- April 25, 2018
“Double your pleasure, double your fun — with Double Mint, Double Mint, Double Mint Gum!” This popular jingle was used in years past to advertise a brand of gum that remains popular to this day. Careful, if you remember this jingle, you may be giving away your age! But, “Double your pleasure, double your fun” is also a phrase that can be used to describe the opportunity that area sportsmen will soon have, especially if they enjoy both hunting and fishing.
If you are a fisherman, you probably already have the date circled on your calendar — Saturday, April 14, since that is the opening day of trout season in our neighboring lakes and streams. And, if you enjoy hunting, Saturday, April 21 (the one day Youth Spring Turkey hunting day) and Saturday, April 28 (the opening day of the regular spring gobbler season) are probably noted as well.
Whether you are a hunter first and fisherman second, or a fisherman first and a hunter second — this is the time of year that you have been daydreaming about for months! With so much demand for our time these days, let’s look at some ways that you can compound your fun in our outdoors in the coming weeks.
The creel limit for trout is five per day, with a minimum size of seven inches. Since the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission annually stocks over three million trout (about two million rainbow trout, nearly 640,000 brown trout and approximately 500,000 brook trout — with an average size of 11 inches), there should be no real reason why a good fisherman wouldn’t fill his creel in a day — with time to spare! So, while you are already in the setting, double your fun by doing some exploring, such as in foraging for wild leeks or wild mushrooms, or hunting for shed antlers.
Particularly while you are in a woodsy setting, along a small mountain trout stream, it is the ideal setting to spot a shed antler or two. As you move along the stream, glance back into the woods. The lighting that aids in spotting these treasures changes as you move along and the changing angles will also aid in catching a glimpse of a shed antler.
After a wet winter and during a rainy spring, wild mushrooms will begin to appear. While many are inedible and should be avoided, there are a few that are easily identifiable and are relished by those who know them. One is the oyster mushroom which grows in clusters — usually on the side of aspen trees but can be found on other trees as well. The other that most look for is the morel, which sprouts up from the ground and has the most intense flavor of all of the wild mushrooms.
One other tasty spring treat that foragers hunt for from mid-April to mid-May is the wild leek, or ramp. They grow in clumps, and a patch may cover hundreds of square feet. Their garlicky-onion aroma and flavor make them prized for use in soups, sautéing in butter, and with various stir-fry recipes. I will discuss them in an upcoming column.
Keep your ears and eyes open during the first weeks of trout season, and you just might find a great place to return to for the opening day of spring gobbler season. Turkey tracks in the mud, a dropped feather, or scratching in the leaves under oak or cherry trees might indicate recent activity. If you are fishing at first light, you might hear birds fly down from the roost or perhaps you’ll hear a gobbler sound off throughout the day.
From Saturday, April 28 until Saturday, May 12, the legal shooting hours for spring gobblers is 30 minutes before sunrise until noon. That means that you have all afternoon to either scout for other turkeys, lay in wait to see where birds will go to roost or try your luck at catching a few trout!
Looking for another way to double your pleasure and double your fun? Take along a friend on your hunting or fishing adventures. As responsible outdoorsmen, we have an obligation to share our passion with other people, thus helping ensure that what we cherish will be shared and enjoyed by many for generations to come. Whether you are introducing youth to the great outdoors or sharing the time with another adult, it is an easy way to multiply the rewards and memories.