Blogs > Oneida Outdoors

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fishing fair despite weather


Usually by this time of year, the weather has been a predictable pattern and the fishing is the same. A lot of it depends on the water temperature and levels as well as the biological clock from some species like salmon. Typically the warmer weather means tougher fishing for bass and walleye but anglers compensate by fishing deep. Warm temperatures and low water conditions usually force many trout fishermen to concentrate on late evening or night fishing.
But this year the water temperatures, at least on the larger bodies of water and rivers, are still cooler than normal. And the rapidly changing weather temperatures and frequent windy conditions have meant that there is little pattern to locating fish or predicting their behavior.
In some cases this can be good. When I recently returned from a two week trip, I checked with some local anglers about Oneida Lake fishing. The reports that I got indicated that with more moderate temperatures the fish were more active than they normally are at this time of year.
Several have said that walleye fishing has been better than it normally is in August. They have been catching walleye in the deeper area using stickbaits, bucktail jigs tipped with nightcrawlers or worm harnesses. Others have been taking walleye in the shallow water by using jigs or spinner and worm harnesses worked through the weeds.
Trout fishing on most of the areas streams has been decent but you have to fish in periods of low light and cooler conditions like early morning or just before dark to have any consistent action. Deeper pools or areas of aerated water like deep riffles at the heads of pools are best. However some areas of the southern tier or different parts of the region have suffered from a lack of water and trout fishing action is practically non-existent.
Salmon are scattered all over Lake Ontario and have not concentrated in pre-staging areas yet. But frequent strong winds will mix the layers of water of different temperatures and the salmon move frequently. This makes it very difficult to have any general pattern of depths or areas to find them in.
While talking with my friend Billy Hilts of Niagara Tourism earlier this week, he said that some nice salmon were being taken in the local derbies in Niagara and Orleans Counties. But the same variable and ever-changing weather makes it difficult to pin point a location or specific depth to find them. Early in the week people were catching salmon about 80 to 100 feet below the surface in areas over 300 to 450 depths.
Most of the salmon were being taken on Magnum spoons or Pro Troll E Chip Flashers with a green glo fly behind. Steelhead out west were being caught in the same areas but 40 to 60 feet down on spoons.
On my recent trip to Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks, the St. Lawrence River near Ogdensburg and the Golden Crescent area of eastern Lake Ontario, I encountered a variety of fishing conditions. While we were at Cranberry Lake it was rainy and windy so my searches for smallmouth bass were usually short and rather fruitless except for some small bass.
Up on the St. Lawrence River, I fished with my good friend Mike Seymour, who guides out of the Ogdensburg and Waddington areas. Mike said that the colder water there has disrupted the pattern of smallmouth bass and they were tougher to find on a regular basis. We drifted with worm and spinner rigs for walleye in the deeper areas of 50 feet without much success. Other anglers were having similar results.
We later trolled stickbaits over shoals about 25 feet down surrounded by deeper water and had a little better luck. None of the fish were monsters but Mike pointed out that the 18 to 20 inch sized fish were the better eating ones. While we filleted the fish on a friend’s dock, Mike showed the lateral red line that he removes to improve the taste. He said that large walleye have that red area all through the meat so it gives the fish a different flavor.
In his opinion the colder spring hurt the local population of walleye because the fish had not finished spawning and moving to deep water by the time the season opened. Thus a lot of people were catching many big fish for a long time and probably impacting the population of walleye for this year.
Conditions change, individual anglers have different tactics and different lures or baits make a difference. That is what makes it interesting and challenging. But even if it isn’t as great as we would like it to be, remember that it still beats painting the front porch or sealing the blacktop driveway.
SHORT CASTS
Youth Goose Hunt: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the Madison County NWTF are teaming up to offer a special youth goose
hunt again this year. Following the successful youth turkey hunt in May and the goose hunt in 2013, the Federation and NWTF are following a similar plan to introduce youngsters who may not otherwise have the opportunity to goose hunting.
The dates are September 20 and 21. Saturday, September 20 will be the meeting with parents, ECOs, and hunter mentors, target practice and other preparation for the next day’s hunt. This day starts at 9 a.m. until done. The actual hunt will take place on Sunday, September 21. Youngsters will have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for goose hunting and then actually experience it with the guidance of an ECO or hunter mentor in the field.
The program is open to youth age 12 to 17. A small game license is necessary for youngsters age 12 to 15 (they do not need a federal wildfowl stamp for this hunt) plus a HIP Number. Youth ages 16 to 17 will need all three. Interested participants should contact Scott Faulkner 315-225-0192, ECO Steve Lakeman 315-734-6648 or ECO Ric Grisolini 315-240-6966 for an application for this program. Space in the program is limited so be sure to register early.
LOC Derby: The Annual Lake Ontario Counties fishing derby will kick off its Fall Derby on August 15 and run until Labor Day. There will be over $52,000 in cash prizes, including a $25,000 prize for the top salmon. Register at www.loc.org or register in person at All Seasons Sports on Route 13 in Pulaski.
One Square Mile of Hope: Have fun, be part of a Guinness World Record and support a great cause at the same time. Join in the world’s largest “raft of canoes and kayaks” to regain the world record and raise money for breast cancer research.
One Square Mile of Hope – 2014 will take place on Saturday, September 13 at Arrowhead Park in Inlet. Boats will launch from twelve put-in places around the head of Lake by 11:30 a.m. and head for the rafting-up area (with all paddlers wearing PFD’s).
Special Opportunity to Visit Restricted Wetlands: The public will have a special opportunity to visit restricted portions of three Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties starting Saturday, Aug. 16 and continuing through Friday, Aug. 29. Opening these refuge wetland areas to the public for a limited period gives visitors a chance to connect with nature through hiking, canoeing and bird watching, with minimal impacts on wildlife.
For additional information, bird lists and maps, contact DECs Regional Wildlife Office at 315-785-2263 or visit the DEC web page at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8282.html.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sink your way to success


Are you one of those bass anglers who has a ton of plastic lures, most of which you rarely use? Many of us are in the same situation and most of my other plastic lures are used even less since I started using sinking worms a few years ago.
Several years ago I was complaining to my friend Frank Tennity about fishing some Adirondack lakes that contained nice bass but I was not catching a lot on the traditional lures that I normally used. I was catching a few bass but ended up snagging a lot of weeds, even on plastic worms rigged Carolina style.
Frank replied, “Have you tried Senkos?” When I admitted that I hadn’t, Frank said to come down to his camp on Honeyoe Lake and we would get an lesson on using them. Since Frank is a avid bass angler, a tournament angler and a fishing guide, I realized that this would be a golden opportunity.
It proved to be a great time and a great education. We fished about five hours that day and caught approximately 50 bass of all sizes. I learned a lot about sinking worms and, more importantly, gained the confidence to use them.
Unlike the normal plastic worms with curly tails or other modifications that are meant to be dragged or skipped along the bottom through vegetation, sinking worms really look like fat nightcrawlers. They are heavier and can be easily cast without any weight. As the name implies, these heavier worms will sink slowly when they hit the water.
Actually “Senko” worms are a brand name for the ones developed and marketed by bass pro Gary Yamomoto. However many anglers, including myself, use the copy-cat “sinking worms” made by other companies at half the price. There may be a difference but the bass haven’t noticed.
They come in many colors and sizes. Some are even salted and scented which some anglers believe makes the bass hold on to them a little longer giving you more time to set the hook. I have the best luck with black, green pumpkin, watermelon or motor oil colors. I prefer the five-inch size although some prefer shorter or longer.
Although sinking worms can be rigged and used Carolina or Texas style like other plastic worms, most people prefer to use them “Wacky style.” Simply use a large worm hook, size one to four, on the end of your line and hook it through the middle of the worm so the ends flop on either side.
Cast this out to likely bass cover such as over submerged weeds or along the edge of dense lily pad areas. As it hits the water, flip the bail on your reel and take up slack. Frequently, you’ll get a strike as the lure falls.
If there is no strike on the initial cast, lift the rod tip, take up slack and let it fall again. Retrieve it this way or by keeping the rod tip high and retrieving it slowly. Hits may be subtle such as the line moving sideways or they may be powerful when a big largemouth inhales and dives for the bottom.
When I asked my friend Frank why they are so effective he said that part of the reason is probably that when bass are in submerged weeds they can see the bait sinking slowly above the weeds and have a chance to hit it. With other plastics being dragged across the bottom you may not reach as many bass due to visibility. Other anglers have different theories but they agree that sinking worms are pretty effective in many situations. Ed Noonan - an outdoor writer, bass fishing guide and tournament angler - says that sinking “Wacky’ Worms are his go-to bait in most situations.
One bass tournament angler with an attitude commented that they are so simple “any idiot can use them.” But the last time I checked they did not give points for degree of difficulty in fishing, like they do in diving or aerial skiing competitions!
A couple people have commented that sinking worms cause untold numbers of bass to die from ingesting them. Of course, this is overlooking the fact that most bass are hooked in the lip when striking this lure, unlike the regular plastic worms which are often taken deep in the throat. And most of the sinking lure brands now are made of bio-degradable materials. Keep in mind that one of these persons is a weather reporter from Syracuse who is wrong more than he is correct and the other one believes in Bigfoot.
Like all lures or baits, these don’t work on all days or in all situations. But if you are frustrated by weeds or not having much action, grab some of these and “sink your way to success.”
Adirondack Loons Need Your Help
One species that continues to fascinate many people is the Adirondack loon. This bird is seen as the iconic symbol of the Adirondack waters and its calls and habits are entertaining for locals and visitors alike. Thanks to BRI Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, there is an increase in population due to research and publicity that has led to increased protection in many ways.
But loons only lay one or two eggs a year and there are many hazards or obstacles to successfully hatching and raising a chick or two. Many of the loons in the central Adirondacks have not raised any young in the past four years for a variety of reasons. Some of this was due to infertility of the pairs but more of a factor was high water or disturbance of the nests.
Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is pleased to announce the launch of a new campaign on Adirondack Gives, www.adirondackgives.org, the crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits. This campaign will provide support for the placement of trail cameras near approximately 30 common loon nest sites in the Adirondack Park to document nesting behaviors, clutch size and hatch dates for Adirondack loons, and to assess the primary factors (e.g., predation, human disturbance) impacting the birds during incubation.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) provided the cameras for this project. Support from this campaign, which is seeking to raise $1,100 over the next two months, will cover the cost of the lithium-ion batteries and high capacity SD cards used in the cameras.
“By placing cameras at a variety of loon nest sites, we are better able to assess the impacts of such factors as water level fluctuation, shoreline development, human disturbance and predation on loon nesting success,” explained Dr. Nina Schoch, Coordinator of BRI’s Adirondack Loon Center. “A pilot study we did in 2013 documented the failure of one loon nest likely related to intensive human disturbance on a busy campground lake, while another nest on a remote lake hatched two chicks successfully.”
Images collected in this project will be utilized by the NYS DEC to better manage loon nesting sites in the Adirondack Park to help ensure the successful hatching of loon chicks. This project is conducted under BRI’s federal and state scientific collection permits, and in collaboration with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
The nesting period is one of the most critical stages during the annual life cycle of loons to ensure continued survival, long-term sustainability and potential growth of their populations. Thus, it is highly recommended that boaters and paddlers give incubating loons their privacy, and watch them from a wide distance with binoculars, instead of disturbing them and potentially causing a nest to fail. It is important to learn about the normal behavior of loons (and other wildlife), so one can properly interpret when a bird is stressed by your presence.
To learn more, or to contribute to this campaign, visit www.adirondackgives.org, and click on “Help Unveil the Secret Lives of Loons.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fun for a great cause


Do you want to have a great time, help a great cause and be part of a Guinness World Record, all at the same time? It is all at the event called the One Square Mile of Hope. A “human raft” of canoes and kayaks will be formed out in Fourth Lake in Inlet to attempt to break the Guinness World Record again. It is a great day of fun but, most importantly, the money raised will go to breast cancer research.
One Square Mile of Hope – 2014 will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 in Arrowhead Park in Inlet. Boats will launch from twelve put-in places around the head of Fourth Lake by 11:30 a.m. and head for the rafting-up area (with all paddlers wearing PFDs). The planes will fly over at noon for the requisite official photos and video. After the record is broken (and it will be!) then it’s back to the park for music, food, raffles, health and wellness displays and activities. Go to onesquaremileofhope.org for photos and complete information. Registration is open now.
This is the third such event to be held at Arrowhead Park on Fourth Lake. In 2008, the Inlet paddlers put together a raft of 1,104 boats, soundly defeating Cleveland’s record. Inlet held the record until 2010 when a group on a confluence of rivers in Pittsburgh took the record with 1,619 boats. Then, in 2011, OSM-2011 regained the status of world champs with 1,902 boats. That record stood until last year when a group in Sutton’s Bay on Lake Michigan floated 2,099 boats, upping the record by nearly 200.
This year’s committee, led by co-chairs Connie Perry and Carolyn Belknap, is aiming to bring together a raft of 3,000 boats and to raise $100,000 in funds for the fight against breast cancer. Well-known boat companies Placid Boatworks, Necky Kayaks and Eddyline Kayaks have each donated a boat to be offered as prizes in a raffle, for which tickets are already on sale and will continue to be until Sept. 13.
The entire day is replete with raffles, Chinese auction, silent auction, delicious (healthy) foods, wellness activities and many booths which focus on providing information concerning healthy-living and cancer prevention. To top off all of this, a variety of live musical groups, ranging from country to pop to rock to classical, will perform throughout the day. You won’t be able to resist buying into the boat raffle and participating in the auctions for unbelievable items.
You can sign up at the Inlet Information Office in person, Call 1-866-GO INLET or visit the website www.OneSquareMileofHope.org. Register Now. Be part of a Guinness Word Record, have a lot of fun, and support a great cause all in one.
SHORT CASTS
Canalfest Family Fishing Derby: The Canalfest Annual Family fishing Derby, which is organized by The Rome Rotary Club, will be held Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at Bellamy Harbor Park in Rome on the NYS Barge Canal.
Registration is free and starts at 7:30 a.m. All participants must register to be eligible to win. Participants must have valid fishing licenses in accordance with requirements set forth by New York State (NYS). Participants must provide their own tackle. Worms will be available.
No fishing will be allowed prior to the Derby start at 8:00 a.m. Fish must be caught during the Derby and all “game fish” presented for weigh-in must meet NYS minimum length requirements. Fish must be caught in the canal between the Mill Street Bridge and the Arterial Bridge.
Weigh-in will be continuous, from 8:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Participants must be present to win and fish must be alive to be considered for award.
There will be door prizes, cash awards in various categories and all children who catch a fish and bring it to weigh-in can enter for a random drawing. The adult category is for those 13 and over and a children’s category for 12 and under.
For information contact Keith Butters – kabutters@aol.com or (315) 725-6063.
Bass Pro Shops Fall Hunting Classic: The Fall Hunting Classic, held at 710 Horatio St. in Utica is set for Aug. 1-17. This annual event offers free seminars led by nationally recognized professional hunters, special offers and a chance to win the “Once in a Lifetime Hunting Trip.”
In addition to free seminars and great deals on hunting gear, customers can also enter a sweepstakes to win the “Once in a Lifetime Helicopter Hunting Trip with Brian Pigman Quaca” with a retail value of approximately $9,000. Visit http://www.basspro.com/classic for details.
During the Fall Hunting Classic, nationally recognized professional hunters, local pros and outdoorsmen and women will conduct seminars at the stores and answer hunters’ questions.
Other special events offered at the Utica store location are:
• Aug. 2 - Bass Pro Shops Hunting University offers free classes taught by top pros. Nate Hosie, co-host of “HeadHunters,” will host a question and answer session from noon to 4 p.m. Bob Foulkrod, host of “Winchester Legends” and co-host of “100% Real Hunting,” will discuss “The Number One Thing You Should Know Before Going on Any Hunt” at 1 p.m.
• Aug. 9 – Women interested in learning how to hunt or to improve their hunting skills can attend a Women’s Hunting Workshop workshop with tips, resource information and advice.
• Aug. 9-10 – At the On Target Challenge, held in cooperation with Daisy, youths can learn 10 safety tips and the basics for safe, fun and accurate BB shooting at the Bass Pro Shops/Daisy BB shooting range. Seminars will be held at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day. Other activities for kids during Next Generation Weekend include an archery range from noon to 5 p.m. and fun craft coloring projects from noon to 4 p.m.
• Aug. 15-17 - Free seminars to be offered during Hunter Appreciation Weekend are: “Big Game Are All Around You” on Aug. 15 at 7 p.m.; “New Approaches to Fall Success” on Aug. 16-17 at 1 p.m.; “Tender Venison” on Aug. 16-17 at 2 p.m.; “Does Camo Pattern Really Matter?” on Aug. 16-17 at 3 p.m.; “Big Game Hunting Near Home” on Aug. 16-17 at 4 p.m. and “Integrate Your Game Camera With Mobile Devices” on Aug. 16-17 at 5 p.m.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Still time to complete summer checklist


“Summer came and left without a warning.
All at once I looked and you were gone.”
- Richard Marx. “Endless Summer Nights”

Are you old enough to remember the popular song “Endless Summer Nights?”
It certainly seemed like that back in June but now the summer is half over and it will be gone all too soon. Raise your hand if you are one of the people who did not get much of their list of summer activities checked off. I thought so!
But, like that proverbial glass half full, the good news is that we still time left to get a lot of enjoyable activities in. They don’t all have to be lengthy, spectacular or expensive. But if they are, that’s OK too. The important thing is not to let summer slip away and regret or complain about it later.
A lot of us remember summer picnics that used to be more frequent. They didn’t have to be exotic or special events. We just packed the goodies, went someplace and relaxed and had fun. Has your family done that this summer?
Leave the electronics at home, turn off the cell phone and make a point of doing it several times in the next few weeks. The problem isn’t entirely our fault. There are more things competing for our time and many families have second jobs or have to work weekends these days. But plan some relaxing get-aways, even if it is only for a few hours.
Have you spent much time fishing? It’s true that the weather and fishing conditions have been less than ideal this year but even an off day of fishing beats sitting home watching TV or playing electronic games.
It doesn’t have to be a lengthy trip. Nearly every park, lake or major stream in Central New York harbors decent bass fishing. Panfishing can be fun for the kids or the whole family. Treat it that way, then clean and fillet a mess of the panfish for a family supper they will remember.
Trout fishing can be tougher during the day in summer months but maybe your schedule allows you to hit area streams in the early morning or evening. Other streams like Chittenango Creek, Oriskany Creek or larger waters like Mad River, West Branch Fish Creek or West Canada Creek are worth the extra travel time.
Have you visited a State Park this summer? Most provide areas for picnicking, swimming, hiking and other activities. Remember that Senior Citizens get the Golden Passport (free admission) on weekdays and veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan get free admission. Check out several in the next few weeks.
If paddling quiet waters is your type of activity, there are lots of places to launch your canoe or kayak for a pleasant trip. Some sections of the old Erie Canal, most of the Madison County Reservoirs, Prospect Pond, the upper Chenango River, Sangerfield River or Redfield Reservoir are just some of the places to try. The Central Adirondacks are only a little over an hour away and offer lots of scenic and easy places to paddle.
If you are paddling some place that you are not familiar with, be sure to check ahead of time for conditions, ask someone who knows or do a scouting trip. A few years ago there was an ill-fated trip for some local people though the Ohio Gorge that nearly ended in disaster and did result in some serious injury and losses. A different trip down the Chenango River near Norwich last year in locally high water conditions also had an unpleasant ending and the loss of a couple canoes.
If you are looking for something more adventuresome, consider a rafting trip. Whitewater Challengers in Old Forge runs trips on the Middle Branch of the Moose River or the Salmon River that are mainly going through big friendly waves with expert guides doing the navigating. Call 335-1681 for more information.
The River and Rail experience on the Moose River is special. Rent a canoe or kayak or bring your own, make arrangements with Tickners Canoes Outfitters at 369-6286 and paddle for a leisurely four hours down the Moose. Pull out at Tickners Landing and you and your vessel ride the Adirondack Scenic RR back to Old Forge.
Consider a fishing charter. You can put together a group of friends and family for a big game adventure on Lake Ontario catching salmon and trout. Just don’t wait until mid-August to try and book a trip or you will be out of luck. Incidentally it is not too early to make your reservations for salmon fishing on the rivers this fall with a guide. Full or half day trips on the St. Lawrence River help you explore a beautiful region and enjoy some action fishing for bass and pike.
Grab your water bottle, some Bug Guard and your camera and do some hiking. Area trails may provide some interesting sights as well as exercise. For those who want a different venue, there are a wide variety of trails in the Adirondacks for all abilities and distances. Just make a realistic assessment of your own abilities and be prepared for weather changes, emergencies, etc.
There are all the traditional water sports like boating and swimming at different lakes throughout the area. Take your sunscreen and your PFDs and have a relaxing afternoon away from the distractions at home.
There are other points of interest like wineries, historic sites or attractions that can be a day trip or an overnight get-away. Combine this trip with some of the aforementioned activities to make it a full day of fun.
Remember that summer and all it has to offer is one of the main reasons that we live in upstate New York. Don’t waste it. As I have said before, it is doubtful that someday your kids will say “gee, remember the time we mowed the grass together?”
Unique Stone Imaging
We are often looking for ways to record a memorable moment or trophy catch. Reproduction fish mounts are expensive so we save them for something special.
Photos are a nice way to remember or display that great catch, a special moment, or a beautiful scenic vista. One problem might be space to display them all or the fact that we have so many of them that they do not stand out from so many others.
Last winter at an outdoor show we were fortunate to have the magazine booth next to a nice young couple, Dan and Tara Licht, that had a fascinating display. Looking at their work and talking to them made me very interested in their product. Many people are often looking for ways to decorate our homes or offices with items that remind us of family, the outdoors or of personal adventures. One product that is different but striking is Unique Stone Imaging.
Dan Licht uses a chemical product to transfer photos or digital images to Pennsylvania flagstone, which makes an unusual and striking plaque to hang on your wall or set on your desk. The stones come in various sizes and you can purchase some of their pre-made plaques or create your own. Your prints or digital images can be made into a long-lasting, beautiful and unusual display
For example I have a photograph of a bear cub that I won an award with made into a stone image. The quality is amazing and it makes a striking memory of your special moment or place.
They have many wildlife or outdoor scenes available, but you can also provide your own photos or digital images of trophy fish, family portraits, or scenery, etc. for a distinct personalized image. It is then sealed to preserve it. Various sizes are available. Check them out at www.uniquestoneimaging.com or call (814)-260-5632.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Choosing the right kayak


Outdoorsmen have a fascination with boats and that includes kayaks, one of the fastest growing segments of the watercraft industry. The ease of using them, their versatility and the freedom that they give you adds up to a whole lot.
When we are kayaking various locations, especially local waters, people frequently ask us lots of questions. Many of the questions involve stability, ease of paddling, sea-worthiness and their suitability for fishing. Many people who know us sometimes ask for suggestions since they know that we spend countless hours each summer in our kayaks.
There is no standard answer for what type of kayak one should buy. Scott Locorini, owner of Adirondack Exposure, explains that it depends on what a person wants to do and what type of water they plan to paddle. This will determine the type, length and material best suited for that person.
There are three basic categories of kayaks: whitewater, touring and recreational. For most people a recreational kayak is the normal choice. These are the type that most of us would use for quiet rivers, small lakes and ponds and the protected shoreline of larger lakes. Within that category there are many designs, variations and models to choose from.
Most recreational kayaks range from 10 to 14 feet in length. According to Locorini, longer length means better tracking and efficiency, while shorter ones are more maneuverable. However, shorter ones also tend to be wider so they require more effort in paddling and tend to wander from a straight line in paddling.
Within the longer kayaks there can be a difference in width. Narrower kayaks have more speed and ease of paddling but lack the initial stability of slightly wider ones. It takes a bit more concentration and care to get into the narrower ones without tipping. However the secondary stability is usually good since you have a low center of gravity, i.e. sitting right at water level.
Kayaks are made of several materials. Most common is polyethylene which is rugged, resilient and moderate in price and weight. Composites of Kevlar or fiberglass are lighter but less durable and cost more.
You can get superlight kayaks but the prices are very high, usually three or four times what you would pay for a regular polyethylene kayak. Thermoplastics represent a midpoint between the polyethylene and composites in price, weight and durability. We recently purchased two Hurricane Santee Sport models and are very pleased with them.
Cockpit sizes vary and larger cockpits make it easier for people, especially larger paddlers, to enter and exit. They also make it easier to carry gear such as photo equipment or fishing tackle in front of you. Of course the more cockpit space you have, the more likely you are to get splashed by waves, etc. Spray skirts can help solve that problem.
As mentioned earlier, the touring kayaks are longer and narrower for traveling long distances. They have many other features such as storage compartments or rudders designed for the person who wants to cover long distances such as on a camping trip or long voyage. They are heavier, less maneuverable, and more expensive so unless you are planning on distance trips across big water, you really don’t want a touring kayak.
I am often asked the question about how convenient it is to fish out of a kayak. Keep in mind that the initial users of kayaks, the Eskimos, depended on them for getting their food. Because of the increased popularity of kayaks and fishing, now there are several specialized models designed just for fishing. Fishing kayaks are the fasting growing niche within this popular sport.
However most recreational kayaks will do just fine with a little adjustment on your part and limiting your tackle. Locorini reminds us that you can trick out any recreational kayak to be a fishing kayak or you can go for some pre-designed models with larger cockpits, rod holders, etc. Some people fasten rod holders or paddle holders to their recreational kayaks while others prefer removable clips such as those make by Yakima to hold rods and paddles.
The open or “sit-upon” kayaks offer ease of movement, stability and many features including the ability to add electronics like fish finders or live wells. Another factor to consider is weight. Since they generally are heavy, most people trailer them or leave them at camp where they fish a single body of water. Most are definitely not the type you will easily hoist up on your vehicle.
For general paddling and exploring, consider the factors of weight and width that were discussed earlier. Remember that initial stability, a comfortable seat and a good back rest are important considerations for anyone who plans to spend considerable time in their kayak.
Your best bet is to test paddle several types and models to see how they handle, how comfortable each is and other factors such as weight. Take the opportunity to test paddle several and you will probably join the growing ranks of people who spend much of the summer in their kayak.
If you are new to kayaking or want to develop your skills further, consider taking various paddling classes from Locorini of Adirondack Exposure. He is a licensed Adirondack guide and a member of the Kayak Hall of Fame. Locorini is located four miles south of Old Forge on Rte. 28 near Okara Lakes. Check out web site www.adirondackexposure.com or call Scott at 315-335-1681.
Kayaks are actually very stable since you have a low center of gravity sitting right at water level. They are easy to paddle, go where other boats cannot go and are easy to transport. Choose wisely and join the growing ranks of people who have discovered just how much fun kayaking is.
SHORT CASTS
Clayton Decoy Show: Enjoy Clayton’s 46th Annual Decoy, Wildlife Art and Sporting Collectibles Show on July 18 and 19. The event is put on by Thousand Islands Museum and runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Vendors and exhibitors participating include nationally-known carvers, wildlife artists and vintage decoy and sporting collectible dealers.
There will also be a Vintage Decoy contest on Friday at 11 a.m. At noon on Friday, the Art Knapp Singles Contest will take place in the arena. There will be a Guide’s Traditional Shore Dinner available on Friday ($20) from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Coyote Moon Vineyards, sponsored by Classic Island Cruises. Proceeds will go to Thousand Island Museum.
Kids Fishing Follow Up: Have you taken your kids fishing lately? If not, shame on you. If you think that taking them to the local derby or going on the Free Fishing Days (for adults) last month were enough, you are wrong. Surveys show that less than half of the kids who attend one of the many derbies in the spring, ever pickup a fishing rod again for the rest of the year! Make it part of a family outing, go for a special hour or so after supper or make it a special day. But don’t delay. The days are already getting shorter!
Crossbow Banquet: The New York Crossbow Coalition will hold its first annual banquet on July 26 at the Ramada Inn, Buckley Rd, Syracuse. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. There will be raffles, auctions, deluxe buffet and informational presentations. Various ticket packages and sponsorships are available. For more information contact NYCC, PO Box 316, Pulaski, NY 13142 or email rick@nycrossbowcoalition.com.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thousand Islands offer variety of fun


The river flowed strongly between the scenic islands with currents swirling in often strange patterns. Along the rocky shores, blending in with the brush or cattails, stood herons waiting patiently for their next meal. Overhead ospreys would soar until they spotted a fish and then plummet and dive into the water in an attempt to seize their prey.
Scattered throughout the watery wonderland were fishing boats of all size as anglers attempted to find the right location and test their skills for the prized gamefish that the area is known for. The Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River is known for many things but for many of us the fishing takes top spot in our minds.
In the area near Clayton, the river is six miles wide and includes an amazing variety of islands ranging from the large ones, like Grindstone and Wellesley, to smaller ones less than an acre in size. Iroquois Indians called this the Garden of the Great Spirit and today most people still view the area with similar awe.
The fishing is what draws many of us to the area. The area is known for the great variety of gamefish and the quality of the fishing experience. For most of the past 35 years I have made it a point to open the bass season in the Thousand Islands.
Unfortunately this year was a major disappointment for most bass fishermen. The cold winter affected a lot of things and the cold water flowing down from the Great Lakes affected the St. Lawrence River fishing. Normally bass have just finished spawning at this time of year and are still in shallow water. But this year, with the water temperature still in the high 50s for most of the river, the bass had not moved into shallow water yet.
Anglers who fished the areas where they normally find largemouth or smallmouth bass were disappointed. The few bass that were caught were often caught in deeper water while fishing for northern pike. My best was a 3 1/2 lb. largemouth that hit in about 18 feet of water. Most anglers in the Clayton – Alexandria Bay area had similar experiences.
Northern pike fishing was generally good. Pike had spawned and many of them were in the bays with cooler water and had not moved out as deep as they normally would be. A lot of anglers who targeted pike found them in about 15 to 25 feet of water. Using jigs, spoons or live bait along the edge of drop-offs or the weedlines produced some nice pike.
The river contains an amazing amount of gamefish including largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge and walleye. Tasty panfish such as perch and crappie are popular with many anglers. Shallow weedy bays harbor bragging sized largemouth while the rocky structure, varying depths and faster moving currents are a smallmouth heaven. Of course, the mysterious muskellunge excites the imagination of many anglers but that is mainly an autumn fishery when they feed aggressively. At this time of year they are usually taken by trolling at night, especially downriver near Ogdensburg.
Fishing in the Thousand Islands region can be great but the river is difficult to figure out with the irregular bottom, confusing depths and varying current patterns. It can also be hazardous if you are not familiar with the many shoals, etc. Your best bet is to hire a guide. Contact 1000 Islands Fishing Charters at (315) 686-2381 or Captain Mike Seymour for Ogdensburg at (315) 379-0235 for more information on charters.
But the Thousand Islands region, especially Clayton, offers more than just fishing. There is boating, swimming, nature centers, art galleries, golf, museums and more. If you are looking for a vacation, extended weekend, or a short get-away, consider Clayton and the Thousand Islands region. There are all types of accommodations, including a new luxury hotel scheduled to open on the Clayton waterfront later this summer. Contact the Clayton-1000 Islands Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-252-9806 or e-mail info@1000Islands-Clayton.com.
We were staying at Grass Point State Park near Fishers Landing. From our campsite we could enjoy the beautiful scenery, the sight of many boats on the river and lakers and ocean-going freighters plying the St. Lawrence Seaway. On several days it was a relaxing break to go kayaking. One of our favorite trips involves going along the north shore of Wellesley Island near the State Park and travelling around the Canadian Islands.
In addition to evenings around the campfire by the riverbank, we visited with friends, and occasionally dined at some of our favorite restaurants. Visits to local wineries like Thousand Islands Winery or Coyote Moon are a great experience. Now there is another excellent winery, the Cape Wintery, located upriver in Cape Vincent. They make great wines and a visit to their showroom is a pleasant experience. Check their website www.TheCapeWinery.com.
The Thousand Islands hold a special place in my heart ever since my childhood and the days there pass all too quickly. We are already planning our next trip there. Maybe the fish will be more cooperative next time.
SHORT CASTS
Fenner Fur Rondy: The Independent Fur Harvesters of Central NY will hold its annual summer Fur Rondy on July 11 and 12, 2014 at Nichols Pond. There will be family fun, trapping business and a Trapper Training Class. Contact Al LaFrance (682-2050) for more information.
Clayton Decoy Show: Enjoy Clayton’s 46th Annual Decoy, Wildlife Art and Sporting Collectibles Show on July 18 and 19, 2014. The event is put on by Thousand Islands Museum and runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Vendors and exhibitors participating include nationally-known carvers, wildlife artists and vintage decoy and sporting collectible dealers
There will also be a Vintage Decoy contest on Friday at 11 a.m. At Noon on Friday, the Art Knapp Singles Contest will take place in the arena. There will be a Guide’s Traditional Shore Dinner available on Friday ($20) from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Coyote Moon Vineyards, sponsored by Classic Island Cruises. Proceeds will go to Thousand Island Museum.
Bass Pro Shops “Summer Camp”: Bass Pro Shops will be holding free family activities at its Utica store from now through July 13, on every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. There will be free workshops every afternoon for kids, approximately 20 minutes in length. These will include bird watching, fishing, archery, kayaking, backyard adventure, shooting and hunting, travel safety, water safety and camping. There will also be free shooting arcade and casting challenge. In addition, there will be crafts classes on various days from noon until 2 p.m. Check the website www.basspro.com for exact times and details.
Adirondack Outdoors & Lake Ontario Outdoors: The summer issues of Adirondack and Lake Ontario Outdoors magazines are now available. Articles ranging from fly fishing for pike, bass and salmon are among the features of Lake Ontario Outdoors. Adirondack Outdoors is a summer fishing special with additional pages covering all major fishing topics, hiking, paddling destinations and camping information for the Adirondacks. It will soon be available at many newsstands throughout central New York. In the meantime you can pick up complimentary copies at no charge at Hanifin Tire & Service Center or Sweet Temptations Café in Oneida.
Essex Chain UMP: The DEC recently announced the draft of the Unit Management Plan for the Essex Chain of Lakes in the recently acquired Adirondack lands between Indian Lake, Long Lake and Newcomb. You can view the complex regulations, maps, etc. on the web site www.dec.ny.gov/land97474html. Comments will be accepted until July 18.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Make boating season a safe one


Boat Safety
The beginning of summer, especially the Fourth of July Holiday, is traditionally the busiest boating time of the year. Let’s make sure that it is a safe and pleasant experience for everyone.
With the busy boating and canoeing season coming up it is worth reminding everyone about boat safety. New laws about operating a boat under the influence of alcohol have been passed and hopefully these will reduce the number of accidents on our waterways. Keep alert and save the refreshments until after the boat has been docked for the day.
It is also important to note that laws require a wearable type I, II or III PFD (life jacket) be aboard every vessel, including canoe or kayak. Children under 12 must wear a PFD while aboard a boat or canoe. In fact everyone should wear them since nobody plans on having an accident. Injury, shock from cold water and current can inhibit your ability to swim and statistics show that most deaths result from drowning.
Know the rules of the road about giving sailboats a wide berth, and use courtesy like reducing waves around smaller craft like fishing boats, canoes and kayaks to avoid swamping them. Be alert for kayaks and other boats that are smaller and ride low to the surface of the water. Familiarize yourself about common rules of passing or meeting other boats.
It is also the law to reduce speed and avoid causing wakes in many areas along sensitive shorelines, docks and other areas. Use common sense, stay alert, and make this a safe season on the water.
Boat Launch Courtesy
With the holiday weekend soon to arrive and great weather in the forecast it is certain to be a busy season on the water. Boat launches will be busy so be sure to use courtesy and keep things moving smoothly so you won’t interfere with others. We realize that veteran boaters are familiar with these procedures but some newer boaters may not think of these so here are some hints to make sure all have a smooth launch or landing.
Make sure your battery is cranking fresh. Running it off the trailer is not the time to find out you need a charge. Have an experienced person back the trailer down. This is not the weekend or the location to give your wife or son some learning experience. Get your boat ready before you launch. Have your gear aboard, tackle in place, water skis or coolers all set in the parking lot, not spend time doing it at the dock. After you pull your boat out of the water, move the trailer off to the side out of other people’s way before you fasten down everything for the trip home.
Boat Regulations Target Invasive Species
As part of an aggressive effort to prevent invasive species from entering and damaging New York water bodies, the State DEC adopted new regulations that require boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and associated equipment, and to drain boats prior to launching from DEC lands.
The regulations, which are effective now, pertain to all DEC boat launches, fishing access sites and other DEC lands where watercraft such as boats, kayak or canoes, can be launched into the water.
These new regulations will help reinforce the message that boaters need to clean their equipment of any clinging plant and animal materials and drain their boats prior to launching at lands administered by DEC.
Boaters should take the following steps to ensure that their boat, trailer and equipment are free of aquatic invasive species: Visually inspect the boat, trailer and other fishing and boating equipment and remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to it. Materials should be disposed of in one of the Nuisance Invasive Species Disposal Stations installed at many DEC boat launches, in the trash or at an upland location away from the launch ramp.
Drain the boat’s bilge and any other water holding compartments such as live wells, bait wells and bilge tanks. This does not apply to water associated with sanitary systems or drinking water supplies.
Drying boats is also highly recommended but is not required under the new regulations. Boaters who are unable to dry their boats between uses should flush the bilge and other water holding compartments with water, preferably at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Microscopic larval forms of aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels and spiny waterflea, can live in as much as a drop of water.
To ensure that these organisms are not accidentally spread, anything holding water should be dried, flushed or disinfected with hot water to ensure that these aquatic invasive species are not spread. Additional information on AIS and disinfection recommendations can be found www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48221.html.
The new regulations are available at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/propregulations.html.
SHORT CASTS
Camping Photo Contest: New York State Campgrounds are sponsoring a 2014 NY Camping Photo Contest. Time period is Memorial Day to Columbus Day. For a complete list of photo categories, contest rules, and to enter the contest, visit www.reserveamerica.com/nycampingphotocontest.
Streamline Canoes: While I was at Paddlefest last month I had the pleasure of having my booth next to the display of the Weaver family of Canastota. Nathan and Kristine Weaver operate a 100% grass-fed organic dairy farm between Canastota and Peterboro. Since their dairy farm includes a sizable amount of quality timber they can utilize for wood resources, including building wood strip canoes.
Their daughter Luann and son Alex spend time at Bear Mountain Boat Shop in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. At this shop they have learned from world class boat builder Ted Moore. When the farm work slows in the winter the family converges into the timber-framed farm shop to build a few select canoes. Family labor fells the trees, cuts it into lumber, air dry it, cut and plane it to size. Finally their crafts put it together into a beautiful, practical canoe.
They can even customize the canoe to your choice of wood and design. I was very impressed with the workmanship and beauty of these canoes. Not only are they works of art but they are easily paddled and comfortable. I was also impressed with the light weight of these canoes. The transparent fiberglass and epoxy coatings on both sides of the hull give the boat strength. The canoes are available with hand caned seats.
If you appreciate beautiful canoes that are also practical and efficient, you owe it to yourself to check out the Streamline Canoes. Visit the Weaver family farm at 4225 E. Mile Strip Rd, Canastota, NY. Call 684-3391 for times or more information.
Crossbow Banquet: The NY Crossbow Coalition will hold its first annual banquet on July 26 at the Ramada Inn, Buckley Rd, Syracuse. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. There will be raffles, auctions, deluxe buffet and informational presentations. Various ticket packages and sponsorships are available. For more information contact NYCC, PO Box 316, Pulaski, NY 13142 or email rick@nycrossbowcoalition.com.
Backpacking Tip: Use your watch as a compass. If you are lost without a compass, point the hour hand of your watch at the sun. Halfway between the hour hand and the 12 on the watch will be south. This works even with Daylight Saving Time.