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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Anglers look forward to opening of trout season

Trout Season Opens: Nature often plays an April Fool’s joke on anglers and it appears that it might happen again this weekend when the trout season officially opens on April 1. After a couple weeks of beautiful unseasonably warm weather and the local trout streams in great condition had gotten many people excited about the season opener, colder weather returned. The prediction of showers literally put a slight damper on the enthusiasm.

But regardless of what the weather is like on Sunday, a lot of fishermen will be hitting the streams. Trout streams should be in good condition, especially compared to most years.

General advice will still be the same. Fish slowly and deep since trout probably won’t be active and are likely to be holding near bottom cover. Natural baits including worms, nightcrawlers, salted minnow or artificial baits like Power Nuggets should work best.

Those who prefer to use artificial lures will probably rely on flies like Wooly Buggers or Muddler Minnows or spinning lures like Mepps Aglia. These can be worked slowly along bottom cover and rocks. Even if the water is warm, the clear conditions mean that trout will not stray far from bottom cover so you need to put the lures in their face.

Undercut banks or root masses in the stream are typically where trout hide out during the daytime. These can be difficult to fish and you are likely to get snagged or lose some hooks but this is where the fish, especially larger ones, like to hide.

Stream vegetation, except in areas of evergreen thickets is going to be non-existent so anglers will be highly visible to trout. You will need to keep a low profile or use existing cover to break up your background. Consider wearing camouflage or drab colors and fishing upstream so most trout will be facing away from you. These precautions are particularly important on clear days and when fishing smaller streams.

Light line or fluorocarbon leaders will help avoid spooking fish if the water is low and clear. Use a minimum of split shot just to keep your bait bouncing along the bottom with the current.

Currently the forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the 50s. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised with fishing action. But in any case it will be a spring tonic just to get outside and go fishing again.


DISPATCH FISHING FORUM: On March 31, I will be at the Dispatch’s Office at 130 Broad St. discussing fishing from 12 -1 p.m. Feel free to stop in and ask questions about local fishing opportunities, tips on trout fishing or anything that interests you.

CLAYTON TAKE A KID FISHING CONTEST: The 35th annual Take-A-Kid Fishing Contest will be held in Clayton-1000 Islands, NY on Sunday, June 3, 2012. The event is sponsored by the Clayton Fishing Guides Association, in cooperation with the Clayton Chamber of Commerce.

The names of 48 young anglers will be drawn from entries received from the Niagara Frontier to Long Island and the Pennsylvania border to the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. The young anglers will fish with one of four members of the Clayton Fishing Guides Association, 24 in the morning and 24 in the afternoon, on Sunday, June 3. The two young anglers catching the largest fish on each of the 8 trips will win top quality fishing rod & reel outfits. Soft drinks for the boats will be furnished compliments of Pepsi-Cola Bottling of Watertown and snacks by Gray's wholesale of Clayton.

Young anglers can enter the drawing by visiting between April 1 and 16. Entry deadline is midnight April 16.

Postal entries are also allowed. They should be submitted on a post card and include the youngster's name, complete mailing address, telephone number, date of birth, age, the name of the publication they saw the contest announcement in and the name of the outdoor writer who wrote the story. Address postal entries to Take-A-Kid Fishing Contest, 36418 Pelo Rd., Clayton, NY 13624. Mailed entries must be postmarked no later than April 16. Only one entry per person will be allowed. Duplicate entries will result in all entries for that person being discarded.

FUTURE ANGLERS OUTREACH: The Future Anglers Outreach program provides a truly rewarding way to start off the fishing season. Nearly a decade ago one angler realized the damaging potential technology could inflict on the environment. Not from pollution, but from the fact he saw kids playing more video fishing games than actually fishing. These kids are the next generation, and without any interaction with the outdoors who would be left to care about the environment?

Something had to be done, so six years ago a group of friends set out to replace one day of kids on video games for one day fishing. They started what would become the Future Anglers Outreach Program. Since that first day, the program has gathered tremendous support, gained national attention, and has provided hundreds of rods and reels free of charge. Perhaps the greatest success is watching other events starting or adopting similar programs, all with a common goal to provide that first day of fishing memories.

The program differs from derbies in that it offers simple instruction to young anglers and their parents. The one day event’s sole purpose is to give the basic fishing skills to the entire family so fishing can be a successful experience that they will continue to do on a regular basis. All kids receive a rod and reel, bait and tackle to keep free of charge along with food and drinks to all attendees.

This year’s event will be held at Marion Manor Marina, Oneida Lake on Sunday April 29. We need your help with a donation of time to reach our 2012 goal to provide a free day of fishing to 100 area children. Please take the time to consider helping in the following three ways: volunteers, participants, and recruiters.

We need as many avid fisherman as possible to help with the event so we can hopefully we can have one instructor to every child. There are also other tasks involved. If you are the parent or guardian of a child that wants to fish, please sign up. Remember that this is free for kids ages 5 – 12. If you know of a deserving family or child we appreciate you spreading the word and help us finding candidates for this, and future events. For more information or to register contact Ted Dobs at

YOUTH AND WOMEN TURKEY HUNTS: Many youngsters or women want to join in the excitement of turkey hunting but have not had the opportunity or do not have family members to teach them. To help correct this situation the Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen and the Environmental Conservation Officers are teaming up to provide the opportunity.

For those people who sign up there will be different Safety Days of instruction, marksmanship, etc. led by certified hunter safety instructors, along with skilled women mentors who have conducted workshops on turkey hunting. These will be held the weekend before the actual hunt with mentors. Participants will be accompanied by ECOs on their hunt. The Youth Hunt will be on the weekend of April 21-22. The Women’s Day will be in mid season.

Eligible youngsters are ages 12–15, holding a junior hunting license and a turkey permit. Youngsters must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. All normal rules apply. For more information or to register contact Scott Faulkner (829-3588) by April 1.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ready your fishing tackle for the upcoming trout season

With the great weather earlier this week, trout fishing was on the minds of many sportsmen. Area trout streams are in excellent shape although we all know that unpredictable weather at this time of year can quickly change conditions. Trout season is less than two weeks away. It is time to get your tackle ready.
Check your rods to make sure that the guides are not loose and there are no rough spots to wear your line. Pull a scrap of nylon stocking through the guides to check for burrs or rough spots. You can clean any cork handles with some warm water and mild dish detergent.
Reels take a little more attention. Check the bail springs to see that they are tight and that there are no rough spots or nicks on the bail to cause your line to fray. Make sure you have the owners manual to reference the parts and what lubricant to use in the right place.
If there is an accumulation of lots of dirty grease in the gear area, they should be cleaned with a solvent like Quik Scrub III to remove it. Clean them thoroughly and lubricate with a proper lubricant.
Avoid water-displacing lubricants like WD-40 since the chemicals can actually dissolve the protective grease needed. At first the reel may seem to operate smoothly but when the lubricant is gone the parts will be rubbing against each other. Generally you should use grease for parts that mesh like gears; use oil on parts that may rub.
If your reel has an accumulation of grease and dirt and you are not handy at cleaning it and replacing parts, have a professional do it.
This is especially true with bait casting reels. If you are missing screws or have a damaged bail, etc. now is the time to get it taken care of.
Discard all the old monofilament on your reels and spare spools and replace it with new line. Line is the vital connection to you and that fish, so don't risk having old, brittle line. Monofilament line deteriorates with ultraviolet light, ozone, etc. so it should be replaced at least once a year.
It also becomes stiff and takes a set curl when it becomes wet and exposed to sun and , so it pays to change line frequently. Many people change their lines two or three times per season. Any line that you purchased last year and is still on the spool, kept in the cellar away from light will be alright to use.
Choice of line can be difficult. Different lines have special qualities such as abrasion resistance, limpness, low visibility, etc. These qualities are often exclusive, i.e. you can’t have one line with all of them. In a separate column we will discuss some of the considerations. You probably have several reels or spare spools for some of the reels, so buying large bulk spools of line can save you money. On the other hand, having your local tackle shop fill your reels with line from their bulk winder can save you a lot of time and effort.
Take an inventory of your lures and accessories and take advantage of sales at your favorite local sports shop and stock up before the season opens. And do me a favor - shop locally. The local sports shops are the ones that support your community with paying taxes, donating to charities, volunteering to coach kids teams, etc. Whether it is in this area or the shops in the areas you fish or camp, they deserve your support
If the lures have rusty hooks, replace them now. You can get packs of hooks and "O" rings at most tackle shops. Sharpen all the hooks. A small hone or inexpensive device like the DMT Diamond sharpener will quickly put a good point on the hooks. A diamond groove makes it easy to put a sharp point on your hook with just a few strokes.
If some of your spoons are tarnished, clean them up with silver polish or toothpaste.
Some lures might need repainting. Make sure that all your plugs have eyes; it really does make a difference.
Take an inventory of all the little tools and accessories. Most of us have probably lost a few late in the season and never bothered to replace them at the time. Do you have pliers or hemostats, knife, penlight, and similar tools? A few needle threaders come in handy for tying on flies, especially during periods of low light. Clippers, hook sharpeners and polarized sunglasses are essential.
If you are like me, you have probably given your waders or hip boots a beating on sharp rocks and stubs of alders around beaver ponds. Check them now for leaks and patch or replace them if they are too far gone. Some people use a flashlight inserted in the waders while turning off the room lights to find cracks or holes. A more reliable way is to fill the tub with water, put on your waders, and kneel in the tub.
Depending on our specialty such as fly fishing, lake trolling, etc. we all have lots of other gear or supplies that we need to check. But the important thing is to start now. It will mean that you won't waste valuable time later when you could be out fishing.
FRESHWATER FISHING MAP: The NYS DEC Bureau of Fisheries is offering a new, full color map/brochure free to individuals interested in fishing the freshwater resources of NYS, The “I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing” provides information on over 320 lakes and ponds and 112 rivers and streams. Color identification photos of fish species are also provided.
To receive a map in the mail, e-mail a request to the DEC at:
Include the words NY Fishing Map in the subject line and don’t forget your name and mailing address.
WOMEN’S TURKEY HUNT: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and NYS Conservation Officers will give women who have signed up the chance to hunt turkeys with an ECO or a mentor on May 19.
Some women want to learn or participate in turkey hunting but do not have the family members or mentors to teach them the necessary skills or go with them. The Oneida County Federation and ECOs will provide this opportunity, along with skilled women mentors who have conducted workshops on turkey hunting or have been part of the Women In the Outdoors programs.
On May 14, Safety Day, prior to the hunting weekend, women will learn the basics of turkey hunting from experienced mentors and practice marksmanship at a range under the supervision of certified instructors. Those eligible for this program are women 16 years of age and older, holding a valid small game license and turkey permit. Those interested must complete the application by April 1, 2012 to: Women’s Turkey Hunt, c/o Scott Faulkner, 3720 Wells Gifford Road, Vernon Center, NY 13477.
HUNTER INPUT FALL 2012 WATERFOWL SEASONS: Hunters are invited to submit recommendations for the dates of the Fall 2012 duck hunting seasons to regional Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces. DEC expects the USFWS to allow a 60-day duck season, split into no more than two segments per zone, opening no earlier than Sep. 22, 2012, and closing no later than Jan. 27, 2013.
Waterfowl hunters can participate by providing duck season suggestions to any task force member on, or before March 30, 2012. Names and contact information for local task force members are:
MIKE PODGORSKI (NYSCC – R7), 2287 Ferndell Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035. 315-655-8067.
DOUG CARR (Central NY Wildfowlers) 109 Roosevelt Ave, Canastota, NY 13032. 315-952-3160.
Comments can be provided by mail, telephone or e-mail. The task forces will meet in late March and April, and DEC plans to announce tentative duck hunting season dates in June.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

DEC releases deer hunting stats for 2011

Last week the DEC released the Deer Report for the 2011 big game season. Statistics showed that a total of 228,359 deer harvested roughly matched the 230,100 taken in 2010. The total bucks killed (110,002) was slightly higher than the previous year’s total of 106,960.

For some of the local hunters who did not have a good season, or saw many less deer than in recent years and are raising their eyebrows, we just remind you that many a person has drowned in a stream that “averaged two feet deep.” And we will look at some of the local statistics as well as offer a few thoughts about them.

As usual, western New York and the Finger Lakes region lead the state in total deer harvest densities and total numbers. The “deer factories” of Yates, Wyoming, Genesee, Ontario and Livingston had high buck kills. Greater deer populations, easier access, and more hunters easily boosted all the totals from this area.

Overall the buck total from the northern zone (15,900) was about the same as the previous year but in the southern zone the total buck take (93,100) increased by about four percent. Obviously antlerless deer harvest is dependent on the number of deer management permits (DMPs) issued for each area. That number decreased by three percent in the southern zone. However, the success rate of antlerless deer harvest did decrease approximately two percent in 2011.

Overall the number of deer killed by muzzleloader was down more than 10 percent. Hunters killed 16,454 last year compared to 18,387 the year before or the five year average of 17,590. Bowhunters harvested 36,393 deer compared to 34,530 in 2011 or the five year average of 32,391.

A quick comparison of some popular areas, both northern and southern zone, around central New York shows slight fluctuation. Remember that you can access information, including the number from each township, on the DEC web site

Oneida County, which includes both northern and southern zone, had a harvest of 2,400 bucks and 4,436 total deer in 2011 compared to the previous year of 2,372 bucks and 4,445 total. Madison County had kills of 2,263 bucks and 4,951 deer last year and 2,274 bucks and 4,685 total deer in 2010. Onondaga County showed a buck harvest of 2,316 and 5,168 last year and 2,337 bucks and 5,734 in 2010.

North of Oneida Lake, Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 6K saw its numbers remain steady with 2,453 bucks compared to 2,462 the previous year. WMU 7M which includes much of Madison County to the south took 4,227 bucks last year, which was down slightly from the 4,485 in 2010. WMU 7J saw a big increase in buck harvest last year of 3,059, up from the 2,394 in 2010. WMU 6S had a slight decrease to 1,857 bucks from the 1,971 the previous year.

How do we reconcile these numbers with the legitimate complaints of many hunters who saw a lot less deer in many areas? First we must keep in mind that some areas like Verona still have not recovered from the herd slaughter of a few years ago following the CWD scare. Secondly, we should remember that deer, like money, are not evenly divided. We tend to hunt areas we are familiar with or have good access to. And in those areas there may well be reduced numbers of deer.

Last year was very difficult because the warm weather meant that deer were moving even less than normal during daylight hours. This discouraged many hunters and they stayed home to plant tulip bulbs instead of going deer hunting (talk about misplaced priorities!).

Fewer hunters afield also contributed to less deer being moved about and seen by other hunters.

However, the serious deer hunters adapted their tactics, hunted new areas, or were simply persistent in spending many hours afield at dawn and dusk. A higher percentage of them were rewarded with a deer, compared to much lower percentage of the casual deer hunters. Remember that only about one in twelve hunters gets a buck anyway.

None of this takes away the disappointment of those of us who were not successful or did not have as much action as usual. But the good news is that somewhere out there are still a lot of deer. We may have to change areas and tactics next year. Remember that deer season is only seven months away!

BOOK REVIEW: “Backcountry Bucks” by Todd Mead. With the release of the DEC Deer Report and harvest numbers, people are turning thoughts to deer hunting again. And at this time of “mud season” when many people are passing time reading, what better book to read than Todd Mead’s latest book.

Many people met Todd at the CNY Sportsmans Show in Oneida in February. His easy, unassuming style is carried over into his writing. He narrates stories of his family and friends hunting backcountry bucks in the Adirondacks with detail to the weather, the surroundings and all the things that contribute to hunting experience. The reader, especially those who have hunted in the backcountry or the Adirondacks, can relate to this and will practically feel the mist, hear the deer in the frozen leaves or shiver at the rain down the back of the neck.

Todd shares the stories of the successes and failures as well. At the end of each chapter he offers his thoughts on what he learned and hopefully you can learn from these encounters and adventures. Throughout it all, he stresses the experience and the respect for the deer. All hunters can relate to these, even if they don’t hunt the remote Adirondacks or regularly bag big bucks.

If your favorite bookstore does not have a copy, you can obtain one through Todd’s web site

It belongs on your bookshelf.

STEELHEAD: With the pleasant warm weather recently and absence of snowpack the streams, particularly the tributaries of Lake Ontario are heating up. At mid-week I was talking to my friend Jay Peck, a guide on the Salmon River as well as western NY streams. Jay said that warm weather, combined with no snow cover to melt and cool streams, would likely heat up the steelhead waters very rapidly.

This should create more action since the fish are more aggressive in warmer water and will quickly bring on the spawning action. Based on patterns in other years, Jay predicted that steelhead fishing will be finished about two weeks earlier than usual this year. For information on guided steelhead trips, call 585-233-0436. You will also be able to see an article on steelhead fishing and water temperatures on Writers Corner at

YOUTH TURKEY HUNT: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmens Clubs and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) are teaming up during Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend April 21–22 to give youngsters who do not have a family member or adult mentor to hunt with an opportunity to hunt with an ECO.

On April 14, the weekend prior to the Youth Hunt, the youth will have the opportunity to learn the basic of turkey hunting from expert mentors and practice their marksmanship under the supervision of certified instructors.

Youngsters age 12–13 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or relative over 21. Those ages 14-15 must be accompanied by parent, guardian or adult over 21 with written permission from a parent.

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. For more information or applications for the program, contact Mr. Scott Faulkner, Youth Turkey Hunt, 3729 Wells Gifford Road, Vernon Center, NY 13477 or call 829-3588.

NY BOWHUNTERS BANQUET: New York Bowhunters, Inc. will hold their annual banquet March 31 at the Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for NYB, Inc. and also serves a major collector of boxes to forward to our troops in Afghanistan. For information or reservations call 585-494-2478.