Brief look at ups, downs of 2013

As the end of the year draws near it’s always a good time to reflect on what has occurred over the past 12 months. The look back can be a little tricky, especially because we like to see the more positive occurrences in a brighter light than those on the negative side of the ledger.

This is just human nature, though, so we do the best we can at being honest with ourselves.

First of all, this wintry weather we’ve been experiencing of late brings last winter clearly into focus. After a fairly mild first half of the winter of 2012-13, the dark season picked up steam and hit us hard and long.

The lingering effects of the snow and cold left their mark on two things in particular – the early season trout fishing and deer hunting this fall.

As far as fishing goes, conditions on the ever-so-holy last Saturday in April were not conducive to good fishing, but opening weekend of trout fishing wasn’t all bad.

This can be seen by reading the beginning of my May 3 column:

“As expected, the opening weekend of the trout season featured rivers running high and cold, with nary a fish being caught. In fact, our crew didn’t even get a bite over the weekend, but that was no surprise, either.

“What did come in quite a bit better than expected – especially in light of how the weather was through most of April – was sunny skies and warm temperatures.

“We ignored the fact that we weren’t going to have any fresh fish to eat and simply relaxed for a nice long weekend.”

For deer hunters, the long lasting winter took its toll on the Upper Peninsula deer herd, particularly younger deer.

This lack of 1-year-old bucks was evident this fall, with the deer harvest being down an estimated 25 percent across the peninsula. Next year’s deer seasons will probably be worse, with the lack of young deer making it through last winter compounded by this winter starting early and going full bore. The situation could even worsen two and three years from now.

Moving back to the positive side, the late snows the U.P. received helped alleviate extremely dry conditions. Groundwater supplies were bolstered, the Great Lakes and inland lakes were replenished and streams rose back up to near-normal conditions.

These water-related benefits were enhanced by plenty of rain and cooler temperatures over the summer.

Leaning back the other way, the wet and not so hot and sunny summer wasn’t welcomed by most of us who live in the U.P. Campers, anglers, woods-walkers and others were relegated to enjoying their outdoor pursuits in less than ideal conditions.

However, this changed as one of the most enjoyable events of the summer arrived – the annual Marquette Bay Classic fishing derby sponsored by the South Shore Fishing Association.

This excerpt from a Sept. 13 column sums it up pretty good:

“The morning started out about as beautiful as it could have for a day on Lake Superior. The water was calm with no wind, the temperature was warm and the coolers were full of food, beverages and ice; lots of ice for cooling down any fish we caught.

“Then the signal went off at 6 a.m. sharp and the 2013 version of the Marquette Bay Classic was under way. It didn’t take long for the 54 teams of anglers to fan out in their boats from Marquette’s Upper and Lower harbors.

“A short time later boats starting racing back to the dock to get their early catches tallied for the catch-and-release trout and salmon categories.”

Although team Reel Mission that I was on didn’t get into any prize money with the fish we caught, it was a grand day nonetheless and we look forward to next year’s classic.

Overall fishing wasn’t so hot this past year, but there were a few bright spots, including on the last day of the season.

These excerpts from an Oct. 4 column tell the story:

“Not wanting to close out the season without at least one last meal of brookies, a fishing buddy and I continued our tradition of getting out on the final day of the season. …

“We had high hopes, too, as we always do when venturing out along known brookie hotspots. …

“But the action was slow. … Then finally, a nice brookie hit my offering and a brief battle ended with a keeper in hand. …

“Then my partner hooked into a decent brookie as well, hauling in a nice colorful, plump one. …

“It’s hard to believe that these two little brookies – as well as the best chicken sandwiches in the U.P. that we bought in Gwinn – turned a rather disappointing 2013 trout season into a terrific one.”

All-in-all it was a pretty good year, with more good memories than bad stored away for later reminiscing.

Editor’s note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.