Adirondack Almanack provides this weekly Hunting and Fishing Report each Thursday afternoon, 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.
** UNPREDICTABLE WINTER CONDITIONS
Unpredictable winter conditions will exist throughout the Adirondacks this weekend following Thursday’s rains shifting to snow. A mixture of mud, water, ice and some snow will be found on trails in lower elevations, while there will be snow and ice at higher elevations, more above 3,000 feet. Exposed rocks and bedrock are icy especially on windblown summits. Temperatures are below freezing at all elevations. Be prepared by wearing appropriate footwear and outerwear including a hat and gloves or mittens. Pack and use ice traction devices. Dress in layers of wool and/or fleece (Not Cotton!) clothing. Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of food to avoid hypothermia.
** SNOW DEPTH REPORT
Depending on the results of Friday and Saturdays weather, a dusting to several inches of snow cover can be expected this weekend throughout the Adirondacks, depending on elevation, Expect more snow at elevations above 3,000 feet. There is not yet enough snow for downhill mountains relying on natural snow, cross-country ski areas or back-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling.
** WET AND MUDDY TRAILS
A mixture of mud, water, ice and some snow may be found on trails in lower elevations. Wetter areas will include those along waterways and wetlands and in low lying areas where day time temperatures reach above freezing. Wear appropriate footwear and to stay on the trail – hike through muddy areas and puddles to avoid widening the trails or creating herd paths.
** NO ICE ON WATER IS SAFE
At this time no ice is safe. Ice has begun forming on water bodies, especially in smaller ponds, higher elevation waters, bays and backwaters and a few smaller lakes and ponds have a thin skin of ice. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.
** SNOWMOBILE TRAILS REMAIN CLOSED
The region’s snowmobile trails remain closed, and it will be some time before sledders can hit the trails. Each individual club has the final authority as to whether to open their trails or not and snowmobilers should show restraint in areas with insufficient snow cover to avoid damaging the trails. Also, a reminder to respect the landowners who have given permission for trails to cross their land. Check with local clubs before venturing out. A map of New York State Snowmobile Association Member Clubs by county, complete with contact information, may be found here.
BACKCOUNTRY ROAD CLOSURES
The Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest is closed with no current timetable for reopening (though it is likely to reopen next year). A few roads in the Hudson River Recreation area are open but have significant washouts and should only be accessed by 4-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles, these include: River Road; Buttermilk Road north of the Town line; and Gay Pond Road before Campsite #13. The following roads or sections of roads remain closed to motor vehicles due to damage caused by Hurrican Irene, they are passable on foot: Buttermilk Road Extension north of the Gay Pond Road; Gay Pond Road past Campsite #13; and the access road to Darlings Ford Waterway Access Site. In the Moose River Plains all roads designated for public motor vehicle use are open and in good shape. The public should use caution as the road is also being used by log trucks to haul forest products from League Club property. The Otter Brook – Indian Lake Road is open to Squaw Lake which is the permanent termination point for motor vehicle usage in accordance with the approved Moose River Plains Complex Unit Management Plan. A temporary barrier has been placed just past the Squaw Lake Trailhead, a gate will be installed in the future. DEC Region 5 has updated the Moose River Plains Wild Forest map.
** 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
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 HUNTING REPORTS
** 2011 Deer Harvest Update
The 2011 hunting year started out low compared to last year, with 5% less harvest in mid-November and 20% less harvest in the opening week of the Southern Zone regular season. However, harvest picked up during Thanksgiving week, boosting results to align more closely with results of the 2010 harvest at this time of year.
** 2011 Bear Harvest Update
The 2011 season is quite different from last year, with preliminary harvests down in the Northern Zone but at record levels in the Southern Zone. This year, new regulations opened bear hunting in eastern New York, ranging from Westchester County to Washington County. Hunters in the new hunting areas have taken more than 40 bears so far. Still, even without these additional bears, the preliminary take in the southeastern New York region may become one of the top harvests ever recorded. In central and western New York, harvest is topping around 300 bears, which has already shattered the previous record of 189 bears taken in 2008.
5-Year Deer Management Plan
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that it has adopted a five-year deer management plan. The final plan, which has been revised based on public comment on a previously released draft version, is now available online. DEC has prepared an Assessment of Public Comment as a brief overview of what seemed to be the principal issues identified with the draft plan, and including their responses to those issues.
** Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands
Although general public access has reopened on the Santa Clara Easement Lands, public hunting is still prohibited until the end of the year. Public hunting will once again be allowed on January 1, 2012.
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.
Kings Bay WMA
A section of the access road to the parking area off Point Au Fer Road has washed out. The damaged road is still passable but very narrow. The washed out section is marked with an orange barrel at each end.
** Small Game Seasons Open
A number of small game seasons are now open including: Grey, Black and Fox Squirrel, Crow, Snipe, Rail, Gallinule, Ruffed Grouse, Cottontail Rabbit, Pheasant, Woodcock, Coyote, and Varying Hare. Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum and Weasel seasons are now open. Bobcat season is open in all Region 5 WMUs, except 5R which does not have a season. See the DEC Small Game webpage for more information on seasons and regulations.
Northern Zone Deer Season Closed
Regular and late muzzleloading deer seasons have closed. See the DEC’s Big Game webpage for more information on seasons and regulations.
** Waterfowl Seasons
In the Lake Champlain Waterfowl Hunting Zone Snow Goose season closes December 29; Brant season is now closed; Duck seasons in both zones have now closed. In the Northeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zone Snow Goose season is open until December 31, then reopens February 24 and closes April 15; Brant season is now closed. 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.
Migratory Bird Hunting Requirements
Hunters 16 or older must have a 2011 federal duck stamp to hunt during any of the 2011-2012 seasons. Federal duck stamps cost $15 and are available at most post offices and some sporting goods stores. They are also available by calling toll-free 1-800-852-4897 or at www.duckstamp.com. Stamps must be signed across the face by the hunter before they become valid, but they do not have to be attached to the hunting license. All migratory game bird (waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, rails and gallinules) hunters, including junior hunters (age 12-15), must register with New York’s Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) prior to hunting in any of the 2011-2012 seasons. Hunters must register every year and for each state in which they plan to hunt migratory game birds, and also must carry proof of compliance whenever going afield. To register in HIP, call toll-free 1-888-427-5447 (1-888-4 ASK HIP) or visit www.NY-HIP.com.
Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) periodically evaluates data on chemicals in wild waterfowl to ensure that hunter harvested birds can be eaten without concerns about adverse effects on human health. The current advisory states that “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking, and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks. The latest DOH advice on consumption of waterfowl and other game can be found online.
Some Trapping Seasons Closed
Fisher and Martin seasons are now closed in all Region 5 WMUs; Bobcat season is closed in all Region 5 WMUs except in 5S and 5T where it closes February 15; Mink and Muskrat season closes April 15 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5R, 5S & 5T where it closes April 7; Coyote, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum and Weasel season closes February 15 in all Region 5 WMUS. The use of bait or lure is prohibited with body gripping traps set on land between December 11 and February 15 in all Region 5 WMUs, except in WMUs 5R, 5S & 5T. Otter season closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5S and 5T where it closes February 28 and in 5R where there is no trapping season. Beaver season closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs.
ADIRONDACK FISHING REPORTS
** 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. Ice has begun forming on water bodies, especially at higher elevation waters, bays and backwaters; and a few smaller lakes and ponds have a thin skin of ice.
** Ice Fishing Open – No Ice Yet
Ice fishing season is officially open however even at higher elevations the lakes and ponds have not yet begun to freeze over enough. At this time no ice is safe.
** Latest Annual Fisheries Report Now Online
In the newly released 2010 Bureau of Fisheries Annual Report includes reports on the yearly activities and research surveys conducted by DEC fisheries staff during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The report includes summaries on our fish-stocking and hatchery efforts, I FISH NY outreach activities, recreational fisheries management angler surveys and population surveys, and much more.
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.
Currently Open Fishing Seasons
Open seasons include Pike, Pickerel, Tiger Muskie, Walleye (those seasons closed March 15 and reopen May 15. Yellow Perch, Crappie, and Sunfish seasons are open all year. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.
Hudson River Rogers Island Pool Boat Launch
The floating dock has not been installed Rogers Island Pool.
The gate for the road to Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp is open, but due to the condition of the road until further notice it should only be used by pickup trucks, SUVs and other vehicles with high clearance. This road is used to access Meadow and St. Germain Ponds.
Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area
The gate to access Catfish Bay has been closed. Road improvement work and logging to improve habitat are underway.
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.
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.