OUTDOORS: Despite weather, anglers have high hopes for trout season opener
Next Monday is the opening of trout season, a date that also happens to be April Fool’s Day. Although we often dream of pleasant spring days on our favorite streams, the reality is often a gray day with cold rain or snow, high and muddy streams and a lack of fishing action. Nevertheless, the opening of trout season marks a beginning-of-spring activity and hope for better days to come.
This week there is still several inches of snow covering the ground in this area and even more snow in the higher elevations, making it likely we will face tough fishing conditions. But even if the fishing conditions are not very good, it is important to get out next week or in the following week to celebrate a rite of spring.
Cold water temperatures mean that the fish will not be very active since their metabolism is slower in cold water, regardless of other conditions. If the streams are high, fast and cold then fishing will be tougher. In fast water the trout will seek shelter in side eddies, under cut banks or behind boulders. The current at the bottom of deep pools is not as strong and there are usually rocks to break the current and provide shelter.
Temperature at the deeper areas of pools will be less affected by cold weather and run-offs from snow or rain. During mid-day the water in shallow eddies or the inside of bends in the stream may warm a few degrees. These areas will probably have temperatures closer to the optimum 60-65 degrees that trout prefer.
Trout will not only seek shelter from swift current, but from the mud and silt which can clog their gills. Thus areas behind rocks or other protection are more likely to hold trout in early season high water conditions.
My advice is usually fish smaller local waters, wait until mid morning before going fishing and use bait such as nightcrawlers or salted minnows. Use only a minimum of split shot to get your bait down and tumbling along the bottom slowly and naturally.
Whenever streams are high, muddy or cold, artificial lures will be less effective. In addition to remaining in hard-to-reach areas for protection, the trout will be sluggish since their metabolism slows down considerably in water temperatures below 50 degrees. They will not chase a lure very far or fast. Lures with high visibility that can be fished slowly along bottom like Mepps or Panther Martin spinners are your best bet.
One other thing to keep in mind is your visibility to the trout. Anytime you are fishing small streams be sure to stay as far from the water you are fishing as possible. Wear drab or camo clothing and use brush, streamside evergreens or high banks to disguise your outline. With no foliage cover, your outline is highly visible and likely to spook the trout.
At this time of year the smaller streams are your best bet for finding fishable water conditions and cooperative trout. Chittenango, Oneida, Cowaselon, Oriskany and Sconondoa Creeks are always popular spots. There is still a lot of snow in the hills and the northern areas. Save the northern streams or the bigger waters like Mad River, Fish Creek or West Canada Creek until later.
DEC plans to stock more than 2.1 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in 307 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams. Spring stockings will include 1.51 million brown trout, 432,000 rainbow trout and 158,000 brook trout. Approximately 97,000 two-year-old brown trout 12-13 inches in length will also be stocked across the state.
Due to a disease outbreak last year at the Rome Hatchery approximately 131,000 brook and brown trout were lost that would have been part of the fall 2012 and spring 2013 stocking program. DEC claims the reductions will be spread out and is not anticipated to significantly impact the quality of fishing. Approximately 25,000 additional rainbow trout will be available for stocking in the upcoming season
A listing of waters stocked with all sizes of trout last year can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30467.html. Anglers searching for places to fish will be interested in the “I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New York State.” This map/brochure provides information on over 320 lakes and pond and 110 rivers.
But even if fishing conditions are poor, remember that getting out is what counts. It is a chance to see if your skills are as rusty as the hooks you forgot to take out of the pocket of your fishing vest. You will see the signs of spring in the meadows and woods and probably meet some old friends along the stream. It whets the appetite and gets up your spirits for the season to come. Fishing season is here again!
ECOs Annual Women’s Turkey Hunt: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and NYS Conservation Officers (ECOs) are teaming up again to give women a great experience during the regular turkey season. This year date will be May 18 with a rain date of May 19. Women who sign up will have the opportunity to go turkey hunting with an ECO or Mentor.
Some women may want to learn or participate in turkey hunting but do not have family members or someone who are experienced turkey hunters. The Oneida County Federation and ECOs will provide this opportunity. During the weekend of April 13, prior to the hunt, women will learn from experienced mentors the basics of turkey hunting and practice their marksmanship at a shooting range under the supervision of certified instructors.
Women who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity will need to have completed their hunter safety course by that date. They must complete an application and submit it by April 1 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Mr. Scott Faulkner at the above email or by phone at 829-3588.
Chittenango Rotary Turkey Shoot: Chittenango Rotary will hold its first annual Charity Turkey Shoot on April 20 at the Canastota Conservation Club on Warners Road. Entry fee is $100 per team of four shooters. There will be a rotating trophy for the top team with sporting shotgun and hunting equipment for the top individuals.
All proceeds will benefit local charities. They are looking for sponsors for teams and events. For details on sponsors or the events contact Nels Youngstrom, chairman, at RotaryTurkey2013@gmail.com or 687-7457. There will also be exhibits of sportsmen’s organizations or outdoor-related booths.
Lake Ontario Outdoors: The Spring Issue of Lake Ontario Outdoors is now available. All articles are written by local sportsmen and guides who share their knowledge of where and how to enjoy upstate New York’s resources. Among the feature articles are walleye in the Golden Crescent of Lake Ontario, spring brown trout fishing the tributaries, and using the two-handed Spey rods for steelhead. The always popular departments of From the Vise fly tying and Toast and Roast recipes, as well as calendar of fishing tournaments return. Free copies are available at Hanifin Tires, Sweet Temptations Café and Herb Philipsons.
BRI Nest Cams: The Biological Diversity Research Institute has some web cams at different locations that should be of interest to many of our readers. They have web cams at different locations focused on the nesting activities of peregrine falcons and a pair of bald eagles. You can watch daily the activities by logging on to www.briloon.org/oae.webcams.
Opening Day Tip
Small streams are the best bet for finding fishable water conditions and cooperative trout.
Online: For more local sports results visit. oneidadispatch.com/sports