Despite the recent delivery of another batch of snow, it appears the spring season is underway.
Although there's always the likelihood of yet another dumping or two, the birds, the trees and other such natural indicators reveal the new season is ready to be ushered in.
While there's still a thick cover on the lakes and ponds, the warm spring sun has already taken a toll on the lake ice. Ice and snow may remain in command of the land, but the trout season is still a few weeks off.
Stream crossings have become more difficult as a result of hidden hazards under the deep snowpack.
(Photo — Joe Hackett)
Fortunately, I had an opportunity to enjoy the recent snow with a number of ski tours that began in my own backyard. The recent storm provided enough cover for sleds and skiers to travel on the railroad tracks. However with the expected warming trend, I doubt the snow cover will last long.
With the potential for spring showers on the wing, it may soon be time to put away the winter gear and haul out the spring gear. Although it will be difficult to locate any ice free lakes or ponds for the April 1 trout season opener, there's always a couple of lakes and ponds that have a few pockets of open water.
I know anglers who've taken some huge spring brookies while fishing the shallow water shorelines. If conditions are right and sun warms the waters for several days, they can warm up fast. Warm waters will draw in fish from the deeper waters where they spent the winter season. When they move into the shallows, they're usually there to feed.
Traditionally, ice-out occurs in the Adirondacks around Mother's Day weekend in mid-May. However, there's a big difference between complete "ice-out" and open water. Ice-off begins when the ice starts to melt in the shallow waters along shorelines, inlets or outlets. These warmer shallow waters often attract fish from the deeper waters into the shallows, where they feed on leeches, baitfish and insect larvae.
Although it's illegal to drill a hole in the ice to fish for trout or salmon during the open season, it is perfectly legal to fish open shorelines and through naturally occurring open cracks in the ice.
The many flows that lead into the Cascade Lakes provide a number of legal fishing opportunities prior to complete ice-out. There are still a few old anglers around who swear by this approach, primarily tossing a small jigs that are baited with leeches or worms.
I'm an enthusiastic proponent of introducing children to the outdoors at an early age. Both of my kids were still in diapers on their first camping trips. They grew up outdoors, where they learned to be self reliant, confident, inquisitive and happy.
Natural pursuits such as camping, fishing, hunting and hiking have been, and continue to be, an important component of our family life. The very same activities are part of our national heritage.
Outdoor recreation presents us with a wide variety of exciting, all-natural, low cost entertainment options that are often available in our own backyard. Whether the activity involves picking berries, watching birds, hunting, fishing, biking, hiking or simply listening to the loons on a hot summer's night, such outdoor pursuits provide us with an important connection to the natural world.
When we utilize natural lands, they hold value and we will want to protect them. It's a fairly basic concept to understand.
In the process of teaching others how to care for and protect our wild natural lands, I believe it's important to foster and protect the legacy of the fine folks who have introduced newcomers to the outdoors over the years. I was fortunate to have enjoyed the good company and wise counsel of mentors who were responsible for introducing me to camping, rock collecting, hiking, paddling, birding, hunting and fishing. If not for their kindness, patience and willingness to put up with me, I would have lived a much different life.
In their honor, with the hope of encouraging fellow outdoor mentors, I offer this quote from Patrick McManus, a well known sportsman, outdoor writer and humorist, who described the importance of mentoring perfectly when he wrote:
"Every kid should have an old man. I don't mean just a father. Fathers are all right and I'm not knocking them since I'm one myself, but from a kid's point of view they spend entirely too much time at a thing called the office or some other equally boring place of work. If you're a kid, what you need is someone who can take you out hunting or fishing or just poking around in the woods anytime you feel the urge. That's an old man. Doing things like that is what old men were designed for."