Now that I’ve griped about the negative aspects of an early spring, let’s look at angling activity.

Anglers fishing lakes in the Dalhousie area are reporting good brookie catches; fishermen using live minnows and worms have landed brook trout up to 16 inches. Angling has been light to moderate on brook trout streams in Kings County.

The feedback from anglers who like to gather around the coffee pot at Ed Ward’s tackle shop in Coldbrook is that fishing generally is slow. Ed Ward tells me that some fair brown trout in the 12 to 20-inch range have been taken in the Cornwallis River. Anglers fishing the Cornwallis have been using bucktail jigs, an effective spring lure, and worms. As usual, there are rumours of a few giant browns being caught in the Cornwallis, but I’ve been unable to confirm them.

One more observation on the “early spring:” Rain this week brought water levels up in Kings County streams and the long-range forecast is for a cold, rainy period through late April and early May. Perhaps spring, or should I say summer, won’t be early after all.

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