Saturday, February 18, 2023

Free Fishing Days this weekend, ice anglers enjoying atypical winter


This week was a February thaw most of the time, with rain and wet snow. Then Friday night [Feb. 10] we did get two inches of nice snow to start the weekend…and Old Forge’s Winter Carnival. About the only time I got outside was to feed the birds and get the mail, as the ankle is still not up to par. The cold I had, I passed on to Karen and so far, we have both survived it. Got tested for Covid and strep throat, had neither…just a good, old fashioned cold. Alka-Seltzer, cough drops, and many naps for the cure.

I did catch a few more Evening Grosbeaks a couple of mornings and [am] still feeding about fifty. I had a window-hit this morning [Feb. 13], but got out and picked up the male bird. I warmed him up for a few hours before I banded him and released him. The White-Throated Sparrow went into hiding [for] a couple days. I thought he might have perished, but he was back yesterday [Feb. 12] and today fending for seeds among the grosbeaks. When he gets one, he heads back under his brush pile to pick it apart, then comes back out to get another one. He may make it the whole winter. When I sent it in on E-bird they questioned when I had two, but have not questioned one. They have not questioned the numbers of Evening Grosbeaks…even when I had one hundred. Now, I have banded well over two hundred, and only one return a month ago.


I keep getting pictures of some of the Christmas gifts in bloom, many amaryllis, and a few other plants. Karen’s amaryllis has put out its second bloom, a real deep red with four blossoms. I brought in five from the garden bulbs from last year’s plants and they are showing lots of leaves and only one looks like it will have a flower. I let them rest in the cellar for five weeks before repotting them, and some had super root systems. Last year, I had two hold over bulbs that bloomed. Most of the new plants this year had super blooms, taller than any I had ever seen before. Most had double stems with four flowers on each stem.


The crisis in Turkey and Syria is not getting any better, with the death toll at over 33,000 now, and growing daily. They will not be pulling many survivors out of the downed building now, as it’s been over a week [as of this Feb. 13 writing.] Some of the builders are now being held for bad construction. An earthquake is estimated to release a hundred times more energy than nuclear bombs, particularly the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.


Last week, I didn’t mention the ice storm that had crippled Texas for almost a week, leaving thousands without power in freezing temperatures. It did warm up toward the end of the week, but the cleanup of all the downed trees was a major project…then rehanging all those power and phone lines. Maybe they will learn to put them underground after a while. My 950-foot underground line to the house from the road would have been out several times from downed trees in the twenty-three years we have lived here.

Stretched beaver skins

Two stretched beaver hides; blanket and 55 inch. Photo by Gary Lee.

The ice anglers are about the only ones who are having a fun wintertime experience. Saturday and Sunday, [February] 18 and 19 are free fishing days in New York State, no license required. If you have never tried ice fishing, you might want to contact a buddy who has done it, and he might have all the gear for your first try. You may like it (or then again,) you might hate it. Weather could be the key factor, as standing out in the middle of the lake without any protection could turn anyone off, especially if they are not catching any fish…or even if they are.


These new portable pop-up shanties are great, but they need to be anchored down or your cover could be on shore in no time if the wind blows. When we used to fish Saratoga Lake in winter, we had a well-built ice shanty, which we had anchored in the ice on two corners. Most times there was no snow on the ice, so if a shanty broke loose, it would blow the entire length of the lake. When it hit the east shore, there wasn’t much left. Our shanty was on the ice from Christmas vacation until the end of February. Now, you are lucky if you can even get on the ice there until mid-January.


The following weekend (Saturday, Feb. 25) is Inlet’s Frozen Fire and Lights [event.] For a complete schedule of events, check out Some favorite [activities include,] the cardboard sled races, kite flying, and (new last year) the outhouse races. I’ll see you there!


I never did get in those dam beavers that were flooding the Matt’s Snowmobile Trail, but here they are [above] all flat and happy, and that’s not another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Amaryllis. Photo by Gary Lee.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

2 Responses

  1. Pete says:

    Beautiful blossom! The beaver pelts look prime. Yup the portable ice shanties can “fly” across the ice in the wind. My wife and I were fishing Canandaigua lake many years ago on a windy day . I was out checking a tipup, when I heard my wife scream. The flip over she was fishing in was being pushed by the wind towards open water! I ran across the ice and grabbed the shelter just feet from the edge of the ice! We were lucky. Needless to say after that day I always screwed the shelter to the ice and we didn’t fish close to open water…

  2. zidane says:

    thank you for the article

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