Keeping score outside, making it count: Wild asparagus, fish, morels, trout runs

SHARE Keeping score outside, making it count: Wild asparagus, fish, morels, trout runs

Falls and pools on Cherry Run, a tributary of Penns Creek, which defeated yours truly.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

There was no mistaking a wild asparagus plant, bolted, high above a ditch Monday evening. So I stopped to look if any had not bolted.

Somebody was there ahead of me, only stumps remained, except for one thin stalk.

Beaten not once, but twice, by nature and another forager.

Wild asparagus stalks cut by forager who beat yours truly to the spot.<br>Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Wild asparagus stalks cut by forager who beat yours truly to the spot.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

I have a flaw. Family and friends might suggest more than one. I keep score and prefer winning.

Thought of that last week while turkey hunting/trout fishing/visiting with my Dad. He can’t get around much, so he mainly traveled down memory lane with me.

We were in the Central Pennsylvania mountains surrounding Penns Creek, the fabled trout water (top 100 in the country).

My favorite fishing is picking apart a small mountain stream for native brook trout with ultralight tackle. I like the aggressiveness of brookies and the ambiance of the woods and fast-falling waters. The best pools are below a rapids or falls.

By Friday, I had caught brookies from five small streams. Dad wanted to show me another stream he thought I would like, Swift Run, a Penns tributary. He was right. I loved it, falling rapidly between two extreme mountainsides.

I had my first brookie within a few casts. With that, I walked away.

Dad gave me a quizzical look and I said I had my fish. I was saving Swift Run for some day my younger brother and I could have a go at it, maybe in memory of Dad.

My younger brother prefers fly fishing and I pretty much stick with spinning gear, especially since I can out-catch him about 5-1 with spinning gear.

Many think of fishing as a soul cleansing experience. And it is. But, for some of us, it is also a chance to keep score. I can’t count the times I go fishing with somebody and we do some version of a $5 pot for first and/or biggest fish.

One of my favorite fishing days was the only time I out-specied (scoring by species caught) Ken Schneider, a far better fisherman. After a Mayor’s Fishing Advisory Committee meeting, we had an hour and stopped by DuSable Harbor. When I saw the white-edged tails of green sunfish stacked in a corner, I blocked Schneider from casting there and beat him by one species. Felt like a fishing God.

Over the years, I have fished often with Pete Riedesel, a retired teacher and guide. I have never beaten him. But on rare times when I briefly get ahead of him, I point out the score, repeatedly.

Maybe I do have more than one flaw.

So, to all those sending the photos and tales of morel mushrooms by dozens or hundreds, yes, I am keeping track.

CHICAGO RIVER: TODO Interactive and Kayak Chicago host the Chicago River Clean Sweep 2018 from1:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday.

WILD THINGS: Dr. Elizabeth Pector reported 10 warbler species on Saturday. Some birders on IBET had even more than that. It is time. . . . I noticed our lilac bloomed eight days ago. Two days later Ron Wozny sent his photo from the Northwest Side.

STRAY CAST: After the Supreme Court allowing legal sports betting on Monday, it felt like watching food pellets tossed into a fish hatchery.

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