2016: Two Thousand Sixteen or Twenty-Sixteen; no matter how you say it, we have arrived at yet another year. Keep in mind that the kids entering high school this upcoming fall were born after Y2K! They don’t know what it is to actually be physically connected to a phone…in fact I am guessing that most if not all of them actually have their own phone? I am not sure where you are on the phone-timeline…as a kid I can remember listening to any one of a few neighbors as we were on a party line, oh-and we all had a rotary phone. Sadly, you can now find rotary phones in a good many museums.
This is also the time of year when we sit down and write our New Year’s Resolutions; I have to admit that I am not much of a resolution person. Frankly I believe quite strongly in living each day like I need to make the most of it. But…this year I have one resolution that I intend to keep. I want to simplify things and focus intently on the things that I really enjoy. You might guess that my list of things will include nature; within the category will be fly fishing, hunting, camping, hiking and animal watching. Resolutions are only as good as their intentions. For me I have arrived at point in my life whereby I get more joy and satisfaction from these many ‘gifts’ God has given me.
So…let’s take a stroll through a few upcoming events of 2016. First, we are now in winter and will be for another 80 days or so…so, why not enjoy it. This is an El Nino winter, which probably means it is going to be warmer with less precipitation; sounds like a recipe for a lot of outdoor activity. There is no better time than right now to start exercising…I know many of you go to gyms, etc…but why not give the outdoors a try. Specifically we have one of the very best State Parks right here in our backyard. McCormick’s Creek State Park sits only a few miles west of Bloomington/Ellettsville and offers so much. By a 16’ park pass and make a plan to walk the trails or even stroll carefully along the many miles of blacktop that winds its way through one of the most beautiful spots in the Midwest.
April offers a couple of exciting possibilities; right off the bat, April 1st is trout season here in southern Indiana. Two lakes, Airline (Greene-Sullivan) and Midland (Hillenbrand) offer a chance to fish for and catch a rainbow trout. OK, so this isn’t Montana…but it is a lot of fun. Each year I take my float tube and cruise around landing (and even keeping a few) trout. When you buy your hunting/fishing licenses this year, pick up an $11 trout/salmon stamp, it will allow you to not only fish, but to keep a limit of five trout. Next up is the annual turkey season that will begin on Wednesday, April 27 and run through May 15. Let me back up…the youth season starts the whole thing off on Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24; find a youngster and give them a chance to experience a spring gobbler…all while getting some good scouting in for yourself. Either way, don’t miss a chance to horn in on the spring dance of a few eastern turkeys!
When May rolls around the smallmouth fishing begins to heat up; actually from early May through July you can find some great smallie fishing in a bunch of locations. Let me throw out a plug for my favorite Indiana stream…Sugar Creek. If you are looking for a big river, big fish type of stream, then Sugar Creek is just such a place. If you are looking for a smaller, easier to wade type of stream…once again Sugar Creek is the place. How you might ask? Location, location, location! The upper parts of Sugar Creek (north and east of Crawfordsville) are smaller and easier to walk/wade; go south and west of Crawfordsville and the ‘creek’ picks up more water and can be a true western river adventure. If you are looking for a place to kayak or canoe, then the ‘creek’ is as good as it gets in Indiana. There are multiple access points from Crawfordsville all the way to its confluence at the Wabash River. At Clements Canoe’s, you can rent a kayak or canoe…and get a lift to your put in spot as well.
Summer in the Hoosier state just reeks of being outdoors. Obviously I’m a fishermen and you really need to experience Greene-Sullivan State Forest to understand how lucky we are to have this incredible resource in our own backyard. There are literally hundreds of lakes just waiting to be fished…but fishing isn’t all as there are miles of hiking trails and when combined with some awesome campgrounds…well, you just need to experience it! Once again maps and info can be obtained online or by stopping by the GSSF office on highway 159 just south of Dugger.
Indiana might just be defined by autumn; there are festivals by the dozens, most revolve around our Fall Foliage. If you are a person not in favor of the crowds (I hear you), try one of our many state forests. Locally we have Owen-Putnam State Forest (812-829-2462) or my favorite, Morgan-Monroe State Forest (765-342-4026). If an afternoon of foliage without the crowds is what you are after…make your way north of Bloomington and take in all MMSF has to offer from fishing, boating, hiking, hunting, picnicking or just sitting on a blanket. Looking for a cheap weekend away, then try Cherry Lake Lodge, located on the 4 acre Cherry Lake; it sleeps up to 6 comfortably and has a kitchen for your cooking needs. You can reserve the lodge by calling the number listed above for MMSF or by emailing at email@example.com.
So, there you are…an entire year of outdoor activities just waiting for you! As they say on MNF, “Come On Man”; Indiana’s outdoor riches are literally calling your name. Grab a 2016 calendar, take a few minutes and mark a list of ‘To-do’s—outdoor activities that you and your family can participate in together. When you do…you will Enjoy the Great Outdoors.