Trout and turkey – theportonline

For Keystone State’s outdoor community, the two go together like peanut butter and jelly, ice cream and cake, or gin and tonic.

We are talking about trout and turkey, a combination inaugurated by the month of May. And while trout anglers can keep busy casting their lines in freshly stocked streams or participating in ongoing trout rodeos, gobbler hunters will be talking turkey in the great woods of Pennsylvania. But for traditionalists who want to make the most of their time outdoors, turkey hunting will be on the morning menu while trout fishing will occupy the afternoon agenda, especially during the first half of the season when legal turkey hunting hours end at noon.

In fact, this year’s spring gobbler season kicked off last Saturday (April 23) with a one-day hunt for supervised junior and youth hunters. The main event opens this Saturday, April 30 and runs until Tuesday, May 31, for everyone else a legion of turkey hunting enthusiasts number over 150,000.

Hunting hours begin half an hour before sunrise and end at noon during the first two weeks of the season statewide (April 30 to May 14). Hunters are asked to be out of the woods by 1 p.m. This is to minimize disturbance to nesting hens. From May 16 to May 31, hunting hours are from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset. The all-day season offers more opportunities at the time of the season when hunting pressure is lower and laying hens are less likely to abandon nests.

And according to the folks at the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), incredible opportunities await audiences this year. In fact, PGC turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena reported that the statewide flock — still among the largest in the East — is likely larger right now than at any time during the of recent years. She attributed the increase to a number of factors.

First, 2021 recruitment – ​​or the influx of new turkeys into the population – has been very good, thanks to hot, dry weather last spring and, in places, plenty of cicadas to eat. Survey work revealed 3.1 poults per hen, on average, statewide.

“It was our highest ratio since we started monitoring recruitment,” Casalena said.

A smaller-than-usual 2021 spring crop and shorter fall turkey seasons in some Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), coupled with a statewide elimination of guns for hunting to fall turkey, also surely stimulated the herds.

“That should translate to a lot of fiery jakes across the landscape,” Casalena said. “Hunters should also find a higher than normal percentage of 3-year-old turkeys. So, there is certainly something to be optimistic about again this year. »

These birds will not necessarily be easy to harvest; neither jakes nor older birds are typically as vocal as 2-year-olds, she added. But hunters can increase their chances of getting tangled up with a tom turkey by preparing before opening day.

Casalena recommends scouting, looking for real birds, for signs of turkeys such as droppings, feathers, scratches, and tracks, or at least places where turkeys might be, such as nearby, easily accessible openings. from lounging areas where gobblers prefer to strut.

Of course, the secret to catching one of these big bronze birds is the call.

“The most important call is the yelp of the hen,” Casalena said. “The hunter wants to imitate a hen to attract the gobbler to come within reach. After that it’s about practicing and learning other calls like the different cackles and purrs and understanding when to use them. Friction calls have excellent sound and pitch, while mouth calls are the most practical, especially when standing still is important.

None of this guarantees success, of course. About 15 percent of hunters harvested a gobbler last spring. About 18% of the near-record 25,210 people who bought a special spring turkey license, or second gobbler label, took a second one. These numbers are comparable to long-term averages.

But the only hunters to complete their tags are those who go out and hunt. So this spring, visit turkey country and see what happens.

“There’s never a bad time to be in the woods, especially when getting out offers the chance to go up against one of our incredible but unpredictable gobblers,” Casalena said.

While turkey hunters looking for a good chance to score on a spring gobbler are best served by heading upstate to their large hunting camps in the woods, there are a few scattered flocks more close to home, including a few birds roaming the woods not far from my Northbrook farm. While fall turkey hunting is prohibited here in our neck of Penn’s Woods, spring gobbler hunting is still permitted, but given the patchwork of private and posted properties where these turkeys reside, most of the time, gobbler hunting here becomes problematic and inconvenient.

TROUT RODEO. Folks more inclined to catch trout than hunt turkey on Saturday might want to catch the Trout Rodeo scheduled for Saturday, April 30 from 8 a.m. to noon at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square. Sponsored by the Kennett Area Park Authority (KAPA) in conjunction with the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, this event has been a popular fishing attraction for hundreds of anglers and spectators for over 25 years. Tickets are $20 for adults ($15 if purchased in advance) and $5 for children under 16. Check their website at https://www.ansonbnixonpark.org/troutrodeo/ for more information.

**** TROUT SEEDING THIS WEEK. The following area waterways are expected to receive batches of fresh trout from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission this week:

Berks County: Perkiomen Creek (4/23), Swabia Creek (4/29), Tulpehocken Creek (4/28).

Chester County: Beaver Creek (4/27), Buck Run (4/27), French Creek (4/26), West Branch Brandywine Creek (4/27).

Delaware County: Chester Creek (4/27), Ridley Creek (4/27).

Montgomery County: Deep Dam Creek (4/23), Perkiomen Creek (4/23), Skippack Creek (4/26).

Tom Tatum is the outside columnist for the MediaNews group. You can reach him at [email protected]

Sharon P. Juarez