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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 24, 2015

Lyme Disease is a threat to outdoorsmen

There is a serious threat lurking in our outdoors. It is about the size of a sesame seed and it is more serious than all the perceived threats of wild critters, severe weather or well-known diseases like rabies. It is the deer tick and the potential of Lyme Disease.
With the arrival of summer weather, most people are taking advantage of the great outdoor opportunities we have in upstate New York. Unfortunately this year many sources have reported an increase in the number of deer ticks and the incidences of Lyme Disease
Although deer are known to carry the deer tick, you do not have to come into contact with deer to be exposed to deer ticks. They are everywhere. There is a potential threat of contracting Lyme Disease in your own back yard as well as in the forest.
Several people in the area have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Other friends of mine had their dogs contract Lyme Disease. Not long ago, my cat which was on a leash attached to the back deck steps had a tick attached. Incidentally, cats do not get Lyme Disease while dogs and humans do.
Most of us are aware of the seriousness of Lyme Disease. I have done several columns discussing it and means of preventing it in past years. In recent years, I have had family and their pets which have contracted Lyme Disease, as well as some friends who have had it.
As some local veterinarians and DEC personnel said to me a couple years ago, we need to be concerned about our pets as well. Carefully check your dog for ticks, remove them and have your dog treated when it developed the first signs of the disease.
Lyme Disease is an infection that can produce skin, arthritic, cardiac and neurological disorders. It is caused by bacterium which is spread by the bite of the deer tick. These are tiny parasitic insects that are about the size of a sesame seed and are difficult to detect. They can be found in almost any outdoor location with vegetation, as well as on animals.
Only deer ticks carry Lyme Disease but other types of ticks can also carry serious diseases. Remember that they crawl up. They do not fly or jump onto you so you have to come into contact with them to be “attacked’ and bitten.
Ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They especially frequent piles of old leaves or stone walls. But they also cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs up to a height of 24 inches and get on animals and humans by direct contact.
When you think you may have been exposed to ticks, you should check carefully for the small black insects. Carefully remove them with tweezers and take the tick in a container to your physician for evaluation. Do not smother the tick with Vaseline or apply heat since this might cause the tick to regurgitate infectious fluids. For most tick borne diseases you have 24 hours to find and remove the tick before it transmits any infection.
The best approach is prevention. When hiking try to stay in the middle of the trail. Wear long pants with bottoms tucked into socks or gaiters to prevent ticks from climbing up your legs. Light colored clothing will help you spot the ticks easier. Spraying your clothing with permethrin is effective but it must be done before you put it on. It is nasty stuff and you should avoid getting it on your skin. There are also items of clothing with build-in tick repellent  available. See as an example of what is available.
Use an insect repellent on any exposed skin. Traditionally this has meant something with DEET, which can also cause problems through prolonged or excessive use. Some people are sensitive or even allergic to DEET so this must be used carefully. There are other repellents which use natural ingredients and do not contain DEET which are effective.
Some vets have suggested that we use Bug Guard on dogs as well as ourselves. The vet pointed out that not only was it effective in repelling ticks and black flies but it was safe to use on dogs since none of the ingredients would harm the dog if it licked itself, as dogs are prone to do.
The symptoms and severity of Lyme Disease vary widely in people. Usually, but not always, there is a bulls-eye rash. Fever, headache, fatigue, stiff neck and joint pain are other early warnings. Pets may exhibit a sudden onset of lameness in one or more of the animal’s legs.
As always check with your physician if there is any question. To find out more about Lyme Disease contact the New York State Department of Health toll free at 1-800-458-1158, Madison County Health Department or contact the American Lyme Disease Foundation, Mill Pond Offices, 293 Route 100, Somers, NY 10589 or call 1-800-876-LYME.
Lyme Disease is here in Central New York. Ticks are everywhere, including the shady or brushy areas in your own backyard. Understanding the problem and taking precautions are the best way to protect yourself, your family and pets from this serious threat.
Short Casts
Free Fishing Days: The weekend of June 27 – 28 is designated as Free Fishing Weekend in NYS. Anyone can fish the state’s waters without a license, giving everyone the opportunity to sample the fishing and introduce or renew the experience of the fun of fishing. It is the perfect time to introduce a friend or relative to the sport.
Inlet Bass Derby: The Town of Inlet will hold a Bass Derby on Sunday, June 28. Contestants will fish the waters of the Fulton Chain from Fifth Lake to Old Forge Pond for eight hours. Boats will depart after a livewell inspection from the Inlet town dock in numerical order of their registration. Winning will be based on total weight of five legal bass. Only two anglers per boat are permitted and only artificial baits can be used.
Each boat must have some form of livewell and no contestant is allowed to pre-fish the waters after Wednesday, June 25. The public is invited to watch activities from the town beach. Reservations will be accepted by mail until June 20. More information is available at:
Spey Nation Returns: Spey Nation offers the unique opportunity for enthusiasts and manufacturers of two handed rods to gather in a streamside setting on June 27 in Pineville from  8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Location is the Pineville Boat Launch on the Salmon River. Admission, lunch, etc. are free.
Spey Nation features a full BBQ, raffles, “On the water” demonstrations and interaction with some of the experts. Mixing styles, knowledge, and backgrounds, Great Lakes anglers finally have the opportunity to learn traditional Spey, Scandinavian and Skagit techniques from the experts, try specialized equipment on the water and talk with other fishermen in an atmosphere dedicated exclusively to two-handed casting while enjoying a burger and a brew.
Once again, the proceeds of raffles will be donated to the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club, a grass roots organization dedicated to re-establishing native fish stocks to Fish Creek in upstate New York with the primary focus on restoring runs of native Atlantic Salmon to Fish Creek. You can learn more about their efforts and follow their successes at

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anglers eagerly await bass season opener

Some of my friends used to say that the third Saturday in June should be declared a holiday. That is the opener of the bass season and many anglers have had it marked on their calendar for months. Saturday, June 20, 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. It has lost some of the drama since many areas of the state now allow catch and release fishing for bass before the season opens. However the counties on the eastern end of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and some of the Adirondacks do not allow any bass fishing until the season opener to protect spawning bass or those fish guarding the nests.
Locally, Oneida Lake is one of the top spots for smallmouth bass and with the changing ecology and weed growth the largemouth population has also become a major attraction for anglers. Ted Dobs is one of the local anglers who regularly has had success fishing for bass on Oneida Lake for many years.
Ted often suggests dragging green pumpkin tube jigs over rockpiles since the smallmouth are often in deeper areas adjacent to the shallow spawning areas. If they are chasing schools of baitfish your best bet might be using a drop shot rig. He recommends 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 for your drop shot rig.
You might also try drifting the rocky drop-offs or deeper points with live shiners. 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 the area 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. However this year with the cold winter and cold spring, the waters of the St. Lawrence River and eastern Lake Ontario are still in the upper 50 degree range so bass in these areas will not have spawned yet.
My friend and fishing partner Mike Seymour, who regularly guides on the St. Lawrence River, said that bass will likely be in their pre-spawn mode. This means that large females are more likely to be caught so he strongly encourages catch and release during the next few weeks to allow the bass to spawn. Bass will probably be near their traditional spawning habitat but will be found in somewhat deeper water than in years with a more normal water temperature.
Inland lakes even in the north country should have more normal water temperatures so bass should be in a spawning mode with the males guarding the nests. Heavy rains last weekend caused turbulent conditions but if there isn’t a lot more rain, the conditions should improve by this weekend.
The St. Lawrence offers great fishing but 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 most 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. Water levels were low from the abnormally dry spring, but recent rains have caused lake levels to rise to near normal levels.
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, Oseetah Lakes and Raquette and Simon Ponds. 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 because 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. Plastic lizards often work well because bass hate them as nest raiders.
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.
Inlet Bass Derby: The Town of Inlet will hold a Bass Derby on Sunday, June 28. Contestants will fish the waters of the Fulton Chain from Fifth Lake to Old Forge Pond for eight hours. Boats will depart after a livewell inspection from the Inlet town dock in numerical order of their registration. Winning will be based on total weight of five legal bass. Only two anglers per boat are permitted and only artificial baits can be used.
Each boat must have some form of livewell and no contestant is allowed to pre-fish the waters after Wednesday, June 25. The public is invited to watch activities from the town beach. Reservations will be accepted by mail until June 20. For more information, email:
Free Fishing Days: The weekend of June 27–28 is designated as Free Fishing Weekend in New York State. Anyone can fish the state’s waters without a license, giving everyone the opportunity to sample the fishing and introduce, or renew the experience, of the fun of fishing. It is the perfect time to introduce a friend or relative to the sport.
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 arboreteums. Simply present your current valid NYS Driver’s License. This policy applies both to Office of Parks and Recreation and DEC facilities.
Free Guided Adirondack Hikes: The Town of Long Lake is offering free guided hiking trips throughout the summer based from Long Lake. Participants will be taken by shuttlebus from Long Lake to the various trailheads. The hikes will be led by NYS certified and experienced guides Spencer Morrissey and Joan Collins who always provide excellent trips and interesting facts along the way. Register now since these popular trips will fill up fast. The dates, itineraries, and descriptions of the distance, etc. can be found on the website: There is also a general list of what to wear and what to bring. Here is a chance to have some great adventures of varying distances and different points of interest.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A gem in the wilds of Quebec

A gentle breeze stirred the surface of the small lake as a loon swam alongside our small boat. The only sounds were the croaking of the heron along the shore or the subtle hum of our electric trolling motor. As we moved slowly along the deeper shoreline the steady tapping of our line indicated the Lake Clear Wobblers were vibrating as they should. Soon the sharp bend of the rod tip and a steady fight at the end of our line indicated that yet another brook trout had struck our offering.
My long-time friend and fishing partner, Mike Seymour, and I were enjoying great action fishing for brook trout deep in the wilds of Quebec. Although we were equipped to fish with other methods, including fly rod with sinking tip line and Wooly Buggers or Hornberg flies, casting spinners and other small lures or fishing worms with small Colorado spinner blades, we spent much of the time using the Lake Clear Wobblers since the action was so fast and we were having so much fun.
This was the scene for several days recently as we fished the small deep lakes at Bryson Lake Lodge situated in “the bush” of Quebec north of Fort Coulonge. In addition to fishing for brook trout we fished the big lake (Bryson Lake) for lake trout, walleye and northern pike while enjoying the scenery and attractions of Domaine du Lac Bryson. The 140 square mile property offers exclusive hunting and fishing territory to guests. In addition to the main lake which is over 15 miles long with many bays and coves, there are numerous ponds and lakes offering brook trout or pike fishing.
Even though it is remote and a considerable drive over a gravel road to reach it, the Bryson Lake Lodge property offers all the conveniences that you could want. Despite the image one might have of fishing camps or resorts deep in the woods of Quebec, these accommodations are well-built, modern and attractive. There are 15 cottages or chalets that hold families or groups of varying sizes. All except for the cottages located at the far end of the lake offer propane cooking and heat, running water, hot showers and electricity powered by generator during the day or battery at night.
The “shelter” is a new motel style unit with 10 housekeeping units, a large screened in porch and a lounge with a hot tub. The centerpiece is a recreation hall at the lodge with TV, internet, foosball, shuffleboard and many other games in addition to tables and comfortable chairs. There is a store for some supplies and fishing tackle although you have to bring your own food.
A large fleet of boats with motors give you easy access to the big waters of Lake Bryson. Smaller boats are cached at the nearby lakes for anglers who want to pursue brook trout or pike. You can either row or rent electric motors for plying these waters. Rentals of fish finders, fishing rods and reels are available as well as canoes, paddleboats, etc.
At the time we were there, the lake trout were transitioning from the shallows to the deeper water and our fish finder located many on the bottom. Denis LeBrun, the owner, said that actually catching them in summer is easier since they are concentrated in deeper holes. However one evening while we were fishing with Denis, we caught some smaller ones in relatively shallow water. Thanks to active management such as suggested minimum size of 21 inches and hauling in pebble sized rock for the spawning areas, the number and size of lake trout has increased in recent years.
The walleye typically spend the daylight hours in deeper water and move into shallow areas at dusk or under the cover of darkness to feed. Our best luck came on worm and spinner harnesses trolled slowly behind a bottom bouncer rig. We did catch some on jigs or Mepps spinners during daylight along the deeper areas adjacent to flats.
We were a little surprised to find that the larger pike were in deeper water than we expected. Other anglers were catching them by trolling. Using the expert advice from Denis, we went to a nearby bay where we were able to catch enough pike to complete the “Bryson Lake Grand Slam” (brook trout, lake trout, walleye and pike).
Because they have the exclusive hunting and fishing rights, Denis is able to negotiate with Quebec Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on a management program of limits and season as well as make improvements in the property. At considerable expense he has made the habitat improvements to spawning areas for lake trout, walleye and brook trout. Even though the regular limit is 10 brook trout, they have a quota of 5 trout per small lake to avoid overfishing.
To insure the quality experience of fishing in solitude you will be assigned a specific small lake as your exclusive fishing spot for that particular morning, etc. They are all great fishing spots but this is a way to rotate fishing pressure as well as give you the freedom and unique experience of having that area all to yourself.
The third component of a “Trifecta of Great Fishing Experience” is the people who run it. In addition to the great fishing opportunities, and excellent accommodations, Denis and Laurel LeBrun are super people. They are the most pleasant and accommodating people that you could ask for. They have owned and operated Domaine du Lac Bryson for 23 years after leaving their jobs with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. A lot of labor and money went into building a top-notch facility but their efforts also extend to making sure that your stay is exceptional.
Denis had been coming there since he was a youngster with his father but the original facility had been neglected and run down. He uses his experience with the fishing to put people into the right spots and using the right techniques to catch fish. They go out of their way to attend to every detail and personally make sure that your entire family enjoys their stay.
As we were preparing to leave, the first of the bear hunters were arriving. With  trail cameras and baited sites throughout the property there is nearly a 100 percent success rate. Nearly everyone sees bears but some pass up the bruins in anticipation of a bigger or special one. Moose hunting in the fall is also very successful and about half of the permit holders get a moose. The quota is set by Quebec DNR and Denis has separate sectors assigned that increase success as well as spread the harvest. A modern building with block and tackle, freezer, and walk-in cooler handles the big game.
Other attractions include canoeing, hiking, wildlife watching and small game hunting. Check the website to see the facilities and more information. Better yet, call 819-683-1790 for information and start making plans to have your own great experience in the big woods of Quebec.
Vernon Rod and Gun Kids Fishing Derby: The Vernon Rod and Gun club will hold a Kids Fishing Derby on June 12, from 6 – 8 p.m. Ages are from 1 – 15. Rain date will be June 19. It will be held at the Vernon Rod and Gun Club property on Stuhlman Road, across from Vernon Downs entrance. There will be hot dogs and drinks available for the kids. Prizes will be given out to all kids.
Inlet Bass Derby: The Town of Inlet will hold a Bass Derby on Sunday, June 28. Contestants will fish the waters of the Fulton Chain from Fifth Lake to Old Forge Pond for eight hours. Boats will depart after a livewell inspection from the Inlet town dock in numerical order of their registration. Winning will be based on total weight of five legal bass. Only two anglers per boat are permitted and only artificial baits can be used.
Each boat must have some form of livewell and no contestant is allowed to pre-fish the waters after Wednesday, June 25. The public is invited to watch activities from the town beach. Reservations will be accepted by mail until June 20. More information is available at:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Danger lurks in the outdoors

There is danger lurking in the outdoor woods throughout New York State. No, it is not bears, coyotes or venomous snakes. Nor is it cougars, wolves or even bigfoot. It is not the danger of zombies, aliens or a terrorist plot by ISIS. This danger is real and the culprits are insects!
Black flies, mosquitoes and punkies form the “axis of evil” among biting insects and they are most active in May and June. Not only can they spoil your outdoor fun, they can also cause some serious health problems.
Black flies! Most of us are familiar with the evil black flies that frequent Tug Hill, the Adirondacks and most areas of central New York where there is clear, cool water. The black fly season is in high gear so be prepared if you go afield.
Black flies are vicious biting insects that attack in swarms and with their sharp mouths they leave nasty bites. Their saliva also contains an anti-coagulant that many people are allergic to. Although they hatch in clear water, the breeze may blow them a great distance from the water and they can be found anywhere there is foliage for cover especially during daylight hours. They are a serious threat to hikers, fishermen and turkey hunters, or anyone who ventures to the woods unprotected.
Although we associate black flies with the Adirondacks or Tug Hill Plateau, they grow anywhere there is cold, clear water. Thus with the reforestation and cooler streams and the elimination of most pollution, the black flies are a problem in many areas of central New York. Many Adirondack townships treat streams with bti, a natural bacteria that attacks black fly larvae while not harming “good insects” like caddis flies, etc. However not all townships use this treatment and frequent heavy rains can wash out the scheduled applications of bti.
No-see-ums or punkies are very tiny biting flies which also are found near still water. They occur in swarms but aren’t as persistent as black flies. They are most active from dusk to dawn. They often penetrate under or through most netting or mesh covering.
The recent spell of dry weather may have cut down on some wet spots but there is always still water somewhere for breeding mosquitoes. They are born in stagnant water but travel long distances in search of prey. They are most active during periods of low light.
Female mosquitoes are persistent and swarms of them can make your life miserable. There is also the danger of spreading disease like West Nile Virus, EEE and other diseases through the mosquito bites.
However there are methods to protect yourself from these disgusting little critters including special clothing or repellents. For example L.L.Bean makes a line of clothing called “Buzz Off.” It is a cotton poplin fabric with natural odorless repellent bonded to the fabric. I have used the shorts shirts, and hats and they really work.
There are other brands like Insect Shield that utilize mesh, lightweight clothing and natural repellents. They even have mosquito and tick repellent apparel for dogs. Of course many washings will remove the repellent and diminish the usefulness.
Common repellents contain DEET which is effective but may cause an allergic reaction in some people. If a rash occurs, wash off the remaining repellent. Another problem is perspiration causing some of the repellent with DEET to get into your eyes. If you doubt that DEET is nasty stuff, see what it does to varnish on your canoe paddle or the material of your fly line, etc.
One product that has proven effective for both people and animals such as short haired dogs is Bug Guard. It does not contain DEET but relies on natural repellents and is specially developed to repel black flies, mosquitoes and ticks. I have also used it extensively and can testify that it works well. It lasts for about eight hours, although perspiration and rain will remove it.
My friend, the late Scott Sampson had a German Short Haired Pointer that was constantly being bitten by black flies, etc. due to its fine, short hair. A veterinarian recommended Avon Bug Guard since it is safe to put on animals even if they lick themselves. It also serves to repel deer ticks. Note that we are talking about a specific insect repellent, not the bath oil produced by the same company.
Movement, carbon dioxide, perspiration and perfumes all serve as attractions for these disgusting insects. You can’t avoid moving or breathing but you can avoid perfumes, colognes, etc. and you can try to cut down on perspiration. The color blue also attracts these insects so avoid blue colored clothing.
In addition to the biting insects described, there is the growing problem of deer ticks which spread Lyme Disease. Ticks are found in areas of wet leaves, tall grass and brush. They can attach themselves directly to you from these areas. To avoid a problem you should wear long pants and tuck them in your socks or wear gaiters.
Spray your pants legs with permithrin or DEET. Use repellent such as Bug Guard on exposed skin. Check for ticks after being outside in areas described above. Remove any ticks with a tweezers.
So even though insects are a problem, you can still enjoy the outdoors with a little precaution. Besides if you stay inside watching all those re-runs of “reality shows” on TV, you will probably suffer from brain damage.
Kids Fishing Derby & Clinic: The Annual Kids Fishing Derby in New Hartford will be June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Admission is free. The event is sponsored by the DEC and Mohawk Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Soda, hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided by the Sauquoit Creek Fish and Game Club. The event will be at New Hartford Athletic Park on Oneida Street in Washington Mills.
First Shots: Learn the skills of shooting clay targets from a certified NSCA instructor at Vernon National Shooting Preserve. Firearms safety, education and responsibility will also be covered in the classroom and live events. For information or registration contact Caryn Foote at 723-8563 or e-mail
Great New Website: A “must see” website for both experienced outdoors people and those who wish to get started or learn a new skill is It is operated by Sue Bookhout of Cazenovia, a skilled hunter, angler and target shooter. She is a website designer so the website is attractive and easily navigable. In addition to her own skills, Sue is a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society, Trout Unlimited and several other organizations so she is in touch with current news and developments.
The website focuses on outdoors events in central New York and other information. There is lots of information useful to those who want to learn or improve their skills such as fly fishing clinics, shooting events, Lake Ontario fishing trips for women only and much more. Check it out soon.
Shoot and Gobble: The Madison County Federation of sportsmen will hold a “Shoot & Gobble” Event at Vernon National Shooting Preserve on June 14. It features 50 rounds of sporting clays and a dinner to follow. Contact Tim Evans at 247-0285 for more information.
Reminder: With warm weather and the start of bass season not too far away, many anglers are getting eager. Although many areas of the state, including Oneida Lake, now permit catch and release fishing for bass prior to the season, there are some areas that do not. For those that may be starting their vacation soon and planning on wetting a line, remember that Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, and Franklin Counties do NOT allow fishing for bass prior to the season opener. This year that date is June 20.