Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's deer season, not just for guns, but also unfortunately for cars

       It’s deer season. It’s the time when hunters take to the woods in hopes of bagging a deer to have venison for the holiday table. It’s also the time when deer and autos meet far too often.
Deer movement peaks in late October and continues through the first part of December. During this time, the deer rut or annual mating season takes place for whitetail deer, and it ‘s also the time some deer are on the move when hunters are in the woods.
Deer-auto accidents are expected to continue to increase. Deer populations are growing in many areas, and their habitats are being displaced by urban sprawl. Some state fish and game officials also have modified bag limits in an effort to manage the size of deer herds.
Each fall, I write about the deer-auto accident problem as a reminder to folks to drive with caution. Not only are the accidents expensive, they can prove fatal.
The folks at State Farm insurance report about 2.3 million deer-auto accidents in a two year period. West Virginia leads the nation with about one mishap for every 42 motorists, while Indiana drivers experience one crash for each 160 drivers.
Over my lifetime, I’ve killed more deer with my autos or trucks than I have with a weapon. While I have trouble attracting them in the woods, I don’t seem to have any problem attracting them  on the highways. My problem is just the opposite.
I thought i (we, including my wife Phyllis) might have a record for deer road kills. As I recall, we have 13. Fortunately, we’ve had no recent mishaps, and fortunately, we’ve never had any injuries.
Our 13, however, is far from a record.  I read where Mark Burdick of Westfield, Pennsylvania, collided with 21 of the critters iduring a 19-year time frame -- with his car and a variety of other vehicles.
From October through December, most of the breeding among white-tailed deer takes place.  For motorists, though, it is November when drivers should be especially cautious to avoid colliding with love-sick deer.
The nature of whitetails is for a buck to chase and follow various does until the doe permits breeding to occur.  Breeding season is the time when deer movement is greater than any other period of the year.  As a result, drivers are more likely to see and encounter deer on or near roads.
Early morning and evening the deer also are more active than mid-day. This also corresponds to the time of day when human vision is the worst.  So what happens, is drivers get right up on the animals before they  see them, and reaction time is cut down some during those low-light periods."
This time of year you have to "expect the unexpected."  City highways or lonely back roads, it doesn't matter. There's not a lot you can do other than keep your eyes open and slow down when you see one.  Deer have a nasty habit of waiting until you get right up on them before they run in front of the car.
If they're standing on the side of the road, don't expect them to stay there. They'll dart out there at the last second.  And where there is one, there is usually more.  Just because one passes across in front of you, you better be looking for that second and third one, too. I’ve learned the hard way--with damaged fenders and grills that it is the deer you didn’t see that you hit.
Motorists need to stay alert and remain patient while nature runs it course, and by using a little extra caution and any luck, hopefully your vehicle won’t have to spend a week at the repair shop.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Predicting fall foliage is more a guess than scientific analysis

Predicting fall foliage brilliance is pretty much a guess.

        It seems to be really difficult to predict the impact summer weather, including drought, has on fall foliage.
Many forecasters projected the drought would mostly eliminate fall tree color to the disappointment of many who enjoy it. Touring the countryside viewing leaves is something anticipated by many, including promoters of fall festivals and many shop owners.
It seems there is a lot known about what causes color in the leaves, but predicting its intensity isn’t easy.
       Abby van den Berg, University of Vermont plant biologist, who has done research on leaf colors, said some data suggest a small amount of physiological stress can result in more brilliant colors.
"The real bottom line is that there's no great way to predict these things," she said. "It's pretty much impossible, especially over a large scale."
The prognosticators predicting less color this year may have been partially right, but there is more color in areas I have visited, than I anticipated. There are more reds and oranges than forecast and the peak of color should still be ahead.
The extreme dry conditions in most areas during early summer through July may have impacted the number of leaves to view more than the color. And in addition to problems caused by the drought, some trees dropped their leaves due to insect infestations.
Drought conditions cause trees to switch to survival mode because of the latest dry spell. Some lose their leaves before they change to the familiar red, yellow or orange, according to nature experts.
"For the trees' well-being, it's do or die," said Jim Eagleman, an interpretive naturalist. "The reaction to drought is they drop leaves to conserve water."
 This was the second straight summer with drought conditions.
Despite the dry conditions, Eagleman said there still will be a plenty of trees healthy enough to please nature lovers.
"We've got so many trees with so many leaves that you're bound to have good color in a lot of them, even though we're under stressful conditions," Eagleman added.
This spring there was plenty of rain, and trees were loaded with healthy, green leaves. They are green because they contain chlorophyll. 
According to one agriculture department website, there is so much chlorophyll in an active leaf that the green masks or overpowers other pigment colors. Light regulates chlorophyll production, so as autumn days grow shorter, less chlorophyll is produced. 
The decomposition rate of chlorophyll remains constant, so the green color starts to fade from leaves.
While that is happening, increasing sugar concentrations cause increased production of anthocyanin pigments. Leaves containing primarily anthocyanins will appear red. 
Another type of pigment, carotenoids are found in some leaves. Carotenoid production is not dependent on light, so levels aren't diminished by shorter days. Carotenoids can be orange, yellow, or red, but most of these pigments found in leaves are yellow. Leaves with good amounts of both anthocyanins and carotenoids will appear orange.
Temperature affects the rate of chemical reactions, including those in leaves, so it plays a part in leaf color. However, it's mainly light levels that are responsible for fall foliage colors. Sunny autumn days are needed for the brightest color displays. Overcast days will lead to more yellows and browns.
Whether or not you care about anthocyanins or carotenoids, there should still be plenty of beauty to be found yet this weekend.
A live leaf camera at four Indiana sites can be found on the internet

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cedar Creek Lake near Stanford, KY, to become new trout fishery

         Cedar Creek Lake in Lincoln County will become a new Kentucky trout fishery as part of a three-year program to make more trout fishing opportunities available in the state.
Cedar Creek is a relatively new lake. The attractive 784-acre facility was dedicated a decade ago, and original fish management was aimed at the impoundment being developed as a trophy largemouth bass lake.
According to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources (KDFWR), the lake remains an “excellent” largemouth lake. “Relatively high density of large fish (17-22 inch) gives anglers a good chance for a trophy fish.  A trophy regulation of a 20-inch minimum size limit, one fish creel limit is in effect”.
The lake also offers good fishing for bluegill and channel catfish.
This week, the KDFWR was scheduled this week to stock 12,000 rainbow trout at three sites: the ramp at the dam; the ramp on old U.S. 150, located in mid-lake; and at the fishing access area in the upper lake, located adjacent to the KY 1770 bridge. Each site will receive 4,000 trout.
Cedar Creek is located between Stanford and Crab Orchard along U.S. 150. It is little more than an hour drive southeast from Bardstown.
    "The trout look great," said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "They are about 10 inches. Because of the popularity of Cedar Creek Lake, we expect to see good returns for anglers."
    According to a KDFWR news release, another stocking of 9,000 trout will follow in February.
    "We should have these fish all the way into June of 2013, when the water grows too warm for trout," said Jeff Ross, assistant director of fisheries for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Cedar Creek has three boat ramps, plus has bank fishing access off Kentucky Route 1770, near the south end of the lake.
    Fisheries personnel plan to conduct a creel survey on Cedar Creek Lake and a concurrent angler attitude survey. They also plan to tag 600 of the trout to determine angler utilization of the fish.
    "We strongly encourage people to return the tag if they catch a tagged trout," said Dave Dreves, fisheries research biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "We have four metal boxes around the lake where anglers may get an envelope on one side of the box, fill out the information and a slot on the other side of the box to deposit the envelope."
    The boxes will be located at the stocking sites and also at the Cowan Road boat ramp. The envelopes are postage paid. Anglers may take them home to fill them out, then send them back to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Anglers must include their name, address, phone number and whether they kept the trout or released it.
    "Those who participate will receive a pewter fish pin," Dreves said. "They also are entered into a monthly drawing for cash prizes."
    A total of nine drawings will be made each month: one $100 winner, one $50 winner, two $25 winners and five $10 winners. "You stay in until you win," Dreves said.
    Buynak also encouraged anglers who catch these fish to harvest them.
    "Adult anglers must have a trout permit to harvest trout," Buynak said. "A trout permit is included in the senior/disabled license and the Sportsman's license. Buy a trout permit and take these fish home and eat them. Trout will likely die after catching and releasing them."
    These stockings will be conducted over a three-year period. After three years, the program will be reevaluated to determine whether to continue the stockings.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

New fish & wildlife area open in west-central Indiana's Putnam County

Deer Creek Fish & Wildlife area has an information and check-in station just north of U.S. Highway 40 in Putnam County.

Outdoor folks are always looking for new areas to hike, hunt and fish, and a new area is now open in west-central Indiana.
Deer Creek, Indiana’s newest fish and wildlife area, has nearly 2,000 acres of woods and rolling agricultural land for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.
The new fish and wildlife area was part of the old state penal farm, now the Putnamville Correctional Facility, located in the western part of Putnam County about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis.
Several years back, the military wanted more land at the facility at Camp Atterbury. After some negotiations, the state agreed to swap some of the land it owned at the camp for the nearly 2,000 acres at the Putnamville facility.
At one time, the state farm was a large working agricultural operation, but over the years most of the acreage was no longer used for producing food or training inmates.
The Department of Natural Resources took possession of the land in 2010. The Deer Creek FWA consists of two or three blocks of land, one located south of U.S. 40 and the current correctional facility, and the other is located north of the highway. A Putnam County road separates the two northern blocks.
The FWA has areas of rolling interspersed agricultural land  and mature oak and hickory dominated woods. In the northern section, there is a four-acre lake, which offers fishing for bass, bluegill and catfish. There is ample room for bank fishing.
There is no auto or bicycle traffic on the FWA; only foot traffic is allowed. There is a parking lot off County Road 75, and one can hike to the lake. There is a bush hog trail and then an old road which leads to the lake.
Mark Huter, Deer Creek property manager, says since the area is limited to walk-in traffic, “it usually is pretty quiet around the lake...There usually are only a couple fishermen per day.”
Deer Creek, from which the area gains it’s name, meanders through the southern portion of the FMA. Although the water level has been low this summer, at times Deer Creek can produce some nice smallmouth bass as well as panfish. 
Located along State Highway 243 a couple miles south of U.S. 40, there is a parking area for the southern portion. There also is a drop box for dropping permits and harvest/use information.
The property is open to public access only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and closed the other three days.
While fishing is limited at Deer Creek, there is ample opportunity for hunting. Deer, quail, rabbit, turkey, squirrel, dove and waterfowl are available on the property. Turkey, dove, deer hunts are available through the state computer draw system. Quail and rabbit hunting is only on Saturdays.
According to the Deer Creek FWA brochure, in addition to a hunting and/or fishing license, permits are required for the following activities:
Permission to hunt on Deer Creek FWA must be obtained before entering the field. Daily hunt permit cards must be in possession of the hunter and recorded through established sell-service procedures outlined at the check-in station, located just north of the correctional facility about a quarter mile. Self-service drop boxes are located at several places.
Collecting permits are required from the property manager or DNR for the collection of anything except nuts, berries and mushrooms.
While currently, there is a maintenance facility on the property, there is no office. However, Huter says future plans call for an office, which also would serve as the office for several other properties in west-central Indiana.
Huter currently works out of an office in Linton. Addition information may be obtained by calling 1-812-659-9901 or the DNR in Indianapolis at 317-232-4200.