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Spring’s shuffle stunned by winter’s wrath

March 9, 2011
By JOE HACKETT, News Outdoors Columnist
In a typical year, the local snowpack would already be deteriorated. Temperatures would be above freezing and a long stretch of cloudless days would have already signaled the snow-sucking sun to begin erasing winter’s white coverings.

Over the next few weeks frost heaves would seize the highways, as mud season made mush of the back roads. Sweet maple scents would be sent from sugar shack vents and both birds and buds would again adorn the local hillsides.

March is a month of transition. It is supposed to allow the spring to shuffle along slowly to gently escape the frosted bonds of winter. March is a time for us to wash away the dregs of winter and burst into the burgeoning birth of spring.

Last year, ice-out occurred on April 1. I will admit, I was spoiled and I’ve been dreaming of a repeat performance ever since.

Yet, as I struggle to free my mind from the frosted cobwebs of winter, I can see nary a nip of green looming on the near horizon. It is a substance that I often proclaimed as our own white gold, but it has now become winter’s waste. It is no longer a precious commodity, for it is far too plentiful and has become far too enduring to remain endearing.

This year, I will not experience the usual dilemma regarding an appropriate date to exchange my ski poles for fishing poles. I am already ready, so let’s get on with the season. 

The results are in ...

A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

It was Newton’s first law and, according to researchers, nearly half of all American citizens continue to abide by it in the outdoors.

The Outdoor Foundation recently released the results of their annual nationwide survey. The Outdoor Recreation Participation Report is the only detailed study of its kind. It was developed to track emerging trends in outdoor recreation.

The research is developed through a voluntary online survey that collects responses from over 40,000 Americans. The survey, which collects data from participants ages 6 and older, covers over 100 different recreation, sporting and leisure activities.

The results of the survey are used to track ongoing trends and to determine the state of our national leisure time. The effort provides a snapshot of the industry that is used by park managers, physical education professionals, sports marketing executives, sporting goods manufacturers and health providers. 

More than 137.8 million Americans participated in outdoor recreation and it took 62 percent of them less than an hour to get there in the last year, according to the report. 

Nearly 50 percent of all Americans age 6 and older took to the outdoors for over 10.1 billion outings. Women accounted for 44 percent of these travelers, and 45 percent of all participants were from households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more.

Researcher also revealed that 89 percent of survey participants agreed that the preservation of undeveloped land for outdoor recreation is important.

The study also confirms that fishing remains the most common “gateway activity” for providing an introduction to the outdoors, noting that it is “easy to learn, readily accessible, and contagious.”

Over 90 percent of all active outdoor participants revealed they were introduced to the outdoors between the ages of 5 and 18 years, primarily by a parent or relative.

As expected, researchers also tracked the alarming detachment of our nation’s youth from the outdoors.

Youth participation in outdoor activities continues to exhibit a steady decrease among children ages 6 to 12, dropping from 78 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2008, and falling to 62 percent in 2009 for a total of 16 percent in only three years. 

Survey participants offered a variety of reasons for their lack of involvement in outdoor activities, including “parents, siblings or friends don’t go out there,” “lack of interest,” “too much homework,” “lack of time,” “would rather play videos,” or “surf the web.”

And at least one child was truly honest, explaining in simple terms, “I just don’t like bugs or dirt.”

Top brands

With the opening day of trout season looming in less than two weeks (April 1), it is interesting to know what brand of equipment other anglers have up their sleeve, or in their tackle box (see attached graphic).

Angling, the most popular outdoor activity in the nation currently attracts over 48 million participants annually. 

Among this active group, the most popular quarry remains largemouth bass, the number one game fish species of all fishermen and women. Over 48 percent of fishing activity in the United State targets largemouth bass.

Article Photos

Photo provided
On April 1, 2010, anglers were fishing from a boat on the ponds. In this picture taken on May 15, 2009, Eric Granger, left, and Joe Hackett were wearing snowshoes to skid a boat over the snow to look for open water. This year is still in question.

Fact Box

Outdoor Recreation Participation Report

Most popular outdoor activities
1. Freshwater, saltwater and flyfishing — 48 million participants (about 17 percent of the population)
2. Running, jogging and trail running — 44.7 million participants (16 percent)  
3. Camping — 44 million (16 percent)
4. Road and mountain biking — 43.3 million (15 percent)
5. Hiking — 32.6 million (12 percent)

Fastest-growing outdoor activities
1. Adventure racing — annual increase 18.4 percent
2. Snowshoeing — annual increase 17.4 percent
3. Triathlon (non-traditional, off-road) — 10.6 percent
4. Kayaking — 10.2 percent
5. Cross-country skiing — 8 percent’s top brands/products
Based on an Internet surveys completed by over 30,000 anglers
Rod — Shakespeare
Reel — Shimano
Combo — Shakespeare
Fishing line — Berkley
Hard bait — Rapala
Soft bait — Zoom
Spinnerbait — Strike King
Hook — Eagle Claw  
Sinker — Water Gremlin   
Fly rod — LL Bean         
Fly reel — Orvis
Fly — Pfleuger
Fly line — Rio
Fly leader — Rio  
Fishfinder or sonar — Hummingbird
Tackle box — Plano
Landing net — Frabill
Fishing knife — Rapala



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