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, June 25, 2014

Make boating season a safe one

Boat Safety
The beginning of summer, 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. 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 current 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 many areas along sensitive shorelines, docks and other areas. Use common sense, stay alert, and make this a safe season on the water.
Boat Launch Courtesy
With the holiday weekend soon to arrive 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 spend 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.
Boat Regulations Target Invasive Species
As part of an aggressive effort to prevent invasive species from entering and damaging New York water bodies, the State DEC adopted new regulations that require boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and associated equipment, and to drain boats prior to launching from DEC lands.
The regulations, which are effective now, pertain to all DEC boat launches, fishing access sites and other DEC lands where watercraft such as boats, kayak or canoes, can be launched into the water.
These new regulations will help reinforce the message that boaters need to clean their equipment of any clinging plant and animal materials and drain their boats prior to launching at lands administered by DEC.
Boaters should take the following steps to ensure that their boat, trailer and equipment are free of aquatic invasive species: Visually inspect the boat, trailer and other fishing and boating equipment and remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to it. Materials should be disposed of in one of the Nuisance Invasive Species Disposal Stations installed at many DEC boat launches, in the trash or at an upland location away from the launch ramp.
Drain the boat’s bilge and any other water holding compartments such as live wells, bait wells and bilge tanks. This does not apply to water associated with sanitary systems or drinking water supplies.
Drying boats is also highly recommended but is not required under the new regulations. Boaters who are unable to dry their boats between uses should flush the bilge and other water holding compartments with water, preferably at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Microscopic larval forms of aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels and spiny waterflea, can live in as much as a drop of water.
To ensure that these organisms are not accidentally spread, anything holding water should be dried, flushed or disinfected with hot water to ensure that these aquatic invasive species are not spread. Additional information on AIS and disinfection recommendations can be found
The new regulations are available at
Camping Photo Contest: New York State Campgrounds are sponsoring a 2014 NY Camping Photo Contest. Time period is Memorial Day to Columbus Day. For a complete list of photo categories, contest rules, and to enter the contest, visit
Streamline Canoes: While I was at Paddlefest last month I had the pleasure of having my booth next to the display of the Weaver family of Canastota. Nathan and Kristine Weaver operate a 100% grass-fed organic dairy farm between Canastota and Peterboro. Since their dairy farm includes a sizable amount of quality timber they can utilize for wood resources, including building wood strip canoes.
Their daughter Luann and son Alex spend time at Bear Mountain Boat Shop in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. At this shop they have learned from world class boat builder Ted Moore. When the farm work slows in the winter the family converges into the timber-framed farm shop to build a few select canoes. Family labor fells the trees, cuts it into lumber, air dry it, cut and plane it to size. Finally their crafts put it together into a beautiful, practical canoe.
They can even customize the canoe to your choice of wood and design. I was very impressed with the workmanship and beauty of these canoes. Not only are they works of art but they are easily paddled and comfortable. I was also impressed with the light weight of these canoes. The transparent fiberglass and epoxy coatings on both sides of the hull give the boat strength. The canoes are available with hand caned seats.
If you appreciate beautiful canoes that are also practical and efficient, you owe it to yourself to check out the Streamline Canoes. Visit the Weaver family farm at 4225 E. Mile Strip Rd, Canastota, NY. Call 684-3391 for times or more information.
Crossbow Banquet: The NY Crossbow Coalition will hold its first annual banquet on July 26 at the Ramada Inn, Buckley Rd, Syracuse. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. There will be raffles, auctions, deluxe buffet and informational presentations. Various ticket packages and sponsorships are available. For more information contact NYCC, PO Box 316, Pulaski, NY 13142 or email
Backpacking Tip: Use your watch as a compass. If you are lost without a compass, point the hour hand of your watch at the sun. Halfway between the hour hand and the 12 on the watch will be south. This works even with Daylight Saving Time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Anglers await bass season opener

The third big opener of the fishing season occurs next weekend. Next Saturday, June 21, marks the opener of bass season and from the St. Lawrence River to the Hudson River anglers will be out in force after either smallmouth or largemouth bass. Generally these two species inhabit different habitats or cover and call for different fishing techniques, but both species will provide fun and excitement for the next five months.
The opening of bass season is not quite the big event it once was because now much of the state allows catch and release fishing for bass before the season opens. However much of the north country, including some Adirondack counties and the Henderson Harbor-St. Lawrence River area, do not permit pre-season fishing for bass.
Locally, Oneida Lake is one of the top spots for smallmouth bass and with the changing ecology and weed growth the largemouth population has become a major attraction for anglers. Ted Dobs is one of the local anglers and licensed charter captains who regularly have success fishing for bass on Oneida Lake.
Ted often suggests dragging green pumpkin tube jigs over rock piles since the smallmouth are often still bedding in deeper areas. If they are chasing schools of baitfish your best bet might be using a drop shot rig. He recommends a six pound fluorocarbon line, size 1 drop shot hook in black nickel finish and one-quarter ounce weight depending on wind, etc. Use any fluorocarbon knot and run the tag end back through the hook.
Ted recommends using Berkley Gulp minnows in three inch size in smelt, emerald shiner or black shad patterns. Don’t buy crayfish since they won’t be a significant part of the bass menu until July. Bass are feeding on minnows at this time of year.
Those anglers who prefer smaller waters have no shortage in central New York. Some of the popular waters in central New York include DeRuyter Reservoir, Cazenovia Lake, Eatonbrook Reservoir, Redfield Reservoir, Lake Delta, Canadarago Lake or Whitney Point Reservoir. Those who prefer stream or river fishing should consider lower Chenango River, Mohawk River, lower Fish Creek, Oswego River, Black River or the estuary of the Salmon River.
One of the most popular spots for bass fishermen will be the St. Lawrence River. Even though the shallow weedy bays provide good fishing for largemouths, it is the smallmouth bass that will attract the most attention. Anglers come from all over the state and even other states for the great fishing that the St. Lawrence has to offer.
Normally by opening weekend the bass will have spawned but still be in shallow water. Veteran charter captains like Al Benas or Myrle Bauer suggest using small floating stickbaits, shallow running crankbaits, Mepps spinners and spoons. Since post spawn smallmouths often are not actively moving about, they often like to drift with live minnows parallel to rocky shorelines and thus cover a lot of territory.
Further downriver near Ogdensburg, Mike Seymour guides for bass, pike and muskie. Last summer when I fished with Mike we caught lots of smallmouth two to four pounds using live bait. Mike explained that it was important to use enough weight to get the minnow down near the bottom and take the slack out of your line so you could feel the bass hit in the strong current.
The St. Lawrence offers great fishing but it can be confusing or intimidating finding good spots in all that water. For information on guiding services contact Al Benas (686-3030), Myrle Bauer (686-2122) or Mike Seymour (379-0235).
In the Adirondacks the water is colder and in many waters the bass will have not yet spawned. You probably will do well to search for them in areas adjacent to the shallow spawning areas.
Some of the top Adirondack bass waters include the Fulton Chain with largemouths in First and Second Lakes, and smallmouths in Third, Fourth,
Seventh and Eighth Lake. Indian Lake, Long Lake, Tupper and Saranac Chain all provide excellent smallmouth fishing. Largemouths are found in Lows Lake, Durant, Abanakee and Oseetah. Blue Mountain Lake and its connecting lakes of Eagle and Utowanah have both smallmouth and largemouth.
Those anglers targeting largemouth bass will typically fish the shallow waters, especially the edges of weed cover. Plastic worms, spinner baits, jigs or crankbaits worked along cover usually produces action.
Wherever you fish, my advice would be to start in the northwest corner of the lake since that is where bass usually spawn. Work the shallow areas and gradually fish deeper until you find fish. You might start looking for aggressive fish with spinners or small crankbaits but if the action is slow try a slower approach with jigs and curly tails or plastic worms.
If you are fishing big waters, you might want to drift and cover more territory while casting or using live minnows. In small ponds look for areas where two types of cover converge (e.g. weeds and tree tops). If the grass or weed growth is significant try Senko worms rigged wacky style.
But even if the fish don’t cooperate this weekend, remember that it is a long season and we have more places to go than we can possible fish in one season.
Spey Nation: Have you ever wondered what a Spey Rod is? Would you like to learn to cast these two-handed fly rods that seem as if they can cast across any river? The group of rod makers, guides and fans of using Spey rods call themselves “Spey Nation” and they invite you to join them this month.
The 2014 Spey Nation weekend will be June 20 – 22 on the Salmon River with three days of fun at no charge. There will be free movies Friday night at Tailwater Lodge in Altmar, presentations all day on Saturday at the Pineville Boat Launch. The free lunch will be catered by Tailwater Lodge and at 4 p.m. there will be the drawings for the raffles which will benefit the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club. Sunday will be free fishing at the Douglaston Salmon Run or lessons from Spey Casting Instructors.
Collins Reunion: The Collins family has the right idea for a reunion. The whole clan gathers for a weekend of outdoor sports, including fishing at some campground or resort. Lately they have been meeting at Pecks Lake northwest of Gloversville and stay at the rustic cabins or campgrounds of Pecks Lake Resort. Ted Collins reported that they had a good time, as always, and everyone caught fish, including panfish, walleye, rainbow trout and plenty of pickerel, pike and bass. Top honors went to nine year old Dennison Helesky from the Kingston
area who caught a 39 inch, 16 pound pike. The Rapala lure was caught in the corner of the mouth so the big pike could not bite off the line. All the kids win something but Dennison won a rod and reel and a great memory.
Golden Park Program: If you are a NYS resident 62 or older on any weekday (except holidays) you can obtain free vehicle access to state parks and arboretums. Simply present your current valid NYS Driver’s License. This policy applies both to Office of Parks and Recreation and DEC facilities.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Camping remains a popular summer pastime

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of camping season but it really gets into high gear in a few weeks with the end of school and families starting their vacations. The camping experience can range from backpacking and primitive camping to travelling in an RV to various private or public campgrounds. Each type, as well as those in between, have various advantages and lots of people who love it.
Statistics show that camping is actually growing in popularity in New York State and elsewhere. Some of the reasons are that it can be relatively inexpensive for families to take a vacation, as well as the fact that it puts in contact with the outdoors world.
Since we have a great variety of outdoor sports and attractive regions in New York, you can choose the areas and level of camping that you want to enjoy. Boating, fishing, paddling or hiking are just some of the activities at easy access when you camp. State campgrounds, private campgrounds or primitive areas in the state forest preserve offer lots to choose from.
In addition to being a camper myself, I visit with lots of others to exchange ideas and suggestions, or check out the new equipment at stores and outdoor shows. Time and space do not permit going into the various advantages and options now but we wanted to show you some of the newest developments that campers will find handy.
However three things that I can always recommend are products by Coleman, Coghlan, and Thermacell repellents. Coleman makes everything from lanterns & stove to tents and pop-up campers. You won’t go wrong with Coleman products. Thermacell devices (appliances and lanterns) really keep away the nasty mosquitoes and black flies. They are the greatest development for enjoying camping without the insects.
Coghlan’s Camping Products: All types of campers have known for a long time that Coghlans is the company to turn to for all types of aids and devices to make your camping experience easier. For example if you are a tent camper, or just have a screen tent to go with your RV, you want to make sure that you have one of Coghlans Tent Repair Kits with you. This small package contains the essentials of patch material to make quick repairs to canvas tents and screens: pieces of tent material, a piece of nylon window screen, a spool of thread and needle and a tube of Canvas Cement.
If you are backpacking you want to travel light but have essential fuel for cooking or heating at camp, especially in areas where wood fires are prohibited. Coghlan’s Camp Heat comes in 6.4 oz. cans of Diethylene Glycol with a screw on lid. Simply unscrew the lid and light the wick. When finished put the cap back on to extinguish the flame and save the fuel for re-use. Each can provides four hours of burn time.
Olympia RG850 Flashlight: The RG850 flashlight is loaded with practical features for changing lighting conditions and challenging settings. It features five unique light settings including low, medium, high, strobe and SOS for emergency situations. The Olympia RG850 flashlight is completely waterproof withstanding submersion of up to two meters for 30 minutes. It is crafted from Aircraft-grade aluminum with type III anodized anti-abrasive finish.
The RG850 features 850 powerful lumens of brightness with a beam distance of 389 meters, enough to illuminate an entire camp area. The model also comes equipped with a rechargeable battery that allows users to recharge the battery while in the flashlight via a micro-USB cable.
Solar Pad 3000: For most people today, electronics including the cell phone or Ipad are an important part of the camping trip. If that is the case with you then you should check out the Solar Pad 3000 by Secur Products. It is great for emergency use or for keeping your cell phone from “powering off.”
The Solar Pad 3000 is a compact (6 x 9 inches), high efficiency and high capacity charger to re-charge your phone, tablet, GPS, camera or other digital device while on the go. It will fully charge by exposing it to six or seven hours of sunlight and then it charges your electronic device by a cable and USB port. It is water resistant and built to travel and can even be mounted in a window to charge on the go. You can also charge it in four hours by connecting it to your PC before you leave home.
Dakota Watches: Even though we may be free of a schedule while camping or some other outdoor activity it is still important to know what time it is for various reasons. Dakota Watches are known for quality timepieces ranging from elegant timepieces to rugged sportwatches for outdoor recreation. There are many models and styles to choose from but one that I have recently found handy as well as reliable is the Dakota Digital Clip Clock.
Instead of the wrist band (which causes an uneven sun tan) this one has a carabiner arm that easily clips to your belt, strap of your backpack or fishing vest, etc. It easily flips up to show the large easily visible face with digital display. It features day and date calendar display and is made of an aluminum water-resistant case. It also includes a stopwatch, EL backlight and even an alarm clock. You can wear it on your belt by day and it then folds to double as a nightstand alarm clock in the evening.
To see the full range of Digital Clip Clocks as well as traditional wrist watches visit
Ambi – the “electronic ice cube”: Minor mishaps including bumps and bruises are a fact of life when camping. We often do not have ice packs handy to keep the swelling down or bring relief from bug bites, bumps, migraines, etc. The Ambi is a small device about the size of your phone that operates on four AA batteries or a DC adapter to serve as a cooling device with the touch of a button.
The Groover – Grill Cleaning Pad: It is enjoyable to cook on the grill, it is not fun to clean it. Now GrateChef has a device that makes the chore much easier and more efficient. Groover Grill Cleaning Pads work with a heat-activated internal cleaner that removes grease or accumulated residue while the grill is hot. Just attach a Groover cleaning pad to the bristles of a grill brush and scrub.
This does not require any rinsing afterwards and is completely food safe so you can cook immediately after cleaning. It leaves no chemical residue or smell. Since your grill brush does not come in direct contact there is no damage to it from the hot grill. It works on any material grill grate.
Camping Promotion Program: New York State has an Early Summer Camping Special as a way of promoting and encouraging people to use its campgrounds. If you are camping from now until June 26 you can make reservations and save $5 per night for your weekend and weekday camping trip. Use the promotion code EARLYCAMPING14 when making advance reservations by phone (1-800-456-CAMP) or online at This discount program does not apply to previously booked reservations, walk-ins or cabins and cottages.
CNY Gunworks: With the end of the turkey season many guns will need a thorough cleaning and lubrication before you put them away for a few months. If you are not sure about doing the job properly you might consider a professional like Central NY Gunworks on Rt. 233 in Verona. Gary Donovan and his staff also have licenses, ammunition and guns for all of your varmint hunting and target shooting needs over the summer. Call 363-7041 for more information. Of course it’s not too early to get work done on your hunting rifles or shotguns over the summer instead of waiting until mid September.
Golden Park Program: If you are a NYS resident 62 or older you can obtain free vehicle access to state parks and arboreteums on any weekday (except holidays).Simply present your current valid NYS Driver’s License. This policy applies both to Office of Parks and Recreation and DEC facilities.