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Benefits of rain

We lamented the dry weeks of April and May, but June certainly turned things around.

June was the fifth-wettest on record at Warren County Airport, with nearly 6.25 inches of rain falling.

That has swollen streams and rivers to near bankful around the region. That's good news for those of us who fish trout streams, as there will be plenty of water and cooler water temperatures heading into the gut of summer.

That will hopefully make for less mortality, but will also allow anglers to get onto the water at times when streams would otherwise be too low and warm. Of course, a two-week dry spell and/or heat wave could be around the corner.

-- Don Lehman

July 01, 2015 3:15 pm(0)

DEC announces bird hunting seasons

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced state bird hunting seasons this week, but the Lake Champlain zone season will be the subject of a hearing later this summer.

DEC ANNOUNCES TENTATIVE 2015-16 MIGRATORY GAME BIRD HUNTING SEASONS

Early Announcement Helps Hunters Plan Trips

The tentative schedule for many of New York’s 2015-16 migratory game bird seasons is now available, allowing sportsmen and sportswomen to plan outdoor activities well in advance, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.  Tentative season dates for ducks, geese, woodcock, snipe and rails can be found on the DEC website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28503.html.

“Each year, DEC announces the tentative schedule so hunters can begin making plans for a safe and successful season,” Commissioner Martens said. “Hunters are still reminded to check the final dates, usually issued in late summer, before going afield.”

These season dates and bag limits are considered tentative and subject to change until federal regulations have been adopted in late summer.  Specifically, concerns about the population status of Atlantic brant could result in a brant season that is closed entirely.  The final season dates, bag limits and other regulations for 2015-16 migratory game bird hunting seasons in New York will be posted on DEC’s website and announced by a statewide news release, once they are approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Hunters should confirm the final season dates before going afield.

The tentative season dates were developed by a team of DEC staff representing all regions of the state, taking into consideration anticipated federal regulations for the coming year and recommendations from Waterfowl Hunter Task Forces established by DEC for each zone. DEC has used a task force approach since 1997, and it has been very helpful for setting seasons where hunter preferences are diverse.  For more information about the task forces, go to:  www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/40737.html .

Tentative season dates for the Lake Champlain Zone were not included because they will be determined by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board following public meetings likely to be held in August in Whitehall, N.Y. and Burlington, Vt. DEC encourages New York waterfowl hunters who frequent the Champlain Zone to attend one of these meetings; details will be announced later this summer. Comments and suggestions about the Lake Champlain Zone may also be submitted to any DEC season-setting team member or by e-mail to wildlife@dec.ny.gov. 

Copies of the 2015-16 migratory game bird hunting regulations brochure will be available on the DEC website in late August and by mid-September wherever hunting licenses are sold.

For more information about hunting waterfowl or other migratory game birds in New York, visit the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28175.html.

June 26, 2015 3:25 pm(0)

Free fishing in NY this weekend

It's a great time of year to go fishing, with bass, pike and trout all in season. Our region is loaded with great places to wet a line without need of a boat or any fancy equipment. A basic fishing pole, line hook and some worms will keep you or a group of kids busy for hours.

Those who don't want to shell out the money for a state fishing license can try out angling for free this weekend during New York's free fishing days, Saturday and Sunday.

Some good spots to go for beginners to include Hovey Pond Park in Queensbury or Crandall Park Pond in Glens Falls, Carter's Lake in Argyle, Shelving Rock area of Lake George and any of the numerous public access spots along the Hudson or Mettawee rivers or Batten Kill are good areas for beginners.

-- Don Lehman

June 22, 2015 12:09 pm(0)

Honey's Bait & Tackle on the move

Honey's Bait & Tackle, long a staple for anglers in the Whitehall area, has a new location.

The shop has moved to Whitehall Marina on Main Street. The phone number has not changed, 499-2291.

The move comes just in time for this weekend's LCI Father's Day Derby. Honey's is a weigh-in station for the derby.

-- Don Lehman

June 18, 2015 1:36 pm(0)

Bass season starts Saturday

The annual opening day of bass fishing season used to be a huge deal. The creation a few years ago of a catch-and-release season has taken the luster away from the third Saturday of June, which is the day each year when you can keep the bass you catch.

We are lucky to live in a region where we have banner coldwater and warmwater fisheries in our lakes. That means smallmouth bass, which like cooler water, and largemouths that like it a bit warmer thrive around the area.

There are so many good bass waters around here, it would be tough to hit them all in a decade.

Lake Champlain has a national reputation for both smallies and largemouths. South Bay and the areas just north of Whitehall are great for largemouths.

Saratoga Lake is a banner largemouth lake, while Lake George, Brant Lake and Schroon Lake are all very good smallmouth and largemouth lakes. Smaller lakes like Glen Lake, Moreau Lake and Cossayuna Lake are all underrated as well.

The Hudson River from Lake Luzerne downstream is packed with bass as well, though health advisories make keeping them from Fort Edward downstream illegal.

Spawning was a bit later than usual this year with the late arrival of spring, so some fish may still be on their nests. Try to leave them alone, bass that leave the nests sometimes don't go back, and the eggs are easy prey for predators.

-- Don Lehman

June 16, 2015 2:38 pm(0)

Decent wild turkey season

The spring wild turkey season ended a few days ago, and by most accounts it was a pretty solid one around our region. Turkey numbers have seemed to drop off around the region the last few years, but there are still plenty of birds around for diehards to find decent-sized gobblers.

Mike West at The Crossroads Country Store & Sport Shop in Chester said turkey action was good early in May, with most hunters getting a bird.

"Some of the birds brought in were decent size, 20 pounds was the high average," he said.

Turkey numbers are undoubtedly down regionally and statewide, and a number of factors seem to be to blame. We have had two tough winters in a row, which cut into flocks around the Adirondacks.

We have also had wet spring weather at bad times for turkey reproduction in recent springs. Cool, wet weather is not good for turkey chicks.

I know when I am in the woods I still see birds, but the days of seeing flocks of 20 seem gone. Now, I generaly see groups of no more than 10 to 12.

This dry spring we have had should be good for reproduction, though.

-- Don Lehman

June 10, 2015 2:53 pm(0)

Lake George fishing tourney entries picking up

We are a month away from the inaugural "King George" fishing tournament on Lake George. Lake George Mayor Robert Blais said entries are starting to come in as volunteers running the tourney begin getting entry forms to local bait and tackle shops.

The tournament, the proceeds of which will go to lake protection efforts, will run from July 10 through July 12. 

An estimated $15,000 in prizes -- including a $2,500 prize for biggest lake trout and bass -- will be doled out as anglers fish for lakers, largemouth and smallmouth bass. There will be adult and junior divisions.

Blais said organizers are hoping to top 100 entries for the first year. The entry fee is $40.

Entries have come from as far away as New Jersey (corrected) so far, Blais said.

"It's the first year so we're looking to build on it," he said. "I think it's going to be a great event to raise awareness."

Those who want to enter can go to kinggeorgefishingderby.com, check with local bait and tackle shops or call Lake George Village Hall at 668-5771.

Registration deadline is July 1, and entrants get a t-shirt in addition to days of fishing, a chance at some nice prizes and knowledge that they are helping protect the lake.

-- Don Lehman

June 08, 2015 9:09 am(0)

Good time of year for a hike

My wife and I took a nice hike to Shelving Rock Falls the other day. It's a local favorite, but I hadn't taken that walk in 20 or so years. When we have time, we usually try to hit spots we haven't seen before, particularly mountains with nice views like Black or Buck mountains or the various summits in Moreau Lake State Park.

Late spring and early fall are the two best times of the year to hike around here, in my opinion. It's not too hot, and bugs haven't really gotten into the activity we will see when the weather gets warmer. In the fall, the first frost has taken a big chunk out of the bug population.

We lucked out this spring and avoided the muddy trails that sometimes last well into May.

We are lucky to live in an area with more hiking and walking opportunities than most ever have time to accomplish. The trails on the east side of Lake George in Fort Ann are great for beginners. Head north to Tongue Mountain, Crane Mountain or the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness Area and peaks and trails abound.

Then there are the High Peaks, 46 peaks of over 4,000 feet in the central Adirondacks. Someday, when my kids are grown and no longer require car ride after car ride to friends and activities, I would like to hit all of them.

A friend of mine just did the Cranberry Lake 50-mile hike, and raved about it despite its rigors. It's a relatively new trail around the big lake in the northwest corner of the Adirondacks, but all the reports I have heard have been positive.

-- Don Lehman

June 05, 2015 12:45 pm(1)

Today would be a good day to go fishing

My dad taught me a lot about fishing, and how to use weather conditions was among the many lessons I remember.

So one of the first things that jumped to my mind this morning (Monday) was that it would be a good day to be on a trout stream around here.

Yes, it would be cold, wet and raw. But after the dry spell we have had, with streams dropping to near-record low levels, trout are likely rejoicing by feeding aggressively.

When water gets that low and clear, trout spend more time hiding from predators than feeding. With water levels up and discolored from runoff, they generally will feel more comfortable moving around.

The rain gauge at my house in Queensbury showed just under 2 inches since Saturday morning. Even with that rain, many local streams were just getting back up to average flows for this time of year as of Monday morning.

More rain is coming, which is good. We had a big deficit to make up since the beginning of the year.

-- Don Lehman

June 01, 2015 8:02 am(0)

Some days on the water leave you shaking your head

So I took some days off this week to hit some of our area trout streams. As I wrote earlier, they are low and clear because of the ongoing dry spell. I hit a couple of my favorite wild trout streams in Vermont, including the Vermont sections of the Batten Kill and Mettawee, and had some slow days.

On Friday I only had a couple of free hours, so I took a ride to a closer spot on the Schroon River. The section off Exit 24 has plenty of access, and is stocked heavily.

Within a few minutes of being on the water, I had landed a couple of stocked rainbows and brookies. Then, when I headed upstream, I must have stumbled onto a spot that had been stocked more recently with the two-year-old brown trout the state stocks, as well as some smaller browns.

No exaggeration, I landed close to 40 trout in less than 90 minutes. Pretty much every cast was a hit, and at one point, as I fought one small fish, four or five others followed it to shore. Truck trout are not real smart, and have none of the wild instincts that wild fish have, at least in this point of their existence.

(All were returned to the water, by the way. I like to catch fish, but I'm not a big fan of eating them.)

Some of the two-year-old browns are big and heavy. One was pushing 15 inches, and broke my 4-pound test as it thrashed at the net. If you catch a big brown with a Panther Martin hanging from its lower lip, you're welcome for the free lure.

After a couple of slower days earlier in the week, the action was welcome. Yes, it was truck trout, which on this day would hit pretty much anything. But a fish is a fish on the end of the line.

-- Don Lehman

May 24, 2015 6:56 am(1)

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