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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, October 22, 2014

Northern Zone deer season opens with high hopes

The first orange light appears on the southeastern horizon as the sun rises and its soft light filters through the barren branches of the trees along a hillside. A hunter snuggles into his jacket to protect against the early morning chill while watching the gray shadows along what he hopes will be a route for a whitetail buck. As the forest comes alive with the sound of birds, squirrels and other creatures, the anticipation, excitement and hope build.
The weather forecast for this weekend seems good, unlike the past week or last weekend. Cool clear weather will be a welcome change and make for a pleasant weekend in the woods or fields instead of the rain and chill that characterized the week of muzzleloading season.
Calendars have been marked for weeks. Hours of scouting resulting in plans have been made and revised. On Saturday thousands of red or orange clad hunters will be afield at daybreak eagerly watching for America’s number one big game animal – the whitetail deer.
The traditional Northern Zone deer season opener is still a magic moment, even though it has lost some of the significance since the advent of the popular bow hunting and muzzleloading seasons. It is still a big event for those who enjoy hunting the big woods and carrying on tradition.
For those who hunt the northern zone, there is a special feeling that can’t be described or easily put into words. Of course there is the eagerness and hope that we will be successful in bagging a deer but it is the special feeling of being in the woods, the challenge of trying to outwit one of nature’s noblest animals and a feeling that we have several weeks of fun and adventure ahead of us.
Opening day in the northern zone is more of a time of excitement and anticipation than it is a time of increased success. Unlike the southern zone where over 40 percent of the bucks taken are shot on opening day, success throughout the northern zone is evenly spaced throughout the season. Thus the odds this weekend are no better but the excitement is greater. Nevertheless there never will be more deer in the woods than there will be this weekend.
The fact that northern woods have less deer per square mile, bigger territory and less hunters afield means that success is lower. But the challenge of hunting these wily animals, the excitement and the chance for a big buck keeps many hunters going. The tradition of deer camps or testing your skill and woodsmanship in the big woods is a magnet for many people regardless of success ratio.This does not mean that there is a deer behind every tree or that they will be easy to get. These are big woods and deer will use their many keen senses to avoid hunters. Your best bet is to find escape routes or funnels and let others move deer past you or hunt the popular food sources. There doesn’t seem to be many beechnuts or even apples in the north country this year but in areas of oak trees there is a good crop of acorns.
Of course many of us who hunt the northern zone do because we like to. There may be less deer than in many areas of the southern zone but we like the challenge and experience. Your odds of getting a deer in the northern zone are perhaps half of what they will be in the southern zone but most hunters like the big woods, the variety of wildlife they often see and the challenge of testing your skills as a hunter.
You feel like you are hunting because you typically have lots of area to try your favorite tactics. If the deer are not in the location you anticipate you often have the room and ability to move elsewhere. You are not hemmed into a small patch, hoping that deer pass through, as in many areas of the southern zone. A part of the appeal of northern zone hunting is the ability to look into a patch of woods and not see out the other side!
Hunters have their own favorite methods of hunting including sitting on watch, driving or still-hunting. One thing you should definitely not do is wander aimlessly through the woods or fields, expecting a deer to pop up in front of you and stand there.
Remember that deer have great senses of smell, hearing, and sight and they will easily detect and avoid anybody just out for a stroll.
Sitting on watch may be more productive this weekend because there will be more hunters than normal in some areas and they may move deer around. Normally early morning or just before sunset are the periods when deer are on the move. Keep in mind that most big bucks are nocturnal by nature.
Since there are fewer hunters these days and consequently smaller groups of hunters, many opt for having some hunters sitting a likely spots while one or two others still hunt towards them. The key is to move slowly and have the watchers at likely escape routes or funnels. Consider wind direction when placing watchers or planning the route of the hunters on the move.
Of course safety should be a concern in any method we use. Be sure of your target and beyond. Always treat every gun as if it is loaded, and be certain to keep it under control. Unload your gun while climbing tree stands, stone walls, etc. Wear orange or red for your own safety. Remember that blaze orange is most visible, especially in periods of low light.
Good luck to everyone. Remember that any buck is a trophy, regardless of size. And even if you don’t have any action on opening weekend, keep in mind that it is a long season for a reason. Enjoy the experience because the season will be over before you know it.
Deer Hides Wanted: This weekend with the opening of Northern Zone Season should see a lot of deer harvested. For the deer hunters who have been successful and are wondering what to do with the hide, Jim Ward of Oneida Trap Supply is again buying hides. Call Jim at 363-2913 for information and hours.
Adirondack Railroad Comments: The DEC and DOT have announced that they will be holding public hearings and accepting comment on the future of the Adirondack Railroad and the travel corridor. As reported recently, there are some of the extremists who want to tear up the track and make a “super highway” trail for hikers and bikers. The cost of this would be more than the cost of rehabilitating the tracks.
Make your opinions known by attending the meeting next Tuesday, October 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the State Office Building in Utica. You can also send e-mail to until December 15. Don’t let some of the wealthy elitists keep the average tourist or sportsman out of much of the Adirondacks by replacing the tracks with an expensive hiking trail that won’t get much usage.
Adirondack Outdoors: The fall issue of Adirondack Outdoors features a trophy buck on the cover and that is no accident. The special hunting edition has lots of articles on deer hunting, including some important tips that can be used anywhere. One feature article focuses on local hunting legend, Jim Massett, and his traditional methods of hunting.
There are also articles on fall fishing, hiking, photography and paddling. This publication is now available at many major newsstands throughout the area or you can check out the digital edition and other information at Meanwhile complimentary copies are available at Hanifin Tires & Service Center and at Sweet Temptations Café.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur Harvesters of Central NY will hold a work day on Sunday, October 26 to start repairs on the clubhouse. The next regular meeting will be November 13 at the clubhouse with food served at 5 p.m. and meeting at 6 p.m. There are still raffle tickets left for the bear hunt so call 682-2050 if you need tickets.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fourth annual youth goose hunt a success

The Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Oneida County, Region 6 Environmental Conservation Officers, National Wild Turkey Federation, Oneida County Sherriff’s Dept. and the NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame, as well as some interested sportsmen, recently teamed up to hold the fourth Annual Youth Goose Hunt. There was a total of 24 youths signed up from Herkimer, Oneida and Madison Counties to participate in this year’s hunt.
The 24 youths and their parents attended a Safety Day at the Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls where safety and regulations presentation was given by ECO Steve Lakeman on goose hunting. Lakeman also put on a presentation on setting up decoys in the field.
That afternoon, each youth was set up in a lay down blind and shot at clay targets to get the sensation of what hunting would be like the following day. This was under the instruction of ECO Mike Dangler, a certified Firearms Instructor for ECOs.
Each youth group was partnered up with the ECOs and mentors from their area. They discussed their equipment that they had and what they might need and each youth hunter was registered with their HIP number.
The next morning the ECOs and mentors took the 24 youths out goose hunting. Each group had at least three youths and four mentors. A total of seven groups took to the fields that morning to hunt Canada geese. All groups had flocks of geese come in to their decoys but some groups were better than others in getting the geese close enough to shoot at. A total of 103 geese were harvested that morning.
The Oneida County Federation and the Committee would like to give a big thank you to the New York Conservation Officer Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Gander Mountain of New Hartford for their donations for this year’s hunt. They would also like to give a big thank you to the ECOs and the sportsmen and women mentors that took the time out of their schedule to take a kid out hunting.
Thanks also go to the cooks for the event, Brian Day and Larry Chandler, and to the Cassetty Hollow Club members for the use of their club for Safety Day and the day of the hunt. It was a successful day in introducing youngsters to the sport of goose hunting.
Canoe & Kayak Storage
For a lot of people, next weekend represents the end of canoe and kayak trips. If you are getting ready to store your canoe or kayak for the winter there are some things you should keep in mind. Scott Locorini of Adirondack Exposure offers the following tips.
If at all possible, store them inside a building since ultraviolet light will cause the colors to fade. Canoes can be stored upside down hanging from the ceiling of a garage or shed since the gunwales or edges are the strongest part of the canoe. However kayaks should not be stored that way since they will take a permanent bend or “set.”
The strongest part of a kayak is the bow or the stern so ideally you should stand them on end inside the building. However, most of us do not have the luxury of a building with a high ceiling, etc. so the best way is to store them on the edge.
One way is to loop two straps through strong eye bolts on the side of the garage or shed and suspend the kayak. That way the bottom will be flush against the wall and the straps will be supporting the side, which is the stronger part.
Scott also suggests putting mothballs or fabric softener sheets inside the boat to keep rodents away and prevent them from damaging the outfitting, which could be costly. He also recommends putting 303 on the gaskets of the dry top and your dry suits.
It is also a good time to get odor out of paddling clothing or footwear. There are many commercial products but Scott says “Sink the Stink” works well to eliminate stubborn odors. Hunter Specialty Scent-Away clothes soap works well with washing clothing items.
If the ferrules on your paddles have been sticking, pull them apart and sand them with Emory paper. Wash off the dust, let them dry thoroughly and apply spray silicone so you will start off the next season with ease.
Throughout the winter months Scott will be operating a variety of paddling trips with camping or lodge accommodations in various locations in Florida or Costa Rica. Contact him at 315-335-1681 for more information.
Finger Lakes: My wife and I closed out our camping for the season with a week in the Finger Lakes. This year we stayed at Cayuga Lake State Park, a very nice park at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls. Most of the days were very pleasant and we enjoyed visiting the wineries at harvest time, having lunch at vineyard restaurants, hiking at locations like Taughannock Falls and some fishing.
Unfortunately the bass fishing was slow. Despite its reputation, the fishing recently has been tough. A group of 12 from a bass club near Pittsburgh was spending several days there and they spent a lot of time and covered most of the 41 miles of lake with little to show for it. But bass fishing has been very tough all year from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks, the St. Lawrence River and tributaries of Lake Ontario. Some theories are that the cold spring meant that the bass never really schooled up and inhabited the areas they normally would.
Fishing for lake trout at the lower end of Cayuga Lake was better, at least for lake trout fishermen. Shore anglers fishing from Taughannock State Park were casting egg sacks or alewives off the Taughannock Bar and catching some nice lakers.
Rush TV Challenge: A couple years ago, John Lenox - one of the organizers of the NY Sportsmen Expo in Syracuse and owner of Rush TV Productions from Rochester - came up with the idea of a good-natured challenge. The crew of Rush TV would field of anglers and challenge a team of fishermen from the NYS Outdoor Writers’ Association (NYSOWA) for bragging rights.
As a side effect, the event would be filmed to publicize the area and it would be used to benefit charities. Last year the event was held on Lake Ontario out of Point Breeze and NYSOWA won. John and his team had a good time kidding us and saying that they would get revenge this year.
The 2014 Challenge was held last weekend in Cape Vincent and we fished the St. Lawrence River for walleye, pike and bass. The two boats were operated by captains Adam and Erik Swenson, two charter boat operators out of Cape Vincent. Things did not look good for the NYSOWA team much of the day and we knew that the Rush TV Boat had a slim edge.
But I didn’t lose faith since I had chosen two skilled anglers, Sue Bookhout and Mike Seymour, to be on my team. With 10 minutes to go Mike hooked a nice northern pike and five minutes after that Sue landed an even bigger one. NYSOWA wins again!
Most importantly we all had a good time, enjoyed a nice lunch at the Cape Vincent Park and learned more about the area. It is a great fishery and a beautiful area. Captain Erik Swenson, who is married to former local resident Julie Carmola, and his brother Adam operate very successful charter boats out of the Cape and fish for lake trout, northern pike, walleye, bass and muskie. Contact Erik at Lori-J Charters, PO Box 256, Cape Vincent, NY 13618.
We will have more information about Cape Vincent and its attractions and fishery later. But it was a fun and pleasant way to wrap up fishing adventures for the year.
VNSP Fall Hours: Vernon National Shooting Preserve announces its fall hours will be Tuesday noon to dusk, Wednesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Members have access all day, every day. They have re-set the stations to two traps per station. There will still be five stations for the Tower Shoot. Tower Shoot participants get exclusive pheasant preserve hunting the day following the Tower Shoot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Enjoy autumn while its here

Are you one of those people who often say, “I hate to see fall come.” It is understandable because we all enjoy the relatively carefree days of summer when you run around in shorts and crocs and have a variety of outdoor activities to choose from.
But autumn provides a great time and opportunities for outdoor activities ranging from the traditional hunting and fishing to more laid back activities. But the important thing is to get out and enjoy the season; the opportunity is too fleeting, like the time of the colorful autumn leaves. Here are a few ideas to help enjoy and appreciate the season.
Fishing is often at a peak. Now is the best time to catch the elusive muskie so if you have always wanted to get this trophy fish, you should book a St. Lawrence River guide and go on a muskie hunt. Walleye fishing is often the season’s best, especially when the walleye cruise in the shallows at dark after baitfish. Take one last trout fishing trip before the season closes and savor the experience throughout the long winter layoff.
Visit the salmon hatchery at Altmar. Even if you are not salmon fishing it is a memorable experience to see these magnificent fish as they ascend the river and tributaries and end up in the hatchery to complete their life cycle.
Visit a pumpkin farm or apple orchard. Bring the kids or grandkids and enjoy the sights and smells as you experience the life cycles of nature and re-connect to our simpler, rural past. Visit a winery and learn of the harvest and wine-making process at
any of the many small estate wineries that are an important part of the New York economy.
Go grouse hunting at least once. Experience the feeling and connection of nature on a wooded hillside. Enjoy the unexpected flush and surprise of a grouse taking off from practically underneath your feet with a booming sound. Don’t be upset if you miss, or don’t even get off a shot. You will appreciate the excitement and thrill that dedicated grouse hunters talk about.
Go leaf-peeping. Check the New York State hotline for peak colors but remember that the northern areas are already experiencing significant change. More vibrant colors are found in the areas north of here such as the hill country around Camden, the Adirondacks or the areas south in the hills around Route 20. This is due to the composition of the soil so drive a little and enjoy a lot.
For at least one day try a different style of deer hunting or hunt a different species. This is hard to do when your time is limited and you are counting on your skills and experience for success. But it helps you get out of a rut and often results in a fresh perspective or insight into your favorite sports or methods.
Take a walk down a country lane or woodland trail that is covered with fallen leaves. Do it slowly and take in all the sounds and smells, as well as the sights of autumn.
Take lots of pictures. Photograph not only panoramas of colorful autumn leaves but with interesting objects in the foreground. Take photos of pumpkins, cornfields, kids at play and waterfalls. This not only records the interesting sights but makes you see autumn in a different light.
Finally flop down on a big pile of leaves and just lay there awhile. Think of all the good times you had this summer. Remember the simple pleasures you had as a kid in fall. Think of all your blessings and all the great things about living is this very special part of the world. 
Be alert for moose in the Adirondacks
Motorists should be alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas at this time of year - a peak of moose activity - warns the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York. During this time, moose are wandering looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy sighting of a moose, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway.
Although most people want to see a moose, they do not want to see one coming through the windshield. With increased activity and moose at this time of year and the number of people venturing to the Adirondacks for autumn leaf-peeping, hunting, fishing, etc., there is increased likelihood of accidents. The shorter days means that increased activity of moose, as well as deer, occurs at the same time as heavy traffic of home-bound motorists.
Moose are much larger and taller than deer. Their large body causes greater damage, and, when struck, their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle. Last year ten moose vehicle accidents were reported in New York. However, there has not been a human fatality from an accident with a moose, a record DEC hopes to maintain.
Moose are most active at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility. Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height - which puts their head and much of their body above vehicle DEC advises motorists to take the following precautions to prevent moose vehicle collisions: Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, especially during September and October. Reduce your speed, stay alert, and watch the roadsides.
Slow down when approaching moose standing near the roadside, as they may bolt at the last minute when a car comes closer, often running into the road. Moose may travel in pairs or small groups, so if a moose is spotted crossing the road, be alert for others that may follow
Make sure all vehicle occupants wear seat belts and children are properly restrained in child safety seats. Use flashers or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when moose are spotted near the road.
If a moose does run in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a vehicle-vehicle collision or cause the vehicle to hit a fixed object such as a tree or pole.
More information about moose can be found on the DEC website at An excellent article on moose is one written by Gary Lee in the Summer 2013 issue of “Adirondack Outdoors.” You can read the digital edition for that and other articles or issues by logging on to the website
QDMA Sportsman’s Banquet: The CNY Branch of the Quality Deer management Association will hold its Sportsman’s Banquet on Thursday, September 25 at the Pompey Rod & Gun Club. Location is 2035 Swift Road, Fabius, NY 13063. Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner is 6 p.m. For tickets or information contact John Rybinski (315) 427-9682 or email
Map App: Visitors to New York State Parks now have free mobile access to more than 1,500 miles of trails. Avenza PDF Maps App, a mobile map application that enables you to download maps for offline use, has partnered with the  NYS Office of Parks & Recreation
to give its 60 million state park visitors access to Apple iOs or Android friendly maps.
Maps are available to download free at maps. These maps show location, points of interest, attaching images and notes, tracking routes, distance and elevation. They also show access to locations such as Ranger stations, trail heads and picnic areas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

DEC issues final rules for crossbow hunting

Did you enjoy your summer? ...all five or six days of it? If there is one common topic of conversation this year it is probably the cool, wet and windy weather that characterized much of the past three months. Of course, people still managed to find ways to enjoy themselves but the weather often did curtail or hamper a lot of the traditional activities and fun.
Now fall is approaching on the calendar. In fact, we have had a lot of fall-like weather, even back in June. Certainly the past weekend with its cold and wet weather reminded us that summer is over. It was a cold miserable day on Saturday when my wife Carol and I participated in the One Square Mile of Hope. See the details elsewhere in this column.
Now with hunting season rapidly approaching, it is time to get serious and work on scouting, target practice and getting gear ready. Most of us have been doing that but now it is time to pick up the pace. With the new law that allows the use of crossbows for hunting, there are many who will be eager to try that sport. Thus, we are giving you the essentials of the new rules and regulations for crossbows. We will be eager to hear about your experiences with one.
One Square Mile of Hope
Despite the cold weather, rain and a stiff wind, approximately 2,800 people braved the waters of Fourth Lake last Saturday to help set a new Guinness World Record for the largest kayak and canoe raft. Rain started about 10:15 a.m., just as the first wave of paddlers set out for the designated area near Inlet. As the raft formed, the wind kept blowing the boats beyond the marked area so it took a couple tries to get everyone in and touching boats before the planes flew overhead for the official photographs. By the time the event was recorded the wind had blown the boats over to Eagle Bay across the lake and it took some strong paddling into the face of an east wind to get back to Inlet.
There were a lot of local people participating in the event despite the nasty weather. The Rosbrook family took the occasion to gather and celebrate their mother’s birthday as well as take part in the record-setting attempt. Margaret Rosbrook, 93 years young, was the oldest participant in the One Square Mile of Hope. Although she was unable to paddle herself, she was bundled up in layers and rode in a canoe to be part of the record. She did admit that the ride back was unpleasant and spent the afternoon in front of the fireplace.
There were over 3,500 registered but the inclement weather evidently made a lot of people change their minds on Saturday. Nevertheless, a new world record of over 2,700 boats was set that day. Congratulations to all who participated and helped raise many thousands of dollars for this worthy cause.
The town of Inlet, the Kiwanis Club of the Central Adirondacks and all of the One Square Mile of Hope Committee are to be commended for an excellent job in publicizing, organizing and running an event which saw thousands of people converge to set a new world record, and most importantly, raise over ten thousand dollars for breast cancer research.
New Crossbow Hunting Regulations
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has adopted final regulation changes to ensure that the crossbow is a legal implement for the fall 2014 hunting seasons. The final regulations adopted include the following:
Crossbows may be used only by licensees who are 14 years of age or older. With landowner permission, crossbows may be discharged within 250 feet of a home, etc.. A crossbow may not be possessed in or on a motor vehicle unless it is un-cocked.
Anyone hunting with a crossbow must have completed a Standard Hunter Education course offered by DEC on or after April 1, 2014 or completed a DEC-approved on-line or other training program (e.g., material provided in the annual hunting guide). Hunters must carry a signed self-certification in the field when hunting with a crossbow as proof of compliance.
Crossbow Specifications
For licensing, the new law treats crossbows as a “muzzleloader.” Hunters must possess a muzzleloader hunting privilege to legally hunt with a crossbow during any muzzleloader season or during open portions of the early bowhunting seasons. The muzzleloader license privilege is not required when hunting with a crossbow during the early bear season or the regular firearms seasons.
Crossbows may be used to take deer during early and late muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone and late muzzleloader season in the Southern Zone using Bow/Muzzleloader tags, deer management permits (DMPs), deer management assistance permit tags (DMAPs), or an unfilled Regular Big Game tag (late season only). They may be used in regular firearms seasons using a Regular Big Game tag, DMPs or DMAP tags. Crossbows may be used to take bear during the early bear season.
Crossbows may also be used to take deer or bear during limited portions of bowhunting seasons as follows, provided that the hunter possesses the muzzleloading privilege: During the last 14 days of the early bowhunting season in the Southern Zone (i.e., November 1-14, 2014); During the last 10 days of the early bowhunting season in the Northern Zone (i.e., October 15-24, 2014; this includes the seven-day early muzzleloader season in the Northern Zone); Only Bow/Muzzloader tags, DMPs or DMAPs may be used during these times.
Junior big game hunters (age 14-15) may not use a crossbow to take a deer during the Youth Deer Hunt weekend (October 11-13, 2014). Adult mentors who accompany a junior big game hunter on the Youth Deer Hunt weekend may not possess a crossbow or firearm while afield on those days.
Crossbows may be used to hunt wild turkey in either the fall or spring. Crossbows may not be used to take waterfowl or other migratory game birds.
With the purchase of a 2014-2015 sporting license, New York hunters will receive copies of the new Hunting and Trapping Law and Regulations Guide, and the new crossbow regulations are clearly described in the Guide. The Guide features information on the educational requirements for hunters using crossbows. Hunters are required to read the safety information available in the Guide and on the DEC website and certify that they have done so. This certification must be carried when afield hunting with a crossbow.
Deer Management Permits
The DEC reminded hunters to apply for deer management permits (DMPs) this week, ahead of the October 1 deadline, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced recently. Unfortunately, many of the licensing agencies cannot handle the changes to a new computerized system and have given up selling licenses or other transactions.
Apparently many of the towns and city offices’ computers are not functioning with the new system so they cannot issue deer management permits. Sporting goods shops such as the Gunworks of CNY in Verona are not having any problems, except that they are using the old yellow colored paper since their printers are not compatible with the camo pattern paper.
New York hunters can apply for up to two deer management permits once they have secured a hunting license. DEC’s computerized licensing system allows hunters to immediately learn the outcome of their permit application. The likelihood that a hunter will be selected for a permit is largely based on the number of deer management permits to be issued in a Wildlife Management Area and the number of hunters that historically apply for those permits. To date, applications for deer management permits have been slightly lower than in previous years.
Sporting licenses and permits can be purchased at one of DEC’s 1,100 license sales outlets statewide (maybe?). Licenses can also be ordered by telephone at 866-933-2257, or online at The 2014-2015 hunting and trapping licenses are valid for one year beginning September 1, 2014. Under a new state law that took effect in February, fishing licenses and recreational marine fishing registrations are now valid for 365 days from date-of-purchase.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Don't overlook fall fishing

Early one morning this past week I tossed the fishing kayak on the car and loaded up the fishing gear and headed north to Florence for a day of fishing. In the morning I fished for bass and caught a few despite some strong winds. In the mid-afternoon I headed a few miles away to one of my favorite trout streams.
I did not see another person the entire day. This was not entirely surprising, considering that it was a weekday during September. But it was a beautiful early autumn day and I had decent fishing success despite less than ideal fishing conditions. The red maples lining the banks of the pond and along the stream were approaching their peak color while other trees were showing the early signs of change.
From small streams to Great Lakes there is still a lot of fishing action to be had. Sometimes it can be spectacular like the salmon runs up the Lake Ontario tributaries.
Other times it can be quiet and tranquil like you will find on many small trout streams or bass ponds. But the point is to get out and enjoy it, not put your fishing tackle away until next year.
Bass fishing has been tough all year in most places. Perhaps the cold weather and cold water temperatures early in the season threw off the patterns and locations of the fish. In any case fish were widely scattered and often they were not in the places that anglers expected them to be. Hopefully this fall will find them in more predictable locations and depths and eager to bite as they bulk up for the coming winter.
Recently Dea and Dave Kershaw spent a perfect late summer day fishing the St. Lawrence River with Capt. Al Benas of 1,000 Islands Charters. The highlight of the angling adventure was Dea catching a dandy five-pound bass as shown in the accompanying photo.
Many anglers are eagerly awaiting the annual salmon run up the tributaries of Lake Ontario such as the Salmon River, South Sandy Creek and many others. The actual run varies each year, depending on the biological clock of the fish. Some theorize that it is later this year than last because last year the water was warmer than normal while this year it is colder than normal. Perhaps this influences the development of the eggs and their spawning time.
In any case the salmon are starting to move into predictable areas off the mouths of the various rivers. They haven’t started staging yet so anglers are still having success targeting them with flasher and fly combinations. Bill Hilts Jr., Niagara County’s Sportfishing Coordinator, reported that salmon were being found in depths of 80–150 feet out in front of rivers in the western part of Lake Ontario.
No salmon were reported in the estuary or mouth of the Salmon River. Fran Verdoliva, superintendent of the Salmon River Hatchery, said that often heavy rains and cold water will trigger a run but only if the salmon are ready to spawn. Probably the last week of September through the middle of October will see the peak of the action in the river.
Walleye action has picked up on Oneida Lake but most anglers have not been catching many large ones. Various people at Marion Manor Marina said that there haven’t been any consistent west winds to bring the bait and the walleye into the usual locations.
Most trout streams are currently low and fishing is fair. But this can change overnight, especially in autumn. Soon the brown and brook trout will be moving up smaller streams to spawn. The season will end on most streams on October 15. The DEC announced that current fishing regulations will remain in effect until April 1, 2015 because the new fishing licenses are good for one year from the time they are issued.
But whatever your favorite species or type of angling is, make sure that you take advantage of it this autumn. Fall fishing can be very productive and there is much less pressure and competition. Enjoy it while you can because it is a long winter.
Deer Management Permits: All licensing agents are issuing hunting licenses, including deer management permits, muzzleloader tags, etc. Locally they are not having any problems printing the licenses or special tags. Remember that in areas oversubscribed for deer management permit applications, the actual permits are determined by computer lottery. Licensing agents can tell you which areas have a high, average or low probability of getting a permit.
QDMA Sportsman’s Banquet: The CNY Branch of the Quality Deer management Association will hold its Sportsman’s Banquet on Thursday, Sept. 25 at the Pompey Rod & Gun Club. Location is 2035 Swift Road in Fabius. Doors open at 5 p.m.; dinner is 6 p.m. For tickets or information contact John Rybinski (315) 427-9682 or email
Early Bear Seasons: The new 2014 early bear hunting seasons opened on Saturday, September 6, in portions of New York’s southern zone and open Saturday, September 13, in the northern zone.
Following recommendations in DEC’s recently adopted bear management plan to reduce bear populations in the region, the new early firearms bear season runs from September 6-21 in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. The early bowhunting season for bears will then open in all of the Southern Zone on October 1, followed by the regular firearms season beginning November 15.
New this year, DEC has also expanded bear hunting in northern New York to include WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K and 6N. In these newly opened units, bear hunting begins with bowhunting equipment only from September 13 through October 17. In the rest of northern New York (WMUs 5A, 5C, 5F, 5G, 5H, 5J, 6C, 6F, 6H, and 6J), the early firearms season begins Saturday, September 13 and continues until October 17. Muzzleloader season then opens in all northern WMUs on October 18, followed by the regular firearms season for bear on October 25.
Some hunters and anglers may not be familiar with these license changes, but licensing-issuing agents are prepared to provide assistance and ensure the license buyers secure all the desired permits and privileges. Highlights of the changes are available on DEC’s website at
In addition, the new Hunting and Trapping regulation guides are available at all license issuing outlets, as well as on DEC website at Information about black bear hunting in New York, season dates and regulations, is available at
New Crossbow Hunting Regulations: The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has adopted final regulation changes to ensure that the crossbow is a legal implement for the fall 2014 hunting seasons.
With the purchase of a 2014-2015 sporting license, on sale as of August 4, 2014, New York hunters will receive copies of the new Hunting and Trapping Law and Regulations Guide, and the new crossbow regulations are clearly described in the Guide. The Guide features information on the educational requirements for hunters using crossbows. Hunters are required to read the safety information available in the Guide and on the DEC website, and certify that they have done so. This certification must be carried when afield hunting with a crossbow.
For licensing, the new law treats crossbows as a “muzzleloader.” Hunters must possess a muzzleloader hunting privilege to legally hunt with a crossbow during any muzzleloader season OR during open portions of the early bowhunting seasons. The muzzleloader license privilege is not required when hunting with a crossbow during the early bear season or the regular firearms seasons.

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.
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 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

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,, 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, and click on “Help Unveil the Secret Lives of Loons.”