Trout or turkey its up to you

Although things are much earlier this year than with previous springs, as soon as the warm weather hits sportsmen (& women) generally fall into two categories.

1) Trout



2) Or turkey



Which one is it for you?

Send me your spring plans and I may feature you in next Thursday’s Outdoors Column. There’s no money involved, though, in case you’re wondering…


(For those who are angry I didn’t mention walleye, bass, shed antler hunting, QC bear hunting, bullheads or spring muskrats..I do apologize)

79 thoughts on “Trout or turkey its up to you”

  1. there won’t be a rainbow trout season if the fish keep going The will be up and back out to the lake before it starts . Over 1000 fish in a single day passed by the Ganaraska fishway in Port Hope. So far this year we are at 1784 that was at 12am so we will probably see another 1000 fish day.. in my 33 years of being a volunteer at the fish way i have never seen it this early and can never ever remember breaking the 1000 fish per day

    1. Chessy, I guess the unprecidented sap run in Feb was an indication this year would break some certainly helps the springtime fuel oil bill though…

      So an early steelhead run and a huge run too..guess this global warming isnt as bad as the enviro’s would have you beleive.


  2. Do we have to choose? Was warm enough last night to keep the windows open and was woken by the clucking and calling of the turkeys in the yard and certainly can put more fish in the fridge too.

  3. I’m hoping to do both this spring, and earlier than most springs too.
    The ice at the cottage is all grey and looks like it could be out in a week,
    I doubt it’ll happen but it’ll be interesting

    1. Iggy, if the ice does go out before April you’ll have to let us know..back home in the Laurentians which is about the same latitude as your cottage, the earliest I can remember was April 7..a March ice-out would be something for the record books I’d think.

      Of course that being said..early ice out is NOT great for the trout season but what can you do.


      1. Took to my daughter out to look for sheds yesterday afternoon..never imagined that 90% of the snow would be gone by March 17th…weird.

        Of course, we came up flat after scouring the back fields and forests. I’m looking for the nice 8-point sheds from the three-year old ‘lame’ buck which had to be put down a couple of weeks back. His little fawn sidekick never lost a beat though, as he’s now teamed-up with a big, strong 4 year old buck for guidance. Of course, come’ll be like they don’t even know each other…hehe


  4. I’m going to have to go with turkwy hunting if atall possible, me and my dad always plan on going the past couple years life awlays seems to get pretty hectic right before the season,but I’ve got a good feeling this year me and him will get a good run at some gobblers. (Fingers crossed)

    1. Savage Joe, here’s to hoping you make it out with yer Dad this spring! Seems to be a decent amount of birds out this, I can hear gobbling in behind my place every morning.


  5. Unfortunately, there are no trout in our lake. We will be hoping to get some pickeral though. We’ve got some new lures to try out.

    Maybe some day I will take the turkey course. It sounds like fun.

    We will be doing some shed hunting and investigating our dear trails in the coming weeks We will be looking for new spots to put our trail cam in the summer months. The deer don’t come to our winter spot once the snow melts and they find alternatives to the cedar branches we cut down for them.

    1. Hunting Mom, it sounds like you are a very dedicated hunter and conservationist…you can always tell the really committed ones by the work/preparation they do in the off-season.


  6. yes Thomey farms got half a crop.. he thought he was going to run out of wood (which is a good thing ) but it just dried up .. the trees will be in bud soon…. my buddie who has a apple orchard the trees are almost ready to pop . he just bought to huge air movers to move the air so frost will not hit trees… expensive but worth the money he says

    1. Chessy, this early spring could cause some serious damage to those apple orchards I would think..let’s home Mother Nature doesn’t have any tricks up her sleeve!


  7. it’s also almost time to pick the wild garlic ( in Ontario). a few weeks earlier than usual. love to pick and jar them. Delicious!

    1. Alain, I’m with you there on the wild garlic buddy!

      OK, I promise never to ask where your secret spot is located, as long as you never ask where mine is..hehe..I think wild garlic picking is even more secretive than a good fishing spot!


    2. Another neat thing about this time of year is the breeding ritual of the American Woodcock..or Timber doodle! My daughter and I were out on the deck last night listening the them.

      Every spring, we hear the characteristic ‘peeent’ call and fluttering wings coming from the back fields. I’ve never been close enough to actually see the Woodcocks during this ritual, but the sound is awesome. There are some neat youtube vids on Woodcock mating ritual..boy, the males’ really go crazy at this time of year.

      Soon the grouse will be drumming too…man, you gotta love spring!


  8. Well, since you put my picture up, I’m going to have to go with the turkeys.
    Might get one more boil this weekend, but I think its done. We collected quite
    a bit last weekend.

    1. Imacdon, I knew posting that pic would bring you out of the sugar shack!

      Seems any syrup made over the last week or so is amber, but still very tasty..and really, who cares about colour right? It makes great taffy.

      Funny to think that most good quality, clear and extra clear, maple syrup came in Feb this year!


  9. how olds the daughter Jeff, you got the birds down now when do you tackle the bees…..

    1. Chess, my youngest is only 10..still another 10 years or so before the bees come into play..

      You’ll have to teach me your boyfriend ‘water-boarding’ techniques!


  10. Well I just bought a new tom decoy and mouth calls at Gander mountain in PA so I’m all set for the turkeys, but I will admit that I seriously need to get back to fishing! I do love being out in the boat or fishing from shore. Very fond memories. My Dad used to always fish that opening weekend. He loved it.

    In April, I’ll finally get my 1st ATV so I am definitely looking forward to spending some time booting around in that!
    Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself at some lake shore fishing in the spring! (yes, a boat is next 🙂 lol

    1. Hey Keebler, sounds like 2012 could be another ‘Year of Keebler’…man, when does it end..hehe

      Here’s your chance to brag about the new bike..come on, let ‘er rip!

      Lemme guess, you picked up a 1986 Honda Big Red 3-wheeler, am I right…LOL


  11. why is an early ice out not good for trout, doesn’t that just mean an early start to fishing, their breeding is done in the fall I thought.
    Our cottage is surrounded by wild garlic, and Quebec MNR cops, but we still manage to get our fair share hehe
    I’ll be up at the cottage quite a bit in the next while so I’ll watch for ice out and see if I can get a picture, it’s a really neat sound too when it crackles and finally disolves

    1. Iggy, its just that ice-out ties in closely with water temperature at this time of year. The earlier the ice is gone in the spring, the warmer the water is come fishing season.

      I’ve been monitoring lake surface temps up north for years and in my experience high 50’s is the best. In those years when the ice left early and surface temps were moving into the high 60’s by opening day, the bite was not as active.

      By the same token, surface temp immediately after ice-out when less than 50 degrees isnt good either; as is still before spring turn-over when the surface water sinks and mixes. After about 55 degrees, it has stablized from turn-over and water column is stratified…things begin to heat up again to speak.

      Its not an exact science just an observation(well some is science actually)..and keep in mind, an early spring means an early bug season too..ugghh.

      Watch out for those QC garlic cops Iggs..they use to fine people $10 for every garlic bulb you had over your limit..not sure if that’s still the case.


  12. ah you see I was confused because opening day for trout in Ontario I believe is Jan1 when the water temp is ice cold, and it stays open till the fall, so as soon as the surface turns in the high 50’s us people that call Canada (oops) home can go trout fishing while you sit at home waiting

    I am vewy vewy cewful of the Garlic Cops

    1. Iggy, didn’t you know that QC brook trout spawn in the spring instead of the fall like other places…its something to do with being distinct…hehe


      1. Hey fishr or Maple, you guys out there?

        What will this unseasonably warm weather do to our trout fishing come May?

        Any thoughts??


  13. hopefully turkey hunting if everything goes better this year and mudpout fishing fer sure! went out shed hunting this weekend but found nothing, grouse were drumming all day sunday up in lanark. had to put in all wheel drive to get into cabin friday night but was fine sunday. as far as syrop i always prefered the darker stuff than the light. also swatted three mosquitos sunday blackflies wont be far now!!!

    1. Hey….stay away from my spot, Alain..hehe

      So, when do you figure we can start picking? I know the last couple of years the best wild garlic picking was the first two weeks of May, then by end of May the plants were already shrivelled-up and dieing.

      At this rate we’ll be out looking in April!

      P.S. I tried transplanting a bunch of roots on my property a couple a years back, but they never came up. Thing about these wild garlic/leeks, they require very specific soil and habitat to grow properly. As you’ve properly discovered, a good stand of mature hardwoods is usually the best.

  14. Another neat thing about this time of year with birds. Luv the sound of the red cardinals perched on the highest branch of the tree screeming cheeeeer, cheeeeer, cheeeeeer. struting their stuff for the closest female cardinal… hehehehe!

    1. Yeah, we have the cardinals at our place too..they wake Mrs Outdoorsguy every morning…hehe

      My daughter and I were out in the back last night doing some Woodcock watching. For the first time EVER..we actually saw them flying around in the mating ritual. It was awesome!

      The male would do his ‘peeeent’ call and then I think it was the female flying in a big circles around him making a fluttering/clicking sound. Neat stuff!


  15. I’ll be going to take a look at your spot this Friday jeff (hehehe!). I find that it’s usually around the same time as the bulbs start sprouting in my yard… and they started. My spot faces dues south…so there has not been any snow now for over a week.

  16. I am dreading the early spring, last time it happened I think two years back the fishing for all species was horrendous. We were in the Temiskiming forest for our spring trip and it was hotter than stink in early May, trout were definately not on there either. The fish were just not in the normal spots at my lake, or at least not biting anything with any regularity until late September. I didn’t see a wallie all summer and it was similar everywhere from what I heard from others. I had a dozen leeches that died of old age, while other years my record was 3 fish to a leech.
    It will however be good if the ice goes out without wind, last year there was a lot of damage with high water and ice movement but should be good this year. Have’nt tried turkey hunting but a buddy does well on my place so I reap the benefits of turkey breast!
    When you talk about wild garlic, is that different than wild leeks?

    1. Johan, I know the spring you’re thinking was a bad trout year for us as well. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen again!

      Regarding wild garlic, yes they are also called Wild Leeks – mostly by people who’ve lived in ON their whole life from what I’ve noticed. People from QC tend to call them Wild Garlic, and people from the UK call them Ramps.

      Whatever name they go by, they’re nature’s most perfect food in my books!

      Mmmmm, turkey breast…..


  17. Our Moose Camp work weekend is usually the first w/e in May. We do this to avoid the black flies …we might just have to move it up a week or two if the weather stays the same. We ussually take time for some trout fishing on Kukagami lake road. Can’t wait!

  18. Good one Jeff, Can’t name the lake as per our hunt camp’s Oath of Secrecy! hehehehe!

    1. I hear ya there, we have lakes like that too. We call them ‘Lac Perdu’.


  19. did you read this column in the Ottawa Sun today
    sounds like farmers
    it’s never hot enough until it gets hot, it’s never wet enough until it gets wet, then it’s too hot and too wet.
    The sky is falling, the sky is falling
    What do birds and other animals usually do after the mosquitoes dry up?
    Just sayin

    An early spring could also mean an early end to bug season.

    Record breaking temperatures are waking nature from a deep winter slumber, with plants, animals and bugs springing to life early, but almost too soon.

    “Right now a lot of things are extremely early,” said Michael Runtz, biology professor at Carleton University.

    “Birds are returning earlier than usual, flowers are in bloom already, and some trees are in flower.’

    Runtz said trees are budding roughly a month ahead of time, and some animals are coming out of hibernation a few weeks early.

    Along with plants and animals, mosquitoes are making an early appearance this year as well.

    Runtz said that adult female mosquitoes are already out and active but if the warm weather persists, they could meet an untimely end.

    “Mosquitoes depend on little temporary spots to lay their eggs, like ponds that dry up in summer,” he said.

    This year, the quick thaw and dry heat means fewer damp spots for mosquitoes to breed. Cool air and moisture are needed for these damp places to form, but if the heat stays, these temporary ponds will dry up too soon.

    “For the rest of the season it’s going to depend on how much rain we get,” said Antoine Morin, biology professor at the University of Ottawa.

    “We had a mild winter with very little snow, so the ground is already dry. And the little puddles where mosquitoes lay their eggs are drying up.”

    Before anyone can rejoice with the thought of fewer mosquitoes, a lack of bugs will have a serious impact on animals higher up in the food chain, like birds who feed their young with these pesky creatures.

    Runtz said that many birds are also breeding sooner this year, and as such, their young will hatch early.

    If there is not enough food for them, they could also die.

    Morin agreed.

    “If we have a delay or an early season, it could upset the growth and needs for raising their young,” he said.

    Morin said it’s too soon to tell how this early spring will affect bug and animal life but a cold spell for a few weeks could reset nature.

    According to the forecast, this heat wave should end by Friday, and temperatures should get back to averages closer to normal for this year.

    However, nature’s cycle is already kick-started, and what happens next remains a mystery.

    “Only time will tell,” said Runtz.

    “It’s like one big experiment going on right now.”

    Twitter: @marlocameron

    1. Hey…that guy Michael Runtz was one of my Prof’s in University..he’s a smart guy and I beleive everything he says.

      He’s done a lot of research on moose in Algonquin Park actually.


  20. I am going over the past charts from the fish way we usually put our counter in last week march first week april… we have already put 4395 fish over the dam. at this rate the expected 5500 to 6000 fish will be up and back to lake ontario by the time trout opens here on the 4th saturday in April

    1. At that rate Chess, the only thing you’ll be catching on opening day are sheepheads..hehe

      Guess this is a fist, eh?


  21. Well Jeff it is a first, from reading the “climate Ready” prepared by the government this abnormal spring will be normal in about 25 years so the government need to do alot of thinking on open season ect due to economy and fishing pressure, as much as i hate to say it is not good for all the rainbows to make it up stream and back out to the lake as we need to take out some and replenish it with others (circle of life) and in the town of port hopes we will not see the Thousands of people come to the river for the weekend and spend money here because there will be no fish. This sort of situation will be happening all over ontario this year, and it may not happen again for a few years but it will happen with the frequency repeating itself fast and faster … hopefully the government gets on this climate ready quickly There is the lesson for the day… and remember folks you heard it here first at the outdoor guys blog …..

    1. Yup..straight from the mouth of the world’s best Research Assistant!!


      1. yeah Chessy, but you do sort of get paid. I always rig it so you win my trivia contests every year..opps, was that out loud?


    1. Hey Chessy, btw I checked out that steelhead vid you sent….awesome! What is that high def??

      I love the angle it was taken from too…gives you a full appreciation for these incredible fish.


  22. close Jeff -it’s a yamaha big bear 350 manual shift 4 wheeler. can’t wait to get it.

    and my man, the year of keebler remains for every year as long as I can make it happen.

    funny…the wifey gives me grief about the hunting yet it was she who organized and bought me the atv for my 40th bday! lol It was a total surprise.

    i told her, “Awesome – that means I can do even more hunting b/c i can get deeper into the bush”

    Totally not true as I usually walk wherever I roam, but I wanted to make a point.

    Laugh, she did not 🙂

    1. Hey Keebler, there’s nothing wrong with those bikes. My Dad has a Yam Big Bear 350 that’s almost 20 years old and runs as well today as it did 20 years ago. He’s had an issue with squeky breaks but nothing serious. His model had this ‘floating disk’ break system..think they fazed that out years ago.

      Man, all I got from Mrs Outdoorsguy for my 40th was a Tag Heuer..


    1. Dont worry Iggs, there was no trivia contest cheating with Chess..and if I recall you’ve won a couple of times also..hehe


  23. Today I spent with the farmer and in his woods that I normally hunt. In the morning I was sent on ‘porcupine patrol’, keeping track of those pesky vermints that can kill a maple tree or hemlock in minutes. I’m happy to report that none were encountered, this time. With only an odd bit of ice in the bush, the ground is still very frozen in the shade.

    There were plenty of toads a-fooot, turkeys, grouse drumming, pairs of geese establishing territory, the sap was running, and one deer snorted me off, spring peepers all in song. Although there were drake mallards in the pond, no stickleback were seen in the creek. Still too early for that. All in all a glorious day afield. I returned to the farmhouse by noon and found some shade under a maple tree that was dripping all over my car. That was OK as it was also filling the buckets.

    I spent the afternoon with the farmer pouring footings for a new barn, which will be of the Dutch timber frame variety. I can’t wait to help with that!

    Being city bound much of the time, this is my country refuge, helping out when I can, and being welcomed to thin out the herd as needed in the fall.

    PS. by the look of the wild leeks in my back yard, they’ll be a while yet. They’re barely out of the ground.

    1. Hey Maple, sounds like a glorious day right out of a Mark Twain novel. Sounds like fun to me!

      Here’s a question for you. Why is it that I’ve heard spring peepers every year now for the past 45 years..and I’ve never see one?? Thing is, my daughter who’s right into nature asked me that question and had no answer for her.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing one of the little buggers sometime.

      Oh yeah, and when you have time, we’ll need an expert opinion on what this warm weather will do to our spring fishing??


  24. keebler, keep walking, it’s better for you and I can tell you from experience that deer associate ATV noise with hunting, 350 Honda for me and it’s great to get around fast, but long before I hunt, I’m off the bike and walking

    1. Iggy, you know there’s a funny connection between ATV noise and wildlife, I wrote a feature on it once for QC’s Sentier Chasse-Peche magazine. The observation by hunters up north, and I’ve seen it myself, is that game isn’t generally spooked by the sound of an ATV. They’ve become so accustomed to it, it hardly seems to fazes them anymore. This is probably more true of moose and bear than it is for whitetails however.

      Bird hunters up north will tell you the can drive right up to a grouse on a 4-wheeler no problem, but as soon as you step off that bike……its gone!

      Now this is not to say that walking isn’t better for you..but I would wager a guess that canoe noise spooks game a lot more than ATV noise.


  25. it was posted to the ganaraska fishway FB page from a person that is a “friend” it was well done.. and for all those out there there was no cheating ( i read alot and i come across stuff like jeffs stuff HINT for next contest : OFTEN THEY PUT JEFFS COLUMN UP ON WED AROUND 730 BEFORE IT GOES TO PRINT THATS HOW I WON 🙁 SO MUCH FOR WINNING NEXT TIME LOL

    1. Dont worry Chess..that comment was just an off-handed joke, and I meant nothing by it. You’ve always been the biggest keener when it came to those contests..and hey, its hard not to win when you send the answers in the middle of the night…maybe you should be getting more sleep..hehe


  26. Thanks Iggy. ATV will be for fun and for getting deep into trails, but I’m a big time walker so no worries there. 🙂

  27. The spring trout season is already way ahead of schedule so it isn’t going to be a “normal” season. Word on the street is that many lakes which are normaly still ice-bound this time of year are now open and warming up quickly. Typically the smaller lakes go ice free first, and the shallow lakes (or those with extensive shallow portions) heat up more quickly than deep ones. This of course affects how deep the trout will be; in shallows, drop-offs, or deeper around structure. So after the lakes turn over, early season fishers should be prepared to go deeper. As usual, blackfly season will be the best time to fish 🙂

    There’s still lots of snow in the bush on the QC side and ice on the lakes, but look out. It won’t last long. By mid-April, who knows.

    As for spring turkey season goes, never cared for it much. Interferes with fishin’.

    1. Thanks Maple..that would be my assessment too.

      Man, I hate when you really have to work for brookies. Its a lot easier when they’re shallow and feeding. Oh well, time to pull out a few ‘trout tricks’ taught to me by my pal Mark Stiffel – VP of Brecks(Williams) tackle. He’s an avid and accomplished trouter who’s been kind enough over the years to share some of his special secrets.

      Mark may even be passing along a new Williams ‘prototype’ spoon for me to test out this spring. (One currently not available on the market.) He did that a few years ago with the (then) new/unreleased Williams Flasher.

      The trout in the above photo was, in fact, featured in the Williams brochure two years ago..caught on the (then) unreleased Williams Flasher by my buddy Bruce. It was Bruce’s biggest spec up till that point measuring a hefty 22.5″

      You can see the Flasher hanging from a snelled hook out of the fish’s mouth!


  28. Well I’ve seen the effects of ATV’s on deer first hand. Grouse on the other hand use their eyes more than their ears to protect themselves and I’ve just about driven over grouse that thought if they didn’t move I wouldn’t see them even though they were standing right in the middle of the road.
    I’ve never hunted moose using ATV’s. This will be my first year, so it should be an experience, I think, and it’s just my theory, any animal that uses hearing more than eyesight, is going to be much more aware of sound. That being said, if the animals are used to hearing ATV’s all summer it may not spook them, but it’ might put them on alert

  29. The mnr should out law the use of atv and only allow them for game retrieval only. since the atv have become so popular the success rate for hunters has increased. When the success rates increase the number of tags decrease . Hunters can’t have their cake and eat it to, use quads with less tags or WALK and get more tags

  30. chessy, I don’t know about hunters having more success b/c of ATVs. We use them for moose hunting to simply get further than with a truck. Given the rare availability of tags of where we hunt, it hasn’t helped us any lol

    If anything, we need to hunt where there aren’t 4 native reserves around – which is effectively screwing our tag availability 🙁

  31. Keebler you said it yourself you simply get farther than with the trucks, thus having more access to more land and more moose

  32. come on chessy, don’t be an old fuddy duddy 🙂
    did they give us less tags when we got better guns and bullets
    or better crossbows
    or better camo
    or better scent removal spray
    or tree stands
    or rubber hunting boots

  33. Chessy, that’s true, but I think the moose are further back b/c of the increased amount of trails etc… Maybe it’s a dual evil.

  34. The problem with ATV’s is that they can tear up smaller trails and make walking on those trails much more difficult.

  35. Get a Rokon, it doesn’t damage trails.

    Can’t wait for Lakes south of Calabogie to open up.

    Going to have to wait for QC trout season to open in late April, just when ON turkey season opens. Choices, choices.

    Still got a confirmed trip to Kenauk (Muskrat Chalet) in early May, with OFS members.

    1. I remember when you bought that Rokon LG, haven’t hurt yourself on that thing yet..hehe

      Enjoy your trip to Kenauk – my fav home away from home. Too bad the surface temp will be well into the 70’s by early May..I’m sure you’ll still catch some trout. And if bass was open, you might catch a couple right off the dock at Muskrat!


    1. Thanks for posting my column today, Chessy. I see you were up at all hours again.

      I promise to have a new Blog Post up by early next week..been extremely busy.


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