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Feeling ‘normal’ while fishing on Shenango

You hear it often, in conversations with friends, neighbors, co-workers and even those we encounter as we go about our daily lives.

“I just want things to get back to normal.”

What a summer we are living. In normal times, I’d be looking forward to another Canfield Fair. I’d be checking the schedule to catch a couple of Cleveland Indians games down the stretch run to the playoffs. You and me and most everyone else would be looking ahead to kickoffs on high school gridirons, Ohio State’s Horseshoe, and the stadiums of the Browns and Steelers.

But, sadly, it’s not a normal summer — with at least one important exception. I am pleased to report that fishing has provided many of us with “normal” fun and entertainment this spring and summer.

Fishing puts us on the water where the coronavirus and other worldly worries can be cast aside for a few hours. The walleyes, crappies, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, catfish, muskies and perch continue to oblige for those who know a thing or two about getting the right bait into the right situation.

I haven’t dined in a restaurant since March, but I hook up the BassCat and tow to a favorite lake twice a week or more.

I am twitchy about going into crowded stores, but have no qualms about launching at local boat ramps.

Fishing continues to provide the comfort of social distance with the thrill of incomparable benefits like the strike, the fight and the release.

Tuesday was the perfect example of how completely normal my fishing summer has been.

The sun was just cresting the eastern tree line at Shenango Reservoir as I dipped the trailer to launch the boat. The temperature was in that wonderful range between cool and warm where a single layer of fabric was utterly comfortable.

To make things even better, my second cast of the morning produced a spunky smallmouth bass that jumped twice and bulldogged for the depths every time I pulled it boatside.

Ten minutes later, at a spot where the morning breeze was pushing across a sandy point, a wolfpack of smallmouth bass had penned a large school of shad against the shoreline. They also liked the popper I tossed into the mayhem. I landed two, including a fine 18-incher, and watched in amusement as several others slashed at the bait and missed.

As the morning advanced and the sun climbed the sky, I ventured over to a shoreline littered with tree trunks and stumps. Experience hinted that the largemouths would be hunkered next to the soaked wood — and they were totally committed to eating the soft plastic beavertail bait I flipped into their midst.

I’d promised myself the day would be short, so I packed the rods away and stowed the trolling motor for the sprint back to the boat ramp. My total was three smallies and seven fat largemouths.

It had been another normal summer day on Shenango, with just the right amount of action to be fun and not so much that I was spoiled for the next visit.

Wollitz is a writer and angler who loves the lakes and rivers of Ohio and western Pennsylvania. He also appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to Jack at jackbbaass@gmail.com.

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