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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Enjoying summer despite the weather


“Hello muddah, hello faddah.
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining.
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining!”


A lot of us of a certain age remember the words of that pop song by Allan Sherman from many summers ago. It certainly rang true during June and even a lot of the first half of July. Rain put a damper on a lot of activities (pun intended) from camping to boating, or even backyard barbecues. Trout fishing on streams is usually good during a rain but sometimes the heavy rains caused very high water conditions. In any case, fishing in a stream or from a boat during a thunderstorm is not recommended.
My wife and I had a good time camping near Old Forge for two weeks. We managed to dodge most of the rainstorms and had some good kayaking trips on Stillwater, the Moose River, Big Moose Lake and “Black Bear Lake” among others. Of course one of the reasons that we like Old Forge is that we have a list of things to do in the event of nasty weather.
One of those things is to visit View (the Arts Center) where they have some excellent exhibits. Currently the theme is “For the Birds” with some outstanding exhibits of mixed media on birds, wildlife paintings of Ed Williams, the Natural Side of Things by David Kiehm as well as the outstanding photo exhibits by Sue Kiesel and Melissa Groo. Put it on your list of things to do, rain or shine.
It was sort of like Old Home Day at the campground with many Sherrill or other area residents enjoying the Adirondacks as well. The Tiffin clan from Sherrill had a family camping reunion as did the Balch families. Others that we spent time with included Ed and Maxine Kimball, Joe Robinson and Sandy and Chuck Boryss. Pete and Carol Dwyer and all their children and grandchildren were reunited for a week in Inlet. We were fortunate to be invited to join again and spent a fun evening discussing new events and old times.
Fishing was fair but spotty. One day I could do well on bass and the next time I would have to work to take a few small ones. Most of the bass were scattered but found in relative shallow water since the waters were still cooler than normal for this time of year. Sinking worms and wobbling spoons usually provided the most action.
My friends Al Beans and Mike Seymour have reported that fishing is still only fair on the St. Lawrence River. At both the Thousand Islands and downriver near Ogdensburg the bass fishing has been slow although the pike were a bit more predictable.
Hopefully the weather will improve and people can enjoy more summer activities without keeping an eye on the weather every minute. Whether it’s camping, sailing, paddling, fishing, hiking or waterskiing, get out and enjoy you. Schedule a vacation, a get-away weekend or even an afternoon at the beach. Don’t put it off any longer. Summer is already half over!
Adirondack Railroad Future
Earlier this month while I was away on vacation the DEC and DOT released the state’s plans for the Adirondack Railroad.  We have covered this issue previously and reported that the state was going to release its revised Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the railroad. The UMP as presented appears to be a compromise but in reality the sportsmen and average tourists were thrown under the bus (train engine?).
Apparently giving in to the moneyed interests and the organized media campaign of those who want to tear up the railroad, the state announced that it will tear up the tracks from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid and replace it with a deluxe hiking and biking trail at a cost of over $11 million dollars.
It plans to keep and rehabilitate the tracks from Big Moose to Tupper Lake. It would also create a new snowmobile trail connecting to Beaver River and create a hut-to-hut cross country ski trail along the tracks in this remote section.
There are several problems with this plan. The economic viability of the railroad will depend on tourists going to Lake Placid. No offense meant to the good people living there, but Tupper Lake is not a destination that is going to attract many people! The economic stability and regular runs through this Wilderness Area will affect the sportsmen who want to use this drop-off service for camping, fishing, paddling and hunting.
Meanwhile we will have a multi-million dollar trail for locals to walk their dogs or jog on before or after work. Serious hikers want to climb the high peaks or remote areas, not a railroad bed. And there is no provision for maintenance of such a trail. The state is strapped to maintain the simple hiking trails they have now.
My opinions have been stated before and are well known. If you need more specific information, check the website www.adirondackoutdoorsmagazine.com for an article on potential for sportsmen in the Spring (March) 2015 issue or an editorial in the Fall (September) 2014 issue. If you care about this as a tourist, sportsmen, or just for the economic health of the communities like Utica, Old Forge, etc. then take the time to write by the deadline of July 27.
Comments may be mailed to either John Schmid, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233 or Dawn Klemm, NYSDOT Region 2, Utica State Office Building, 207 Genesee St., Utica, NY 13501 or e-mailed to adirondackpark@dec.ny.gov.  Don’t put this off. You can bet that the “Meanie-Greenie” environmental extremists are already at work deluging these offices with letters advocating tearing up the entire track.
Kayaking 101
Kayaks continue to grow in popularity at a record pace. More people are buying new or used ones and joining in the fun. We have discussed the attractions of kayaking and considerations in choosing a kayak previously.
Of course it is a good idea to get advice from a experienced kayaker or expert or even take a course in kayaking. But if you are renting one, borrowing a friends, or have just bought one, there are a few things to consider. These basic things include getting in and out, as well as paddling. None are on a level of running whitewater rapids, but nonetheless there are some things to keep in mind.
Don’t plan on getting into or out of a kayak without at least getting your feet wet. You definitely cannot step into one from a dock like you would getting onto a bass boat or party barge. Kayaks have very little initial stability (i.e. they tend to tip until you are seated) but have excellent secondary stability – that is once you are seated they are really very stable.
First the kayak should be floating in water. Ideally this is ankle deep water over a solid sandy or gravel bottom. Some people simply straddle the kayak, grip each side, and plop themselves backward into the seat. It’s not graceful, but it works. An easier way is to stand beside it, grip both sides, and step one foot squarely in the center. While maintaining your hold, lean over the kayak and let yourself down into the seat.
There is absolutely no graceful way to exit a kayak but at least you can remain dry. Float the kayak into the shallow water or even partially on a sandy beach. Reach slightly forward and grip both sides of the cockpit. Swing one foot over the side into the shallow water and when you have solid footing, pull yourself up with your arms. Maintaining a hold for balance, step out with the other foot.
Some people that I know (but won’t mention any names!) prefer the “beached whale” method. Essentially they paddle up at an angle onto the shore and simply flop over sideways and crawl out. This has the added bonus of providing entertainment for the others in the group or any bystanders.
Paddles should not be used like canoe paddles. Don’t dig deeply into the water as if you were paddling a war canoe. Keep your paddle fairly level with the water surface and think of it as reaching out ahead of you and pulling yourself through the water. Anything else is a waste of your energy.
Some people like their paddle blades even, while others prefer to “feather” them or offset the blades at angles of 30 to 45 degrees. Definitely do NOT use them to pole or push off from land! The fiberglass or carbon fiber blades are not meant to be used as some old wooden stick.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Enjoy Lake Ontario fishing aboard family friendly charters


A southwest breeze ripples the water and provides cooling relief from the warm summer sun. A charter boat trolls in the predetermined course searching the blue-green waters for a variety of gamefish. Overhead the gulls circle and search for bait fish as if they were miniature para-sailers. The only sounds are the raucous call of the gulls, the creak of the downrigger cables, and the animated conversation of the passengers as they anticipate fishing action.
Suddenly there is the excited call of “fish on!” and one of the passengers grabs the rod from its holder while others await orders from the captain as to what they should do next. After a battle with a powerful fish, the quarry is brought to the boat, netted and brought aboard to the excited calls of congratulations and admiration for the fish.
Welcome to the world of Lake Ontario fishing. World class fishing for bass, trout and salmon exists a mere hour or two away. And if you don’t have a big sea-worthy boat equipped for Lake Ontario fishing, there are many professional charters that can give you the experience and excitement. One such locally owned charter is “Family Style Fishing Charters” that operates out of Fair Haven, just west of Oswego.
I was reminded of this great fishing adventure recently as I read the fishing reports sent weekly from my friends Bill Hilts of Niagara County or Mike Waterhouse of Orleans County. Recently the Lake Ontario anglers have been taking a variety of trout and salmon in the top 50 feet of the water column over depths of 150–200 feet. Spoons have been the top lure but a variety of techniques including downriggers, dipsy divers, planer boards or lead line have all produced fish.
There are a lot of skilled charter captains on Lake Ontario who will help you catch fish and show you a good time. I have fished with many of them from Henderson Harbor to the Niagara River. There are also skilled local residents who maintain their boats and operate charters on Lake Ontario.
One such charter is “Family Style Fishing Charters” operated by the Lucason family from Camden. They run their new Baha 277 GLE fishing boat out of Fair Haven and can easily access the areas that fish are found at different times of the season. The boat is well equipped with the latest electronics and fishing gear such as downriggers for catching everything from brown trout to Chinook salmon.
Captain Phil Lucason has always had a passion for fishing and wanted to share it with others. His family shares this same enthusiasm and is involved in the charters, thus one reason for the name. The boat is named Morgan-E after his two daughters Morgan and Elizabeth, who often act as first mates. I can personally attest that they are very nice young ladies and extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable anglers.
Another key part of the concept of “family style” charters comes from Captain Phil’s approach. His calm, friendly approach makes fishermen and women of all ages and skill levels feel welcome. Anglers can help out as much or as little as they want.
Some charter captains do not want their clients to set the hook, or net the fish, etc. because their main goal is to put as many fish in the box (cooler) as possible and they don’t want to take a chance on someone losing a fish at the boat. By contrast, the Lucasons believe that fishing should be a learning and fun-filled experience. So for whatever role you feel comfortable with, Captain Phil will instruct and guide you and let you enjoy the whole experience.
The Morgan-E is large enough to accommodate four people comfortably but can handle up to six people, especially families with children. Deep gunnels keep you inside the boat safely and the stand-up head is convenient.
Even the pricing is family friendly with reasonable rates. There are a variety of trip lengths ranging from four-hour evening trips to the standard six or eight hour trips, and the custom 10 hours of fishing with several options, including a split outing.
If you are looking for a good time for the entire group and a great fishing experience for the entire family, think about Lake Ontario this summer. Whether you are novices, or serious experienced anglers you should seriously consider Family Style Fishing Charters. Call Captain Phil Lucason at 315-709-9958 or goodtrolling@aol.com. Check the website at www.familystylefishingcharters.com. World class fishing is practically at your doorstep.
SHORT CASTS
Staycations: With many families today the issue of both spouses getting the same vacation time is a big problem. Even if they do manage to get time for a family vacation there is still a lot of summer that cries out to be enjoyed.
For day trips consider the many state parks like Verona Beach, Delta Lake, Chittenango Falls or Green Lakes. Hiking trails the beach, and swimming offer a day’s fun for the youngsters. Check out the sandy beach at Sylvan Beach and enjoy the beautiful sunset.
Toss in the canoe or boat at small area waters like Lebanon Reservoir, Eatonbrook Reservoir, Lelands Pond or Stony Pond. Fishing and paddling can also be enjoyed at places like Prospect Pond or Redfield Reservoir.
Enjoy a family outing in nature at locations like Great Swamp Conservancy near Canastota or the Rome Fish Hatchery. A little further away but still an easy day trip are locations like Highland Forest, Beaver Lake Nature Center, Salmon River Falls and Montezuma Wildlife Refuge.
If you are taking the kids fishing make sure it is some place where they have a chance for action and success as well as be secure. Consider the aforementioned ponds or the deep water docks and fishing access for Oneida Lake at Cleveland or some small stream like Oriskany Creek.
There are lots of places for a parent to take the kids or even whole families enjoy an afternoon together. The important thing is to get out and take advantage of the resources in Central New York instead of sitting around home and spending your time in wishful thinking.
Fishing Line Hazards: Regular readers of this column know that discarded fishing line is one of my pet peeves. It is hazardous to wildlife, dangerous for humans and harmful to boats. Break-offs and tangles are going to happen but there is a lot we can do to minimize this. Certainly avoiding fishing in places like launch sites and picking up discarded line are easy things that everyone can do.
DEC reports that approximately 12 eagles or their chicks die every year because of being entangled in line, often with a fish attached. Countless other wildlife perishes because of the tangles of monofilament left in or around the waters.
Many of these snags are caused by using sinkers in combination with bobbers. In most cases you might need one or the other, not both. When snags do occur you can usually break the line at the knot by the hook, the weakest part of the line. You don’t want to pull on the line since monofilament can cut into your skin. But simply wrapping your hand with a fishing towel, or in the case of stronger monofilament just wrap it around your body by taking a couple turns and stepping back will break the line close to the snag. This way you will not leave a long length of monofilament to entangle wildlife or canoeists who might be wading in the area.
Golden Park Program: If you are a NYS resident 62 or older on any weekday (except holidays) you can obtain free vehicle access to state parks and arboreteums. Simply present your current valid NYS Driver’s License. This policy applies both to Office of Parks and Recreation and DEC facilities.
Chef’s Choice Knife Sharpener: With the arrival of summer we will be using our knives a lot more. Whether it is fish fillet knives or knives for our backyard steak cookout, we want them to be sharp. A great aid for the outdoorsman or homeowner is the Chef’s Choice Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener 445. It is a professional manual sharpener for all types of knives that uses diamond abrasives to give incredibly sharp, long-lasting edges. There are two stages or slots for sharpening and then honing the edge. It is easy to use with either right or left hand and slip-resistant rubber feet to hold fast to the work surface. You won’t have any more excuses for dull knives at your home. www.chefschoice.com

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Adirondacks provide great experiences a short distance away


The evening sun casts a soft glow on the waters of an Adirondack Lake marked only by the rising of fish, a couple of canoes of fishermen and families of ducks swimming along the shore. The smell of a campfire mingles with the scent of pine and balsam while the silence is broken by the plaintive call of the loon. Sitting by the lakeshore and watching a deer or an osprey, it is easy to forget about the outside world and the daily pressures and chores.
You can find this scene many places in the central Adirondacks. But the nice thing about this area is that it also offers much more and while you enjoy the solitude of the wild the services, fine restaurants, other accommodations or any of the other attractions can be just a few miles away.
Although fishing for brook trout in small streams or ponds and pursuing rainbow or lake trout in the larger lakes gets attention, the fishing for bass in lakes and ponds is often overlooked. A great thing is that you can hike or paddle to remote fishing areas that you will have virtually to yourself. Or if you prefer you can rent a boat or launch your own on the Fulton Chain of Lakes to fish for lake trout, landlocked salmon, northern pike, tiger muskie, largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Paddling opportunities abound from the Moose River to smaller bodies of water like Moss Lake. Pick up your free booklet “Adirondack Waterways” at either Old Forge or Inlet Visitor Centers. One of our favorite places is Limekiln Lake which is becoming a pilgrimage for fans of Mitch Lee’s writings just as “Black Bear Lake” is for fans of Ann LaBastille or Walden Pond for disciples of Henry David Thoreau.
There are countless miles of hiking trails that range from short and easy to longer and more challenging day hikes. Bald Mountain, Rocky Point and Black Bear Mountain are easy to moderate hikes that offer great views. But there are many miles of interesting trails such as Bubb and Sis Lakes or trails in the Moose River Plains.
The Moose River Plains is a unique area with dirt roads giving access to campsites, hiking trails, fishing in ponds or streams and viewing wildlife. Stop in at the Inlet Information Office for a map and some expert advice from Mitch Lee. Maybe you will get lucky and see a moose.
The Old Forge–Inlet area offers all the usual outdoor and water sports like boating or swimming, etc. in a beautiful setting. But there are many rainy day activities, including the “View” Arts Center in Old Forge which is continually changing its excellent exhibits. Other activities range from the concerts by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Inlet, Arts in the Park festival at Inlet, horseback riding, seaplane rides, golf at Inlet or Thendara or the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Space does not permit listing all the things to do or places to go, so check on the tourism centers in Inlet (www.inletny.com) 1-866-GO INLET or Old Forge (www.oldforgeny.com) 369-6983.
Looking for the longest water ride in the central Adirondacks? It’s the Moose River. For leisurely, gentle flowing and scenic paddling you cannot beat the North Branch or the Middle Branch just below Old Forge. A trip from North St. Bridge gives you an eight-mile trip back to Old Forge in about four hours. Add two hours to your trip by starting at Rondaxe Lake. Rent canoes or kayaks from Tickners on Riverside Drive or arrange their shuttle service for your own vessels.
You can go down the Middle Branch to Lock & Dam in about an hour’s leisurely paddle. Or take the River and Rail where you paddle down the Middle Branch for four hours and you and canoe or kayak ride the train back to Old Forge. This is a fabulous adventure that operates Thursday through Sunday. Contact Tickners Moose River Outfitters (369-6286) for reservations or more information. They don’t just rent you a boat; they help plan your adventure. Trust me – they are the best.
If you are looking to get off the beaten path or try something new this summer contact Scott Locorini of Adirondack Exposure. From day trips to longer adventures you can choose from rafting, kayaking or canoeing, hiking, woodcraft skills and fishing. Check out his line of canoes and kayaks, accessories and fishing gear at his headquarters near Okara Lake two miles south of Old Forge. Call 369-6699 for more information.
Accommodations range from motels, bed and breakfast inns, rental cottages or campgrounds. State campgrounds at Nicks Lake, Eighth Lake and Limekiln Lake offer nice facilities or you can opt for primitive camping at Moss Lake or the Moose River Plains as well as other locations. Check the web sites mentioned above for complete listings.
In the meantime be sure to include the central Adirondacks in your summer plans. Whether it’s a vacation, get-away weekend or several day trips, take advantage of this great area at our doorstep. As they say the good roads make it easy to get there; the mountains make it hard to leave.
SHORT CASTS
Dylan Clute’s big catch: Dylan Clute shares his family’s love of fishing and is already an accomplished fisherman but even he got a surprise on a family outing to North Carolina. The family was staying at the Outer Banks and fishing off Oceanic Pier when Dylan realized that he had a big fish on. He was using shrimp bait and weighted to get to the bottom when the big fish hit and started taking his line. Dylan tried to reel but could not budge the fish. He held on for 45 minutes and was getting pretty tired when he could finally get the fish close to the pier where his family could net it for him. To his, and everyone’s, surprise he had hooked a huge stingray. They weighed it in the net and it topped out at 52 pounds! The monster was carefully unhooked and released but it is an experience that Dylan will probably never forget.
Adirondack Railroad UMP: The state recently announced that it was opening the Unit Management Plan that they had previously adopted for the Adirondack Railroad. To the surprise of no one but the disappointment of many, the state plans a so-called “compromise.” It plans to keep and rehabilitate the tracks from Old Forge to Tupper Lake. But bowing to the supposed popular sentiment and money of certain influential people, they intend to tear up the railroad tracks from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid and replace it with a multi-million hiking trail. Tourists wishing to travel to lake Placid and the viability of the railroad are disregarded but the locals will have a deluxe trail to bicycle, jog or walk their dogs on. Comments will be accepted by email at NYStravelcorridor@dot.ny.gov.
Decoy and Wildlife Art Show: The 47th annual Decoy/Wildlife Art and Sporting Collectibles Show Sale will be held in Clayton on July 17 and 18. The event will be held at the Cerow Recreation Park Arena on Route 12 in Clayton from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on both days. There will be many carved decoys, paintings, others carvings and art for display and auctions. Friday will kick off the event with a traditional shore dinner served from 4–8 p.m. For additional information contact the Thousand Islands Museum at 315-686-5794 or see www.timuseum.org.
Free Guided Adirondack Hikes: The Town of Long Lake is offering free guided hiking trips throughout the summer based from Long Lake. Participants will be taken by shuttlebus from Long Lake to the various trailheads. The hikes will be led by NYS certified and experienced guides Spencer Morrissey and Joan Collins who always provide excellent trips and interesting facts along the way. Register now since these popular trips will fill up fast. The dates, itineraries and descriptions of the distance, and other information. can be found on the website: mylonglake.com.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New products for summer


With the summer season getting into high gear this holiday weekend, people will be spending more time outdoors. Whether it is our backyards, weekend fishing trips, camping or other vacation activities, most people will be enjoying the outdoors whenever weather and time permit. New technology or improvements in gadgets make the summer more enjoyable.
Although I am definitely not a ”techie,” I do appreciate the new products that make our outdoor experience easier or more enjoyable. If you are still using the same old gear from your first outing, you might want to consider an upgrade.
Thermacell Camp Lantern: Thermacell is introducing the new durable, water-resistant Repellent Camp Lantern that provides bright light and repels mosquitoes. With a heavy-duty rubberized base, 50 hours of light at its highest setting and the ability to keep mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums at bay, this lantern makes camping more enjoyable. The repellent creates a 15 foot x 15 foot zone of protection. Each butane cartridge lasts 12 hours.
This versatile lantern has a weighted bottom so it can’t easily be tipped, as well as a contoured bail for easy transport and storage. The base is accented with black rubber that protects the lantern if dropped or knocked over. A battery life indicator changes color showing remaining power. The lantern produces 300 lumens of light and operates on D cell batteries. With three light settings and SOS for emergency situations, the lantern globe can be detached to increase the intensity of the light for maximum brightness. The base hook also allows the lantern to be suspended in a tent or campsite from above for hands-free base camp operations.
The Thermacell Repellent Camp Lantern functions as both a lantern and highly effective mosquito repellent simultaneously or separately. It is available at most sporting or outdoor retailers. For more information visit Thermacell.com.
Costa sunglasses: With the coming of summer weather women who love the water are planning an escape to the beach, lake or river. Costa’s new sunglass styles, Boga and La Mar, offer a stylish look while Polarized lenses protect the eyes and the lens have exceptional clarity. Boga features a large, round-eye fit, with a stylish nylon frame design. They include Costa’s hypoallergenic rubberized no-slip nose pads and temple tips, and durable built-in optical spring hinges to provide a “forget-they’re-on” fit.
Both can be customized in a full array of Costa’s patented color enhancing polarized 580P(tm) lenses and frames. Costa’s 580 lens technology selectively filters out harsh yellow and harmful ultraviolet blue light. Filtering yellow light enhances reds, blues and greens and produces better contrast and definition while reducing glare and eye fatigue. Absorbing high-energy blue light cuts haze, producing greater visual clarity and sharpness. For more information visit costadelmar.com.
Stetson No Fly Zone Hats: Outdoorsmen know the importance of wearing head gear to protect from the sun’s harmful rays. There is also the added benefit of shielding the eyes and being able to see better. Stetson, the maker of some well-known hat brands, now has an added benefit to some of their specialty head gear. Their Stetson No fly Zone hat also keeps insect pests away in addition to the above benefits. It is EPA registered and environmentally friendly and contains permethrin fabric to repel insects such as mosquitoes. They come in many styles suitable for both men and women. The Khaki color and cool mesh provides protection in the hot summer sun. Visit Stetson.com for more information.
Secur Products 4 in 1 Light & Powerbank: Secur Products has been known for making innovative, useful and quality devices. I have several and have been very satisfied. One of the newest ones is the SP-1100, a 4 in 1 light and power bank. This has a built –in battery that is charged from your computer USB port. It can then be used to charge your mobile phone, iPad or similar device. With our reliance on electronics these days it is extremely convenient for campers, hunters, fishermen, hiker and others who are active in the outdoors. The light functions in various modes around the campsite or outdoor activities. It can serve as a flashlight, extends to serve as a lantern, or can be used as a flashing red emergency light. It is compact, powerful and dependable. For more information, visit Securproducts.com.
Crusta Smart Phone Case: Smart phones have become an integral part of life, even in the outdoors. The problem is that our outdoor activity subjects these phones to a lot of abuse like being dropped from tree stands, kicked around in boats and assorted dirt and grime. One of the newer and best cases for your smart phone is the Crusta which is made of tempered glass and offers four functional layers of protection. The tempered glass is unbreakable if dropped up to six feet and the screen protector shields your phone from mud, dirt, spills, dust and all the hazards of being outdoors. It has built in touch sensitivity and is stylish with 32 color combinations to choose from. Visit amzer.com/crusta for more information.
Dakota Silicone Sport Digital Watch: When we are involved in outdoor sports we often need a watch but typical activities are hard on most watches. Dakota watches provide convenient, dependable and stylish watches at an affordable price. One of their latest is the Silicone Sport Digital Watch. It is available in a variety of colors and has comfortable silicone straps. It is simple, stylish and functional and comes with the guarantee that includes the first battery free. It is water-resistant to a depth of 330 feet and tough enough to withstand the impact that hikers, climbers and fishermen typically inflict on it. More information can be found on  Dakotawatch.com.
Hillsound Freestyle 6 Crampons: Slipping and falling on ice, slippery banks, or treacherous river bottoms can be a serious concern for outdoor sports. Although we often think of crampons or similar devices when the Salmon River they can be helpful for other streams with strong currents like Fish Creek. Hillsound’s Freestyle6 crampons provides protection with convenient use at an affordable price. These easy on – easy off crampons fit over your boots or waders and offer secure footage on steep muddy banks, slick and slippery rocks in both still or moving water. They also give you extra protection against ice in winter conditions. Don’t worry about scratching the bottom of the boat or transporting invasive species on your felt wader soles because these are easy to pull off. Visit Hillsound.com for more information.
SHORT CASTS
T.I. Fishing Report: The cold winter and spring definitely set the fishing back on the St. Lawrence River because of cold water. We just returned from two weeks in the Thousand Islands and the bass fishing was about two weeks behind what it normally is there according to my friend Al Benas who is a long time guide and charter captain.
On the season opener, I fished with my friend Mike Seymour who is also a guide on the river. Water temperature was 58 to 60 degrees and bass had just spawned. We caught some male bass guarding the beds but we did not want to leave the beds unguarded from the depredations of gobies and others so we switched to deeper water trying to catch some females who had finished spawning. Most of them were uncooperative but we did manage to catch a few. Shortly the males will leave the nests and the females will be hungry so fishing should improve.
Local Fishing Report: After returning from our Thousand Islands vacation I had a chance to check with a few people on local fishing. Some bass fishermen on Oneida Lake had fair luck but found that the smallmouths were a bit deeper than they expected. Jigs and tubes or curly tails produced a number of bass although the action was not as fast as they expected. Others who were fishing the weedy shallows of Oneida Lake for largemouth were disappointed and had trouble locating bass although they picked up some nice walleye in the process.
Jim Clute had been fishing for walleye in the shallow water and did well using X-Raps. However Jim did say that a few feet shallower or deeper produced no fish. You had to have a consistent drift and target that particular depth that day.  Some anglers fishing deep water had very little luck in finding fish or getting them to bite very readily.
Gerald Fuller reported that his friend was fishing near bottom and accidentally caught a sturgeon that was over 50 inches long. The big fish put up a strong fight and was quickly released when it was brought to the boat. Remember that sturgeon are protected and you should not even remove them from the water, and especially should not hold them vertically.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lyme Disease is a threat to outdoorsmen


There is a serious threat lurking in our outdoors. It is about the size of a sesame seed and it is more serious than all the perceived threats of wild critters, severe weather or well-known diseases like rabies. It is the deer tick and the potential of Lyme Disease.
With the arrival of summer weather, most people are taking advantage of the great outdoor opportunities we have in upstate New York. Unfortunately this year many sources have reported an increase in the number of deer ticks and the incidences of Lyme Disease
Although deer are known to carry the deer tick, you do not have to come into contact with deer to be exposed to deer ticks. They are everywhere. There is a potential threat of contracting Lyme Disease in your own back yard as well as in the forest.
Several people in the area have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Other friends of mine had their dogs contract Lyme Disease. Not long ago, my cat which was on a leash attached to the back deck steps had a tick attached. Incidentally, cats do not get Lyme Disease while dogs and humans do.
Most of us are aware of the seriousness of Lyme Disease. I have done several columns discussing it and means of preventing it in past years. In recent years, I have had family and their pets which have contracted Lyme Disease, as well as some friends who have had it.
As some local veterinarians and DEC personnel said to me a couple years ago, we need to be concerned about our pets as well. Carefully check your dog for ticks, remove them and have your dog treated when it developed the first signs of the disease.
Lyme Disease is an infection that can produce skin, arthritic, cardiac and neurological disorders. It is caused by bacterium which is spread by the bite of the deer tick. These are tiny parasitic insects that are about the size of a sesame seed and are difficult to detect. They can be found in almost any outdoor location with vegetation, as well as on animals.
Only deer ticks carry Lyme Disease but other types of ticks can also carry serious diseases. Remember that they crawl up. They do not fly or jump onto you so you have to come into contact with them to be “attacked’ and bitten.
Ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They especially frequent piles of old leaves or stone walls. But they also cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs up to a height of 24 inches and get on animals and humans by direct contact.
When you think you may have been exposed to ticks, you should check carefully for the small black insects. Carefully remove them with tweezers and take the tick in a container to your physician for evaluation. Do not smother the tick with Vaseline or apply heat since this might cause the tick to regurgitate infectious fluids. For most tick borne diseases you have 24 hours to find and remove the tick before it transmits any infection.
The best approach is prevention. When hiking try to stay in the middle of the trail. Wear long pants with bottoms tucked into socks or gaiters to prevent ticks from climbing up your legs. Light colored clothing will help you spot the ticks easier. Spraying your clothing with permethrin is effective but it must be done before you put it on. It is nasty stuff and you should avoid getting it on your skin. There are also items of clothing with build-in tick repellent  available. See www.insectshield.com as an example of what is available.
Use an insect repellent on any exposed skin. Traditionally this has meant something with DEET, which can also cause problems through prolonged or excessive use. Some people are sensitive or even allergic to DEET so this must be used carefully. There are other repellents which use natural ingredients and do not contain DEET which are effective.
Some vets have suggested that we use Bug Guard on dogs as well as ourselves. The vet pointed out that not only was it effective in repelling ticks and black flies but it was safe to use on dogs since none of the ingredients would harm the dog if it licked itself, as dogs are prone to do.
The symptoms and severity of Lyme Disease vary widely in people. Usually, but not always, there is a bulls-eye rash. Fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck and joint pain are other early warnings. Pets may exhibit a sudden onset of lameness in one or more of the animal’s legs.
As always check with your physician if there is any question. To find out more about Lyme Disease contact the New York State Department of Health toll free at 1-800-458-1158, Madison County Health Department or contact the American Lyme Disease Foundation, Mill Pond Offices, 293 Route 100, Somers, NY 10589 or call 1-800-876-LYME.
Lyme Disease is here in Central New York. Ticks are everywhere, including the shady or brushy areas in your own backyard. Understanding the problem and taking precautions are the best way to protect yourself, your family and pets from this serious threat.
Short Casts
Free Fishing Days: The weekend of June 27 – 28 is designated as Free Fishing Weekend in NYS. Anyone can fish the state’s waters without a license, giving everyone the opportunity to sample the fishing and introduce or renew the experience of the fun of fishing. It is the perfect time to introduce a friend or relative to the sport.
Inlet Bass Derby: The Town of Inlet will hold a Bass Derby on Sunday, June 28. Contestants will fish the waters of the Fulton Chain from Fifth Lake to Old Forge Pond for eight hours. Boats will depart after a livewell inspection from the Inlet town dock in numerical order of their registration. Winning will be based on total weight of five legal bass. Only two anglers per boat are permitted and only artificial baits can be used.
Each boat must have some form of livewell and no contestant is allowed to pre-fish the waters after Wednesday, June 25. The public is invited to watch activities from the town beach. Reservations will be accepted by mail until June 20. More information is available at:  raquette58@gmail.com
Spey Nation Returns: Spey Nation offers the unique opportunity for enthusiasts and manufacturers of two handed rods to gather in a streamside setting on June 27 in Pineville from  8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Location is the Pineville Boat Launch on the Salmon River. Admission, lunch, etc. are free.
Spey Nation features a full BBQ, raffles, “On the water” demonstrations and interaction with some of the experts. Mixing styles, knowledge, and backgrounds, Great Lakes anglers finally have the opportunity to learn traditional Spey, Scandinavian and Skagit techniques from the experts, try specialized equipment on the water and talk with other fishermen in an atmosphere dedicated exclusively to two-handed casting while enjoying a burger and a brew.
Once again, the proceeds of raffles will be donated to the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club, a grass roots organization dedicated to re-establishing native fish stocks to Fish Creek in upstate New York with the primary focus on restoring runs of native Atlantic Salmon to Fish Creek. You can learn more about their efforts and follow their successes at www.fishcreeksalmon.org.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anglers eagerly await bass season opener

Some of my friends used to say that the third Saturday in June should be declared a holiday. That is the opener of the bass season and many anglers have had it marked on their calendar for months. Saturday, June 20, marks the opener of bass season and from the St. Lawrence River to the Hudson River anglers will be out in force after either smallmouth or largemouth bass. It has lost some of the drama since many areas of the state now allow catch and release fishing for bass before the season opens. However the counties on the eastern end of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and some of the Adirondacks do not allow any bass fishing until the season opener to protect spawning bass or those fish guarding the nests.
Locally, Oneida Lake is one of the top spots for smallmouth bass and with the changing ecology and weed growth the largemouth population has also become a major attraction for anglers. Ted Dobs is one of the local anglers who regularly has had success fishing for bass on Oneida Lake for many years.
Ted often suggests dragging green pumpkin tube jigs over rockpiles since the smallmouth are often in deeper areas adjacent to the shallow spawning areas. If they are chasing schools of baitfish your best bet might be using a drop shot rig. He recommends six-pound fluorocarbon line, size 1 drop shot hook in black nickel finish, and one-quarter ounce weight depending on wind, etc. Use any fluorocarbon knot and run the tag end back through the hook. Ted recommends using Berkley Gulp minnows in three inch size in smelt, emerald shiner or black shad patterns for your drop shot rig.
You might also try drifting the rocky drop-offs or deeper points with live shiners. Don’t buy crayfish since they won’t be a significant part of the bass menu until July. Bass are feeding on minnows at this time of year.
Those anglers who prefer smaller waters have no shortage in Central New York. Some of the popular waters in the area include DeRuyter Reservoir, Cazenovia Lake, Eatonbrook Reservoir, Redfield Reservoir, Lake Delta, Canadarago Lake or Whitney Point Reservoir. Those who prefer stream or river fishing should consider lower Chenango River, Mohawk River, lower Fish Creek, Oswego River, Black River or the estuary of the Salmon River.
One of the most popular spots for bass fishermen will be the St. Lawrence River. Even though the shallow weedy bays provide good fishing for largemouths, it is the smallmouth bass that will attract the most attention. Anglers come from all over the state and even other states for the great fishing that the St. Lawrence has to offer.
Normally by opening weekend the bass will have spawned but still be in shallow water. However this year with the cold winter and cold spring, the waters of the St. Lawrence River and eastern Lake Ontario are still in the upper 50 degree range so bass in these areas will not have spawned yet.
My friend and fishing partner Mike Seymour, who regularly guides on the St. Lawrence River, said that bass will likely be in their pre-spawn mode. This means that large females are more likely to be caught so he strongly encourages catch and release during the next few weeks to allow the bass to spawn. Bass will probably be near their traditional spawning habitat but will be found in somewhat deeper water than in years with a more normal water temperature.
Inland lakes even in the north country should have more normal water temperatures so bass should be in a spawning mode with the males guarding the nests. Heavy rains last weekend caused turbulent conditions but if there isn’t a lot more rain, the conditions should improve by this weekend.
The St. Lawrence offers great fishing but can be confusing or intimidating finding good spots in all that water. For information on guiding services contact Al Benas (686-3030), Myrle Bauer (686-2122) or Mike Seymour (379-0235).
In the Adirondacks the water is colder and in most waters the bass will have not yet spawned. You probably will do well to search for them in areas adjacent to the shallow spawning areas. Water levels were low from the abnormally dry spring, but recent rains have caused lake levels to rise to near normal levels.
Some of the top Adirondack bass waters include the Fulton Chain with largemouths in First and Second Lakes, and smallmouths in Third, Fourth, Seventh and Eighth Lake. Indian Lake, Long Lake, Tupper and Saranac Chain all provide excellent smallmouth fishing. Largemouths are found in Lows Lake, Durant, Abanakee, Oseetah Lakes and Raquette and Simon Ponds. Blue Mountain Lake and its connecting lakes of Eagle and Utowanah have both smallmouth and largemouth.
Those anglers targeting largemouth bass will typically fish the shallow waters, especially the edges of weed cover. Plastic worms, spinner baits, jigs or crankbaits worked along cover usually produces action.
Wherever you fish, my advice would be to start in the northwest corner of the lake because that is where bass usually spawn. Work the shallow areas and gradually fish deeper until you find fish. You might start looking for aggressive fish with spinners or small crankbaits but if the action is slow try a slower approach with jigs and curly tails or plastic worms. Plastic lizards often work well because bass hate them as nest raiders.
If you are fishing big waters you might want to drift and cover more territory while casting or using live minnows. In small ponds look for areas where two types of cover converge (e.g. weeds and tree tops). If the grass or weed growth is significant try Senko worms rigged wacky style.
But even if the fish don’t cooperate this weekend, remember that it is a long season and we have more places to go than we can possible fish in one season.
SHORT CASTS
Inlet Bass Derby: The Town of Inlet will hold a Bass Derby on Sunday, June 28. Contestants will fish the waters of the Fulton Chain from Fifth Lake to Old Forge Pond for eight hours. Boats will depart after a livewell inspection from the Inlet town dock in numerical order of their registration. Winning will be based on total weight of five legal bass. Only two anglers per boat are permitted and only artificial baits can be used.
Each boat must have some form of livewell and no contestant is allowed to pre-fish the waters after Wednesday, June 25. The public is invited to watch activities from the town beach. Reservations will be accepted by mail until June 20. For more information, email: raquette58@gmail.com
Free Fishing Days: The weekend of June 27–28 is designated as Free Fishing Weekend in New York State. Anyone can fish the state’s waters without a license, giving everyone the opportunity to sample the fishing and introduce, or renew the experience, of the fun of fishing. It is the perfect time to introduce a friend or relative to the sport.
Golden Park Program: If you are a NYS resident 62 or older, on any weekday (except holidays) you can obtain free vehicle access to state parks and arboreteums. Simply present your current valid NYS Driver’s License. This policy applies both to Office of Parks and Recreation and DEC facilities.
Free Guided Adirondack Hikes: The Town of Long Lake is offering free guided hiking trips throughout the summer based from Long Lake. Participants will be taken by shuttlebus from Long Lake to the various trailheads. The hikes will be led by NYS certified and experienced guides Spencer Morrissey and Joan Collins who always provide excellent trips and interesting facts along the way. Register now since these popular trips will fill up fast. The dates, itineraries, and descriptions of the distance, etc. can be found on the website: mylonglake.com. There is also a general list of what to wear and what to bring. Here is a chance to have some great adventures of varying distances and different points of interest.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A gem in the wilds of Quebec


A gentle breeze stirred the surface of the small lake as a loon swam alongside our small boat. The only sounds were the croaking of the heron along the shore or the subtle hum of our electric trolling motor. As we moved slowly along the deeper shoreline the steady tapping of our line indicated the Lake Clear Wobblers were vibrating as they should. Soon the sharp bend of the rod tip and a steady fight at the end of our line indicated that yet another brook trout had struck our offering.
My long-time friend and fishing partner, Mike Seymour, and I were enjoying great action fishing for brook trout deep in the wilds of Quebec. Although we were equipped to fish with other methods, including fly rod with sinking tip line and Wooly Buggers or Hornberg flies, casting spinners and other small lures or fishing worms with small Colorado spinner blades, we spent much of the time using the Lake Clear Wobblers since the action was so fast and we were having so much fun.
This was the scene for several days recently as we fished the small deep lakes at Bryson Lake Lodge situated in “the bush” of Quebec north of Fort Coulonge. In addition to fishing for brook trout we fished the big lake (Bryson Lake) for lake trout, walleye and northern pike while enjoying the scenery and attractions of Domaine du Lac Bryson. The 140 square mile property offers exclusive hunting and fishing territory to guests. In addition to the main lake which is over 15 miles long with many bays and coves, there are numerous ponds and lakes offering brook trout or pike fishing.
Even though it is remote and a considerable drive over a gravel road to reach it, the Bryson Lake Lodge property offers all the conveniences that you could want. Despite the image one might have of fishing camps or resorts deep in the woods of Quebec, these accommodations are well-built, modern and attractive. There are 15 cottages or chalets that hold families or groups of varying sizes. All except for the cottages located at the far end of the lake offer propane cooking and heat, running water, hot showers and electricity powered by generator during the day or battery at night.
The “shelter” is a new motel style unit with 10 housekeeping units, a large screened in porch and a lounge with a hot tub. The centerpiece is a recreation hall at the lodge with TV, internet, foosball, shuffleboard and many other games in addition to tables and comfortable chairs. There is a store for some supplies and fishing tackle although you have to bring your own food.
A large fleet of boats with motors give you easy access to the big waters of Lake Bryson. Smaller boats are cached at the nearby lakes for anglers who want to pursue brook trout or pike. You can either row or rent electric motors for plying these waters. Rentals of fish finders, fishing rods and reels are available as well as canoes, paddleboats, etc.
At the time we were there, the lake trout were transitioning from the shallows to the deeper water and our fish finder located many on the bottom. Denis LeBrun, the owner, said that actually catching them in summer is easier since they are concentrated in deeper holes. However one evening while we were fishing with Denis, we caught some smaller ones in relatively shallow water. Thanks to active management such as suggested minimum size of 21 inches and hauling in pebble sized rock for the spawning areas, the number and size of lake trout has increased in recent years.
The walleye typically spend the daylight hours in deeper water and move into shallow areas at dusk or under the cover of darkness to feed. Our best luck came on worm and spinner harnesses trolled slowly behind a bottom bouncer rig. We did catch some on jigs or Mepps spinners during daylight along the deeper areas adjacent to flats.
We were a little surprised to find that the larger pike were in deeper water than we expected. Other anglers were catching them by trolling. Using the expert advice from Denis, we went to a nearby bay where we were able to catch enough pike to complete the “Bryson Lake Grand Slam” (brook trout, lake trout, walleye and pike).
Because they have the exclusive hunting and fishing rights, Denis is able to negotiate with Quebec Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on a management program of limits and season as well as make improvements in the property. At considerable expense he has made the habitat improvements to spawning areas for lake trout, walleye and brook trout. Even though the regular limit is 10 brook trout, they have a quota of 5 trout per small lake to avoid overfishing.
To insure the quality experience of fishing in solitude you will be assigned a specific small lake as your exclusive fishing spot for that particular morning, etc. They are all great fishing spots but this is a way to rotate fishing pressure as well as give you the freedom and unique experience of having that area all to yourself.
The third component of a “Trifecta of Great Fishing Experience” is the people who run it. In addition to the great fishing opportunities, and excellent accommodations, Denis and Laurel LeBrun are super people. They are the most pleasant and accommodating people that you could ask for. They have owned and operated Domaine du Lac Bryson for 23 years after leaving their jobs with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. A lot of labor and money went into building a top-notch facility but their efforts also extend to making sure that your stay is exceptional.
Denis had been coming there since he was a youngster with his father but the original facility had been neglected and run down. He uses his experience with the fishing to put people into the right spots and using the right techniques to catch fish. They go out of their way to attend to every detail and personally make sure that your entire family enjoys their stay.
As we were preparing to leave, the first of the bear hunters were arriving. With  trail cameras and baited sites throughout the property there is nearly a 100 percent success rate. Nearly everyone sees bears but some pass up the bruins in anticipation of a bigger or special one. Moose hunting in the fall is also very successful and about half of the permit holders get a moose. The quota is set by Quebec DNR and Denis has separate sectors assigned that increase success as well as spread the harvest. A modern building with block and tackle, freezer, and walk-in cooler handles the big game.
Other attractions include canoeing, hiking, wildlife watching and small game hunting. Check the website www.lacbryson.com to see the facilities and more information. Better yet, call 819-683-1790 for information and start making plans to have your own great experience in the big woods of Quebec.
SHORT CASTS
Vernon Rod and Gun Kids Fishing Derby: The Vernon Rod and Gun club will hold a Kids Fishing Derby on June 12, from 6 – 8 p.m. Ages are from 1 – 15. Rain date will be June 19. It will be held at the Vernon Rod and Gun Club property on Stuhlman Road, across from Vernon Downs entrance. There will be hot dogs and drinks available for the kids. Prizes will be given out to all kids.
Inlet Bass Derby: The Town of Inlet will hold a Bass Derby on Sunday, June 28. Contestants will fish the waters of the Fulton Chain from Fifth Lake to Old Forge Pond for eight hours. Boats will depart after a livewell inspection from the Inlet town dock in numerical order of their registration. Winning will be based on total weight of five legal bass. Only two anglers per boat are permitted and only artificial baits can be used.
Each boat must have some form of livewell and no contestant is allowed to pre-fish the waters after Wednesday, June 25. The public is invited to watch activities from the town beach. Reservations will be accepted by mail until June 20. More information is available at:  raquette58@gmail.com.