Rites of Spring
Ice-out. Mud season. Running sap. Spring migration. Change of season. Winter to spring. It happens every March. The woodcock show up in the bare spots around the field edges. Their courtship flights fill the evening and dawn with the songs of bird love.
April 1 in Maine is open water season, which for most of the state is still too early to float any craft to fish from and where you can fish, often the water is really too cold to produce much action. It changes quickly though. Ice melts, stream flows increase, smelt run to spawn and the predatory salmon and trout follow. Once the water temperatures approach upper 40’s things really heat up, so to speak, and the fish bite well.
By now the woodcock have paired and nested and most of the snow has melted in the woods. The progression continues however as the smallmouth move to shallow water to nest and the warbler migration takes over the wooded islands in the lake. If you stop casting for a minute on the lee shore of the lake you will hear them…everywhere… just back from their winter home in South America. It’s spectacular.
The bright green hues from the maples, ash, birch and beech are a contrast against the darker greens of the hemlock, balsam fir, pines, and spruce on the hillsides.
With the change of season come a sense of renewal and reawakening of ourselves. It’s time to fish. Get outside and cast a fly, spend time with family and friends and re-live memories from last year. Keep your fingers crossed for a good nesting season for the woodcock and keep your cats indoors.