George Block Column

Mitchell will be missed at Pa. Game News

Mitchell will be missed at Pa. Game News

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Southwestern Pennsylvania has produced some of the greatest quarterbacks in football history. Who can argue that statement when names like Montana, Marino, Unitas, Kelly and Blanda pop up?


In a like manner, many people from Southwestern Pennsylvania have risen to the top of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.


Bod D’Angelo has ties to Greene County and Washington County’s Matt Hough holds the second highest position in the Commission. Both have risen quickly, and one shouldn’t forget Rege Senko, who is in charge of information in the Northwestern District.


What reminded me of these people was the announced retirement of a Greene County-raised gentlemen, Bob Mitchell, who hails from Carmichaels. You may ask who Bob Mitchell is and that is understandable, for good editors operate unseen in the background.


Mitchell was the editor of Pennsylvania Game News from 1990 until this year. Few, if any, people taking a job had as big a pair of shoes to fill as Mitchell did.


He was taking over this highly successful magazine from a very popular editor, Bob Bell. He had to feel like Mickey Mantle replacing the ever-popular Joe DiMaggio in center field for the Yankees. Like Mick, he did his job and did it well.


One of the biggest hurdles faced by Mitchell had to be the big move to computers and the ease with which someone can obtain information and self-publish. I was privileged to work with both Bell and Mitchell, and both were truly a blessing for an uneducated writer. Bell gave me a start and for that I’ll always be grateful. But Bell once told me a secret. Mitchell was in the background and a strong supporter of old GHB. Thanks Mitch.


• If the fishing season ever arrives and your equipment is not ready, all I can say is shame on you. You certainly have had time. With winter dragging on, there is little else to do than clean and check fishing equipment.


Rods should be cleaned and possibly waxed for longer and smoother casts. Reels need oil, as do all mechanisms with moving parts.


I believe the biggest blunder is not replacing old line. Line is not expensive and an unfilled reel makes casting difficult. Old line can mean a lost trophy. As one fishes, the line is subject to nicks as it strikes rocks or other junk found in a stream or lake. Not only that, if the rod and reel were stored in certain areas, the mono-filament line can be weakened by sunlight.


It is also time to check lures and other terminal tackle. For instance, I just bought a supply of jigs so I would be prepared for the hopefully upcoming crappie season. When the weather improves, I want to be ready.


While I complain daily about the weather, I also realize my complaints may be age related. I remember fishing with my wife, Eileen, when the ice formed on the surface of the lake as we watched our line. We were fishing in Canonsburg in mid-March, and most of the water along the shoreline was open. Out about 50 feet or so there was ice. Keeping our Power Bait near shore, we were catching trout. But as we sat there and the sky darkened, that water in front of us was forming ice. I guess this year is not the first cold March.


Another time I went to Dutch Fork and cast a baited hook out to what I thought was open water. The split shot and hook bounced and slid across the ice. I have heard of hard water. The cold didn’t seem as bad 20 years ago.


• The gun debate just won’t go away, but the Constitution of Pennsylvania is seldom mentioned.


Article I in the Declaration of Rights is very specific and to the point. I’ll quote it directly.


Section 21 reads, “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.”


Those who think the Second Amendment of the Country’s Constitution means anything but self protection by the individual should spend more time in the history class and read the writings of the founding fathers, particularly James Madison. Someone once said, “He who gives up freedom for security deserves neither.”



George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.


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