It appears that the "winter that wasn't" may finally be coming to an end. Thank heavens.
Although I have recently enjoyed a variety of late-season ski tours over the past few weeks, I remain anxious for the season to pass. Without an adequate snow cover to conduct the usual wealth of winter recreational activities, what is the purpose of season?
Snowfleas are already evident upon the region's meager snowpack, and maple sap has begun to flow from the tap. Along the roadsides, the dregs of winter are now beginning to replace the scant snowbanks of the season.
Photo courtesy of Saranac Lake Free Library
While remains of the former Cascade Lake House can still be found, most travelers have never considered the effect the complex once had on the local landscape.
Whitetail deer have been observed feeding frequently in the frozen marshes, and numerous species of birds are already on the wing. There is no doubt that winter is on the wane.
February 29 signals the end of hunting season for ruffed grouse. I say, let's get on with it and bring on the spring. All I require is a fly rod, a guideboat and a stretch of open water, and I will seek no other earthly delights.
Unfortunately, a majority of the local lakes and ponds are still sporting thick, safe and solid ice, which is disturbing since I have been hoping for an early ice-out.
Since it is likely to remain a bit cool to be launching a canoe, I'll have to be content with a variety of hardwater options. There are still plenty of upcoming ice fishing contests, including the annual Chazy Rod & Gun Club Cabin Fever Pike Derby scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25 on Chazy Lake. For further information and registration, contact 518-846-7990.
Anglers seeking a wider assortment of fish, should remember the 28th annual Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby scheduled for the weekend of March 3 and 4 in Saranac Lake. The annual two-day derby runs from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day, and features a variety of categories for trout, salmon, perch and northern pike, which are not available in Lake Colby but may be harvested from a variety of local waters.
Derby Day registrations begin at 6:45 a.m. each day. Contestants can pre-register at the Blue Line Sports Shop in Saranac Lake, or on derby days at the Lake Colby beach house across from the Adirondack Medical Center on state Route 86. Registration is $7 per person per day or $10 per adult for both days. Youth under 16 years of age can register for $3 per day or $5 for both days.
Contestants will be eligible to win prizes in the trout, salmon, perch and northern pike categories with separate prizes awarded to adults and youths. Other prizes include $100 for any angler who catches one of 15 tagged trout that will be stocked in Lake Colby prior to the derby, courtesy of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
A $100 prize will be awarded to any fisherman who catches a tagged fish during the derby. The grand prize is a guided fishing trip for two on Lake Ontario with Fish Doctor Charters of Mexico.
Bait is available at the Blue Line Sports Shop or at the River Road Bait Shop in Bloomingdale during the event. Anglers are reminded that current angling regulations for transporting baitfish include possession of a signed, dated receipt from a licensed bait dealer.
For further information, contact derby chairman Cecilia Martin at 201-4009 or co-chairman Patrick Farrell at 891-3319.
Proposed fishing regulations
Hardwater and open-water angling enthusiasts are invited to weigh in on a number of changes the DEC has proposed for North Country waters. The proposals are open to public comment through April 2.
Changes to the current freshwater fishing regulations are designed to enhance angling opportunities and protect the state's freshwater fisheries. There are a number of changes that will affect fishing opportunities North Country waters, including:
- Opening Lake Kushaqua and Rollins Pond to ice fishing for lake trout.
- Opening Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, Forked Lake, Gilman Lake, South Pond and Utowana Lake to ice fishing for landlocked salmon and reducing the daily limit for lake trout in these waters from three per day to two per day. Combined with existing regulations this change will create a suite of nine lakes in Hamilton County that will have the same ice fishing regulations for lake trout and landlocked salmon.
- Removing catch-and-release trout regulations for Jordan River from Carry Falls Reservoir upstream to Franklin County line.
- Removing special ice fishing regulations for Square Pond in Franklin County because the waters will no longer be managed for trout.
A full list of the draft regulation as well as instructions for submitting comments can be found on DEC's website www.dec.ny.gov. Comments on the proposals can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State DEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753.
Hard copies of the full text can be requested from Shaun Keeler at the same addresses listed above. Final regulations, following full review of public comments, will take effect October 1, 2012.
Fishing on the mind
It happens every year as sap starts to flow and birds begin to return. Some describe it as a "fishing bug" or the "neurosis of the nimrod."
Despite the moniker, for anglers of all sorts the pending arrival of the spring season provides far more than a simple breath of fresh air. It signals unrivaled freedom and the opportunity to explore new haunts, or rediscover old holes.
For outdoor travelers, the budding season always serves to instill a sense of discovery as it washes away the wastes of winter and delivers a fresh face for adventure. The transition from winter to spring always presents a difficult time, as mud season takes over the trails and spring melt captures both river and stream.
The lee period, between winter and spring, is a good time to respool reels, replenish the tackle and reconnoiter the maps for future trips, while waiting for the snow to go and the rivers to flow.