I'm not sure how observant many of you folks are, but spring is right on time even though winter ended early.
As the last remnants of man-made snow receded on the ski slopes, we all expected the trees to leaf out and the flowers to bloom, but they didn't.
Here it is the first week of May and nature is doing what it always does. We had some rare, warm, sunny days, but there still have been many frosty mornings with temperatures in the 20s.
I noticed the other day that the swallows have finally returned to my barn. Last year's nests are fully occupied and new ones are under construction.
The little, dark-blue birds with feathers that look a bit like tuxedoes are gathering mud and other stuff to make new homes in the already busy complex. When I go into the barn to get the horse his feed, they get all excited. It's always fun to watch their reaction as the cat walks by. The sleek birds fly down in dive-bomb-like patterns to protect their sanctuary.
This year, numerous foxes and bobcats have been seen in people's backyards, along with skunks, raccoons and even a fisher. They are just doing their normal thing, gathering food and raising their young. It's just nature's regular schedule.
Several fishermen have emailed me concerning the fishing in the local streams. Let's face it; it's not good.
Last year's floods raised havoc. The streambeds were deeply scoured again, destroying the natural habitat. Streams such as the Charlotte and the Schenevus aren't producing fish like they have in the past, but several nice trout have been caught in the Susquehanna River. Fishermen always have caught some big browns and even an occasional landlock just below the hospital in Cooperstown, but it's been many years since trout were caught in the river around Oneonta.
An old-timer told me many years ago about the great trout fishing in the deeper runs downstream from the old Elmore's Dam when he was young. Believe it or not, the fish are back. I'm not sure if it's because the flooding washed many of the trout downstream into the river or if the water quality is just better, but fishermen aren't there on a regular basis for nothing.
I went fishing last weekend. I planned on going to Wilber Lake (Oneonta's reservoir) but ended up at a friend's pond to get a bunch of blue gills for a nice meal. Fishing was rather slow. The fish weren't near the shore to spawn because the water is just a little too cold yet, and the snow and cold front that passed through last week slowed things down a little.
The fishing should be good this coming week. The crappies and blue gills should be hitting in Goodyear and in the other local lakes and ponds. I like to use a weighted bobber and small jigs about 4 feet down. Throw it out and make it twitch. When the fish are hitting, you can fill a bucket with some really nice-sized fish. Those plus-sized fish have fillets that can't be beat. In fact, I'd rather eat a perch or panfish than any old trout.
Well, I've rambled on long enough. I'm going to shut down my computer and go fishing. I think it will be a good day.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.