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Winter, from the inside out

February 10, 2012
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

While sitting in my small office on a chilly February morning, I weighed my options for the day. As usual in this half-finished, half-baked partial winter of ought-twelve, my options were quite limited.

Already we're into the second week of February and there is still not enough snowcover to permit a long ski tour from out my back door.

Although I haven't knocked down a grouse in over two years, I suppose I could lug my shotgun into the nearby cedar swamp to see if any ruffed grouse are interested in committing suicide today.

And there is always the fail-safe, frosty fall-back of hefting a packbasket full of tip-ups into the truck to head off in search of smelt, perch or similar multi-finned delicacies of the deep.

Fortunately, I won't have to spend any time shivering on a windswept lake today, since I was smart enough to loan out my ice auger earlier in the season and it still hasn't been returned.

I probably should just slip out for a quick walk in the winter woods, but as the wind whips snow into tiny tornadoes outside my window, I decide to remain within the comfort of my tiny cubicle.

Winter will have to wait for a while as I seek additional excuses to avoid its wrath.


Winter what-to-do's

For the unfortunate few who despise a wintery surprise, there are always plenty of worthwhile opportunities waiting inside. Although some may believe it's too early to be dreaming of open water angling, it's never too early to be prepared.

Whenever winter weather has me spellbound and housebound, I prefer to plunder my fly boxes to remove the remains of rusted and ruined rabbles of hardscrabble hackle.

Before I got wise to my faults, I would often miss strikes and chose to accuse a capable trout of short-sheeting my flies. However, since that time I've learned to accomplish such tasks during the off-season.

In addition to sorting, organizing and resupplying a wide assortment of flies, trout lines and lures, I also like to clean, polish and oil all of my reels, touch up the rods and, in general, get everything in order for the first day of ice-out.

And while the moment of open water is still quite a ways away, the processes of preparation always seem to provide an unrivaled anticipation for the new season.

Once my creel is loaded and all the gear is stowed and waiting for opening day, the research finally begins. I scour old maps and call old friends. I'll study stocking reports and review recent fisheries surveys.

By the time April finally rolls around, I'll have calmed down enough to finally make a decision on where to go and what to stow, before I head off to the ponds.

As the spring season begins to unfold, my adrenaline flows in anticipation like sap from a tapped maple. With the first sight or sounds of a loon, shivers wrack my spine and I know it is time.

But for now, tinkering and puttering about will have to do. However, for those of similar persuasion there are a few "pre-season fixes" to help pacify a prolific craving for finned fun.

As accomplished anglers know, it all starts with a rod and a personal preference. At a three-session series being offered by the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb, anglers can learn to build their own rods and tie their own flies.

The workshops will be hosted by Adirondack guide Rick Kovacs, who is the owner and operator of Packbasket Adventures and Fly Shop, located in downtown in Wanakena.

Rod-building workshops begin on Saturday, Feb. 25, and continue through Saturday, March 10, to be followed by a fly-tying workshop on April 28.

Contact the AIC at 582-2000 or for reservations and further information.


Drake Fly Fishing Film Tour

If a handmade fly rod and a box of freshly tied dry flies doesn't provide enough motivation to get you to the water this season, please plan to attend the upcoming Drake Fly Fishing Film Tour, hosted by the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m.

The annual show, sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Chapter of Trout Unlimited, is a benefit for the local chapter in support of their efforts for the protection and improvement of local and statewide coldwater fisheries.

The show features a collection of highlights and short films that will take audiences on a journey of pure fly fishing adventure. The tour is one of the most exciting fly fishing events of the year. This year's show will feature a whole new lineup of films that are sure to appeal to anyone who has an interest in or love for trout and the beautiful places they live.

The tour, now in its fourth year, promises to be stronger and more exciting than ever. Advances in camera and editing technology and an increase in the skill level of the competitively selected filmmakers have allowed a new standard to be set for fly fishing films.

The tour is one of the most exciting fly fishing events of the year and is a great way to support local conservation efforts. To purchase tickets or for more information, call Jones Outfitters at 523-3468.



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