Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
The Labor Day weekend was a busy one for many outdoorsmen as they unofficially ended their summer season. With the kids back in school and wrapped up in fall activities, getting away for a long weekend or mid-week break becomes more difficult for families. Also, vacation days are usually numbered and used to take advantage of the summer months and the recreational activities it provides. Of course, there are those people who enjoy the early fall and what outdoor opportunities are available. As far as I’m concerned, some of the best opportunities to enjoy boating begin when the average temperatures start to drop, the air freshens, the water quality improves, and the traffic decreases, depending on your location. Grand Lake St. Marys hasn’t been overburdened with boat traffic since the 2010 major algae bloom, but year by year it has steadily regained its popularity. A busy weekend can be hectic at GLSM with the amount of pleasure boating that is taking place. Just ask those who have taken advantage of some of the scheduled events on the lake such as the special weekends at the boaters’ beach. When main-lake fishermen start getting aggravated with power boats, pontoons, and wave runners, it’s a good sign that boating is making a major comeback.
Of course, early fall provides a lot of things to do for the “hooks and bullets” fraternity. This weekend, for example, waterfowl hunters start an early nine-day season to shoot at geese and maybe thin out the population a bit. The Canada goose isn’t that popular to many people because of the mess they leave. Consequently, they’re often considered a nuisance bird and the liberal bag limits reflect that. In October, that changes somewhat, and the birds become more of a sporting bird. Personally, I’ve always considered the Canadas a trophy because I grew up when they were uncommon and bagging one was something to talk about. Teal hunters will also get a 16-day season so they can cash-in on the early migration of the blue-winged teal. I’ve never bothered to hunt teal during the early season because identifying them on the wing can be challenging at times. Come to think of it, I haven’t hunted early-season geese for years. I find it more challenging when the weather is miserable and the birds are educated.
As far as fall fishing, it’s doing nothing now but improving. Crappies are starting to show up at all of the canal lakes, and other species are also responding to the changes in air and water temperatures. I imagine when hunters are on the lake this weekend, I’ll be trying to find some crappies, at least that’s my plan. There are some fall crappie tournaments coming up, and I imagine fishermen will be pre-fishing trying to locate some bigger than average keepers. No secrets, but if you can’t shoot pontoon boats, you might have trouble finding a winning stringer. Also, I’ve been seeing boats anchored in what I’ve always considered good perch water. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were catching a few.
It’s hard to imagine, but there are people who could care less about shooting geese or drowning worms. They just like to be outside and enjoy the moment of the day. If you fall into that group, take a ride along the north shore of GLSM and check out the new west beach swimming area. Preliminary reports show that the water is currently safe to swim in. An eight-acre swimming area at a troubled lake is a great asset. Too bad the weather delayed the project. I’m guessing that next year this beach will be one of the most popularspots on the lake.
While you’re near the park, visit the camp ground area. This campground has been well used all summer long. New facilities like the swimming pool and splash pad have drawn a lot of people. Also, this weekend is the state park’s Fall Fest 2019. The festival is open to the public and there is no admission charge. The area will be full of arts and crafts vendors and various food stands to take care of your hunger needs. There will also be plenty of activities to add fun to the day. There’s a baked goods auction, chainsaw carvers, shooting sports activities, and a working K-9 unit going through the paces. In previous years, the vendors have brought some quality craft items that would be great for Christmas gifts. The five food vendors on site will have everything from shredded chicken sandwiches and root beer floats to BBQ rib dinners and sugar waffles. The Fall Fest is always well attended and a great place to enjoy the outdoors. To top it off, the weather is supposed to be spectacular.
I don’t have plans for the entire weekend, but I think I’ll probably be on the water until noon today hunting crappies. Later on, I’ll probably make an appearance at the Fall Fest. BBQ chicken, fries, and a root beer float sounds like a winner. A funnel cake plus a sugar waffle would complete my menu. Actually, that’s not going to happen. My doctor might be out and about checking on me. I don’t need a lecture, at least not at my age.