Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adirondack Fish and Game Report (Mar 1)

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.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.


** indicates new or revised items.

Another major snowstorm Thursday has blanketing the region, including for the first time this winter eastern Essex County and North Warren counties. Skis or snowshoes will be necessary in many areas, and required in the High Peaks where snow depths are approaching four feet. Remember it takes more time and energy to travel through snow. Summit areas can expect daytime wind chill values hovering around zero this weekend. Be prepared for cold weather by wearing appropriate layered clothing, drink plenty of water and eat plenty of food to avoid hypothermia, and be prepared to spend the night in sub-zero temperatures in an emergency. Four people have been rescued from the High Peaks in the last two weeks, three were forced to spend the night in the backcountry and suffered from hypothermia and frostbite. Use extreme caution on ice on water (see the lake ice report below).

Currently there are 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground at lower elevations in Warren and Eastern Essex County and into the Keene Valley approach to the high peaks, with 15-20 inches in the lower elevations throughout the south-central and central Adirondacks. The caretaker reports 45 inches of snow at the Lake Colden Interior Cabin. There is not as much snow at the trailheads out of the Keene/Keene Valley corridor however the snow quickly deepens as you climb to higher elevations. The National Weather Service snow cover map provides a good gauge of snow cover around the region, albeit somewhat under-reporting actual snow accumulations.

More than 20 people have been rescued from floating ice on local lakes this past week. Lake Champlain and Lake George (with the exception of the South Bay of Lake Champlain) remain largely open water with some areas covered with dangerously thin ice. Expect wet conditions during the afternoon most everywhere, despite the 6 to 12 inches of ice being reported on most lakes at lower elevations. Always check the depth of ice before crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person.

For the first time this winter, most snowmobile trails should be open this weekend. With the best conditions from Southern Franklin County and Cranberry Lake through toward Long Lake, and Indian Lake, with lesser conditions toward Old Forge, Inlet, and the Speculator area. Some trails in Eastern Essex, Warren and Washington County are now ridable but boney. Jessup River Wild Forest would be a great bet this weekend, to get away from the crowds. 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.

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

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.


Ice has formed on all slack waters. The region’s rivers and streams are at normal levels for this time of year. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters.

** Ice Fishing Underway
More than 20 people have been rescued from floating ice on local lakes this past week. Lake Champlain and Lake George (with the exception of the South Bay of Lake Champlain) remain largely open water with some areas covered with dangerously thin ice. Expect wet conditions during the afternoon most everywhere, despite the 6 to 12 inches of ice being reported on most lakes at lower elevations. Always check the depth of ice before crossing and avoid inlets, outlets and ice on or near running water. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. The Almanack covered the beginning of the hard-water angling season on Thursday.

** 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 32 degrees.

Ice Fishing Regulation Changes
Balfour Lake, Town of Minerva, Essex County is open to ice fishing for smallmouth bass, yellow perch and pumpkinseed. Glen Lake, Town of Queensbury, Warren County is now open to rainbow trout fishing. Galway Lake, Town of Galway, Saratoga County is open to walleye, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, rock bass and black crappie fishing. Seventh Lake, Town of Inlet, Hamilton County is now open to rainbow trout, lake trout, yellow perch, landlocked salmon, brook trout and smelt fishing. Sixth Lake, Town of Inlet, Hamilton County is now open to whitefish, rainbow trout, yellow perch, lake trout, landlocked salmon and smelt fishing. Lake Jimmy, Town of Newcomb, Essex County is now open to ice fishing. Lake Sally, Town of Newcomb, Essex County is now open to ice fishing.

** 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 [email protected], 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.

New Web-Version of Freshwater Fishing Map and Guide
You can now navigate through maps online to find places to fish in New York State. The information comes from the I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing released earlier this year with details like types of fish and available amenities at great fishing locations on over 400 lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Look for “Public Fishing Lakes and Ponds” and “Public Fishing Rivers and Streams” on DEC’s Google Maps and Google Earth webpage. If you would prefer a brochure in hand rather than look online, send your name and mail address to [email protected] with “NY Fishing Map” in the subject line.

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 close March 15 and 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 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 two gates are open allowing ice anglers to access Kings Bay and Catfish Bay on Lake Champlain. The Town of Champlain has improved the shoulder of Point Au Fer Road, directly west of Scales Road, allowing easier access for snowmobiles and ATVs. However, the Town asks ice anglers to please park as far off Scales Road as possible so emergency vehicles and snow plows can safely pass and to obey the No Parking signs along Point Au Fer Road.

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.


** 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.

DEC Accepting Pheasant Program Applications
The application period is now open for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s cooperative Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program. Day-old chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide a brooding facility and covered outdoor rearing pen, and have identified an adequate release site. Approved applicants will receive the day-old chicks in April, May or June. No chicks obtained through the Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program are permitted to be released on private shooting preserves. All release sites must be approved in advance by DEC and must be open to the public for pheasant hunting. Individuals interested in these programs should contact their nearest DEC regional office for applications and additional information. In 2011, DEC distributed 46,496 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified applicants. Applications must be filed with a DEC regional wildlife manager by March 15, 2011.

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 ( 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.

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