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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Anglers have high hopes for walleye season

For many area fishermen this Saturday, May 3, will be the highlight of the fishing season. It is the opening of the northern pike and walleye season and most anglers have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the season to go after the tasty walleye.
Most of the area anglers will converge on Oneida Lake and its tributaries with a variety of lures, baits and techniques. If the weather is decent as the forecast calls for, there will be a flotilla of boats, especially along the eastern and north shores where walleye fishing is traditionally found in the early season. Many others will line the banks of the streams, especially the main tributaries like Fish Creek.
There is always debate on where to find the walleye in early season. With this cold late spring, the fish will probably still be near the spawning areas even though the walleye have spawned. Typically after spawning the larger females head back for the lake, especially the deeper areas. Males tend to hang around longer and are likely to be found in the streams or the shallow areas of the lake.
Remember that the majority of walleye spawn in the lake, not the streams, so it will be where you find the most fish. However it is easier to target the fish in the streams so many anglers will concentrate there.
I was talking to Dave Malbouf at “Bouf’s Bait Shop” in Verona Beach earlier this week as he prepared for his grand opening this weekend. His advice will be to fish the creeks and shallower waters of the lake because that is where the perch fishermen have been finding walleye on their outings
In anticipation of the big event with enthusiastic fishermen heading for their favorite spots, Malbouf will be open all night on Friday night and all weekend. He is stocked up with lots of jigs, worms, and other popular lures and supplies. He will also be serving free coffee and donuts for customers.
Captain Ted Dobs, a veteran walleye fisherman, also believes that many of the walleye that ascended the creeks will still be there. Since the cold water is still below 50 degrees the fish won’t have any urge to head back to the lake.
Dobs recommends using bucktail jigs or jigs with twister tail grubs swam just off the bottom. He suggests adjusting the color of the jigs to the clarity of the water. Since walleye are sight predators, you should choose the color jig that shows up best. Lower your jig slightly into the water and see how well it shows up.
Good luck to all the anglers and let us know how you did this weekend.
Rivers of Steel: Steelhead season may be winding down but it certainly is going out in style. There have been lots of fish in the rivers like the Salmon Rive all winter but many days the cold weather or high water has hampered anglers. Lately the conditions have been better and the anglers have been enjoying great fishing.
Last Friday my friend Mike Seymour and I fished with Chris Mulpagano and had a fantastic day. While fishing the lower river from Chris’ driftboat we hooked up with 34 powerful and acrobatic steelhead. The excitement and action was great throughout the entire trip and we ended up boating about 23 or 24 of the hard-fighting fish.
We took a lot of the fish by fishing single beads under a float drifted through deeper pools or runs. Several others were taken by hot shots in front of the boat as Chris skillfully back-rowed his driftboat through likely areas. A lot of the fish were in the seven to eight pound weight class while our largest was about ten pounds.
On Sunday my friend “J.B.” and his son fished the same stretch of the river with Chris and hooked into 25 fish, landing about 20 of them. Their largest fish topped 12 pounds I have said for a long time that Chris Mulpagano, a former local resident, was one of the best – if not the best – guide on the Salmon River. After this weekend both Mike Seymour and “J.B.” were ready to agree with me.
The steelhead we caught had mostly finished spawning and were on their way back to the lake. It is likely that the major spawning activity will wrap up in another week or two at the most. By then most of the big trout will be back in the lake for another year.
Lake Ontario Action: Fishing action has been good all along the Lake Ontario shoreline from the Niagara Bar to Henderson Harbor. Lots of brown trout have been cruising the shoreline and anglers have been targeting them with stickbaits and spoons.
When the browns are in the shallow water, they are spooked easily so anglers need to run long flat lines behind the boats or use planer boards to get the lures out away from the boat. Fishing is best in areas where tributaries enter the lake and produce areas of stained and warmer water.
Anglers have also been taking fish early in the morning from piers or jetties that extend out into the water. A few hours after sunrise, especially on bright sunny mornings, the browns will head out into deeper water. When the brown trout fishing slacks off many anglers will then head out into deeper water (50 – 80 feet) and catch some nice lake trout by fishing “peanuts,” or big flutter spoons along the bottom.
Camden Sportsmans Day: SHOTS (Sportspeople Helping Others Through Sharing) will be sponsoring the First Annual Sportsmen’s Flea Market on Sunday, May 4, 2014. The event will be at the Camden Rod & Gun Club at 2655 Moran Post Road, Camden. It will be a day full of fun, games, and sporting goods traded or sold. Goods include hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and trapping equipment. There will be a licensed FFL dealer available to do NICS background checks on firearms. Vendors are welcome. Call 315-447-7551 for more information or to reserve your space.
Mothers Day Suggestion: May 11 is Mother’s Day and naturally you should do all you can to make the day special. In addition to dinner and other special things, you can consider some gift that will help that special person enjoy the outdoors.
One gift that you should seriously consider for the outdoors lady is the Free Country jacket. This stylish and sporty windbreaker is perfect for the active person whether she is running errands, jogging or boating. It is water and wind resistant and it is machine washable. An attached hood with adjustable drawstring, Velcro cuffs and zippered exterior pockets provide protection against inclement weather.
A modern touch is an interior pocket for mobile devices with cord outlet and loop for using earphones when she wants to listen to her favorite songs while on the go. For a complete line of windbreakers or jackets that are durable, lightweight, and stylish for the outdoors women, check out
Paddlefest: Adirondack Paddlefest, the largest on-water canoe and kayak show in the Northeast returns to Old Forge May 16 – 18. There will be hundreds of canoes and kayaks on sale, and all types of accessories available. Meet with manufacturer’s representatives, take skill classes for a modest fee and attend free seminars and demonstrations on everything from tandem paddling techniques to kayak fishing. Of course this is also your chance to test paddle canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards, as well as try out various paddles.
There will be a special one day contest of fishing for northern pike from a kayak on Saturday, May 17. First prize will be a Wilderness Fishing Kayak. There will also be many booths of various outdoor related organizations. For more information check the website Or call (315) 369-6672.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Turkeys outside the box

We have all seen the videos and read how turkey hunting is supposed to be. You roost the bird, sneak back to the area before dawn and set up near a tree. You give a few soft calls and the big tom comes gobbling into your location. Boom! Success! Another longbeard bites the dust.
But we know that this is rarely the way it goes. Turkeys don’t watch the same video and there are dozens of things that can, and usually do, go wrong. When these things happen you need to think outside the box (and we don’t mean the box call).
Consider all the things that may cause a tom turkey to “hang up” and not come in to your call. Are there potential obstacles like small streams, stone walls, fences, etc. between you and the route of the bird? Remember that even though the bird could easily clear these obstacles they rarely ever will. After all you are dealing with a creature with a brain the size of a small walnut.
Sometimes you have a spot that you are counting on and when you get there you find another vehicle already parked there. Have several alternate spots before hand and just head for one of them instead.
If you are heading for your destination in the gray hours before sunrise, remember that even though it is dark and you are dressed in camouflage, you are visible to a turkey that is perched in some tree top and overlooking the fields beyond. Take a route through the woods and avoid crossing open fields. Even if you are dressed in the latest patterns of camo, a turkey’s sharp eyesight will pick up movement.
There is always a debate over how close you should get to the area where a tom is roosting. Obviously if you are too far away it increases your chances of something going wrong, like real hens intercepting him or the bird being hung up by refusing to cross a stonewall. But if you are too close the tom might see you or be spooked by the sound of twigs snapping. Remember that with no leaves on the trees in early season that tom up in the treetops can see a long way.
Unfortunately there are times when you are calling a bird, the tom is gobbling and coming towards you and someone deliberately gets between you to intercept the bird. Face the fact that not everyone in the woods is a sportsman and move to another location. Be sure that you do not move in on someone else yourself. You not only will ruin that person’s hunt; you may put yourself and the other hunter in danger.
Frequently the tom will already have hens or meet hens on the way to check out your calling. He will gobble frequently, inviting you to join him, and then head on his way to the strutting ground with his harem. Do not despair.
Even in his small brain he will remember your calls and where they came from. Often about mid morning when the real hens have left and gone to their nests, the tom will get lonely and come back looking for the hen he heard calling at dawn. Just beware that they may come from any direction.
Last year I thought I was going to get to my spot in plenty of time but as I approached it, the dawn was breaking and the birds came down in a nearby field. I watched from the wooded ridge in frustration, unable to move and certain that my chances for that morning were done.
But while the boss tom was strutting and chasing away the subordinate toms, the hens gradually slipped away. As the group of toms realized that they were being left alone and started to follow, I dropped back of the ridge and began to call. The air was soon filled with thunderous gobbles and the group made a beeline for my spot on the next ridge. Soon the red white, and blue heads peeked up over the ridge and I dropped the big tom with a well placed shot.
Sometimes the toms are busy with the real hens and return to your area of calling once the hens have gone to their nests. Other times, it may be a tom afraid of being beat up by the “boss tom” so it comes in silently. In many areas the birds have been pressured or have become “hunter shy” so they may respond better to fewer and softer calls.
Lou Pulverenti, maker of the popular Boss Tom Calls, says that you have to be flexible with reluctant gobblers. Sometimes when a tom keeps gobbling but refuses to come to your calls, you may move further away and call, making the tom think that the hen is leaving. Then carefully sneak back towards the sound of the tom and try to intercept him.
Lou Pulverenti also suggests that it is important to use different calls and vary your calling. Turkeys are individuals, just like people, and some respond differently. Sometimes getting aggressive or challenging with your calls will bring a reluctant gobbler into range.
Some toms respond better to softer calls, some like raspy calls. Have a variety of calls and change them if you are not getting any response. Sometimes using several calls will make a tom think that there is a whole flock of eager hens awaiting him.
Although we might have an urge to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep when we know it is raining outside, don’t be discouraged. Turkeys don’t have the option of getting out of the rain and you will probably have less competition from other hunters. Often they congregate in open areas such as meadows or pastures so setting up along hedgerows or routes to these areas can be productive.
Although some hunters are very successful with aggressive calling or even the “run and gun” technique, the average hunter is better off by calling too little rather than too much. When in doubt, call softly and sparingly. If a bird is coming in close you are better off by just making a few soft clucks or purrs to keep his interest up and make him think that everything is alright.
Turkey hunting rarely goes the way we anticipate. They are extremely wary and unpredictable birds. But the challenge of getting a longbeard, especially when we have to think outside the box, is part of the lure that keeps us coming back.
Camden Sportsmans Day: SHOTS (Sportspeople Helping Others Through Sharing) will be sponsoring the inaugural Sportsmen’s Flea Market on Sunday, May 4. The event will be at the Camden Rod & Gun Club at 2655 Moran Post Road, Camden. It will be a day full of fun, games and sporting goods traded or sold. Goods include hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and trapping equipment. There will be a licensed FFL dealer available to do NICS background checks on firearms. Vendors are welcome. Call 315-447-7551 for more information or to reserve your space.
All Seasons Open House: All Seasons Sports Shop in Pulaski will hold its Annual Open House on Saturday, April 26. There will be free prizes, closeouts, meet the distributors and other specials. Jim Dence, a local resident, has an extensive line of all fishing supplies and specializes in brown and steelhead, salmon or walleye fishing equipment and accessories. There is also a very complete on-line service of all fishing supplies. See You can also check the website for up-to date fishing forecasts and conditions.
Steelhead Report: I was talking to Fran Verdoliva, Superintendent of the Salmon River Hatchery in Altmar, recently and he said that there were plenty of steelhead still in the river and that the cold water conditions had delayed much of the spawning activity. However once the water warms up the fish will start to spawn and head back to the lake quickly. Check the web site for the up to date fishing reports or see the live fishing cam on the Salmon River.
O.L.A. Meeting: The annual Oneida Lake Associaton Meeting will be held at Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Wednesday, April 30. There will be exhibits, a brief business meeting, reports on topics of interest to people involved with Oneida Lake, and door prizes. See the website for more information.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hunters eagerly await turkey season

May 1, the opening of turkey season is only a week and half away. Although it may seem like forever to eager turkey hunters, much like a child waiting for Christmas morning, it is really very little time to make preparations for the season. Scouting, patterning your gun and organizing your equipment are all vital components of your success in the upcoming season.
Many hunters have spent the past few weeks scouting for turkeys and planning their strategy for opening week. If you haven’t, you should make time this weekend or in the days to follow to try and locate birds as well as pattern them for your early season hunting.
Remember that birds are usually not where you saw them in February or March. Despite the snow earlier this week, at this time of year the hens will be concerned with the nesting areas which are usually pastures of woods with lots of undergrowth for cover. The turkeys will be frequently roosted in tall trees along a hillside where they can easily fly down to open areas directly from the roost. Somewhere in the vicinity there is probably an open area used as a strutting ground for the tom to impress the hens.
Since a turkey’s primary defense in its great eyesight, the gobblers like to strut in open areas. This may include a secluded field, an old pasture surrounded by brush or even a clearcut or woods roads in forested areas. If you are in the woods and fields, keep an eye out for these areas and signs like tracks, droppings or feathers. Be sure to wear camo and move slowly, using cover whenever possible. Use your binoculars to scout from a distance and avoid spooking birds. Avoid temptation and leave your calls at home.
Let’s assume you have located a gobbler’s roosting area and have identified likely strutting zones and morning feeding patterns. Give some serious thought where you want to set up near the roost or along the morning travel route. Too many of us head out to the woods and make a call or two, and when the gobbler answers we try to find a place to set up.
Locate likely spots where the birds will come within range with some subtle calling. Do you have an area where you can have good vision of birds coming in to your decoys or set up? You do not want too much brush or obstacles in your way. Have a large tree to rest your back against for both comfort and safety.
Are there obstacles that will cause a gobbler to hang up or not come in close to your calling area? In addition to obvious things like swamps, there are things like stonewalls, fences or small creeks that many a gobbler will refuse to cross when you are calling. Sure, they could cross them easily but remember that you are dealing with a bird that has a brain smaller than a walnut.
Take some time and pattern your gun. If you have not done so before, try different loads to see which pattern works best in your gun. Use a turkey head target to see if the gun is centering the pattern at the point of aim. Not all guns and loads will do this. Most hunters prefer size 5 or 6 shot, which should put about a dozen pellets in the area of neck and head.
Check your patterns to see which give you a tight pattern of pellets in the vital neck and head area, and also check to see the effective range of this tight pattern. The most popular gun is a 12 gauge, three inch chamber, and full turkey choke. The effective limit of this gun is about 40 yards, although many hunters limit themselves to 25 yards. Sure, the gun will reach out beyond the 40 yards, but there are too many holes in the pattern at those distances to be effective.
Check out all your camo clothing and have it ready for whatever the weather may be on May 1. Some people make a big deal out of having matching pants and shirt or jacket, as well as matching the habitat. But other veteran hunters say that as long as your camo breaks up your outline and roughly matches the type of cover in the area it will work just fine.
Take time to test and chalk your box calls or sandpaper your slate and pencil calls. Practice your diaphragm calls and make sure to rinse them with Listerine and store them in the refrigerator until time to use them. Practice your calls so you can make the sounds you desire easily when the time comes.
You need to be able to make a variety of sounds and have the volume or cadence that the situation calls for. Don’t worry too much about matching the exact sound on practice video. Many real hens make some awful sounds. Line up all your accessories like camo gloves, seats, etc. and get your turkey vest or jacket organized and ready to go. Be sure to get out the insect repellent since bugs will likely be out and searching for prey by opening week or shortly after. Next week we will pass along tips from various hunters, often learned from their mistakes!
Short Casts
Future Anglers Outreach: Once again this year the Future Anglers Outreach will hold its fishing clinic for youngsters and parents or guardians. This year the event will be Saturday, April 26 from 8 a.m. to noon at Marion Manor Marina. This year, due to construction, the group will be limited in size. There are a limited number of spaces still available. If you are interested, call Leo Maloney at 363-3896 by Friday, April 18.
This is not a derby or contest. It is a clinic designed to give youngsters and parents a basic introduction to fishing skills and information to help them be successful. It is designed for those families who have little experience or knowledge of fishing. Youngsters who are chosen will receive a free rod and reel to keep.
Youngsters must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. They should bring any snacks or drinks and be prepared for the weather that morning. Anyone interested in helping as a volunteer instructor should e-mail TDobs2@gmail as soon as possible.
Crossbow Regulations Coming: The DEC will be preparing guidelines to implement the new crossbow seasons. These should be ready and made public sometime in May. There will not be any meetings or forums but comments can be sent by e-mail or letter.
The DEC will utilize all aspects of the legislation passed in the budget round. They are bound by law so they cannot increase the season length, lower the age limit, modify restrictions of draw weight and size or open the entire season for seniors and those with disabilities.
Hunters will not need an archery license to hunt big game with a crossbow during the early archery season but will need a muzzleloader to hunt with a crossbow at that time. Yes, this does sound dumb, but that is what was negotiated during the budget. And keep in mind that even the common sense proposals favored by the majority of sportsmen were almost defeated by legislators who were listening to NYBow, Inc and animal rights fanatics.
Hunters will be allowed to use a crossbow to hunt small game during those seasons, but not this spring (2014) turkey season since the regulations will not be in place yet.
Hall of Fame Banquet – Last Call: The NYS Outdoorsmen hall of Fame Banquet will be held Saturday, April 26 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. Social hour will begin at 5 p.m. with dinner served at 6 p.m. Call 363-3896 or 829-3588 by Friday, April 18 for reservations. Meet with sportsmen and organizations from all around the state and help honor local sportsmen Paul Miller, George Franke, Tom Lenweaver, Fran Verdoliva and Rick McDermott among others being inducted into the Hall of Fame that evening.
O.L.A. Meeting: The annual Oneida Lake Associaton Meeting will be held at Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Wednesday, April 30. There will be exhibits, a brief business meeting, reports on topics of interest to people involved with Oneida Lake, and door prizes. See the website for more information.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New York State budget contains money for sportsmen

By Leo Maloney
Outdoors Columnist
This week was the opening of trout season but few, if any, fishermen were out enjoying trout fishing on Tuesday. The streams were at flood stage so safety and common sense dictated that anglers bide their time for better conditions.
A couple friends asked me about fishing and wondering if the state had stocked any streams. Even before the flood stage levels of last weekend, the streams were cold and experiencing high water levels. Fishing in those conditions would be an exercise in futility.
Although some people saw on TV that Onondaga County was stocking fish last week, none of the local streams were scheduled for stocking. Onondaga County has its own hatchery and stocks the streams in Onondaga County with trout. Oneida, Madison, and other counties are stocked by the NYS DEC from the state hatcheries.
It is the DEC policy not to stock streams when the water is too cold or high. In those conditions the metabolism of the fish is slow and they are vulnerable to the flooding and high water conditions. Survival of the trout would be low so the state waits until more favorable conditions.
Usually the DEC stocks most of the local streams in early to mid April. Many area streams also receive a second stocking in May. You can see the list of stream stockings with month, number and species of trout stocked on the website at
Meanwhile Governor Cuomo took the occasion of the opening of trout season and the passage of the NYS Budget the previous to announce the details of the budget and how it affects sportsmen. The budget was passed and included new funding for fishing and other projects in 2014-2015. It also included a compromise crossbow provision that will make the crossbow a legal hunting instrument in New York.
The governor stated that the fishing industry supports an estimated 17,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of tourism dollars. The new funding is designed to expand fishing opportunities by improving public access to fishing sites and investing in critical infrastructure at state hatcheries. The state operates 12 hatcheries and stocks over 2.3 million trout in 309 lakes and 2,900 miles of streams. In addition to this it operates hatcheries for walleye and muskies as well as rearing facilities for them.
Included in the budget was money for boiler replacement at the Chautuaqua and Oneida County hatcheries, rearing pond improvements at several hatcheries and building repairs and expansion at the Caledonia hatchery. It provides for the purchase of 16 new stocking trucks and their life support systems.
Fishing licenses may now be purchased and printed from your home computer at Licenses are now good for one year from the time of purchase. There is a slight reduction in short term license fees for both resident and non-residents.
Six million dollars has been approved for 50 new access projects for fishing, hunting, hiking and canoeing. The improvements include improved parking, new trails, repair of launch sites, etc. There will also be construction of a few new boat launches around the state although none in this area.
The other big news was the approval of a crossbow season that was included in the Governor’s budget proposal. After the wishes of sportsmen were thwarted by Assemblyman Sweeney of the Conservation Committee last year, Cuomo decided to bypass the normal legislative process and push for it in the budget bills.
It was almost killed again by Sweeney and a few other Assemblymen who were strongly influenced by the NY bowhunters, Inc. and some animal rights fanatics. A week ago it was not included in the budget bill version approved by the Assembly. Sportsmen who were upset by this disregard of the majority wrote and called their representatives and influential legislators.
The final version that appeared a week ago and was finally approved was a compromise. It was not what crossbow proponents or most sportsmen had hoped for, but it was acceptable and gives the sportsmen the chance they have hoped for.
The bill that was approved makes the crossbow legal for use during small game and any firearms season for deer. Obviously this is no big deal and it is unlikely that many will use it during this time. It does allow for crossbows to be used during the last two weeks of the southern zone archery season and the last 10 days of the northern archery season.
So in essence crossbow users will have a two week season to enjoy their sport while regular archery hunters will have about seven weeks. But considering the disproportionate influence of NY Bow, Inc. and the flaws of the NYS legislative system, it is still a victory for those who wanted a chance to enjoy the sport and cannot otherwise partake in normal archery.
The DEC has the authority to make the final regulations and will begin by holding a series of public hearings. Watch for announcements on the hearings and regulations once they are formulated.
CNY Gunworks: Turkey season is less than a month away. Most people are checking out their camouflage and practicing their calls but they should also be checking their guns and practicing and patterning their shooting. The Gun Works of Central New York now sells licenses and has ammunition. And of course if your gun needs any work or care, now is the time to get it taken care of. They are located on Route 31 in Verona. Call Gary Donovan or his skilled staff at 363-7041 for information.
VNSP Opens: Vernon National Shooting Preserve announces that it will be open to the public and its members on Fridays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. On Sunday, April 6 will be the Flurry of the Mountain which is open to all.
Save the date of May 25, 2014 for the annual Wounded Warrior Event. Details and registration will be available online next week. For information on VNSP call 982-7045 or e-mail
Brown Trout TV: Outdoor Passion TV will broadcast its show filmed last year on Lake Ontario near Oswego. “Brown Trout Rising – Oswego County” will feature early season brown trout fishing with Capt. Kevin Keller of Fishchopper Charters. It will be shown on the World TV Network on Saturday, Apr. 5 and 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Apr. 10 at noon and 9 p.m, and Friday, Apr. 11 at 2 p.m.
Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame Banquet: The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame (NYSOHOF) will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, April 26 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. Registration and social hour will begin at 5 p.m. with dinner served at 6 p.m. This year there will be nine new inductees including well known local sportsmen including Paul Miller of the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club and award winning artist Tom Lenweaver.
George Franke who is active in many sportsmen’s organizations, Rick McDermott the founder of the Crossbow Coalition, and Fran Verdoliva the head of the DEC hatchery at Altmar who has been responsible for much of the success of the salmon fishery will also be inducted. Nina Schoch who founded the Adirondack Cooperative Loon Society will also be honored.
In addition to the inductees, the NYSOHOF will honor ECO Ric Grisolini for his outstanding work with the youth mentor program for turkey and goose hunting in Oneida County. Most of the major sporting organizations from around the state will be in attendance that evening.
The public is invited to attend and help honor these sportsmen and women who have done much to preserve our outdoor heritage. Enjoy an evening of fine food and meeting with fellow sportsmen from around the state. Call 363-3896 for reservations by April 19.