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, July 1, 2015

New products for summer


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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lyme Disease is a threat to outdoorsmen


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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anglers eagerly await bass season opener

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A gem in the wilds of Quebec


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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Danger lurks in the outdoors


There is danger lurking in the outdoor woods throughout New York State. No, it is not bears, coyotes or venomous snakes. Nor is it cougars, wolves or even bigfoot. It is not the danger of zombies, aliens or a terrorist plot by ISIS. This danger is real and the culprits are insects!
Black flies, mosquitoes and punkies form the “axis of evil” among biting insects and they are most active in May and June. Not only can they spoil your outdoor fun, they can also cause some serious health problems.
Black flies! Most of us are familiar with the evil black flies that frequent Tug Hill, the Adirondacks and most areas of central New York where there is clear, cool water. The black fly season is in high gear so be prepared if you go afield.
Black flies are vicious biting insects that attack in swarms and with their sharp mouths they leave nasty bites. Their saliva also contains an anti-coagulant that many people are allergic to. Although they hatch in clear water, the breeze may blow them a great distance from the water and they can be found anywhere there is foliage for cover especially during daylight hours. They are a serious threat to hikers, fishermen and turkey hunters, or anyone who ventures to the woods unprotected.
Although we associate black flies with the Adirondacks or Tug Hill Plateau, they grow anywhere there is cold, clear water. Thus with the reforestation and cooler streams and the elimination of most pollution, the black flies are a problem in many areas of central New York. Many Adirondack townships treat streams with bti, a natural bacteria that attacks black fly larvae while not harming “good insects” like caddis flies, etc. However not all townships use this treatment and frequent heavy rains can wash out the scheduled applications of bti.
No-see-ums or punkies are very tiny biting flies which also are found near still water. They occur in swarms but aren’t as persistent as black flies. They are most active from dusk to dawn. They often penetrate under or through most netting or mesh covering.
The recent spell of dry weather may have cut down on some wet spots but there is always still water somewhere for breeding mosquitoes. They are born in stagnant water but travel long distances in search of prey. They are most active during periods of low light.
Female mosquitoes are persistent and swarms of them can make your life miserable. There is also the danger of spreading disease like West Nile Virus, EEE and other diseases through the mosquito bites.
However there are methods to protect yourself from these disgusting little critters including special clothing or repellents. For example L.L.Bean makes a line of clothing called “Buzz Off.” It is a cotton poplin fabric with natural odorless repellent bonded to the fabric. I have used the shorts shirts, and hats and they really work.
There are other brands like Insect Shield that utilize mesh, lightweight clothing and natural repellents. They even have mosquito and tick repellent apparel for dogs. Of course many washings will remove the repellent and diminish the usefulness.
Common repellents contain DEET which is effective but may cause an allergic reaction in some people. If a rash occurs, wash off the remaining repellent. Another problem is perspiration causing some of the repellent with DEET to get into your eyes. If you doubt that DEET is nasty stuff, see what it does to varnish on your canoe paddle or the material of your fly line, etc.
One product that has proven effective for both people and animals such as short haired dogs is Bug Guard. It does not contain DEET but relies on natural repellents and is specially developed to repel black flies, mosquitoes and ticks. I have also used it extensively and can testify that it works well. It lasts for about eight hours, although perspiration and rain will remove it.
My friend, the late Scott Sampson had a German Short Haired Pointer that was constantly being bitten by black flies, etc. due to its fine, short hair. A veterinarian recommended Avon Bug Guard since it is safe to put on animals even if they lick themselves. It also serves to repel deer ticks. Note that we are talking about a specific insect repellent, not the bath oil produced by the same company.
Movement, carbon dioxide, perspiration and perfumes all serve as attractions for these disgusting insects. You can’t avoid moving or breathing but you can avoid perfumes, colognes, etc. and you can try to cut down on perspiration. The color blue also attracts these insects so avoid blue colored clothing.
In addition to the biting insects described, there is the growing problem of deer ticks which spread Lyme Disease. Ticks are found in areas of wet leaves, tall grass and brush. They can attach themselves directly to you from these areas. To avoid a problem you should wear long pants and tuck them in your socks or wear gaiters.
Spray your pants legs with permithrin or DEET. Use repellent such as Bug Guard on exposed skin. Check for ticks after being outside in areas described above. Remove any ticks with a tweezers.
So even though insects are a problem, you can still enjoy the outdoors with a little precaution. Besides if you stay inside watching all those re-runs of “reality shows” on TV, you will probably suffer from brain damage.
SHORT CASTS
Kids Fishing Derby & Clinic: The Annual Kids Fishing Derby in New Hartford will be June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the DEC and Mohawk Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Soda, hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided by the Sauquoit Creek Fish and Game Club. The event will be at New Hartford Athletic Park on Oneida Street in Washington Mills.
First Shots: Learn the skills of shooting clay targets from a certified NSCA instructor at Vernon National Shooting Preserve. Firearms safety, education and responsibility will also be covered in the classroom and live events. For information or registration contact Caryn Foote at 723-8563 or e-mail cmf727@yahoo.com.
Great New Website: A “must see” website for both experienced outdoors people and those who wish to get started or learn a new skill is www.getstartedoutdoors.com. It is operated by Sue Bookhout of Cazenovia, a skilled hunter, angler and target shooter. She is a website designer so the website is attractive and easily navigable. In addition to her own skills, Sue is a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society, Trout Unlimited and several other organizations so she is in touch with current news and developments.
The website focuses on outdoors events in central New York and other information. There is lots of information useful to those who want to learn or improve their skills such as fly fishing clinics, shooting events, Lake Ontario fishing trips for women only and much more. Check it out soon.
Shoot and Gobble: The Madison County Federation of sportsmen will hold a “Shoot & Gobble” Event at Vernon National Shooting Preserve on June 14. It features 50 rounds of sporting clays and a dinner to follow. Contact Tim Evans at 247-0285 for more information.
Reminder: With warm weather and the start of bass season not too far away, many anglers are getting eager. Although many areas of the state, including Oneida Lake, now permit catch and release fishing for bass prior to the season, there are some areas that do not. For those that may be starting their vacation soon and planning on wetting a line, remember that Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, and Franklin Counties do NOT allow fishing for bass prior to the season opener. This year that date is June 20.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Outdoor writers explore 1000 Islands’ many attractions

In the predawn darkness a dozen camouflaged men and women carrying weapons and packs marched down the streets of Clayton to the village docks. Shortly after 4 a.m. they boarded a large boat and headed off through the black night across the St. Lawrence River. This was not some counter-terrorist group on a training mission nor a detachment of homeland security forces out to thwart a penetration of our northern border. Instead it was a group of serious turkey hunters heading off to Grindstone Island to hunt turkey on that big mysterious island of legend and folklore.
The occasion was the New York State Outdoor Writers’ Association annual conference in the 1000 Islands from May 7 – 10, and a group of us took advantage of a generous offer by Harry Slate of Grindstone Island Hunting Service. Grindstone is a big island with no bridge or public access. It once had many farms, a village, etc. but today has nine year-round residents, a few farms and summer homes along the shoreline. The hunt was interesting but turkeys there are as wary as anywhere and only Dan Ladd bagged one.
Headquarters for the conference was the new 1000 Islands harbor Hotel on the riverfront in Clayton. This four story beautiful hotel evokes memories of the gilded age when guests travelled by train and steamboat to spend time in the glorious 1000 Island region. Modern luxury combined with fantastic service and attention to detail makes this a premier destination for a get-away weekend or a longer stay. All the amenities and attractions of this new four diamond class hotel deserve a separate article that will be forthcoming soon. Check out the hotel at www.1000islandsharborhotel.com.
Writers and guests got to enjoy many of the attractions of the area. For me and some of the other writers many of the attractions were familiar but the fact that we never get tired of them speaks volumes for the quality of the experiences. Some people enjoyed the beautiful weather and had an exciting experience while white water rafting on the Black River with Whitewater Challengers Rafting Company. Most enjoyed a pleasant afternoon boat tour around Wellesley Island on the area’s newest boat tour company, Clayton Island Tours.
Fishing is naturally a big attraction of this area and many of us spent a morning or two aboard fishing charters such as Myrle Bauer’s Net Results Charters, Rich Clarke’s Signman Charters and Keith Dasno’s Gotta Have It Charters. Now you might think that with such a formidable array of anglers, the pike would not stand a chance. But nature has a way of evening the odds and the unusually cold water temperatures had delayed spawning. The pike were difficult to locate and reluctant to bite when we did find them. The few that were caught reminded us that better days lay not too far ahead.
Thanks to Doreen and Jody Garrett, owners of Lucky Star Ranch licensed hunting preserve, some hunters were able to hunt turkey on the 2,000 acre estate while others fished there. After hosting all the writers for lunch, Doreen and Jody who own Otis Technology explained their quality deer management program and their involvement in the Wounded Warrior program.
Other prominent attractions included the tour of Boldt Castle, a traditional guide’s shore dinner and tours of the Antique Boat Museum and tours and tastings at the areas two excellent wineries – Coyote Moon and Thousand Islands Winery. A stroll along the picturesque streets of Clayton reveals the well-kept and unique stores. My personal favorites that I visit every time include the River Rat Cheese store and Michael Ringer’s St. Lawrence Gallery art store.
If you haven’t spent much time in the 1000 Islands-Clayton area you are missing out on a lot. Even if you have, the old and new attractions beckon you to return. Whether it is a time for relaxation amidst the splendor of the islands or an action-filled trip, you can find all of these and more in the islands. For complete information check the Clayton Chamber of Commerce at 1000islands-clayton.com or 800-252-9806 and the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council at Visit1000ISLANDS.com or 800-847-5263.
SHORT CASTS
Second Shift Gobblers: As the spring turkey season enters its final week many hunters are frustrated in not hearing many birds gobble on the roost or are weary of getting up in the middle of the night. One tactic that is often effective in late season is “hunting the second shift.” At this time many hens are nesting and lonesome toms are on the prowl looking for hens, especially by mid morning.
You might consider taking advantage of the situation by sleeping a little longer and going out in mid morning. Give a variety of soft clucks or yelps every half hour and maybe one of those lonesome toms will come to your call. Just be warned that they will often sneak in silently so stay alert.
New Hartford Kids Fishing Derby: The DEC and Mohawk Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited combine to offer the annual New Hartford Kids fishing Derby on June 6. It will be held at New Hartford Athletic Park in Washington Mills. Hours are 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. and there will be prizes, fly tying and casting. Refreshments will be provided by the Saquoit Fish & Game Club.
DEC Alerts Hikers of Muddy Trail Conditions in the High Peaks: Memorial Day Weekend usually sees lots of people hiking in the Adirondacks but hikers should temporarily avoid high elevation trails in the Adirondacks. NYS DEC is urging hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until mid-June.
DEC is asking hikers to avoid high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant and High Peaks Wilderness Areas in the northern Adirondacks because of muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground.
Hikers are advised to only use trails at lower elevations during the spring mud season to avoid damaging natural resources and to promote safety. Lower trails usually dry soon after snowmelt and are on less erosive soils than the higher peaks. DEC asks hikers to avoid the following trails:
High Peaks Wilderness Area - all trails above 3,000 feet where wet, muddy, snow conditions still prevail, specifically: Algonquin, Colden, Feldspar, Gothics, Indian Pass, Lake Arnold Cross-Over, Marcy, Marcy Dam - Avalanche - Lake Colden which is extremely wet, Phelps Trail above John Brook Lodge, Range Trail, Skylight, Wright and all “trail-less” peaks.
Dix Mountain Wilderness Area - all trails above Elk Lake and Round Pond. Giant Mountain Wilderness Area - all trails above Giant’s Washbowl, “the Cobbles,” and Owls Head. DEC suggests alternative trails for hiking, subject to weather conditions. DEC’s website contains additional information on trail conditions in the Adirondacks at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7865.html or contact the Forest Rangers at (518) 897-1300.
BoatUS Safety Reminders: With the Memorial Day weekend kicking off he unofficial start to summer, there will be an increasing amount of boating activity. The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has four reminders for boating safety:
Keep your life jackets handy. This means readily accessible within arms reach, not still in it’s plastic bag or behind compartment doors buried under junk. Better yet, wear it.
Instruct your passengers on where to sit and how to move about the boat safely. This applies to all boats, but the smallest ones can have biggest problems: swamping, large wakes and overloading can turn your day into one you’d rather forget.
See that all passengers are briefed on where emergency equipment is kept and how to use it. Don’t forget to show how to use the VHF radio, and what everyone needs to do in case someone falls overboard (designate a spotter).
Share your float plan with someone ashore to let them know where you’re headed and expected to return. The simple act of telling someone has been demonstrated to greatly reduce a rescuer’s response time. For more information on boating safety or to take a no cost online boating safety course, go to BoatUS.org.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mid-season turkey tips

The Spring Turkey Season is approximately half over and after a slow start for many hunters, the action has picked up a bit. A lot more hunters have gotten birds, although many of the ones that have talked to me have said that they have bagged jakes or two year old birds. Most of the mature toms have flocks of hens with them now.
This can present an extra challenge. Some of the veteran hunters have resorted to making some sharp cackling or cutting calls to raise the curiosity or the ire of some territorial hens and draw the flock closer. Knowing where the flock likes to travel to their strutting ground can be helpful. If the hunter gets close to their route it is easier to call the tom a little ways from the flock to within gun range.
With the emergence of leaves on the trees last weekend, most areas are now in full foliage. Remember that with all the foliage on the trees, the sounds of the gobbles may be muffled. That big tom that sounds like he did a couple weeks ago will actually be much closer. This can present an extra challenge since he can often spot you from the treetops and remain on the roost instead of flying down. Or if he can look down and not see a decoy in the area that the calling sounds are coming from, he will be suspicious and not come to that area.
It also gets light earlier than it did a two weeks ago so allow extra time or pick a sheltered route to your destination so the wary tom will not make out your shadowy figure in the pre-dawn light. If he does, you can bet that he will not be coming down in that area or responding to your call.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to hunt on Grindstone Island on the St. Lawrence River and that was a unique experience. Only my friend Dan Ladd bagged a turkey but it was interesting and saw birds.
Monday morning Dan called me to tell me the good news that he had gotten his second tom. Dan was using a new, innovative set of decoys from Bass Pro Shops called the Crazy Jake and Mating Hen. Not only are they realistic looking but they are animated and operated by remote control. The idea is that they will provoke a jealous tom into action when he sees the younger jake with the hen.
I had seen them previously and was impressed with the looks and action. Dan proved to me that they really work. Early in the morning he was calling and a big tom responded. However it came to the top of a ridge and hung up there. It fanned, strutted and called while it expected the hen to come to him. Since the tom would not come any closer, Dan then activated the jake decoy and pivoted it so that it faced the big tom up on the ridge. Then the turned the jake away from the tom and towards the hen.
That was all it took to infuriate the big tom and it started down the ridge towards the decoys. Dan bagged it at a distance of 30 yards. The bird weighed 21 pounds and had a 9 ½ inch beard.
SHORT CASTS
Youth Turkey Hunt: The Federated Sportsmen Club’s of Oneida County, Region 6 ECOs, National Wild Turkey Federation, Oneida County Sherriff’s Department and New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame teamed up to hold its fifth annual youth turkey hunt. A total of 25 youth participated in the hunt.
Safety day was held April 11 at the Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club where youth and their parents attended. A safety and regulations presentation was given by ECO Ric Grisolini. Tim Furner from Gander Mountain and the NWTF demonstrated the setup of turkey decoys and calling techniques. The youngsters patterned their shotguns under the instruction of ECO Mike Dangler, a certified Firearms instructor.
Seven turkeys were harvested on April 25, the first morning of the hunt. Sam and Logan Campbell were teamed up for that hunt. As luck would have it two nice toms came into their decoys. Once both birds were in range they scored a double. Both birds weighted over 24 pounds and had beard lengths of 9 ½ and 8 ½ inches with ¾ inch spurs. This hunt was videotaped so the two brothers will always have that memory of hunting together. All the youth saw turkeys that morning but most hung just outside their range. The largest turkey harvested that day was 25 pounds with double beards of 9 ¼ inches and 5 ¾ inches and 1 5/8 inch spurs
On the second morning of the youth hunt ECO’s and mentors took out thirteen youngsters. They harvested three birds and there were a couple misses. The largest bird that day was 21 pounds with an 8 ½” inch beard and spurs of 1” inches long. The youth all had a great time and received lunch after the hunt.
A big thank you goes to the following groups or organizations for their donations for this year’s hunt: New York Conservation Officer Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Gander Mountain, Mountain Hollow Game Calls and Mr. Steve Heerkens. Another big thank you goes to the Environmental Conservation Officers, Oneida County Sherriff’s and local sportsmen and women mentors who took the time to take a youth hunting. Thanks also go to the cooks for the event, Brian Day and Larry Chandler, and to the Cassety Hollow Club for the use of their club and to all their members that brought food for the two days of hunting.
Vernon Rod and Gun Club Chicken Barbeque: The Vernon Rod and Gun club will hold a chicken barbeque on Saturday, May 16, rain or shine. The event will be from noon until all are meals are gone. You can eat in or take out service is available. Menu includes half a roast barbequed chicken, coleslaw, salt potatoes, roll and dessert. Support youth and community activities and enjoy a delicious meal.
Paddlefest: This year’s Paddlefest will be held in Old Forge the weekend of May 15 – 17, beginning at noon on Friday, May 15. A change from previous events is that all the sales and booths will be at the Paddlefest store complex just south of Old Forge. Kayaks, canoes and Stand Up Paddleboards will be at the Old Forge Waterfront for test paddling. A shuttle service will be provided. There will be free seminars and clinics and classes in kayaking for a modest fee. There is also a catch and release pike fishing contest with a fishing kayak as the top prize. Details and online registration are available at the website mountainmanoutdoors.com.
Friends of NRA Banquet: The Madison County Friends of NRA Banquet will be held Saturday, May 16 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. In addition to dinner, there will be games, silent auctions, raffles and live auctions. Funds raised go to support local programs such as shooting ranges, women and youth programs.
BPS Go Outdoors Event: Bass Pro Shops Go Outdoors Event will be held weekends of May 16 - 17 and May 23 - 24 at the store in north Utica. The weekend of May 16 and 17 will feature free kids’ activities including kids crafts, free fun photo downloads, Boy Scout demonstrations and Adventure Scavenger Hunt. The weekend of May 23 and 24 will have free family activities including cooking demos and sampling, and how to lessons on capable kayaking, where to go for local family outings, campfire cooking and planning for camping with kids. Check the website basspro.com for dates and times of each event.
St. Lawrence Pike Fishing: Pike fishing was very slow last weekend on the St. Lawerence River. Earlier I had reported that water temperature there was approaching 47 degrees. However last weekend the temperature was lower, instead of higher, than the week before. We found pike in depths just off the spawning areas but most of them just ignored our variety of lures. It will take warmer water to increase the activity and signal the start of spawning.