Trout, tur­key sea­son open­ing day cre­ates dilemma

The Covington News - - SPORTS & LIVING - News@cov­news.com Rus­sell Van­diver writes ‘Ev­ery Day is Satur­day’ for The Times. His col­umn ap­pears oc­ca­sion­ally on Fri­days.

Spring has sprung is a com­monly used phrase that wel­comes warmer weather, bloom­ing flow­ers and many other out­door changes as we say good­bye to win­ter. But for those of us who dream all win­ter of the start of tur­key sea­son and spring trout fish­ing, it is the of­fi­cial open­ing of the new year of hunt­ing and fish­ing.

I have en­joyed open­ing day of trout sea­son for the past 50 years on the beau­ti­ful Chat­ta­hoochee River in the north Ge­or­gia moun­tains. Most of those years, my son Josh and I have com­peted in the He­len Cham­ber of Com­merce trout tour­na­ment. This year, open­ing day of tur­key sea­son was Satur­day, and falls on the tra­di­tional open­ing day of trout sea­son, which has hap­pened only a few times over my life­time, creat­ing quite a dilemma. Thank­fully we have a long tur­key sea­son which runs through May 15, be­cause Satur­day our fam­ily was fish­ing at the He­len trout tour­na­ment on the Chat­ta­hoochee.

Trout fish­ing and tur­key hunt­ing are both won­der­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties to share time with fam­ily and friends and cre­ate mem­o­ries that last a life­time. Spring also serves as the time to start prepa­ra­tion for dove sea­son and deer sea­son through plant­ing for fall hunt­ing. I seem to en­joy the prepa­ra­tion for those sea­sons as much as I do the ac­tual hunts since “ev­ery day is Satur­day.”

Trout fish­ing has been a pas­sion of mine since I was a young boy. I re­mem­ber wet wad­ing in jeans and ten­nis shoes with a Ze­bco 202, wire tube of crick­ets and a red plas­tic fish stringer hung from my belt loop on the Chat­ta­hoochee River in the 1960s. I didn’t think about the cold wa­ter or the freez­ing tem­per­a­tures when I hooked my first rain­bow trout and saw the bril­liant col­ors flash­ing in the clear pris­tine wa­ter. I was hooked for life.

Over the fol­low­ing 50 years of my life, I have been blessed to have in­tro­duced my son Josh and grand­chil­dren Jack­son and Tay­lor to trout fish­ing which has be­come one of our fam­ily tra­di­tions. Wit­ness­ing the joy of my son and grand­chil­dren catch­ing their first trout is some­thing I will never for­get.

Af­ter all these years, I still get ex­cited about the tra­di­tional open­ing day of trout fish­ing.

The He­len Cham­ber of Com­merce 27th an­nual trout tour­na­ment has evolved over the years from fewer than 100 par­tic­i­pants in the early years to nearly 500 reg­is­tered fish­er­man last year. The size of the fish stocked for the tour­na­ment has in­creased as well, with 4- to 6-pound tagged-tro­phy sized trout be­ing stocked each year.

In ad­di­tion, Ge­or­gia DNR will be stock­ing the river with trout prior to the tour­na­ment. Cash prizes will be awarded this year in ex­cess of $2,500 with the grand prize of $1,000. All prizes will be awarded for tagged fish by weight. Bring your fam­ily and en­joy a great day of fish­ing fun in He­len.

Statewide tur­key sea­son also opened Satur­day.

The spe­cial op­por­tu­nity sea­son opened March 19. This spe­cial two-day sea­son was for youth, 16 and un­der, and the mo­bil­ity im­paired. Josh, Jack­son and I hunted Satur­day and heard and saw sev­eral gob­blers, but we were not able to har­vest any­thing. We had sev­eral young gob­blers in shoot­ing range that Jack­son passed up, and three re­ally great gob­blers that were out of range for him to shoot. I think the tur­keys are con­fused with the dras­tic change in tem­per­a­ture in the last few days.

I have al­ways be­lieved that when the dog­wood trees get in full bloom the tur­keys will be more ac­tive, which should be in a few days. We hoped to get time to hunt af­ter the trout tour­na­ment Satur­day, and per­haps get one of those limb hangers we saw last Satur­day.

The next two months will be spent pre­par­ing dove fields and food plots for fall hunt­ing. I try to fer­til­ize ex­ist­ing food plots, spray weeds and plow new ground to es­tab­lish new food plots dur­ing the spring. Drilling sun­flow­ers and sorghum in May and brown top mil­let in June will pro­duce qual­ity dove hunt­ing in Septem­ber. We have been feed­ing pro­tein to deer since Jan­uary, and have seen bucks drop­ping their antlers on our trail cam­eras. Some bucks have al­ready started grow­ing new antlers for this year, which in­di­cates that we have a very healthy deer herd. We re­ally en­joy watch­ing the growth of antlers dur­ing the spring and sum­mer on trail cam­eras to get an idea of what this sea­son’s bucks will look like.

I be­lieve the time and work spent pre­par­ing in the spring will in­crease suc­cess in the fall and win­ter hunt­ing sea­son. Spring has sprung and all that comes with it. What­ever your fa­vorite part of spring is, get out­doors and en­joy it with your fam­ily and friends. Ev­ery day is Satur­day.

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