Hats off to a good spawning cycle

Even though neither of my boats is in the water, fishing has been pretty good off my dock. The water seems to have warmed up enough to stimulate an urge to spawn among the warm water species in our lake and they have started to move up the shallower coves such as the one behind our house. I have caught crappies, bass and walleyes within the last couple of weeks.

What does this mean to others who do not live on a lake? It means that the same seasonal spawning urge should be taking place on Guilford, Highlandtown and other waters in our area. Water temperature is a prime influence in starting the spawning cycle, so look for areas of water that are warming up before the main lake.

While shallow water warms first, I also look for areas of riprap as the rocks catch and hold the warmth of the spring sun. At Mosquito Lake I have found a lot of early crappies hanging around the riprap along the marina across from the state launch ramp. Also check the concrete and riprap areas of any dam or causeway at your favorite lake.

Minnows fished below a slip bobber should definitely do the trick for you and I sometimes find that a minnow tipped jig below a bobber will catch more than will a plain hook and minnow.

As the spring sun keeps warming the water, fishing will get even better so get out there and enjoy every nice day. It’s been said that the Lord will not deduct time spent fishing from your allotted time on earth, so grab your tackle and fish. It might help you, as Spock might say “Live long and prosper.”

The hat is back!

All outdoorsmen have more ball caps and hats than they can ever wear out. I have, of course, my NRA cap, my Leetonia Sportsman’s Association cap, a Lowellville Rod & Gun cap, Lake Tomahawk Sportsman’s Club cap, East Ohio Shooters Supply cap, and the list goes on to include Whitetails Unlimited and Ruffed Grouse Society. There are more, but I can only fit so many words into one column.

With so many caps at my beck and call, it has been some time since I donned the chapeau that graces my photo at the beginning of my weekly column. To me this is a special hat that has seen a lot of use. The salt stains it proudly wears are the result of salt water sailing, fishing, and yes some well earned sweat. This is a do-it-all hat, and I am back to wearing it on a regular basis.

The hat is a Tilley and made in Canada. It is touted as the best outdoor hat in the world and if you are not convinced the statement sewn inside should make you a believer. The statement says: “It floats, ties on, repels rain and mildew, won’t shrink, and will be replaced free if it wears out. (Yes, put it in your will.)” Can you ask more from any hat? It even comes with a manual to tell you how to wear it, although if you need a manual to wear a hat you have already spent too much bareheaded time in the sun.

My introduction to the Tilley Company began back when all of my sleeping and waking hours were filled with thoughts of sailing. Barb and I had performed the usual boating procedure of starting with a 20-inch Matilda sailboat that we named Restless. By the time we had traded up to 30-inch Restless IV, we had sailed into about every U.S. and Canadian port of Lake Erie. The first time we sailed into a foreign port with the Stars and Stripes waving from high up our backstay was a special moment of pride for me. We observed proper flag etiquette and flew the Canadian Maple Leaf from our starboard shroud.

The Tilley was with me during many hot sweaty days on Lake Erie and more than a few very frightening Lake Erie storms. That freshwater sea can really kick up a fuss. With my sailing days behind me it is only natural that the Tilley hat be transitioned to a fishing hat where it serves the purpose very well.

“The Hat” as I like to call it is out of retirement. Just as the company claims, it is just as well put together today as it was decades ago. Sure it is stained with the salt of sweat and sea, and who knows what sort of fish gook has been rubbed in, but those stains represent years of fishing and the times Barb and I trusted our lives to special boats named Restless. I guess it is a hat full of memories.