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Monday, April 1, 2013
Baseball fans were celebrating the season opener on Monday.
While Virginia doesn't have an official fishing season opener, the recent mild weather after the chilly March makes it seem like fishing season is finally here.
"We had this big orange ball show up in the sky today," said John Zienius, who own's Big Z's tackle shop in Radford. "We finally figured out that it was the sun."
It hasn't been quite that bad.
Well, maybe it has.
Last March brought freakishly warm weather, but this past March was the opposite extreme.
Weather was cloudy, cold, windy and, often, wet.
"When the mean temperature is 20 degrees lower than it was a year ago," Zienius, said, "that doesn't do much good for fishing."
It's not that fish won't bite.
In fact, anglers who have braved the tough conditions have been enjoying some decent action.
At Claytor and Smith Mountain lakes, for example, bass tournaments are featuring pretty good weights.
Muskie action has been pretty steady on the New River, especially for bait fishermen.
And, of course, stocked trout streams are producing steady catches.
But when the weather is brisk, plenty of folks opt out.
"A lot of my loafers are pretty long in the tooth," Zienius said with a chuckle. "When it's windy and cold and overcast, they're just not going to go out and fish in the stuff."
That's a bummer for folks who make a living, or part of a living, in the fishing business.
At Rock House Marina at Claytor Lake, owner Mike Burchett said his tackle business was off by half over the first three months of 2012.
Admittedly, part of the boost last winter came from demand for Alabama Rigs, which had just burst into angler consciousness.
Monday, Burchett said he was looking at his tackle displays and seeing Alabama Rigs that were there at the first of the year.
"I should have been reordering in January," he said.
Biting cold wasn't the only culprit.
The worst impact on fishing at Claytor Lake, Burchett said, was this winter's flood event.
"When that flood came in, the lake got 4 feet [over full pond], it turned orange and it got cold," said Burchett, noting that fishing had been excellent in December and early January before the high water conditions.
With spring finally creeping in, albeit slowly, things are looking up.
"I have probably 10 to 11 trucks out in my parking lot today, and that's pretty good for a Monday," Burchett said. "It's starting to pick up."
Zienius is also looking at the positives.
Ample moisture this winter should pay off throughout the year, helping to keep streams and lakes at healthy levels.
"It's going to be a good year," he said.
No doubt, after the chilly way it has started it seems things can only get better.
Snowshoes extends season, again
Begging apparently worked.
Snowshoe Resort has announced it will remain open for skiing through Sunday.
It's the mountain's second extension and comes after many skiers and snowboarders urged the resort, through avenues such as Facebook, to stay open longer so they could take advantage of epic late-season snow conditions.
The resort's snowfall this season has been 187 inches, which is about on par with the long-term average.
But much of that snow came in the last month. The past week brought 11 additional inches.
With the recent relatively warm weather, snow conditions are being reported as loose granular.
The weather is supposed to cool down again by the weekend, but probably won't get cold enough to threaten Sunday's Last Hurrah celebration, which includes a beach wear contest and the resort's annual pond skim competition.
Visit www.snowshoemtn.com for the latest.
Local archers shine
Several Roanoke archers took home prizes at the recent National Archery in the Schools state tournament.
Stefan Knott of Burnt Chimney Elementary was first in the fourth grade boys division, while Patric Shelton of Northside won the fifth grade boys contest.
In the Middle School division, Northside's Jasmine Bolen was the winner with a score of 289, the highest of any middle schooler, boy or girl. Teammate Elizabeth Meise was third with 274.
Evan Kosko of Hidden Valley won the High School division, scoring 282. Irene Jenkins of Northside shot 280 for third on the girls side.
Weather JournalEarly mix, then ice storm Sunday