The recent warm weather has brought a host of kayakers and canoeists out to run the rivers and streams here in Indiana. Nothing is more fun than a leisurely trip down a river or stream, floating past the wild flower covered banks while bathing in the luxury and warmth of Mother Nature.

Among the beauty and tranquility, danger can lurk in the form of spring rain storms. Midwest rain storms can quickly drop 2 or 3 inches of rain. Even though there may have been no rain in the local area, storms farther up the watershed can send river and stream levels to dangerous levels within a few hours.

The heavy rains can turn even the most peaceful stream or river into a raging torrent producing Class 4 rapids and some of the most dangerous river conditions imaginable.

Downed trees called sweepers pose the greatest danger. If the stream or river is blocked by a tree, the current can pull a boat or kayak into the limbs turn the craft sideways of the flow causing it to capsize. Even if the occupants are wearing life jackets, the current might pull them into the limbs and hold them under water with no escape possible.

I have seen two channels of a river with the water roaring around an island. Where the two flows of water came back together and met, giant waves were formed which would flip a kayak and dump even the most skilled canoeists. What had been a peaceful waterway the day before had been quickly turned into a horrific out of control flow no one should consider entering.

Another relentless threat is a low-head dam where the water runs over the structure and produces a rolling underwater current at the base of the dam. A horrific current will grab a person and continually roll him back to the base of the dam and submerge the person… even when wearing a life jacket. Chances of breaking free from the back current of a low-head dam with high water is slim and none. Death by drowning is the most likely outcome.

My advice… if you come to a stream or river and the water is brown… turn around. Brown, murky water is a sure sign the river or stream is flowing at higher than its normal rate and may present unimaginable downstream dangers.

If you still want to enjoy some time in your kayak or canoe, I suggest heading to one of the lakes or reservoirs in one of our state parks and do some leisurely paddling. And always, always… wear a life jacket. My good friend and retired conservation office Monte Beaver once said, “I’ve never seen a drowning victim wearing a life jacket.”

Mushroom Bonanza

The calls of record finds of morels keep pouring in as the mushroom hunting season has shaped up to be something we haven’t seen in years. I can’t explain it…in year’s past I have seen similar wet conditions, similar temperatures and a similar amount of cloudiness and sunshine. But, this year is a real bonanza for many!

One big question comes with a bumper find… what do you do if you have more than you can eat, share with family or even have room to leave in the refrigerator?

My first suggestion is to contact me by email at your earliest convenience and I will be more than happy to help alleviate your morel burden.

Actually, I did have a good friend call wanting to know if there is a way to save them. There is!

Slice the mushrooms and soak them in salt water to get rid of insects and dirt. Rinse them well and lay them on wax paper on a cookie tray. Make sure the pieces don’t touch and freeze them.

Once frozen, layer the pieces in covered plastic tubs between sheets of wax paper… layer of mushrooms, wax paper… layer of mushrooms… wax paper.

I had some stored in the freezer for three years and they still fried up almost as good as fresh. The trick is not to let the mushroom thaw before it hits the skillet. Prepare your batter and dredge and get your pan ready to receive the mushrooms. Quickly take a mushroom from the frozen container, dip it in the egg wash and roll in the batter. Put it in the skillet immediately. Work fast, and don’t let the tub of mushrooms defrost. Place the leftover ones back in the freezer.

Boating Restrictions On Two Lake Chains Due To High Water

The DNR has placed an idle speed restriction on the Indian chain of lakes in LaGrange County and the West Lakes chain of lakes in Noble County. The Indian chain of lakes includes the following lakes: Dallas, Hackenberg, Messick, Westler, and Witmer lakes.

The West Lakes chain of lakes includes the following lakes: Jones, Steinbarger, Tamarack, and Waldron lakes.

An idle speed restriction is put into effect when surface water conditions are likely to enter dwelling structures as a result of a high wake.

Lake Monroe Flooding Update

The water level at Monroe Lake is at 14 feet above normal pool as of 8 a.m., May 6. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently only able to release water from the dam at the minimum rate (244 cubic feet per second); which means if the area and watershed continue to have rain events, the water level will continue to increase. The following areas and facilities at the lake are now impacted by the high water level...

• Paynetown SRA: At least 40 campsites are CLOSED; reservation center has been contacting people whose reservations are impacted. You are also welcome to call our office at 812-837-9546 if you are concerned about a specific site.

• Paynetown SRA: Marina access has MOVED to the B-loop in the Campground. Shuttle access is provided from there to boat docks and buoys. There is currently no dry land access route to reach the docks.

• Paynetown SRA: Activity Center is CLOSED.

• Paynetown SRA: Fishing dock is CLOSED.

• Pine Grove SRA: completely CLOSED (access road is under water).

• Cartop SRA: completely CLOSED (access road is under water).

• Stillwater-Northfork Wildlife Area: completely CLOSED (access road is under water).

• Cutright SRA: both the main and high water ramps are CLOSED.

• Summer courtesy docks are in at the Paynetown SRA and Fairfax SRA ramps. However, courtesy docks will not be installed at any other ramp locations until the water level drops.

• Ramps are still OPEN at Paynetown SRA, Fairfax SRA, Moores Creek SRA, and Salt Creek SRA. The water is high but the ramps are still marginally accessible at Crooked Creek SRA and Allens Creek SRA.

‘till next time, Jack

Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net.