Deer have healthy, wide-ranging appetites for many types of wild plants and agricultural produce including, it turns out, peaches.
Just ask Leonard LaFountaine, a veteran "marsh rat" from out Reno Beach way. He weighs in with this tale about his buddy, Bob Reynolds, who has a peach tree on his property abutting Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge:
Reynolds's son, Bobby, of Toledo, was mowing grass at the homestead and noticed the peaches were ripe and ready to pick. He told his mom, Morna, but the message didn't get passed to Reynolds.
Next day, Bobby returned to finish mowing and saw that the peaches were gone. He remarked to his dad about picking the peaches, but Reynolds said he had not done so. Later, Bob and his brother, Jess, inspected the peach grove and found nary a peach left on the tree.
They found 140 peach pits lying on the ground - "with obvious signs that a deer herd hadn't missed a one." The tree, LaFountaine says, is only seven feet tall.
"It's common for (deer to feed on) apples trees, but I though it a little rare for peaches and sort of attribute it to the shortness of his trees. . . . I have teased him that you have to lie on your back to pick them."
The 30th annual B.A.S.S. Classic, held last week in Chicago, was won by veteran bass fishing pro Woo Daves of Spring Grove, Va.
Daves took home a top prize of $100,000 with a three-day catch of 14 bass weighing 27 pounds, 13 ounces. A 25-year veteran of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society's national circuit, Daves, 54, is a two-time national champion.
But in 14 previous Classics in which he qualified, his best finishes were second and third - just 6 and 13 ounces out of first places, respectively. This time, Daves won by 1 pound, 2 ounces, over Mark Rizk, of Antelope, Calif., who won $40,000 for second place. Forty-six pro anglers qualified for the 30th Classic.
Daves was the only Classic angler to target only smallmouth bass. He used a Zoom tube jig on six-pound-test line to fish tightly against an abandoned seawall 300 yards off the city's Lake Michigan waterfront, virtually in the shadow of the famous Sears Tower. He labored in three to four-foot waves all three days of the tournament.
Ron Newmister, of Genoa, has qualified to compete in the Wal-Mart RCL Walleye Championship in Green Bay, Wis., on Oct. 3 to 7, for a shot at up to $400,000.
Four hundred top walleye competitiors from 30 tournament organizations in the United States and Canada will be casting for a share of up to $1.4 million in the RCL Championship. Operation Walleye, a division of Operation Bass, of Gilbertsville, Ky., will conduct the tournament.
Newmister, who has excelled as a walleye, steelhead, and salmon guide in past years on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, qualified for the RCL's pro division through the United States Fishing Association's Team Walleye event in April on western Lake Erie. To qualify for the championship, an angler must have the top-finishing Ranger, Crestliner, or Lund boat in the event field.
A youth fishing derby is set for Sunday at the Oak Harbor Conservation Club, 975 South Gordon Rd. The club is along the Portage River south of Oak Harbor off Ottawa County Road 17, east of State Rt. 19.
Anglers ages 2 through 15 can register at 11 a.m., with fishing from noon to 3 p.m. Prizes will be awarded in three age categories. The derby is free, and bait will be provided free, but anglers should bring their own tackle. Food service will be available at the club. For other details, call Andy Fedor, 419-797-2788.
Fishing report - Walleye action on western Lake Erie continues at its recent excellent pace, according to area baitshops.
Worm harnesses, casting harnesses, mayfly rigs, and weight-forward spinners all are working, with preferred colors including gold, silver, and variations of chartreuse and/or green.
Near Toledo, fish ranging one to four pounds and occasionally larger are being taken as close as four miles offshore of the Cooley Canal area. The water from the Toledo Harbor Outer Light along the Ship Channel east to the area marked on charters as "Gravel Pit" has been very productive, according to Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait on Corduroy Road.
Dave Ray, at Edgewater Bait, said that some anglers were taking walleye north of West Sister Island and along the Ship Channel, and on the Michigan side off the twin power plant stacks at Monroe, in 23 feet of water.
Further east, a mile northwest of Niagara Reef has been productive, as have the waters around F-Can and G-Can northeast of West Sister, according to Rick Catley at Rickard's Bait on Catawba Island. Sheridan Point off Pelee Island also continues to be productive on the Canadian side.
Smallmouth bass still are being taken on softcraws in 16 to 22 feet of water around the islands and some reefs, Catley added.
Yellow perch continue to hit off the Gravel Pit east of the Ship Channel and along the Channel itself, Ray said. In the Port Clinton area, Catley added, try for perch around Green Island, off Catawba Island peninsula, or around Kelleys Island.
Steve Pollick is the Blade's outdoor writer.