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Spring delights starting to surface early

March 14, 2012
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

It appears spring is well on its way to arriving in a timely fashion. Most of the traditional indicators appear to suggest the transition will be expedited this year.

However, there does seem to be an obvious lack of frost heaves this year. Not that I'm complaining. Frost heaves, mud, high water and black flies are a few traditional tokens of spring that have never ranked high on my list of seasonal delights.

I expect we'll see an early ice-out, which will help jump start the fishing season. Hopefully, an early opener for the fishing season will also serve to stir up much-needed tourism, especially considering the condensed ski season.

Article Photos

Snow conditions at Scotts Cobble were rated simply as “Good” or “OK,” according to the above historic sign.
Photo provided

Current ice cover on local lakes and ponds remains fairly solid, but with nearly two weeks to spare before opening day of trout season, it appears there will be open water by April Fools' Day.

It is interesting to note how rapidly the average date of ice-out has advanced in recent times. In years past, seasoned Adirondack anglers often joked about the appropriate coincidence of having the opening day of trout season and April Fools' Day overlap.

Experienced anglers understood the trout ponds would still be sporting a thick cover of ice, and the streams would likely be choked with ice jams or flowing at flood stage on April 1. They knew only a fool would expect to find an appropriate opportunity to fish for trout in the Adirondacks on April 1.

Traditionally, trout season would commence according to a nature's calendar, and it seems every old fisherman had his own special date.

Although the dates will always vary somewhat from year to year, it has usually been a safe bet to fish the ponds when birds gather by the lake inlet or the leaves of hobblebush are the size of a mouse's ear, and after black flies had finally drawn first blood.

Often these signs coincide with similar natural occurrences such as smelt returning to the inlets to spawn or spotted salamanders venturing from under woodland cover to spawn in a pond or the first hatch of a fresh batch of insects, blackflies or otherwise.

While I will agree that certain dates are better than others, in my opinion there is never a bad date to take to the water with rod in hand, unless it remains covered with ice, of course.

I've already accomplished the usual preseason chores. Everything is good to go, short of trussing a boat on top of the truck.

Anglers in need of a quick preseason fix to satiate the affects of trout fever are advised to visit the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 17 for the fourth annual Fly Fishing Film Tour. It is a great event and provides an opportunity to mix and mingle with a host of other anglers who enjoy the local streams and ponds.

The doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m., with the usual raffle and door prizes. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Tri-Lakes chapter of Trout Unlimited. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door, available at Jones Outfitters in Lake Placid, Blue Line Sport Shop in Saranac Lake or Wiley's Flies in Rainbow Lake.

As the fishing season progresses, it will be interesting to hear about current river conditions, and to learn about the extent of damage as a result of last year's floods.

Certainly, there will be numerous pools filled with debris and productive riffles that were scoured and ruined.

In addition, there will likely be dangerous strainers, logjams and deep holes that will need to be avoided. In some instances, entire sections of river may have been completely rerouted.

However, flowing waters are usually quick to repair and restore such damage, and I expect the natural recovery will be surprisingly quick and efficient.


No rope tow, Joe

In last week's column, I took a sentimental look back to the days of small ski hills, rope tows and slower pace of life on the local slopes. As proof of my fading memory, several readers contacted me to correct one glaring error. Paleface Mountain Ski Center in Jay never had a rope tow. Stephen Haselton informed me the operation consisted of just a chairlift and a T-bar.

Mr. Haselton also mentioned a number of other defunct ski areas in the region, including Marble Mountain and Koble Mountain, where he recalls seeing skiers in 1956.

Marble Mountain Ski Center was located on the shoulder of Whiteface Mountain. Koble Mountain was located off the Mt. Whitney Road on the backside of Cobble Hill.

Koble Mountain should not be confused with Scott's Cobble, which was located near the new Craig Wood Golf Course.

In the future I will be sure to double check facts with a variety of sources, as I did this week with Natalie Leduc. When it comes to local ski history, she has always been the one to turn to.



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