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Friday, May 20, 2011

Livingston County offers four seasons of fun

Trophy sized smallmouth and largemouth bass, big northern pike, deer with bragging sized antlers and wild turkey all beckon to the sportsmen in their respective seasons. Family vacations, get away weekends, or fishing and hunting excursions all beckon and offer plenty to do with a variety of accommodations to suit every taste and budget. Summer attractions include boating, river rafting, fishing, hiking, as well as shopping, museums, art galleries and more. Of course Letchworth State Park encompassing the Grand Canyon of the East or Genesee Gorge remains the star attraction.
Livingston County offers all of this and it’s just a short drive south of Rochester.
Most people are familiar with Letchworth State Park, but as I found out on a recent trip, there is a lot more to Livingston County. The occasion was the New York State Outdoor Writers’ Association annual Spring Safari organized by Livingston County Tourism to show writers from around the state the great experiences and resources that exist there.
Our base of operations was the comfortable cabins at Letchworth State Park. From there many of us set out for turkey hunting both in the park and nearby areas. Alas, the turkeys there are just as wary and frustrating as elsewhere but they are there to challenge the hunter.
Early one morning some of us set out to fish nearby Conesus Lake and we counted over a hundred deer on our way out of the park. Park Superintendent Roland Beck told me that deer hunting is allowed in the park during regular bow and gun seasons and is a popular activity. Once hunters draw their permit for hunting, many of them rent cabins there during the hunting season for easy access. Some of the park personnel showed us photos taken of deer there, and there were a lot of bucks with antler spreads that would make them trophies in anyone’s book.
From spring through fall, Conesus Lake and Hemlock Lake are very popular with anglers. Conesus offers a first class boat ramp and access site on the east side below Livonia and the lake has a great variety of fish to attract anglers. I fished with Paul Lane, a local angler, one day and he shared some of his tips and advice as we caught and released lots of largemouth bass.
We did see some anglers in a nearby boat catch a bragging sized northern pike. But Paul explained that at this time of year until the weed lines develop it is hard to consistently catch big pike. Once that happens you can fish the outer edge of weed lines and catch nice pike in the seven to ten pound range and reasonably expect to hit some 12–15 pound ones. Spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits and jigs all work well on pike.
The edges of the lake hold extensive weedy flats with several drop-offs into greater depths until you hit the 60 foot depth in the middle. It is along these drop-offs or points into deep water that you will find smallmouth, including many that are in the four to six pound class. Walleye also like to hang along these drop-offs and points and come into the shallows to feed in the evening.
At first we worked the flats for largemouth with tube jigs or plastic worms without much action until we found a long stretch on the west side with slightly turbid water and then we had action until quitting time. Shallow running crankbaits also worked well that day. Since it is weedy in the summer plastics, including Senkos, work well.
Hemlock offers a lake in a pristine wooded setting with no development but the largemouth and smallmouth also run big and eager for the angler in a canoe or cartop boat. The Canadice-Hemlock State Forest is a recent state acquisition and preserves the area for future generations for a wide variety of outdoor recreation.
As mentioned earlier, Letchworth State Park remains the gem of the area. The 14,350 acres encompasses the gorge of the Genesee River, known as the Grand Canyon of the East. It is characterized by three major waterfalls on the river that flows through 600 foot high cliffs, 66 miles of hiking trails and countless other small but charming and scenic spots.
Campers can chose from 270 electric campsites and 80 cabins from mid May through Columbus Day although some of the cabins remain open through November and one area is open all winter for snowmobilers, skiers, etc. Reservations are available by calling 800-456-2267. For those who desire different accommodations, there is the Glen Iris Inn and three houses available for rent.
Hunting is available in season by park permit. There is a swimming pool, museum, restaurants and even rafting available. There is too much to describe in a few paragraphs; Letchworth deserves, and will get, a story of its own.
Accommodations outside the park in Livingston County range from Bed and Breakfasts to Inns and motels and include other campgrounds. The area offers stream fishing for trout, hiking on the Finger Lakes Trail and tours inside the Mount Morris Dam. For variety there are art galleries, museums, shopping, unique farm markets, craft shops, vineyards and wineries.
For a complete guide to all activities, attractions and events contact the Livingston County Tourism office at 4635 Millenium Drive, Geneseo, NY 14454. You can also call 585-243-2222 or visit the web site
Whether it is a vacation or a get-away weekend you will probably find that there is so much to see and do that you cannot possibly do it all. The answer is to go back again. I certainly plan on it.
ADIRONDACK FISHING EXPO: Whether it is tips or tackle, you can pick it up this weekend at the Adirondack Fishing Expo in Old Forge on Saturday and Sunday. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the Park Ave Community Center (on Park Ave, the street behind the High School or Souvenir Village, etc.). Turn right at the High School or at the "Five Corners" in the middle of town.
There will be exhibits by organizations, vendors, demonstrations, seminars all day long. Information will range from fishing the Moose River Plains to rigging out your fishing kayak and demonstrations from cooking fish to fly casting clinics and more.
Learn how to take better fishing photographs, techniques for brook trout fishing and Adirondack bass fishing. There will be useful free information available from FishNY, Trout Unlimited, Embark magazine and more. Get autographed copies of books, wildlife art, or sign up for a guided trip.
DEC PROPOSES BEAR SEASON CHANGES: Earlier this week, the DEC proposed changes in the Southern Zone bear season. One change would involve changing borders and opening more areas in southeastern New York. The one that would affect more people in central New York would open the season seven days earlier, on the same day as the regular opening of big game in the Southern Zone. Complete details and areas are on the DEC web site.
STURGEON ALERT: The DEC wants to alert anglers, particularly on Oneida Lake, to be aware of spawning sturgeon while walleye fishing. Sturgeon are spawning at this time and are more likely to be accidentally caught by anglers. Remember that sturgeon are protected and must be immediately released. Do not lift them from the water and hold them vertically.


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