Originally created 04/02/00

Azaleas in bloom means catfish are biting



I was driving to work the other morning and spied something I couldn't resist: a yard sale sign.

A block down a well-worn dirt road, I encountered an old friend -- Douglas Luke -- selling off some odds and ends in a yard erupting with spring color.

I complimented him on his azaleas and dogwoods -- and was rewarded with a lesson.

"You know what it means when the dogwoods are blooming, don't you?" he asked.

I confessed that I did not.

"It means the catfish are biting."

Catfish?

"It's an old saying," he said. "It's been handed down from generation to generation. I'm 75 years old, and I been hearing about it all my life. And it's true."

Now, whenever I see spring dogwoods in full bloom, I'll think of hungry catfish -- and of wise old fishermen.

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Paddle and Pedal Party: Another sign of spring is the upcoming Augusta Canal Cruise & Cookout, which will be held, for the 13th consecutive year, on April 30.

This year, organizers are offering a "paddle, pedal and party" option that allows participants to take the canoe cruise ($40 per person), bicycle the canal ($20 per person) or simply enjoy all-you-can-eat barbecue at the end of the trail ($15).

The canoe and bicycle fees, by the way, include the barbecue. For information or reservations, contact the Augusta Canal Authority office at 823-0440. The event also benefits Peach State Public Radio.

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Double Double Gobblers: I got a call the other day from turkey hunter Milford Scott, whom we featured last month in a story about what a great turkey season Georgia was likely to have this year.

According to Milford, the game biologists were right: it's a great year. He bagged two nice gobblers the same morning with a 28-gauge shotgun.

And Milford wasn't the only one to double out.

Tom Lewis, a Corps of Engineers employee who hunts the somewhat crowded public lands along Thurmond Lake, bagged a pair of hefty gobblers with one shot the other morning.

"I've already heard more birds this year than I heard all season last year," he said.

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Shooting and Sportsmanship: The National Rifle Association presented an $82,500 check to the Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America last week to help out with a new shooting complex.

The project will include a shotgun and rifle range, an archery range and a 3D Archery course at Camp Robert E. Knox at Thurmond Lake.

The NRA's donation will help with the rifle range itself, while the scouting group is working on companion improvements that will someday include an aquatics center and expanded camping.

Phil Williams, an NRA board member, points out that shooting and rifle team competitions help promote sportsmanship and gun safety -- two things that are needed more than ever in the anti-gun environment in which we're living.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119.