Adirondack Almanack provides this weekly Hunting and Fishing Report each Thursday evening, year round. The Almanack also provides weekly backcountry recreation conditions reports for those headed into the woods or onto the waters.
SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND
** indicates new or revised items.
** LATE WINTER CONDITIONS
Temperatures are forecast to be in 50 and 60s this week, cooler in the higher elevations and nighttime temperatures remain near freezing. Warm weather and rains have decreased snow cover so that there is little to no snow in the lower elevations, and most trails are muddy and very icy. There is still some two feet of snow at higher elevations where skis or snowshoes continue to be necessary. Crampons will be necessary at higher elevations and should be carried and used when necessary in all areas. Lake ice, and snow and ice bridges at water crossings have melted. The levels of streams in the central Adirondacks has risen and low water crossings may not be passable; use caution crossing streams and stay off ice on water. Backcountry users should continue to be prepared for cold weather by wearing a waterproof outer shell, appropriate layered clothing, drink plenty of water and eat plenty of food to avoid hypothermia, and be prepared to spend the night in freezing temperatures in an emergency.
** SNOW DEPTH REPORT
Although sheltered areas can still contain considerable snow, there is little to no snow on the ground at lower elevations throughout the Adirondacks. There is still plenty of snow in the High Peaks where the Lake Colden Interior Cabin caretaker reports 24 inches at the stake. Snow depth at most trailheads to higher elevations is thin or non-existent, but snow depths increase as trail elevation increases. The National Weather Service snow cover map provides a good gauge of snow cover around the region, albeit somewhat under-reporting actual snow accumulations.
** ICE IS OUT
Ice is generally out, extremely thin or consists of weak layers of water, slush and ice. Travel on ice should be avoided – including Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake.
** NEARLY ALL SNOWMOBILE TRAILS NOW CLOSED
Nearly all snowmobile trails throughout the Adirondacks have been closed for the season. There are still some pockets of snow around Hamilton County around Morehouse and the Town of Webb, but getting to good snow is an issue, so for all intents and purposes the snowmobile season has ended. Snowmobile trails in the Jessup River Wild Forest, the Moose River Plains Wild Forest and the Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands are closed and the gates have been shut for mud season. End of the season die-hards should show restraint in areas with insufficient snow cover to avoid damaging the trails. Stay off lake ice!
** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER
Check the weather before entering the woods or heading onto the waters and be aware of weather conditions at all times. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region.
** Fire Danger: LOW – MODERATE
FIREWOOD BAN IN EFFECT
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have been ticketing violators of the firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.
ADIRONDACK FISHING REPORTS
** WATERS RUNNING ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS
The levels of streams in the central Adirondacks has risen and low water crossings may not be passable; use caution crossing streams and stay off ice on water. Most waters are running above normal for this time of year and the Hudson, Independence, and Oswegatchie rivers are running well above normal. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters.
** LOW SNOW PACK MAY AFFECT PADDLING, RAFTING, FISHING
This has been fourth-warmest winter on record for lower 48 states and below normal snowpack is being reported by climatologists across the region. Reduced snowpack could mean lower levels for rivers and streams this spring, a situation that could reduce the threat of floods, but hamper paddlers and rafters looking for class big rapids this spring. The Hudson, Sacandaga, and Schroon rivers could be notably affected. Unless there are torrential spring rains, the Hudson River may not reach the level required for class five rapids as this rafting season begins. On the Ausable, low water two years ago and extreme flooding last year, combined with lower water levels this spring could adversly affect the upcoming trout season which begins April 1. Spring stocking could also be affected.
** Water Temperatures
Water temperatures in many of the Adirondack waters have dropped into the lower 30s, colder water temperatures can be expected in higher elevation waters. Lake Champlain water temperature is 34 degrees.
Free Fishing Day Clinics for 2012 Announced
Each year DEC offers free fishing day clinics at various locations statewide. This means participants can enjoy a day of fishing without the need to purchase a fishing license. In addition, participants learn about fish identification, fishing equipmentand techniques, DEC fisheries management, angling ethics and more. Free Fishing Clinics are scheduled for May 19 at Hawkins Point, Massena, at Remington Pond and all waters on Ft. Drum, and on June 30 and July 1 at Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George (pre-registration required). A full list of DEC’s 2012 Free Fishing Day clinic locations is available online.
DEC Announces Proposed Freshwater Fishing Changes
Proposed changes to the current freshwater fishing regulations were announced today by the DEC. DEC will accept public comments on the proposals through April 2, 2012. Changes under consideration for this proposal were available on DEC’s website earlier this year for comment. This feedback, in addition to comments received from angling interest groups, provided input to the development of the regulation changes which include (among others): The establishment of a special walleye regulation of 18-inch minimum size and three per day in Lake Pleasant and Sacandaga Lake (Hamilton County) to aid restoration of the walleye populations in these waters; Prohibit fishing from the Lake Pleasant outlet to the mouth of the Kunjamuk River (Hamilton County) from March 16 until the first Saturday in May (opening day for walleye) to protect spawning walleye; Open Lake Kushaqua and Rollins Pond (Franklin County) to ice fishing for lake trout as these populations are considered stable enough to support this activity; Open Blue Mountain Lake, Eagle Lake, Forked Lake, Gilman Lake, South Pond and Utowana Lake (Hamilton County) to ice fishing for landlocked salmon and reduce the daily limit for lake trout in these waters from three per day to two per day. Combined with an existing regulation this change will create a suite of nine lakes in Hamilton County that will have the same ice fishing regulations for lake trout and landlocked salmon. Delete the catch and release trout regulation for Jordan River from Carry Falls Reservoir upstream to Franklin County line (St. Lawrence County) because this regulation is considered inappropriate for this remote stream section. Delete the special trout regulation for Palmer Lake (Saratoga County) to match the statewide regulation. This minor adjustment would extend the season 15 days. Delete special ice fishing regulation for Square Pond (Franklin County) because this water will no longer be managed for trout. Open specific waters to ice fishing currently deemed as trout waters in the counties of Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and St. Lawrence Counties as ice fishing can be allowed for at these locations. Provide for ice fishing at a privately managed water in Hamilton County (Salmon Pond) that is stocked with trout by a private party, as requested. The full text of the draft regulation as well as instructions for submitting comments can be found on DEC’s website. Comments on the proposals can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State DEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. Hard copies of the full text can be requested from Shaun Keeler at the same addresses listed above. Final regulations, following full review of public comments, will take effect October 1, 2012.
Special Fishing Seasons Remain Open
The statewide trout season is closed but there are some exceptions to this regulation. The catch-and-release areas on the West Branch of the Ausable River, Saranac River and the Battenkill remain open as well as a few ponds such as Mountain Pond, Lake Clear & Lake Colby in Franklin County; and Connery Pond in Essex County. Lake Champlain and sections of its tributaries are open all year for trout and salmon fishing. To find out which waters near you still have trout fishing opportunities, check the special fishing regulations by County.
** Some Fishing Seasons Now Closed
Open seasons include Pike, Pickerel, Tiger Muskie, Walleye seasons are now closed (they reopen May 15). Yellow Perch, Crappie, and Sunfish seasons are open all year. Black Bass season is closed but catch-and-release fishing for bass is allowed in the following Region 5 Counties; Clinton, Essex, Warren, Washington, Saratoga, and Fulton Counties. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.
Personal Flotation Devices Required
Boaters are reminded all persons aboard a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet regardless of age must wear a personal flotation device from November 1st to May 1st.
** Lake Clear
The gate for the road to Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp is shut for the mud season. This road is used to access Meadow and St. Germain Ponds.
Use Baitfish Wisely
Anglers using fish for bait are reminded to be careful with how these fish are used and disposed of. Careless use of baitfish is one of the primary means by which non-native species and fish diseases are spread from water to water. Unused baitfish should be discarded in an appropriate location on dry land. A “Green List” of commercially available baitfish species that are approved for use in New York State has now been established in regulation. A discussion of these regulations and how to identify approved baitfish species is available online. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List” is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle. Anglers are reminded that new regulations for transportation of baitfish are currently under consideration, and these proposed regulations can be viewed online.
Preventing Invasive Species and Fish Diseases
Anglers are reminded to be sure to dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water. This is the only way to prevent the spread of potentially damaging invasive plant and animal species (didymo and zebra mussels) and fish diseases (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and whirling disease). Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found online.
Health Advisories on Fish
The NYSDOH has issued the 2010-2011 advisories on eating sportfish and game. Some of fish and game contain chemicals at levels that may be harmful to human health. See the DEC webpage on Fish Health Advisories for more information and links to the Department of Health information.
ADIRONDACK HUNTING REPORTS
2011 Whitetail Deer Harvest Report
The 2011 deer take varied less than one percent from the 2010 take statewide. In 2011, hunters took slightly more than 118,350 antlerless deer (adult females and fawns) and just over 110,000 adult male deer (bucks). In the northern zone, the buck take (about 15,900) was
essentially unchanged from 2010, though the antlerless harvest (about 10,900) was down about 13 percent from last year. More details and links to the full harvest summaries are available online.
2011 Black Bear Harvest Report
Outside of the Adirondack region the 2011 bear harvest set new records, substantially exceeding previous record takes in central and western New York. In contrast, bear take in the Adirondack region dropped to a level not seen since 1998. The bear take was below the five-year average during each of the bear seasons and the overall bear take was down about 47 percent from 2010 for the region. Bear harvest rates in the Adirondacks typically drop in the early season during years of abundant soft mast (cherries, raspberries and apples), while the take will increase during the regular season in years with abundant beech nuts. More details and links to the full harvest summaries are available online.
Most Small Game Seasons Closed
Grey, Black and Fox Squirrel, Snipe, Rail, Gallinule, Ruffed Grouse, Pheasant, Woodcock, Coyote, Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum, and Weasel seasons are now closed. Crow, Cottontail, Varying Hare, and Coyote Season remain open. See the DEC Small Game webpage for more information on seasons and regulations.
Most Trapping Seasons Closed
Fisher, Martin, Coyote, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum, Weasel, and Bobcat seasons are now closed in all Region 5 WMUs; Mink and Muskrat season closes April 15 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5R, 5S & 5T where it closes April 7. Otter season closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5S and 5T where it closed February 28 and in 5R where there is no trapping season. Beaver season closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs.
Snow Goose Season Now Open
In the Northeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zone Snow Goose season reopens February 24 and closes April 15. Note that the boundary between the Northeastern and the Southeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zones now runs east along Route 29 to Route 22, north along Route 22 to Route 153, east along Route 153 to the New York – Vermont boundary.
DEC Reviewing Bobcat Management Plan Comments
The draft Management Plan for Bobcat in New York State, 2012-2017 (PDF) was available for public review and comment from January 18 through February 16. DEC received comments from more than 1,500 individuals and organizations and are now processing the comments to determine whether changes are warranted for the final plan. The assessment of public comments and the final plan will be posted on DEC’s Bobcat webpage later this spring.
** Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Day
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association has set a date of Tuesday, March 20, 2012 for the 3rd Annual Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day. It will take place from 9:00am to 1:00pm in the “Well” of the State Legislative Office Building in Albany. Sponsored by NYSRPA and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb the event focuses on lobbying around 2nd Amendment issues and exhibits and presentations by advocates, including a keynote address by Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the National Rifle Association.
Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey
Visit DEC’s Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48756.html) webpage and start recording observations of turkey flocks to help monitor their status and health. Just print a turkey-sighting form, record the number of turkeys you see in a flock from January through March, and send in your results to the address noted on the form at the end the survey period. In 2011, more than 640 reports were received, resulting in 10,200 birds counted in 49 of the 62 counties in New York State.
Lewis Preserve WMA
The Brandy Brook has jumped its bank creating a braided stream channel across the main foot trail adjacent to the existing foot bridge. Users should use caution while attempting to cross this new stream channel as it may be deep and swift moving.
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park hunting, fishing, and trapping information can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].
The DEC Habitat/Access Stamp is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Stamp proceeds support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife related recreation. A Habitat/Access Stamp is not required to hunt, fish or trap, nor do you have to purchase a sporting license to buy a habitat stamp.