I took a walk through the woods last Thursday looking for some mushrooms. I did find some more pheasants, but that was about all. Some were larger, so I gathered them. There were no small spears of asparagus, but I did harvest some nice small dandelions. I placed these in a plastic bag for a salad that night.
The early morels are very late, probably because of the cold weather. It sure couldn’t be the lack of moisture. I have always kept a log on how several seasons produced my favorite outdoor culinary delights. This year has me baffled, as it doesn’t match up with other years. Maybe we will not have any early morels. I can’t say anything on asparagus.
River fishing has been terrible, which is also a mystery. In the past, the month of April was also very good for trolling for spawned-out sauger. The rivers have been so high that trolling is out of the question. Current has to be just right to make lures run right and the fish to see properly. Both the Fox and Illinois rivers have had cold-stained waters, which always made early fishing very poor. This weather pattern has hurt all anglers, including the local tournaments. Scores have been very low.
I did see fresh turkey and deer tracks that had me wondering what had attracted both to the same spot. I finally got my answer, as I saw plump persimmons clinging to the otherwise barren tree branches. I then shook the tree, and about a dozen golf-ball size fruits fell. I stuffed them in a backpack and kept moving.
I didn’t find any other edibles on about a two-mile walk, so I gave up. I spend a lot of time hunting waterfowl, deer and turkey. It doesn’t matter what I am hunting. I am always on the lookout for wild edibles that inhabit the lands I am allowed to hunt on.
I also always keep my eyes peeled on what the wild animals are feeding on. This is also a good tip, as I have found watercress and dandelions that have been fed on. Some creeks have some early minnows and shad that are excellent for bait.
Stick to the cooling lakes. Search for 60-degree water temps. Some very nice catfish have been caught at La Salle on the warm side close to shore. With low air conditioning use, most cooling lakes are still cool as well.
Farm ponds with clear water have been good for bluegills, but they are small.
Pray for warmer temperatures and less rain. Those two elements can and will improve fishing on all bodies of water.
Try to stay warm by dressing accordingly, and above all stay dry.
Hope everyone had a happy Easter holiday. Probably will see some of you out in the woods when air temps rise, as I will still be looking for outdoor edibles.
Hope I have a few more years to do this.
• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.