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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New York DEC proposes changes to fishing regulations

Changes to the current freshwater fishing regulations designed to enhance fishing opportunities and protect the state's freshwater fisheries were recently announced by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC will accept public comments on the proposals through April 2.

The proposed regulation changes are the result of careful assessment of the status of existing fish populations and the desires of anglers for enhanced fishing opportunities. Several of the changes being considered remove special regulations that are no longer warranted.
Probably the proposed change of most interest to local anglers would be the elimination of the closed season without catch and release for bass on Oneida Lake. Others will be of interest to Salmon River anglers or ice fishermen. Below are highlights of some of the proposed changes. The complete list is available on the DEC web site.
Walleye: Prohibits fishing in the following stream sections from March 16 until the first Saturday in May (opening day for walleye) to protect spawning walleye: Lake Pleasant outlet to the mouth of the Kunjamuk River (Hamilton County); and Little Sandy Creek (Oswego County) from the Koster Drive downstream of the State Route 3 bridge to the lower boundary of the public fishing rights section located upstream of the State Route 3 bridge. Change the walleye daily limit for Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River to six per day to harmonize limits with bordering jurisdictions.
Bass and Oneida Lake: Eliminates the special black bass closed season for Oneida Lake and implement statewide regulations to create additional fishing opportunities and expand statewide consistency, as continuance of this special closed season is not warranted. Oneida Lake would be subject to the same catch and release season and rules that apply to most of the state.
Trout and salmon: Opens Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, Forked Lake, Gilman Lake, South Pond and Utowana Lake (Hamilton County) to ice fishing for landlocked salmon and reduce the daily limit for lake trout in these waters from three per day to two per day. This will create a suite of nine lakes in Hamilton County that will have the same ice fishing regulations for lake trout and landlocked salmon.
Implement a 12-inch minimum size for brown trout in Otisco Lake (Onondaga County) to increase the opportunity to return more brown trout to the creel.
Reduce the limit of rainbow trout from five to one in the western Finger Lakes and three to one in the tributaries to provide further protection for this species. Western Finger Lakes include Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Canadice and Hemlock Lakes.
Removes the restriction of no more than three lake trout as part of the five trout limit in the western Finger Lakes to foster harvest opportunities and reduce competition with other trout species and impacts on forage base. Change the minimum size limit for rainbow trout in Skaneateles Lake and Owasco Lake from nine inches to 15 inches. This would create consistency with the other Finger Lakes.
Add the tributaries of Beaverdam Brook (Oswego County) from their mouths to the upstream boundary of the Salmon River Hatchery property to the current Beaverdam Brook fishing closure (which also currently prohibits fishing within 100 yards of any DEC fish collection device).

Muskellunge and tiger muskellunge: Implements a 40-inch size limit for muskellunge and tiger muskellunge in the Chenango, Tioughnioga, Tioga and Susquehanna rivers and a 36-inch size limit at Otisco Lake (Onondaga County) to increase the trophy potential of these species in these waters.
Ice fishing and baitfish: Opens specific waters to ice fishing currently deemed as trout waters in the counties of Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence Counties as ice fishing can be allowed for at these locations.
Gear and angling methods: Clearly specifies that attempting to take fish by snagging is prohibited.
For the Salmon River (Oswego County), allows a bead chain to be attached to floating lures. The distance between a floating lure and hook point may not exceed three-and-a-half inches when a bead chain configuration is used. This was determined to be an effective angling method and was not considered an attractive snagging device.
For the Salmon River (Oswego County) implement a “no weight” restriction (i.e., only floating line and unweighted leaders and flies allowed) from May 1–15 for the Lower Fly Area and from May 1 to August 31 for the Upper Fly Area.
The full draft regulations and instructions for submitting comments can be seen on the DEC website at
Comments on the proposals can be sent via e-mail to or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State DEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. Hard copies of the full text can be requested from Shaun Keeler at the same addresses listed above. Final regulations, following full review of public comments, will take effect Oct. 1, 2012.
YOUTH TURKEY HUNT: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmens Clubs and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officers are teaming up for Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend on April 21–22. The program gives youngsters who are eligible and do not have a family member or adult mentor to hunt with an opportunity to hunt with an ECO.
Since many youngsters want to hunt turkey but do not have the opportunity to learn from a family member or other adult relative, the Oneida County Federation and ECOs are providing this. On April 14, the weekend prior to the hunt, the youth will learn the basics of turkey hunting and practice their marksmanship under the supervision of certified instructors.

Eligible youngsters must be 12–15, hold a junior hunting license and a have turkey permit. Youth ages 12–13 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or relative over 21.
During the special Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend youngsters will be accompanied by an ECO and have a chance to take a turkey before the regular season opens May 1. The limit is one bird and they are allowed to take a second one during the regular season in May. Hunting hours are one half hour before sunrise until noon.
For more information or applications contact Scott Faulkner, Youth Turkey Hunt, 3729 Wells Gifford Road, Vernon Center, NY 13477 or call 829-3588.
STEELHEAD REPORT: Despite warmer weather and spring-like conditions, there has been light fishing pressure on the Salmon River. But those anglers who have pursued the silver torpedos have been rewarded with exciting action. Most of the fish are in the upper river from Pineville to the Lower Fly Zone at Altmar. Fish are being taken on all the usual baits and lures.
SEASONS END: Small game seasons in this area and most of the state end February 29. Squirrel, grouse, rabbit and varying hare seasons will be closed. Cottontail rabbit and varying hare (“snowshoe rabbit”) will remain open in northern zone (regions 5 and 6) until March 20.
OSWEGO GUIDE: The new Oswego County hunting and fishing guide is available on line and packed with useful information. For a copy, visit

Friday, February 17, 2012

Be patient when searching for wildlife

Overhead soared as many as five bald eagles occasionally flying to a nearby tree to perch and keep watch. My wife Carol and I were watching eagles one morning last week and even though we did not get the close up views we were hoping for, we commented that it was not that long ago that we were thrilled to even get a sighting of an eagle, much less watch them for half an hour or more. But the eagles are another story.
But it brought to mind a story by a Syracuse sports writer a few years ago who sarcastically kept referring to the lack of wildlife he saw during a canoe trip on the Moose River in the Adirondacks. That same summer I was in the office of Adirondack Exposure visiting with my friend Scott Locorini when a tourist stopped in to make reservations for the following morning for a kayak trip and wildlife viewing. When he inquired what time the trip started, Scott smiled and replied, “We start about 8 a.m. because that gives us time to let all the birds and animals out of their cages.”
Surveys show that viewing wildlife is one of the most popular outdoor sports. When you combine that with hunting and wildlife photography it is easy to understand that a lot of people want to see wildlife, whether for the memory, the photos or the freezer. But as those of us who spend a lot of time outdoors realize, it is not as easy as just taking a stroll through the fields or woods.
Seeing wildlife in its natural setting takes patience, knowledge and more than a little luck. Remember we are not talking about the deer eating your backyard shrubs or the woodchuck living under your lawn shed. Many species are spread thin and the odds of them and you being in the same space at the same time are not good.
You can shift the odds a bit in your favor by being in areas and at times where the various wildlife is more likely to be found. Just as a deer hunter is in his stand in morning and late evening because he knows that deer are most active in periods of low light, you should know the habits of various wildlife species and areas that they are likely to travel through or frequent.
This might include their feeding areas or natural funnels in their travel routes.
Then factor in the natural instinct of most wildlife to be reclusive or avoid contact with humans. Again, the deer out in the meadow in early morning may be ignoring your automobile, but get out the car and take a couple steps off the road and see what happens. Remaining hidden or inconspicuous is essential to viewing most wildlife.
You can be hidden by wearing camouflage or clothing that blends in with the surroundings, or today it is popular to use the portable camouflage blinds. But it is most essential to remain still since animals will easily pick up any motion, even if you are dressed completely in camo. And don’t forget that most animals rely on their keen sense of smell so minimizing your scent and paying attention to wind direction is essential.
Let’s assume that you are knowledgeable about the various species you are interested in, and pick a good location that gives you a reasonable chance of seeing some critters. You have disguised your presence and taken a spot downwind from most likely areas. Just remember that you have to have patience. As mentioned earlier the odds of you and some wildlife you want to see being there at the same time are slim. However the longer you wait, the greater the odds become.
Of course good optics are important. Good quality binoculars or a spotting scope are a necessity for seeing most wildlife in detail. It is amazing how even large animals like a moose can be tough to spot. You are likely to see part of the animal without recognizing what you see. For prey and predator alike, remaining unseen can be a matter of life or death so they can easily evade our feeble senses.

Let your eyes do the walking and slowly scan the area, looking for something that may seem out of place, such as a horizontal shape in a forest full of vertical shapes. Give your eyes a break and look around with the naked eye from time to time. You may also spot something off to the side that you would miss if you were just focused with your binoculars on one area.
Be observant for all of the things in nature. Perhaps you were hoping to see some of the more exotic wildlife like moose or eagles, or at least coyote or deer. But it is also interesting to see the chickadees perch within arm’s reach, perhaps watch a fox hunting for mice or maybe you will see some other rare treat like a pine marten scooting up and down trees looking for his next meal.
As any hunter can tell you, luck plays a huge part. As always, it boils down to being in the right time at the right place. If you get discouraged remember the words of an old Alaskan guide, “there’s always more out there than you see, but less than you think.”


Adirondack Outdoorsman Show: The 7th Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show returns to the Johnstown Moose Club (109 South Comrie Ave/Rte 30A) this weekend on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show will be geared towards the tastes of hunters, fisherman and outdoors enthusiasts, with exhibits containing items for sale pertaining to: hunting and fishing, gear/supplies, guns, archery, trapping, boating, camping, hiking, snow shoeing, guides and charter services, taxidermy, snowmobiling, collectable knives, antique hunting and fishing gear, wildlife art and books and Adirondack furniture.
The Peck’s Lake Wild Turkey Calling Contest will take place on Saturday and Sunday. There will be an adult and youth division taking place each day from 1:00 to 2:30. There is no charge to enter the contest and prizes will be awarded for the top two finishers in each category daily, as well as participation certificates to each youth participant, all courtesy of Peck’s Lake.
For more information on the event, go to or contact Mike Hauser at 518-725-5565
DEC “STATE OF LAKE ONTARIO” MEETINGS: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced three public meetings to discuss Lake Ontario fisheries. The annual “State of Lake Ontario” public meeting will be February 22 from 7–9:30 p.m. at the Oswego County BOCES, 179 County Route 64, Mexico. The meeting is co-hosted by the Eastern Lake Ontario Salmon and Trout Association.
DEC, United States Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources biologists will make a number of presentations, including updates on the status of trout and salmon fisheries, forage fish, stocking programs, and fisheries management plans. Ample time will be provided at the end of the program for the audience to interact with the presenters.
Information summaries for a host of Lake Ontario fisheries assessment programs will be posted prior to the public meetings at:

Previous annual reports can also be found at this site. The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $112 million to the local New York economy.
Free directory to NY campgrounds and RV parks: Campground Owners of New York (CONY) announces the release of its 2012 Campground & RV Park Guide. The guide is free and available by visiting and filling out the online request form, or calling CONY toll-free at 800-497-2669.
The theme of the directory is, “Get Outdoors. Go Camping New York,” with the 100-page directory highlighting the features and amenities for over 200 privately-owned and operated campgrounds and RV parks across New York State. The guide is a handy reference tool for researching and booking just the right campsite for your next vacation.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Snowy owls numbuers increase dramatically this winter

If you are driving through the countryside and see a white object on a fence post, it is obviously not snow this winter. Take a closer look and you might be lucky enough to see a snowy owl. These big white birds are more easily seen this year due to the lack of snow on the ground.

Each winter we get a few of these white visitors from the Arctic but this year reports indicate that there are many more than usual. No one is certain why, but an abnormally large number of these fascinating birds have been seen all the way from the Great Lakes to Massachusetts.

Some biologists point out that last year was a very successful year for hatching and an unusually high number of young birds survived. This was directly connected to the large lemming population in the Arctic, which is the main source of food for these birds. Biologists theorize that many of these young males have migrated south to feed this winter.

In this area, the owls feed on a variety of small mammals and birds, especially voles (meadow mice) and geese. Good riddance to both. With the scarcity of snow the hunting should be easier for the owls.

By contrast, several years ago the deep snow throughout much of New York State sheltered the mice and voles and a large number of barred owls, one of our local owls, starved to death. Unlike most owls, the snowy owl and the grey owl feed a lot during the daylight.

The population of owls, like most other predators, is dependent on food supply and availability. They often migrate when there is a relative scarcity of food, or in this case a higher population of predators in relation to food supply. At times when there is insufficient food they will have smaller broods, fewer young will survive and many adults will starve.

Snowy owls are interesting creatures. They perch on posts or dead tree snags and rely on their excellent sense of hearing and sight to pinpoint their prey. Take a drive or walk in the country, be observant and you may experience the rare treat of seeing one of our visitors from the north.

CNY Sportsman of the Year: Congratulations to Andy Jeski. The Central New York Sportsman Show announced Jeski as the 2012 Sportsman of the Year last Saturday. Each year, the show judges select a winner from among the many nominations submitted from outdoor enthusiasts across central New York

Jeski has worked diligently to promote conservation and outdoor sports through his work with youngsters and handicapped sportsmen. He has also set a good example of ethics and sportsmanship. He has been active in this role for many years and has never sought recognition, only the benefit of others who enjoy the outdoors.

As an active member and president, of SHOTS (Sportsmen Helping Others Through Sharing) he has helped youngsters build turkey calls, and let them take them home at Carpenters Brook Outdoors Days. They have donated fishing rods to youngsters and purchased archery equipment for Holy Cross Academy to participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program.

The past several years he has been active in helping handicapped or ill hunters and fishermen realize their dreams. Andy took the lead in making arrangements for a hunter terminally ill with cancer. They raised the money and Andy handled bringing him to central New York at SHOTS’ expense where they provided him a hunt and the man fulfilled his wish of getting a deer.

Recently they helped a woman afflicted with MS achieve her lifelong dream of fly fishing in Montana. They provided arrangements and money for her and her companion to travel there and fish with an outfitter equipped to deal with handicapped anglers.

Andy Jeski and SHOTS helped provide money for Future Anglers Outreach which is a fishing clinic and instruction day for youngsters and parents where all youth receive a rod and reel. Naturally he rolled up his sleeves and did whatever work was necessary those mornings at the clinics.

He has often invited senior hunters to come and hunt deer with his family and friends and made sure to share venison with them if they were not successful. Whether working with a group or acting individually, Andy has epitomized the model of a sportsman.


VERNON NATIONAL CLAYS FLURRY: Vernon National Shooting Preserve in Vernon Center will offer the popular Five Stand Super Flurry this Sunday. It will be a team event, shooting at 50 clay targets. Practice is at 9 a.m. and shooting starts at 10 a.m. Call 982-7045 for more information.

BACKYARD BIRD COUNT: Once again Cornell University’s Backyard Bird Count will ask for your help in taking a survey of birds from February 17-20. All you need to do is count the greatest number of birds at any time in your backyard or environs. This year, with the open winter and lack of snow, there may be fewer birds at your feeder but the total numbers still give an overall picture compared to other years.

There is also a photo contest, prize drawings and other information available for bird watchers. Call 800-843-2473 for more information on how to participate.

CNY SHOW: Thanks again to Teri Maciag and the staff and students from Holy Cross Academy for putting on a super Central NY Sportsman’s Show last weekend. Their hard work and dedication paid off with a great show featuring a variety of exhibits, vendors and seminars. It created exposure for central NY sportsman’s groups and companies, provided a good time for outdoorsmen to get out and explore, and an opportunity to learn from the excellent seminars. More than 1,500 people came to the show and many people that we visited with at the Lake Ontario Outdoors booth commented what an excellent show it was.

ADIRONDACK OUTDOORSMEN SHOW: The 7th Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show returns to the Johnstown Moose Club (109 South Comrie Ave/Rte 30A) on February 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on February 19. The show will be geared towards the tastes of hunters, fisherman and outdoors enthusiasts, with exhibits containing items for sale pertaining to hunting, fishing, gear, supplies, guns, archery, trapping, boating, camping, hiking, snow shoeing, guides, charter services, taxidermy, snowmobiling, collectable knives, antique hunting and fishing gear, wildlife art and books and Adirondack furniture.

In addition, many featured guests, authors and industry experts are scheduled to be on hand throughout the weekend to give seminars and discuss outdoors and hunting subjects. Door prizes of gear and equipment will be given away throughout the weekend. The Grand Door Prize will be a full-day charter with Chazman Charters fishing the waters off of Kodiak Island Alaska.

For more information on the event go to or contact Mike Hauser at 518-725-5565 or

STEELHEAD: Steelhead have been hitting in the Salmon River, especially in the pools in the upper river. Mid day when the water temperature warms a few degrees has been the best time to fish. Check with All Seasons Sports in Pulaski (298-6433) for up-to-date information on conditions.