I've talked to Garry Nelson, the owner of The Outdoorsman Sports Shop on Route 9N in Diamond Point, fairly regularly over the years. He does not mince words, as anyone who knows him will tell you. But when he mentioned over the summer that he was going to close for the winter after a few lackluster years of ice fishing on Lake George, I wasn't sure he would follow through.
Well, I talked to Nelson on Thursday, and he is not open this winter.
"The first time in 31 years," he said.
I joked that of course he picked the winter with the best early ice fishing conditions in years, but he said the weather was only part of the equation.
Sure, a lack of ice on Lake George the last couple of winters didn't help. But Nelson said business factors played a bigger part of the decision. He was losing money the past few winters.
Online sales of fishing tackle are crushing the small bait-and-tackle dealers, as they are with many other businesses. It's sad for anglers, because I can stop by stores like The Outdoorsman, Crossroads or Fish307 and get up-to-date information on conditions and tactics, but I'm not going to get that through a website.
"I've got augers that have been sitting here for two winters. I've had to throw bait away," he said. "Winters just aren't what they used to be."
So if you are looking for live bait around Lake George this winter, Nelson can't help you out this winter. He said he will re-open for the spring.
-- Don Lehman