Outdoor Trails: A hodgepodge of outdoor lore

POSTMEDIA NETWORK A mosquito pool in Woodstock has tested positive for the West Nile virus. ORG XMIT: POS1708040958204423 TBA / PROVINCE

Share Adjust Comment Print

This week we’ll deal with a whole panorama of pertinent outdoor information and education, so we’ll dive right in.

Up until the recent cool snap and rain, we had a hot, dry spell after a relatively dry spring. The black flies have mostly passed, and the no-see-ums are also on the wane — but make no mistake, the deer flies and mosquitoes are in full swing. No matter your outdoor quest, you’ll need to have insect control in hand, and no fooling. Since the recent rains, the mosquitoes have come on with a vengeance. On the positive side of all this is the fact that is should be a good ruffed grouse hatch, and owing to the relative lateness of spring, the now-forming blueberry crop will benefit greatly from the recent rain, and plump up nicely.

If you have never seen giant hogweed, do surf it out on the web and be wary of it. A friend of mine contacted some with only a brief encounter this past week and got a nasty rash and deep skin burns and blisters from it. It looks like a giant carrot, of which it is a relative, and fortunately isn’t too common here in the North yet, but is established here and it is spreading. Another member of the carrot family, the wild parsnip is well-established here in the North, and while perhaps not quite as nasty as the giant hogweed, can likewise cause nasty irritation, swelling, burning and blisters.

Local water temperatures have risen nicely, and will be great for most water sports including fishing.

The water isn’t yet warm enough to push local lake trout down deep, and should be easily obtainable without needing to use down-riggers nor dipsey-divers. Walleye fishers have been doing well up until now, and I see no reason why this success won’t continue, but fish for them relatively shallow in water, arbitrarily eight feet deep down to 15 feet deep. Pike are also on the fisheries menu, and find them in water roughly four feet deep and lunkers down to 18 to 20 feet deep.

Campers and canoe trippers need to plan their outings, especially if going remote. You must consider strategies for protection from both insects and bears, and of course, if on overnight ventures, cooler needs such as ice. I prefer to use large plastic pop bottles, three quarters full of water, and freeze them solid in the freezer. This keeps foodstuffs dry. To use the big blocks of ice is fine, but as they melt it can make a mess, especially of any meat et cetera, as they can get fully soaked. And of course, if you have used the large plastic bottles, you can use the water once it does melt. For insect control, I prefer to use one of those hand-held bug zappers to clear the tent, as opposed to insecticides. If I do use an insecticide, I prefer the green coils that burn and to keep them safe, I use one of the tin coil holders that won’t allow the burning coil to contact anything. A nylon tent will burn quickly and is truly a hazard. To keep bears out of the foodstuffs, you can pile them in a tarp and tie off with utility rope and hoist up out of their reach. Never eat or take food into the tent with you, as the odour can attract a hungry bear.

Here in the North, many use boats for fishing, but never discount the success that can be had by fishing from shore. I prefer to get out on a rock outcropping, especially if the water deepens quickly where it enters the water. The end of a peninsula or point is also good. To be in an opening allows for better air circulation, and hence helps with the insect issue that one has to deal with when surrounded by underbrush. The simplest way to fish is to use a Size 4 standard hook, with about a half a worm hooked twice in the middle, and then cast out. Allow this presentation to slowly sink down in the water column. Here in the North, it usually won’t hit the bottom before a fish grabs it. If nothing hits the bait, then every couple minutes, slowly drag it in by cranking the reel handle a few times, you only need to retrieve it in a couple feet each time, and again, usually it won’t be long before a fish hits! If there is a breeze or if you are fishing a river shed with a current, don’t be afraid to use a bobber with your bait and hook, suspended just up off bottom so it travels along. This is sort of like trolling from shore. I prefer to use a slip bobber for this type of fishing.

What are you seeing on your outdoor adventures? Can I be of further assistance? Do you need more detail than found here? Don’t hesitate to contact me as I love to chat with like-minded Northerners!

John Vance’s column, Outdoor Trails, runs weekly in The Sudbury Star. Contact him at outdoors@execulink.com.