As winter begins a slow transition towards spring, my enthusiasm for the coldest season has already begun to diminish.
I still plan to get in a few more days of skiing, and hopefully at least one outing with my ice boat.
However, I’ve already begun scouring the maps in an effort to pin down a location for the first fishing trip of the new season. I’m ready to trade ski poles for fishing poles, and get on with the business of taking a slow troll across a small pond.
The bug has already bit me, and I just can’t shake it loose. It started while I was sorting through old photos, in an effort to put together a slide presentation for the annual Sportsmen’s Dinner, which will be hosted in Schroon Lake on March 23.
As the photos flashed one by one, across the screen, I began to get the jitters. What followed was the usual routine of rolling out the maps, checking stocking reports, calculating the mileage into the ponds and finally, taking on the dreaded task of fleshing out my gear.
Soon, my back porch was cluttered with squeaky reels and stinky creels, which were buried under a pile of flies, lures and an assortment of new and true lies to go with each of them.
After poking around in the pile of gear, and making a feeble attempt to re-disorganize the mess, I decided to go back and sort through the slides.
With the images of big brook trout flashing before my eyes, and the stale scent of fish lingering on my fingers, I began to get the shakes. And even though I know it is far too early to even contemplate the prospect of casting a line; it is never too soon to dream about it.
Several hours later, my wife finally woke me from the overstuffed chair, and sent me off to bed. She claimed I was mumbling some nonsense about taking ‘one more cast’, and figured it was time to sleep it off.
I awoke the following morning, well rested and to discover a NYSDEC press release in my email box. The release offered detailed information concerning a variety of new places to fish that were recently added to the DEC website. My dreams were answered.
The new waters include ponds and lakes as well as rivers and streams throughout New York State that have recently been added to DEC's website. They include numerous ponds and lakes, as well as rivers and streams in the Adirondacks and Champlain basin.
Websites with information on the waters are available at Adirondacks and Lake Champlain: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28244.html (DEC Region 5); North Central New York: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/47504.html) (DEC Region 6) and West Central New York: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/47509.html
Currently, there are many web based search engines, which make it easy and convenient to search and locate any of the new waters on a map.
You simply type in the name of a pond or a river, and with the punch of a button, a pile of potential fishing waters will appear before your eyes.
I use a search engine located at http://newyork.hometownlocator.com.
It provides instant information on the waters I seek, as well as a detailed map on how to get there.
However, I do miss the old days, when I poured through piles of musty old maps, which bore the scars and carried the scent of wood smoke after numerous trips into the backcountry.
I regret that the month of March has increasingly become the season of anticipation and preparation for upcoming my piscatorial pursuits. Traditionally, March had always been a period of maple sugaring and a time for late season forays on ski trails that retained the crust and dust in winter’s wake.
Last year, when the ponds were free of ice by April 1, I was taken by surprise, as were many veteran anglers. Although trout season has historically opened statewide on the first of April, it was rare that Adirondack anglers ever had a chance to fish for trout on an ice free pond, or on a river that wasn’t raging with spring melt.
Incrementally, the Adirondack trout season has continued to inch closer and closer to an April Fools opener. Anglers seeking trout on the ponds at ice out, should plan accordingly.
“I thought it was going to pull me in.“
I’ve always been a strong advocate for getting kids involved in the outdoors, whether hiking, fishing, skiing or hunting.
And I subscribe to the old notion that is your kids hunt or fish with you; you’ll rather have to go hunting after them.
Sharing outdoor adventures creates a unique bond among participants, which lasts longer, and stays stronger than almost any other activity they may share.
I suppose it comes as a result of a shared trust, and the confidence that fellow travelers place on their companions. It may also come from the sharing of responsibilities and the excitement of discovering and dealing with the ever unpredictable, nature of nature.
Such was the case when Cassie Bullis, a 7th grader at Seton Central in Plattsburgh recently joined her Uncle Rocky and Aunt JoAnn LaGrone for a fishing trip near Clearwater Beach, Florida.Clearwater Beach Florida.
As an avid advocate for getting kids involved in the outdoors, Cassie’s story intrigued me.
I'm a firm believer in the theory that a fishing rod is the best X-Box detox tool ever invented.
I’ve seen it happen, and the reality of having a live fish on the end of a line; always trumps the virtual reality of staring at an electronic screen.
It's a great story, especially for young inspiring female anglers. Her Uncle Rocky described their day shared on the water,
“The rod bent double and the drag squealed as line stripped away like a worn out sweater, the first sign a monster had sucked in the live shrimp on a 2.0 circle hook. The equipment did its job, now it was Cassie’s turn. With all her might Cassie held her ground, gaining line then giving some back.
The ebb and flow slowly turned in Cassie’s favor. As the swirl of the tail came close to the boat, the fish ran again, with more squealing of the reel and more pressure on the 12 year olds frame.
After 15 minutes of muscle wrenching agony and excited coaching from both her father, Bernie Bullis and her uncle, the fish was in the net and boated.
It was 26 ½ inch Red Fish, a trophy by any measure.
After the adrenaline rush and numerous photo ops, Cassie was asked, “Release or cook?”
She made the right choice, as a meal of Blackened Red Fish is hard to beat!”
I asked Cassie what was going through her mind as she battled the fish?
“I thought it was going to pull me in!” she replied.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.