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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Busy summer boating season calls for common sense and patience

Boat Safety

Next week, especially the Fourth of July holiday, is traditionally the busiest boating time of the year. Let’s make sure that it is a safe and pleasant experience for everyone.

With the busy boating and canoeing season coming up it is worth reminding everyone about boat safety. New laws about operating a boat under the influence of alcohol have been passed and hopefully these will reduce the number of accidents on our waterways. Keep alert and save the refreshments until after the boat has been docked for the day.

It is also important to note that laws require a wearable type I, II or III PFD (life jacket) be aboard every vessel, including canoe or kayak and children under 12 must wear a PFD while aboard a boat or canoe. In fact everyone should wear them since nobody plans on having an accident. Injury, shock from cold water and currents can inhibit your ability to swim and statistics show that most deaths result from drowning.

Know the rules of the road about giving sailboats a wide berth, and use courtesy like reducing waves around smaller craft like fishing boats, canoes and kayaks to avoid swamping them. Be alert for kayaks and other boats that are smaller and ride low to the surface of the water. Familiarize yourself about common rules of passing or meeting other boats.

It is also the law to reduce speed and avoid causing wakes in areas like shorelines and docks. Use common sense, stay alert and make this a safe season on the water.

Boat Launch Courtesy

With the holiday weekend and great weather in the forecast it is certain to be a busy season on the water. Boat launches will be busy so be sure to use courtesy and keep things moving smoothly so you won’t interfere with others. We realize that veteran boaters are familiar with these procedures, but some newer boaters may not think of these so here are some hints to make sure all have a smooth launch or landing.

• Make sure your battery is cranking fresh. Running it off the trailer is not the time to find out you need a charge.

• Have an experienced person back the trailer down. This is not the weekend or the location to give your wife or son some learning experience.
• Get your boat ready before you launch. Have your gear aboard, tackle in place, water skis or coolers all set in the parking lot, not spending time doing it at the dock.

• After you pull your boat out of the water, move the trailer off to the side out of other people’s way before you fasten down everything for the trip home.

Thousand Islands

Traditionally we open the bass season in the Thousand Islands and this year was no exception. Camping on the St. Lawrence River near Clayton for two weeks provided us with a needed get away, fishing opportunities and other chances for fun.

We have nearly always camped at Grass Point State Park for the view of the Seaway and easy access to the many islands and shoals around Fisher’s Landing. A short run normally puts you into good fishing spots for smallmouth bass and northern pike around the islands structure or the deeper drop-off into the shipping channel.

This year as predicted the fishing started off slow. Bass had not even spawned yet due to the cold water temperature as they normally spawn when water is about 62–65 degrees and the water temperature was still 58 degrees when the season opened. Since Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties do not allow fishing for bass before the season opener few people knew where to look for them.

Later in the week as the water warmed up slightly bass began to move into spawning shallows and anglers found some action. Some strong winds and steady rain many days also hampered the fishing success for many but fishing on the lee side of the islands did produce some nice smallmouth.

Northern pike were usually found in the deeper structure adjoining shallow flats. One bonus of the colder water was that muskies were also spawning later than normal and a few anglers caught some nice fish. Captain Al Benas had his clients fishing for smallmouths and one of the anglers got the thrill of a lifetime by catching a 30 pound muskie. Largemouth bass were found in the weedy flats where unfortunately the cold water did not delay the development of that disgusting milfoil.

In addition to fishing there is always kayaking in the more protected or sheltered areas such as around Fishers Landing or the north side of Wellesley Island and Lake of the Isles. This year the state has completed the renovations to Rock Island Lighthouse and it is now open to the public. Thousand Islands Winery and Coyote Moon Winery offer tours, wine tasting and of course some excellent wines. Abundant wildlife, including lots of ospreys diving for fish, provided further enjoyment.

It was also a time to visit with friends like Susan and Allen Benas at the Thousand Islands Inn, Bridget and Neal Walsh who were camping at a nearby state park, or share a variety of experiences with Dan and Adrienne Ladd who camped with us for several days. For a complete list of attractions, accommodations, and special events contact the Clayton-1000 Islands Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-252-9806.

APA Accepting Comments: The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will be accepting public comments on plans for classifying the recent purchases of the former Finch-Pruyn lands in Essex and Hamilton Counties until July 19. The DEC wants a mix of classifications calling for wilderness category in some remote, sensitive areas while allowing the less restrictive wild forest category in areas where the public is likely to hunt and fish.

Already the extreme environmentalist-protectionist groups such as Adirondack Council or Protect the Adirondacks are lobbying hard for wilderness classification which would effectively shut the area off for use by most sportsmen. Write a comment, however short, and let the APA know that you favor classifying most of the area wild forest. Don’t let the extremists lock it up for the exclusive use of an elite few! Send your comments to APA, 1133 NYS Route 86, Raybrook, NY 12977.

Adirondack Outdoors: FishUS proudly announces the summer issue of its newest publication, “Adirondack Outdoors,” is now available. The magazine, which is the only one devoted to traditional Adirondack sports including hunting, fishing, paddling, as well as hiking, skiing, etc., made its debut with the spring issue in digital version. The current summer issue is available in both print and digital versions.

The print edition is available at many sports shops, marinas, tourism centers and other outlets throughout the Adirondack region. Locally you can pick up copies at Sweet Temptations Café, Herb Philipsons and Hanifin Tires. Check the digital edition at

The current issue features articles on mountain climbing destinations, paddling trips both short and long, camping, and fishing for bass, trout and pike. There are articles on destination areas including Cranberry Lake, St Regis Canoe Area, Ausable River and the Moose River.

The summer issue of “Lake Ontario Outdoors” is also available at the same local establishments as well as many other sports shops. It features fishing for steelhead, summer salmon, and tips on choosing a charter. Bass fishing from the St. Lawrence and Salmon Rivers and drop shot techniques are covered along with Finger Lakes rainbow trout status.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Adirondacks offer great outdoor variety

The evening sun casts a soft glow on the waters of an Adirondack Lake marked only by the rising of fish, a couple of canoes of fishermen, and families of ducks swimming along the shore. The smell of a campfire mingles with the scent of pine and balsam while the silence is broken by the plaintive call of the loon. Sitting by the lakeshore and watching a deer or an osprey it is easy to forget about the outside world and the daily pressures and chores.

You can find this scene many places in the central Adirondacks. But the nice thing about this area is that it also offers much more and while you enjoy the solitude of the wild, the services, fine restaurants, other accommodations, or any of the other attractions can be just a few miles away.

It is no secret that the Old Forge-Inlet area of the central Adirondacks occupies a special place in my heart since I have spent much of my life hiking, hunting, fishing, paddling and boating in the area. I never tire of going back and doing similar things and each trip finds new adventures that I have not previously discovered.

Although fishing for brook trout in small streams or ponds and pursuing rainbow or lake trout in the larger lakes gets attention, the fishing for bass in lakes and ponds is often overlooked. Recently I was talking to DEC personnel as they loaded tanks of trout onto a helicopter at the Old Forge airport for transport to Raquette Lake, Stillwater Reservoir and many area lakes and ponds.

A great thing is that you can hike or paddle to remote fishing areas that you will have virtually to yourself. Or if you prefer you can rent a boat or launch your own on the Fulton Chain of Lakes to fish for lake trout, landlocked salmon, northern pike, tiger muskie, largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Paddling opportunities abound from the Moose River to smaller, out of the way bodies of water like “Black Bear Lake” featured in Ann LaBastille’s books. Pick up your free booklet “Adirondack Waterways” at either Old Forge or Inlet Visitor Centers.

There are countless miles of hiking trails that range from short and easy to longer and more challenging day hikes. Bald Mountain, Rocky Point and Black Bear Mountain are easy to moderate hikes that offer great views. But there are many miles of interesting trails such as the Moss Lake circle or trails in the Moose River Plains.

The Moose River Plains is a unique area with dirt roads giving access to campsites, hiking trails, fishing in ponds or streams, and viewing wildlife. Stop in at the Inlet Information Office for a map and some expert advice from Mitch Lee.

The Old Forge–Inlet area offers all the usual outdoor and water sports like boating or swimming, etc. in a beautiful setting. But there are many rainy day activities, including the “View” Arts Center in Old Forge which is continually changing its excellent exhibits. Other activities range from the concerts by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Inlet, Arts in the Park festival at Inlet, horseback riding, seaplane rides, golf at Inlet or Thendara, or the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Space does not permit listing all the things to do or places to go, so check on the tourism centers in Inlet ( 1-866-GO INLET or Old Forge ( 369-6983.

Looking for the longest water ride in the central Adirondacks? It’s the Moose River. For leisurely, gentle flowing and scenic paddling you cannot beat the North Branch or the Middle Branch just below Old Forge. A trip from North St. Bridge gives you an eight-mile trip back to Old Forge in about four hours. Add two hours to your trip by starting at Rondaxe Lake. Rent canoes or kayaks from Tickners on Riverside Drive or arrange their shuttle service for your own vessels.
You can go down the Middle Branch to Lock & Dam in about an hour if leisurely paddling. Or take the River and Rail where you paddle down the Middle Branch for four hours and you and your canoe or kayak ride the train back to Old Forge. This is a fabulous adventure that operates Thursday through Sunday. Contact Tickners Moose River Outfitters (369-6286) for reservations or more information. They don’t just rent you a boat; they help plan your adventure. Trust me – they are the best.

If you are looking to get off the beaten path or try something new this summer, contact Scott Locorini of Adirondack Exposure. From day trips to longer adventures you can choose from rafting, kayaking or canoeing, hiking, woodcraft skills and fishing. Check out his line of canoes and kayaks, accessories and fishing gear at his headquarters near Okara Lake two miles south of Old Forge. Call 369-6699 for more information.

Accommodations range from motels, bed and breakfast inns, rental cottages or campgrounds. State campgrounds at Nicks Lake, Eighth Lake and Limekiln Lake offer nice facilities or you can opt for primitive camping at Moss Lake or the Moose River Plains as well as other locations. Check the websites mentioned above for complete listings.

A new magazine, “Adirondack Outdoors,” is devoted to traditional Adirondack sports like fishing, hunting, canoeing, hiking and more. The summer issue has many articles on how and where to enjoy your Adirondack experience. Look for free copies locally at Hanifin Tires, Herb Philipsons and Sweet Temptations Café. Pick up copies at the Inlet or Old Forge information centers.

In the meantime be sure to include the central Adirondacks in your summer plans. Whether it’s a vacation, get-away weekend or several day trips, take advantage of this great area at our doorstep. As they say, the good roads make it easy to get there; the mountains make it hard to leave.


Trout In the Classroom: Trout Unlimited’s highly successful Trout In the Classroom program had another great experience locally. Otto Shortell Middle School students, under the guidance of regional coordinator Bob Fields, hatched trout eggs in the aquarium and released the fry in a local stream. During the year long experience the students learned about the biology and ecology of fish and their habitat, and incorporated these lessons in other disciplines.

Bob Fields reported that this recent release of the trout fry was unusual because the Oneida Indian Nation accompanied the release and led even with a prayer of thanksgiving. Following this there were four stations where students learned the relationship between earth and their lives.

Bill Alexander Jigs: Many area residents are aware that Bill Alexander of Sylvan Beach is a very successful fisherman. Since 1981, when he started fishing competitively, he has either won or finished in the top three in several Bassmaster tournaments.

But what many do not realize is that part of the secret to Bill’s success is the fact that he designs and makes his own jigs. Bill understands bass habitat, their feeding habits and other behavior and fine-tunes his lures to take advantage of this. He also believes in using quality components, whether there is money on the line, or just fishing for fun.
Bill also sells his successful line of jigs with a variety of styles. Check his web site which gives background, illustration, and even tips for using the various types. Of course the name comes from “Made To Order” since all of the lures are individually poured, painted and tied with hair or other material. Check out the site for useful information and to see the amazing variety available. Support a local person and at the same time your fishing success may increase.