“Can you believe how quickly fall is coming is?” a friend said, pointing out nearby hardwood trees with a smattering of yellow and orange leaves. Some of the leaves were already down and were littering the marshside track we were walking.

Not only are hardwood leaves tinged with fall colors – usually it’s late August in normal years before this happens – various other plants and trees are way ahead of last year. You’re probably aware that out in farm country, many crops are maturing earlier than average.

The lack of rain until recently may explain the early coloring of the hardwoods, but otherwise nature appears to have changed her schedule somewhat and it’s been a year of early everything. On my favourite brook trout stream, for example, the water on opening day had the appearance and the feel of May. By mid-April, on another local stream, water conditions were much like they usually are in late June.

Again, like the early tingeing of hardwood trees, the advanced condition of these streams might be due to low rainfall. Last fishing season there was too much rain; this season, right from the start, there’s been too little. By mid-June, a friend who pursues sea-run brown trout in the lower Cornwallis was bemoaning the lack of rain and how it reduced angling opportunities. He says he missed the best of the run because everything was so much earlier than usual. This appears to be typical everywhere.

If you fish in salt water for striped bass, or in tidal streams for stripers and trout, low rainfall generally doesn’t affect your angling. Low water on some streams actually is an advantage – in some ways. Low stream levels reveal the trout lies, for example, and you can zero in on areas offering the most potential. This is an advantage if you like to cruise streams with your fly rod, looking for a “hole” where trout could be lurking.

On striped bass, I’ve mentioned before that you should be aware of a possible license for salt water angling. That sometimes reliable grapevine has it that the fisheries people are considering a $20 license.

I heard some hogwash that the license is needed so fisheries can “get a handle” on salt water angling, meaning I suppose so they can count how many people fish for striped bass and flounder; more hogwash is that they require additional money to manage this sport.

I have it from someone in the know – and it’s a reliable source – that if a salt water license becomes a fact, only a tiny portion of the fee would end up in the hands of fisheries. Most of the license fee, $20 or whatever would be eaten up by producing, issuing and monitoring the licensing system and handling the funds collected from salt water anglers.

What’s wrong, by the way, with using the general fishing license to determine how many anglers fish for stripers and flounder. Rather than hit anglers with a totally useless salt water fee, why not make a few changes in the general license?

Or would that be too simple? Isn’t it possible for government departments, whether provincial or federal, to co-operate with one another? Too much to expect, maybe?

Anyway, contact your MLA and tell him or her you’re for or against a salt water angling license. I hope you’re against it. That’s what I plan too tell my MLA.

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