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Into The Outdoors: Dog Days of August

Here’s a little tidbit to get things started this week. We all know about cicadas, often mistakenly referred to as locusts. Every seventeen years, we are bombarded by swarms of them. Our last round was in 2019. The fact is that some emerge each year, although not in such vast numbers. In the photo, right, my son, Ray, caught a cicada emerging from its shell at the Brady’s Bend access.

As we all know, we are almost into the “dog days” of August. There are lots of explanations for the origin of the term, but here are two of the most common. One is the belief that dogs have a greater tendency to “go mad,” or contract rabies during August. The other is that a dog, for whatever reason, becomes more amorous at this time. While these stories are quaint, they have no basis in fact and are, when you come right down to it, ridiculous.

There is a lot of dog days folklore regarding water, and most of it is bad. Many people in my age group can remember the horror of polio season, which came around in late summer, before the development of the Salk vaccine. Many people, including my mother, believed that polio might be spread by the foamy scum that is common in rivers and creeks during this time of year. Special fear was directed at mosquitoes and other bugs which hatch in water.

There were, and still are, many myths surrounding fishing in August. Many people still believe to this day that pike, muskies and walleyes lose their teeth during August, and that other fish just quit eating. Of course, none of this is true. The fact of the matter is that fish neither lose their teeth nor quit eating during August. They just change their habits a bit, so the angler, in order to be successful, must do likewise.

As the summer wanes (and it’s waning fast) a lot of us are looking for a couple of more warm weather family outings before fall sets in. State parks, within easy driving distance, can provide fun, enjoyment and even education at little or no cost.

Cook Forest and the area surrounding it can make for a great multi-activity day. There are lots of well-marked trails criscrossing the park. Some are gentle, while others are rugged, offering something for everyone, from the novice to the veteran hiker. There are lots of opportunities for bicycling, canoeing and horseback riding as well.

Pymatuning State Park in Pennsylvania and Ohio is one of my all-time favorite places. In fact, my late wife, Barb, and I used to go there once or twice each year. There’s just so much to see and do there. The Game Commission and Fish and Boat Commission both operate exhibits there, and the Linesville Spillway is famous for the vast numbers of carp which gather there. Lots of little stands close by sell old bread to feed to the fish. It’s said that the ducks walk on the fishes’ backs. Actually, it’s always looked to me as though they were swimming on their own, but it’s still an intriguing thought. Pymatuning is also a major stopover for many species of waterfowl and other migratory birds. There’s something for the entire family to enjoy.

Over the years, I’ve referred a lot to Moraine State Park, regarding the great fishing to be found in Lake Arthur. There are a lot of other things to do there, too. You can hike, bike and seize upon some really great photographic opportunities.


Chris Henderson email:

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