Last spring, a vast majority of the local lakes and ponds were devoid of ice by the April 1 trout season opener. Many anglers are hoping for a similar early start this spring.
The recent thaw has raised the expectations of many local anglers for another early ice out, as any of the region’s lakes and ponds were free and clear of ice for the opening day of trout season on April 1st.
On several smaller pond in the area, I’ve already observed the telltale spider webbing that usually occurs as the ice begins breaking up.
And on larger waters, the areas around the inlets and outlets the open water has been growing larger every day. I've already begun sorting through my gear, checking the hook points and respooling the lines.
I've also been polishing my Wabblers, Christmas Trees as well as the Sutton and Hinkley spoons. I use fine emery cloth and steel wool for this duty, and I seal the deal with a light spray of clear nail polish, that is mixed with a light solvent.
In the early season, I believe the fish are attracted to more flash and sparkle, than they are later in the season.
There is no doubt the fishing bug has already bit already. I've already been scouring the old maps, and searching through old journals in anticipation.
And I noticed while passing through Tupper Lake last week, the Bog River Falls inlet was already opened up for nearly a half mile down the lake, and there was at least one ice shanty in precarious position.
As per NYSDEC regulations, all ice shanties must be removed from the lakes and ponds by March 15. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, owners who fail to remove structures by that date can be ticketed and fined $100. That’s not really a very pleasant way to end the hardwater season.
Old anglers never die, they just loose their tackle
There is a popular saying that, “old anglers never die, they just smell that way.” While that may be true in some cases, the remains of fishermen that were recent discovered off the coast of California, raised more than a sniff.
In fact, when a team of archeologists from the University of Oregon began poking around in the caves, cliffs and other likely areas of human settlement, what they discovered wasn't just old, it was ancient.
Their discovery did not include any old rusty hooks, or rotted wooden ships as they searched the islands of Santa Rosa and San Miguel, which are part of the Channel Islands off the coast of California .
What they did find were more than four dozen midden mounds, which in an archeologist’s vernacular translates to a big pile of garbage. But as trash heaps go, this one was different. There was no plastic or tin foil. The trash they found was dated from between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, and it wasn't all they found.
They also discovered chipped stone tools and animal bones which may be linked to the lifestyles of some of the earliest settlers in North America. Based on the evidence, the scientists now believe there may have been two distinct cultures that lived in North America at the time. One of which, the well known Clovis culture lived inland and hunted mammoths and other mammals.
For many years, archeologists considered a ‘clovis spurnpoint’, which was discovered in the 1920s near Clovis, New Mexico to be a remnant of the oldest culture in North America.
The Clovis culture was recognized for their distinct stone tools and fluted arrowheads, as well as for creating ivory and seashell ornaments. The fact they had shells gives rise to a theory they traded with coastal cultures. However, some scientists believe the ancient cultures may have actually wintered on the islands where there was plenty of food, from both the ocean and the land.
Scientists scouring the island also found the remains of overwintering birds including Canada geese, snow geese, albatross and cormorants. But what astonished the scientists were finely crafted tools, including fishhooks and barbed spearpoints, which were surely used for fishing.
“The projectiles blew us away with finely knapped flint-knapped points" claimed one team member ,”Such tools have only been found at more recent sites,” The barbed points were markedly different from those previously found at Clovis sites, which tend to be simple, fluted points. This discovery hints at the coexistence of two separate groups of people in North America at the time.
The discovery may provide evidence that there were actually two native cultures in North America at the time, one of which may have been a seafaring nation that arrived in North America via the oceans, and the other arriving via a land bridge that some scientists believe connected North America to Siberia.
And while it is still far too soon to know for sure, the fact that there were seafaring anglers plying the waters and casting lines nearly 12,000 to 13,000 years ago should give hope to most Adirondack anglers, who may only have to wait a few weeks to get back on the waters.
I often wonder what the archeologists will uncover when they discover the 'midden mounds' surrounding the leantos of the Adirondacks. I'm always amazed to find an old Utica Club or Schlitz beer bottle under a leanto floor, and I can only guess how many similar bottles are buried in the nearby lake bottoms.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.