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Cabin Country: Best ice fishing season in years coming to an end

By Darrin McGrath   |   Cabin Country   |   Vol. 32 No. 1 (March 20 2019)

Some of the ponds are starting to open up. I guess that mild day and rain we had last week put the brooks into a heavier flow which ate up ice.

I was fishing the day after the rain and there was about five inches of water on top of the ice. The ice was shiny so you needed cleats and at the same time you had to avoid sloshing cold water into your boots. I only caught four trout that day, but it was sunny and I had a cup of black coffee and a sandwich by the pond.

I was talking to a man who did some trouting in the new cabin area at Ocean Pond. There are several small gullies but he said they never caught any trout in them. However, he did say they caught a few nice trout in Ocean Pond.

The trouting season on inland waters will soon close for a month on April 15th. I think the idea is to keep people off the rotting spring ice. However, I miss trout fishing at the end of April. I used to always find late April and early May as good times for trouting.

This has been the best winter for ice fishing in many years. There has been lots of ice and little snow, so ATVs have been able to travel over ponds and use the old woods paths to go up the country. Undoubtedly, there has been a lot of trout taken this winter and a lot of big trout. We might see smaller catches in the spring season in mid-May as a result.

There’s a new moon set to rise, and that might set the stage for some good fishing. I am hoping to get in some more fishing before the end of the winter season. I might try a couple of ponds where I have caught some big brown trout in the past. When I was a kid about 45 years ago, it was common to hear people say, “brown trout aren’t fit to eat.” I can recall dad saying this to me.

Of course, brown trout are good eating, often as pink as salmon. Perhaps the idea that they weren’t good eating had something to do with the fact that they were first introduced to ponds in St. John’s, and the waterways in the city were used as open sewers. So people may have associated brown trout with dirty water.

The other day as I was crossing a wooden bridge I noticed about a dozen black ducks out in the open water. The pond, whose name I don’t know, was almost half open and the ice is really receding quickly.

One nice thing about spring is seeing the birds return. Of course, those ducks may have over-wintered here, but other birds like ospreys and loons will soon be back to our ponds.

I was out for a walk with Brownie the other day and what a delight to hear the song birds. It was just beautiful and sure lifted my spirits.

While some robins may over-winter, it is always exciting to see the “first” robin of spring running along the ground.

I was speaking to someone who recently spent some time skidooing on the Great Northern Peninsula. They told me that in places where they used to see lots of caribou they never saw a single one this year. That herd is closed to hunting now and it will be probably be decades before an open season occurs again.

A gent who was in the country just west of the Burin Peninsula told me that they saw more caribou than they had in a number of years. This is part of caribou management area 64 – Middle Ridge. Reportedly, they also saw less sign of coyotes.

Do you recall a few years ago when there was a picture in the news of a couple of guys with a pick-up truck full of coyotes they’d caught? You don’t seem to hear as much about coyotes these days, perhaps we are all accustomed to them now and seeing one is not as big a deal as it once was. Sheep farmers and caribou hunters may dislike coyotes but are forced to live with them.

We’ve had a lot of frost this winter and I wonder what effect that will have on dirt roads in cabin areas as the thaw occurs? Will roads be soft? Back in days gone by when the Mahers Road wasn’t plowed in the winter, every spring would see soft spots in the road. Sometimes a car would go right to the top of its tires in the mud and need a pluck from a passer-by.

Have you got any blueberries left from the fall? It’s always nice to have a blueberry dessert this time of the year. When I was a kid I remember an older lady telling me that her family used to pick marsh berries in the spring as the snows melted off the bogs. Of course, the berries would have been frozen all winter and would make some nice jam, the first of the spring.

Tickets are on sale now for flipper dinners at various churches and organizations. Many of these dinners will host two hundred or more people. There’s nothing quite like the dark, oily meat of a fresh flipper topped off with a floury, white pastry.

Is the garbage collection program in cabin areas run by ERSB on its last legs? I called the ERSB office recently and was told the future of the program in some cabin areas is uncertain. How one defines a “serviced road” is apparently the key issue.

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