Ok, so I fully intend to take advantage of at least one more weekend hauling yellow perch through whats left of the ice until my little arms are sore. But, I must admit, my thoughts are already drifting to my second favorite outdoor pastime next to downing monster whitetails.
That, of course, is brook trout fishing.
And, theres one group of ponds Ive been eyeing like a vegetarian eyes the tofu aisle the ponds acquired by New York State in 2003 as part of the Tahawus tract in Newcomb.
They include Henderson Lake and Upper & Lower Preston Ponds, which also provide access to the Duck Hole. All were once pristine brook trout habitat. All but the Duck Hole were also privately owned. Now that they are owned by the state, I thought Id find out what sort of management plan is in place for them.
DEC Spokesman Dave Winchell said the state began stocking Henderson in 2004. Theyve stocked it fairly heavily since, dumping in nearly 3,000 lake trout, over 10,000 brook trout and 3,500 rainbows. Mind you, its a big pond at 450 acres - the size of Pharaoh behind Schroon Lake. But Ill probably give it a shot at ice out. The carry is short. You can nearly see the pond from the truck.
Upper and Lower Preston are a different story. Winchell said state fisheries scientists are still evaluating the management of these two ponds, and stocking has yet to happen. Hopefully that will change as they are both awesome trout ponds.
Just north of Lower Preston lies the Duck Hole. This pond has little water just 12 feet at its deepest point but it produces some great trout and the state dumps in 2,000 brookies a year. There are also two lean-tos on the pond.
The portage between northwest Henderson and Upper Preston is two miles and challenging. Drop a marble at Upper Preston and itll end up in Henderson. But Upper Preston is one of the prettiest ponds Ive ever seen, so its worth the haul. A caretakers cabin which once belonged to former owner NL Industries remains there today and there is more than 70 feet of water in the 73-acre pond. Lower Preston contains 50 feet of water and is a bit smaller at 56 acres. A short portage of less than half a mile brings you to the Duck Hole.
How new fish importation rules will affect Bass Tourneys
By now youve no doubt heard about the new emergency regulations put in place on bait fish and the transportation of live fish between states. Basically, the regs are meant to keep a nasty fish-killing virus called Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia or VHS from being introduced into our lakes and ponds.
The disease has turned up in Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and Conesus Lake, mostly affecting warm water species and killing from just a few to thousands of fish.
Signs of the disease include unusual behavior, anemia, bulging eyes and bloated abdomens. Not unlike what I experience the morning after a trip to the local watering hole. Seriously, fisheries scientists are understandably concerned about the spread of this disease which has the potential to decimate fish populations.
In response, regulations have been put in place, requiring groups of bait fish to be inspected and certified free of the disease before they can be used, otherwise they must be trapped from and used in the same body of water.
Vermont, New York and the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have also all passed regulations making it illegal to transport live fish from one state to another. Thats become a big concern to bass fishing aficionados, because under current federal law a bass cannot be caught on the New York side of Lake Champlain and transported to the Vermont side for a weigh-in.
Bass fishing has become a huge source of revenue for communities around Lake Champlain with dozens of tournaments planned each year. Shoe-horning all those anglers into fishing only one side of the lake is not a popular decision.
In response, New York and Vermont both wrote clauses into their regulations so that all of Lake Champlain is considered one body of water, thus allowing the transport, weigh-in and release of fish across state borders.
Problem is, the feds have yet to follow suit.
Tom Wiggins, a Vermont Fish & Wildlife fish culture manager, said APHIS is aware of the problem and is supposed to amend its regulation prior to bass season.
They originally said theyd make the change before March, now they are saying it will happen sometime this spring, Wiggins said. Weve certainly made our opinion known on the subject.