Here we are in the first week of June and it’s still cool enough for a jacket or flannel shirt at first light. I for one love the long, slow transition from spring into summer mostly because heat and humidity are not my favorite climate conditions. When summer’s heat finally moves in to stay I keep my air conditioner set low enough to make it snow in my office, but that’s just me.
With all the ups and downs of temperatures, humidity levels, rain, clouds and sun that have prevailed through most of April and May I am surprised that “nature” has not paid the slightest attention. Birds are nesting with vigor, the trees are leafing out (slowly but surely) and I’ve already mowed my lawn three times. For now the black flies and mosquitoes are relatively docile although I have a feeling that when the sun finally decides to come out and stay out we’ll have more than our share of biting insects to combat. I have my cans of insect repellent, flying insect killer and wasp spray set up in strategic areas all around the house, so whenever the onslaught begins I’ll be ready for it.
As usual I did a little bit of garden planting perhaps a bit early because so far not much is coming up. I have a few marigolds sprouting and the strawberries are booming but none of the other flowers or vegetable seeds I planted a week ago have shown any sign of germination. I don’t have much of a garden and my flower beds are minimalistic so it won’t be a disaster if I have to re-plant, but it would be nice to see some greenery popping up here and there.
My fruit trees have responded well to the cool spring weather. If all of the flower buds on my pear trees turn into fruit those trees will be dragging on the ground by the end of summer. Overall, the apples are iffy, with some producing multitudes of flowers and some only a few bursts of color, but there’s not much one can do to hurry things along. It already looks as if things will be better next year, and as long as the trees remain healthy I’ll be satisfied.
In my area the wild turkey population has already gone into summer mode. I hear a gobble in the distance now and then at first light but for the most part the spring breeding season is about over. We’ve had some cool weather and rain which may cause a few hens to re-nest, but all is quiet on the turkey front right now.
A trio of jakes (immature males) comes into the yard every afternoon to fill up on cracked corn and sunflower seeds but the huge flocks of winter have dispersed. Every so often a big, lone gobbler will stop by late in the afternoon but the most common visitors are blue jays, nuthatches and red squirrels. I am more than happy that my back-yard critters have found enough natural food to keep them going, but I’ll keep putting seed out for them as a summer supplement. Besides, the usual contingent of raccoons, gray foxes, opossums and deer come in at night to clean up what’s left. I have to bring the suet feeders in every evening or the raccoons will wipe them out and scatter the cages all over the yard.
While waiting for balmier weather to improve the odds for a successful garden I have been doing more trout fishing than I have in years and have had great luck. I’m a big fan of small streams, and thanks to consistent rains of late all of my favorite spots are full of water – and trout. My self-imposed limit is three fish of a size that will fill my backpack frying pan, and so far I’ve been able to catch my own lunch every time out. Depending on my mood (and what’s available in the cupboard) I’ll bring baked beans, fiddleheads, potatoes or bacon along with my portable stove, just enough to provide a fabulous “shore lunch” washed down with several cups of hot tea. There’s something about enjoying a hot meal near the gurgling stream that provided the main course, and if there’s anything better than fresh-caught brook trout sautéed in butter I have yet to encounter it. I’ve been enjoying this little ritual for more than 50 years and still savor every moment. There’s not much in life that remains as good as it ever was but streamside pan-seared trout pretty much tops the list for me.
Just about the time those small streams dry up and become covered with overhanging brush it will be time to head out for some shoreline bass fishing. Largemouths and smallmouths will begin spawning in the shallows of lakes and ponds across the state, making them easy targets for a well-presented lure or fly. On the best of days any adequate angler should be able to raise a fish on every cast. In fact, bass are so dependable that I rarely go armed with more than three or four lures and, truth be told, I often can fish all day without changing offerings. When weeds are scarce I like a 3-inch Rebel or Rapala silver minnow, and my trusty Mr. Twister Teeny in yellow or black comes in a close second. When weeds are thick I’ll switch to a 6-inch rubber worm with the hook buried in the soft plastic to avoid snags. For river fishing I like a ¼ oz. gold Mepps spinner (with or without bucktail dressing). Any lure that is small, flashy and mobile will attract bass, so there’s really no wrong lure choice. Throw something out there and you will get a response.
Bass are easy to find and catch in June and into July. Wade or drift along shore and cast to anything that could possibly be construed as a hiding place – logs, rocks, stick-ups, overhanging branches, etc. If there’s a bass nearby you’ll know it in short order!