Last Saturday was a trophy kind of morning at Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs.
There was the celebration around the town’s clock tower that they had reeled in $2.4 million in funding that was released by Gov. Tom Wolf to fix the lake. On the water just a short cast away, the armada of boats and elbow-room-only formations of fisherfolks were angling for tasty torpedoes on the first day of the trout season.
Golden rainbow trout stood out as if neon in the shallower depths. I saw a lot of success for anglers large and small. Stringers of nice fish were plentiful.
Lest you think the first-day hordes depleted the finfare to the state of rainbow disrepair, the lake got the first of its in-season stockings on Thursday. New trout are there. The trout truck will visit the lake yet again on April 27.
The fishing wasn’t as easy on the more expansive Yellow Breeches Creek near the covered bridge at Messiah College.
Again, golden rainbows were there to be had in the Breeches. But in the deeper, rolling water, their positions were given away only at the bird’s nest view from the bridge.
Trout season continues today in these southern counties.
In the northern Penn’s Woods, it’s the second Mentored Youth Trout Day for children only. The statewide opener is April 14.
Some grownups that I heard from weren’t happy with the numbers of adults who were fishing two weekends ago, when the Mentored Youth Trout Day was held here. In one case in Adams County, three adults claimed to be mentors of one child.
For the record, adults are not to be fishing on Mentored Youth Trout Day. Sportsmen complained to me about it at the Yellow Breeches Anglers’ spring fishing fair in Monroe Township two Saturdays ago, too.
Fishing when you’re not allowed or taking advantage of the opportunity by having a little kid around on a day designed for them, is its own form of stealing.
As mentioned with the resupply of Children’s Lake, in-season trout stocking in April can replenish opening day excitement.
Mountain Creek was restocked on Monday.
Doubling Gap, Fuller, and Laurel lakes received more fish on Thursday.
Big Spring and Middle Spring creeks will be restocked April 12.
Opossum Lake will get fish again on April 16.
Yellow Breeches will receive more fish April 20 and 27.
Green Spring Creek will be restocked April 21.
Felons and firearms
The aftermath of Christopher Johnson murdering Adams County game warden Dave Grove wasn’t the first time I wondered if there are checks to make sure that convicted felons aren’t carrying guns during hunting season.
While Johnson, a convicted felon, wasn’t allowed to possess a gun, he was able to get a Pennsylvania hunting license. He wasn’t hunting the night Dave Grove stopped him for poaching.
Johnson then shot Grove to death and earned a death sentence of his own. It’s too bad Wolf suspended the death penalty.
There’s something missing in the process, when a person convicted of a crime to the degree he cannot have a firearm, can apply for a license to take an action (to hunt) that most often declares intended use of a firearm, and get that license, without question.
When I posed that question to the Game Commission a few years ago, they said those selling licenses have no way of knowing the criminal records of license buyers.
The loophole is that felons may legally possess archery equipment and go bowhunting.
The only act with a firearm that will trigger a license revocation or denial is a Game Law violation.
So, a felon could be arrested one year for hunting with a firearm, and turn around and get a license again the next year. There are no background checks.
Since names of those who get hunting licenses are not public, we have no idea how many felons are in the woods with guns.
It is known that in other states, hundreds of felons have been hunting with guns. Wardens have caught felons hunting with firearms in Pennsylvania.
Boxes for bluebirds
Consider welcoming spring (beat it, snow) by welcoming bluebirds to your property.
Bluebird nesting boxes are available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, at its Harrisburg headquarters and region offices. Nesting-box kits are also available.
A single box sells for $11.66, including sales tax. When purchasing two or more boxes, the cost is $10.60 each, including sales tax.
The commission’s Howard Nursery has been making bluebird nesting boxes and box kits for more than 30 years. The boxes are approved by wildlife biologists and have been proven to attract bluebirds and other native species, such as tree swallows and house wrens.
Bluebirds are cavity nesters that became less common because of a lack of suitable nest sites. Many nest sites have been lost through changing land-use practices, as well as urban and suburban sprawl. The decline in bluebird numbers is also due in part to non-native species, such as starlings and house sparrows, taking over bluebird nesting cavities.
Now is the time to place new nest boxes, as well as to clean and repair existing boxes.
Nesting boxes can be ordered and shipped directly from the Howard Nursery by calling 814-355-4434.
For more information on bluebirds, visit the Game Commission website www.pgc.pa.gov, click on “Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the page, then the “Birding” tab, and scroll down to “Eastern Bluebird” under the “Natural History” heading.