Serious whitewater boaters are frothing at the prospect of access to a Class IV multidrop stretch of the Ausable River along Upper Ausable Chasm. Word on the Northeast Paddlers Message Board is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ordered New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) to develop a plan to enable kayakers to cross its land to reach the river for the period between Memorial Day and October 31.
But patience: paddlers are saying it’s doubtful NYSEG will be able to comply in time for this season. The Adirondack Mountain Club and American Whitewater, a national organization, have battled for years for the right to use NYSEG’s land to get to a 3.4-mile stretch of the Ausable, from the NYSEG powerhouse below Rainbow Falls Dam to the Route 9 bridge. “BOO YAH. That thing runs ALL SUMMER,” comments one paddler on the Northeast Paddlers Message Board, which has more information. The run is expected to draw boaters from around the Northeast because of its consistent water.
NYSEG and the Ausable Chasm Corporation, which operates a tourist attraction at the gorge, had argued against boating access because the steep and narrow canyon, 150 feet deep in places, makes rescue difficult. Ausable Chasm Co. also offers tubing and rafting for paying guests on the lower portion of the chasm. But ADK and American Whitewater countered that FERC had a duty to maintain public access to a public waterbody that had become obstructed by the power dam.
I’m accustomed to setting out on an article knowing less about a subject than the people I interview. A recent assignment went the other way, to a surprising extent.
The topic was navigation rights in New York State. The editor of the Adirondack Explorer, Phil Brown, and I wanted to know why, ten years after a state high-court decision affirmed canoeists’ rights to carry around obstacles, paddlers rarely test rivers that flow through private Adirondack land (you can see the article here).
Out of five riparian landowners I spoke with, three stated that their rivers were “closed” because bridges, dams or downed trees block the streams and paddlers are prohibited from carrying around them. That’s a pre-1999 view. Obstructions have not been grounds for denying canoe passage for a decade, I explained, no matter who owns the riverbank. All three landowners then responded that the rivers were probably impassable anyway and who would want to paddle them. (A sixth landowner who in the past claimed that passage is closed between Mud Pond and Shingle Shanty Brook did not return phone calls or e-mails; I have no doubt from a trip through that property myself that it is a navigable stream with one quick carry.)
Frankly I expected landowners on disputed rivers to know the law because they have the most at stake. I expected to find the confusion on the paddlers’ side of the issue, and there is plenty among that group too. This first page of the 2008 Paddlesports Press guidebook Adirondack Paddler’s Guide states: “Most private lands, however, are just that — the public is not allowed.” Zero effort to explain the river access that paddlers fought decades to earn. The next sentence: “In fact some private reserves are patrolled and huge lawsuits have ensued for trespass.” There was one lawsuit, and it changed everything: A group of four canoeists and one kayaker provoked a test case on the South Branch of the Moose River in 1991, and the ensuing trespass suit sought $5 million in damages, which a judge dismissed. One of the defendants says the dollar figure never weighed on the group. It did take seven years and three courts to reach a final ruling, which contains vague language that only rivers proven to be “navigable in fact” are open. Nuanced, but not a blanket ban and not a reason to monger fear.
These examples prove a point made by Charlie Morrison, a retired Department of Environmental Conservation official. Morrison is lobbying the state legislature to pass a bill that would make the 1999 Moose River decision statutory. He says he does not want to change the law, just to codify it so it doesn’t get lost again.
Navigation rights are not new; they derive from common law and interpretation of that law by courts. The late canoeist and author Paul Jamieson pointed out that travelers crossed the Adirondacks freely by small craft in the early 19th century. Gradually, transportation became land-based, landowners began posting rivers, law enforcers began upholding the land-posters, and rights of passage faded. The 1999 ruling restored them.
Jamieson and the Moose River paddlers righted a century-old wrong, which is not to say the landowners’ instinct to protect their privacy is wrongheaded. Some told me off the record that members of the public who have passed through their land left fire rings and litter. If a paddler gets hurt — and these are generally tricky rivers, not flatwater cruises — landowners are the ones who’d have to come to the rescue. The Moose River case affirmed the right to travel through, but they do not give paddlers the right to stop, picnic, fish, hunt, camp, even take a pee. If you can’t run a river through somebody’s property in a day, then that river is not navigable, at least under existing state law. The West Branch of the St. Regis River below the St. Regis Canoe Area probably falls into that category.
One obstacle Morrison faces in Albany is the disorganization of the state Senate. Assembly sponsor (Democrat Sam Hoyt of Buffalo) needs to find a counterpart in the next week or two. Another obstacle is the passive resistance of the Adirondack Landowners Association, which seems to prefer the inhibiting effect of the reigning confusion: if the law is not spelled out, canoeists will stick to publicly owned waters where they don’t have to decipher access rights.
And over the past 15 years the state has acquired miles of new public waterways, so the situation on the ground is relatively peaceful. But keep an eye on the Beaver River connecting Lake Lila to the Stillwater Reservoir: The landowners and guerilla padders I interviewed agree it’s really only runnable after snowmelt, and then for a week at most. Whether that makes the Beaver “navigable in fact” may take another court to decide.
Photograph: The Beaver River near Lake Lila; by MWanner, from Wikimedia Commons
At the 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum Board of Directors’ April meeting, newest member Joe Clain donated $1,000 to kick-off the creation of an International Sliding Sports Museum in Lake Placid. Clain made the donation on behalf of his father Gus Clain and the Linney Family in the hopes that other prominent families in the history of sliding sports will come forward and meet the challenge. Angus (Gus) Clain was the brakeman for the four-man sled piloted by Robert Linney, which qualified at the 1939 trials in Lake Placid for the 1940 Olympic Winter Games. Because of WWII, the Games were not contested in 1940 or 1944. The family of Gus Clain previously created and donated a very rare exhibit consisting of the sweater and jacket issued to the 1940 Olympic Bobsled team, and which is on permanent display in the Olympic Museum.
The Sliding Sports Museum at Mt. Van Hoevenberg will be an annex to the already existing Olympic Museum – located within the Olympic Center – and as such will come under the same chartering agency, the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York on behalf of the State Education Department. The future museum will share the same 501(c) 3 not-for-profit status making all donations eligible for a tax deduction.
“The next logical step is to create an advisory board of interested community members who share the same passion for preserving, displaying and educating future generations on the rich history of sliding sports in this area,” said Olympic Museum Director Liz De Fazio in a press release issued this week.
For more information on the proposed International Sliding Museum, or to make a donation, contact De Fazio at (518) 523-1655, ext. 226 or [email protected]
The DEC has announced that under the new plan, it will operate four of six campgrounds previously slated for closure for shortened seasons, from June 26 through Labor Day. In addition, after partnering with local officials, DEC will substitute one Piseco Lake-area campground in Hamilton County on the closure list for another. At the campgrounds that will remain closed, DEC will allow use of its hiking and horse trails and climbing routes. In DEC’s own words:
“New York is facing tough economic times and closing campgrounds was not an easy choice. With the help of local officials, DEC has devised a way to soften the impact,” Commissioner Grannis said in a press relase. “Each of the targeted facilities historically suffered from low occupancy over the course of a full season. By shortening the season, we can open the campgrounds during traditional peak occupancy periods. This plan will help local tourism and provide opportunities for affordable getaways while still reducing our annual operating costs.”
The revisions for the 2009 season are: In the Catskills
Beaverkill, Roscoe, Sullivan County.
The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day. DEC will operate the facility with assistance from Sullivan County, upon adoption of a cooperative agreement.
Bear Spring Mountain, Walton, Delaware County.
The previous decision to close the camping area within this facility remains in effect. However, numerous horse and hiking trails and associated trailhead parking areas at this popular Wildlife Management Area will continue to be available for public use. There will be no fee for parking. In the Adirondacks
Point Comfort, Arietta, Hamilton County.
The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day. However, DEC will not open Poplar Point, which is also in the Piseco Lake area, for 2009. DEC will explore options to work cooperatively with Arietta officials to continue to potentially offer a day-use facility at Poplar Point in future years.
Sharp Bridge, North Hudson, Essex County.
The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.
Tioga Point, Raquette Lake, Hamilton County.
The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.
Pok-O-Moonshine, Keeseville, Essex County.
The previous decision to close this facility remains in effect. Hikers, rock climbers and other recreational users will be able to access hiking trails and climbing routes by parking in the entrance area. No fee will be charged for parking.
DEC will work closely with ReserveAmerica, the state’s camping reservation service contractor, to contact visitors whose reservations were previously cancelled, to offer them their original reservations and to re-open the camping site inventory to them before it is made available to the general public. DEC will cover the cost of the reservation fees to lessen the impact to the visitors that will be affected.
DEC is responsible for managing 52 campgrounds and 7 day-use areas in New York’s Adirondack Park and Catskill Park.
Eager boaters have been on the water since ice-out, but the Adirondack canoe-and-kayak social season really gets cruising this month. We offer a chronological calendar:
The first two get-togethers are really commercial affairs, aimed at selling canoes and kayaks, but hey we enjoy new gear as much as anyone: Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters holds Demo Days this weekend, May 9–10, by the state boat launch on Lake Flower, in Saranac Lake, (518) 891-7450. And Adirondack Paddlefest is May 15–17 at Mountainman Outdoor Supply Co., in Old Forge. The Fest is billed as “America’s largest on-water sale.” $5 admission for adults, (315) 369-6672 » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) will host a “Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball” on Saturday, May 30. The gala and auction is the largest fund-raising event of the year for the club, with proceeds supporting ADK programs such as maintaining hiking trails and connecting children with the outdoors. Recommended attire for the event is semi-formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced. The Black Fly Affair will be held from 7 p.m. till midnight at the Fort William Henry Resort and Conference Center in Lake George. Selected regional food and drink vendors, including The Boathouse, Villa Napoli and the Fort William Henry Resort, will provide their specialties for sampling. Wine and champagne tasting is courtesy of Frederick Wildman & Sons Wine Distributors and beer sampling courtesy of Cooperstown Brewing Co. There will also be dancing to the music of the Frank Conti Band.
ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction, where guests will bid on original artwork, outdoor gear, weekend getaways, jewelry, cultural events and more. The auction will be conducted by Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals. A preview of auction items is available at the ADK Web site, www.adk.org.
Dr. John Rugge, CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, is chairman of the event. Dr. Rugge is an avid paddler and author of two books about wilderness paddling. Longtime ADK leader Bob Wilcox will serve as master of ceremonies. Corporate support for the event has been provided by the Times Union, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, Cool Insuring Agency, Price Chopper Golub Foundation, TD Banknorth, The Chazen Companies and LEKI USA.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. To make reservations, visit www.adk.org or call (800) 395-8080, Ext. 25. To donate an auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at (800) 395-8080, Ext. 42.
The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the New York State Forest Preserve and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.
The DEC has announced the opening of limited public access for recreation to three parcels of conservation easement land formerly owned by International Paper Company and currently owned by Lyme Timber. The public will be able to access the lands for non-motorized recreation now; motorized access will be allowed in the future. The three parcels are the 17,125-acre Black Brook Tract in the Town of Black Brook, Clinton County; the 7,870-acre Altamont Tract in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County; and the 19,000-acre Kushaqua Tract in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin, Franklin County. The parcels are part of one of New York State’s largest land conservation projects – 256,649 acres of land – which was announced on Earth Day in 2004.
The Black Brook, Altamont and Kushaqua Tracts had a five year waiting period before the properties could be opened to the public, which expired on April 22. The three tracts are open to public access for non-motorized recreation only- on foot, mountain bike, on horse, or canoe/kayak. According to the DEC “The full array of recreation rights purchased will not be available at this time due to lack of resources.” Currently permitted recreational activities include hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing and canoeing/kayaking. Camping and campfires are also prohibited until camp sites are designated.
Parking lots, trails, and trailheads, have not been buit and there is no signage yet. Trails for motorized recreation will be developed in the future following a planning process. Access to the property is by adjoining public highways and the DEC has asked that users avoid blocking any gates or obstructing traffic when parking.
These lands are privately owned and actively managed for timber. The landowner also leases private recreation camps. Lessees have the exclusive right to use one acre of land surrounding their camp which are not open to ANY public use or access. The one-acre camp parcels, however, may not block public access to or use of main access roads, trails, streams or ponds.
Visitors to these lands may encounter logging and construction equipment used in forest management and motorized vehicles, including ATVs, belonging to the landowner, their employees or camp lessees. The DEC asks that the public respect the rights of the landowner, camp lessees and their guests when using the property.
Congratulations to five Lake Placid residents who won the team category in the Tuckerman Inferno pentathalon Saturday. The course links running (8.3 miles), downriver kayaking (7.5 miles), bicycling (18 miles), hiking (3.5 miles) and finally a 600-foot climb-up/ski-down of Tuckerman Ravine, the spring backcountry ski mecca on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. The Inferno combines the April recreation options of hardcore Northeastern mountain jocks. Team Lake Placid finished in 3:46:21, ten minutes ahead of a second-place group from Vermont. The Lake Placid crew comprised people who manage to stay seriously fit despite serious day jobs: Marc Galvin (run), Charlie Cowan (kayak), Edward Sparkowski (bike), Jeff Erenstone (hike) and Laurie Schulz (ski).
Also Saturday fourteen club cyclists with Team Placid Planet finished the punishing 65-mile Tour of the Battenkill in southern Washington County, the largest bike race in the United States. The loop includes about 15 unpaved miles and attracts both amateur and pro riders with its challenging hills. Among Adirondackers competing were Keith Hager, Dan Anhalt, Bill McGreevy, Charlie Mitchell, Jim Walker, Bruce Beauharnois, Ed Smith, Dan Reilly, Bill Schneider, Bill Whitney, Tim Akers, Shawn Turner, Darci LaFave and Susanna Piller.
Low snowpack and scarce April showers have led to burn bans around the Adirondack Park. The drought also has river paddlers wandering, searching for streams pushy enough to float their colorful little boats.
“Whitewater kayakers are being forced into summer habits of traveling downstream, unfortunately by car, to seek water levels suitable enough to sink their paddles in,” writes Jason Smith, on Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters blog. “The Hudson River along with the Moose River, in the central Adirondacks, offer reliable spring flow and are popular spring runs. But even these mighty rivers are running lower than usual. . . . [D]on’t be alarmed if you see a vehicle loaded with short, plastic kayaks driving aimlessly around your neighborhood.” Other Adirondack critters known to crave a good spring rain are amphibians. In Paul Smiths, in the high-elevation north-central Adirondacks where ice was still on ponds as of Thursday, wood frogs and spotted salamanders began to move on a warm rainy night about two weeks ago, observes Curt Stager, professor of biology at Paul Smith’s College. The cold-blooded creatures live buried in the forest floor most of the year, braving exposure to predators and car tires on rainy April nights to travel to the ephemeral ponds where they breed. Peepers, American toads and other frogs and salamanders also congregate at waterholes this time of year.
Showers Saturday gave creeks and rivers a noticeable boost. The last two weeks had brought snow and then unrelenting sun. “They [herps] have been dribbling around. It was an early start and then it got cut off by the dry weather,” says Stager, who studies local phenology. “Every year is a little different in the Adirondacks. You’ve got to watch it for decades to notice a real pattern.”
The Ausable Two-Fly Challenge will be held on the banks of the West Branch of the Ausable River, Saturday, May 16. Now in its 10th year, the tournament brings together fly fisherman from across the United States, who want to test their skills on the acclaimed river, while at the same time promote the 35-mile long river as a fishery and raise money to protect it. Rules for the catch and release tournament are simple. Anglers are allowed to bring two barb-less hook flies, of any combination or patterns and once the flies are lost or unusable… you’re out. Anglers must fish with a partner and each must record the total number of fish caught, the length of each fish and the cumulative number of inches. Only fish handled by the angler and successfully released will count as caught fish.
The Two-Fly Challenge begins Friday night, at R.F. McDougall’s, with a fly tying demonstration and the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the best fly anglers from around the country. Anglers are asked to gather Saturday morning at the Whiteface Mountain Regional Visitors Bureau at 6:30 a.m. and the Challenge begins at 7.
The Ausable River Two-Fly Challenge is not a professional contest, but it will feature a pro-division. The pro-division applies to anyone who gets paid to fly-fish, including guides and anyone who professionally competes for money. Prizes will be awarded to winning anglers in both the amateur and pro divisions during the banquet dinner, which will also feature a guest speaker, raffles and auctions.
Registration is open to the public and for more information, contact the Whiteface Mountain Regional Visitors Bureau at 946.2255, or through e-mail at [email protected]
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that it is beginning work on a unit management plan (UMP) for five state forests, one fishing access site and conservation easement lands encompassing 8,951 acres along the Upper Salmon River. The UMP will also include a pending acquisition from National Grid that covers approximately 675 acres in Oswego, Oneida and Lewis counties. The DEC is seeking public input and will hold a public meeting on Thursday, May 7, 2009, from 7-9 p.m. at its Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar, N.Y. The evening will begin in an “open house” format that will allow the public to interact with DEC staff and view displays, followed by a brief presentation by DEC staff, then a return to an open house format. The public will be encouraged to fill out comment cards that can be turned in at the meeting or mailed at a later date. Those unable to attend the meeting may submit comments to the contact person by mail or e-mail.
UMPs assess the natural, physical and recreational resources of the landscape and guide state forest land management activities. The Upper Salmon River Unit is comprised of the Salmon River, O’Hara, Hall Island, Battle Hill and West Osceola state forests, which encompass 8,764 acres. The unit also includes the 36-acre Jackson Road Fishing access site and 151 acres of conservation easement lands covering Huckleberry and Burdick islands in the Salmon River Reservoir. Another 675 acres of land to be acquired in a pending acquisition from National Grid is part of the unit as well. These lands are located near the village of Redfield (north of the Salmon River Reservoir) and are in the towns of Orwell, Redfield, Osceola and Florence.
The five state forests covered by the proposed plan currently offer many recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, bird watching, fishing, hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and all terrain vehicle (ATV) access for people with mobility impairments. In addition, these forests are managed to sustain important natural resources including forest products, clean water, clean air and wildlife habitat.
The initial comment period for development of the draft UMP will end on July 5, 2009. However, comments will be accepted continuously throughout the plan development process. After the draft plans are completed, DEC will hold a formal public meeting to accept written and verbal comments.
An informational package is available. Requests for this package, comments and/or questions regarding development of the draft plan should be addressed to: Upper Salmon River UMP, NYSDEC, 2133 Salmon River Fish Hatchery, Altmar, NY, 13302. The public also may e-mail any comments or requests for informational packages to [email protected]
Rick Moody — author of Garden State, The Ice Storm, The Diviners and the memoir The Black Veil — will read from his most recent novel at 7 p.m. tonight at the Joan Weill Student Center of Paul Smith’s College. The event is free, sponsored by the Adirondack Center for Writing.
Kayaks are on roof racks and the Northern Forest Paddle Film Festival returns to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. Friday. There’ll be five shorts about canoeing, kayaking, waterways and the paddling life. Proceeds support the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. $8-12. April brings the spring whomp. Old-time fiddle and harmonica duo the Whompers are back in town, 7:30 Friday at BluSeed Studios, in Saranac Lake ($10). Musicians are invited to bring instruments for a second-set jam. On Saturday night, Whompers and friends play at the Red Tavern, in Duane. The place is off the grid and off the map, and the dancing goes late into the night.
In the pastoral hill country east of Glens Falls and west of Vermont, 10,000 spectators are expected to turn out Saturday and Sunday for the Tour of the Battenkill, the largest bike race in the country. Two thousand riders will blow through downtown Greenwich, Salem and Cambridge, but the real character of the race comes from remote dirt roads that have earned the event the nickname Battenkill-Roubaix, after the Paris Roubaix of France.
In Bolton Landing, Up Yonda Farm offers a guided Cabin Fever Hike at 1 p.m. Saturday. The walk winds through the farm’s trails to a vista overlooking Lake George. On Sunday the farm will offer Earth Day activities all day. $3; members free.
Monday through Thursday next week, days start warming at the greatest rate of the year. Impatient? At the Adirondack Museum at 1:30 Sunday, naturalist Ed Kanze presents “Eventually . . . the Adirondack Spring.” Free for members and kids; $5 everybody else.
On Monday the Lake Placid Center for the Arts begins a six-session life drawing course, 6-8:30 every Monday evening through May. $55. Call (518) 523-2512 to sign up. Gabriels artist Diane Leifheit runs the course. She will also offer pastel plein air evening classes beginning May 20 (sign up by May 11). The first session introduces pastels and materials, setting up to paint outdoors and mixing colors. The following four sessions will go on location around Lake Placid (weather permitting), capturing the early evening colors. $95. 6-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, through June 17.
The recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal, Richard Louv identified a phenomenon many suspected existed but couldn’t quite put their finger on: nature-deficit disorder. Louv is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, is coming to the Adirondacks on Saturday, May 2nd to discuss the future relationship between nature and children. Since its initial publication, Last Child in the Woods has created a national conversation about the disconnection between children and nature, and his message has galvanized an international movement. Now, three years later, we have reached a tipping point, with the book inspiring Leave No Child Inside initiatives throughout the country. According to Last Child in the Woods two out of ten of America’s children are clinically obese — four times the percentage of childhood obesity reported in the late 1960s. Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation. They are missing the opportunity to experience ‘free play’ outside in an unstructured environment that allows for exploration and expansion of their horizons through the use of their imaginations. In Sweden, Australia, Canada and the United States, studies of children in schoolyards with both green areas and manufactured play areas found that children engaged in more creative forms of play in the green areas.
Nature not only benefits children and ensures their participation and stewardship of nature as they grow into adults, nature helps entire families. Louv proposes, “Nature is an antidote. Stress reduction, greater physical health, a deeper sense of spirit, more creativity, a sense of play, even a safer life — these are the rewards that await a family when it invites more nature into children’s lives.”
In addition to Louv speaking about nature deficit disorder, more than twenty-five organizations from throughout the region will be present at the Wild Center to offer information, resources and inspiration for families. Through increasing confidence and knowledge in the outdoors, families can learn how easy it is to become reconnected with nature. Activities scheduled throughout the day on the 31-acre Tupper Lake campus will range from fly fishing and nature scavenger hunts to building a fort or just laying back and watching the clouds as they pass in the sky above.
Louv will also officially open The Pines nature play area at the Wild Center. The Pines is a new type of play area designed entirely with nature in mind. Kids are encouraged to explore the play area on their own terms and in their own time. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tomorrow is the traditional April 1 opening day for New York’s trout and salmon fishing seasons so DEC has issued tips and reminders for anglers heading out on opening day. Early season trout angling in the Adirondack region may be slow due to lingering cold weather and melting snow. Since many Adirondack ponds are likely to remain frozen for opening day, anglers should scout out areas beforehand. Here are DEC’s opening day fishing tips: Slow presentations using spinners or minnow-imitating lures and, where permitted, live bait, work well in the early season. Those preferring to fly fish will find that similar slow, deep presentations using weighted nymphs and streamers can be effective. Trout and salmon fishing on lakes and ponds is often best immediately after ice-out. Prime areas to fish are those locations that warm the earliest, including tributary mouths and near surface and shallow shoreline areas. Afternoons can be better than mornings during the early season, as the sun’s rays can significantly warm surface waters. Early season anglers are reminded to be extra cautious as high flows, ice and deep snow can make accessing and wading streams particularly hazardous. Remember that ice fishing is prohibited in trout waters, except as noted in the Fishing Regulations Guide.
Several hatchery improvement projects were completed last year. Most significant among these was the completion of an extensive pole-barn complex covering hatchery ponds at the Rome Fish Hatchery to reduce trout predation by birds. It is estimated that this project will save 50,000 to 100,000 fingerling trout annually from predatory birds and will lead to more efficient hatchery operations. Additional hatchery rehabilitation projects are planned for this upcoming year including the rebuilding of the main hatchery building at Rome. Rome Hatchery is one of DEC’s oldest and largest hatcheries, growing and stocking more than 650,000 yearling brown and brook trout annually.
Spring is a busy season for the DEC Hatchery System. From mid-March through mid-June, nine trout and salmon hatcheries stock fish five days a week using 30 state-of-the-art stocking trucks. Stocking of catchable-size trout generally commences in late March and early April in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island, and western/central New York, and then proceeds to the Catskills and Adirondacks. This year, DEC plans to stock more than 2.3 million legal-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout in 304 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams across the state. Approximately 100,000 two-year-old brown trout ranging from 12 to 15 inches in length will also be stocked into lakes and streams statewide.
More than 2 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon also will be stocked by DEC this spring to provide exciting angling opportunities over the next several years. For those who prefer a quieter more remote setting, 325,000 brook trout fingerlings will be stocked in 343 remote lakes and ponds this spring and fall to bolster “backwoods” fishing opportunities. For a complete list of waters planned to be stocked with trout this spring go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html. A listing of waters stocked with all sizes of trout last year can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30467.html. In addition to stocked waters, New York State has thousands of miles of wild trout streams that provide excellent fishing opportunities. Regional fisheries offices, which are listed in the Fishing Regulations Guide, can offer specific details about the locations and opportunities offered by these waters.
The general creel limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout is five fish per day and the open season for trout in most New York State waters runs from April 1 through Oct. 15. There are numerous exceptions however, so anglers should review the Fishing Regulations Guide before heading out to their favorite pond or stream.
A New York State fishing license is required for all anglers 16 years of age and older. Those looking to renew licenses can do so at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html or by calling 1-86-NY-DECALS. Fishing licenses can also be purchased from various sporting license outlets located throughout the state (town and county clerks, some major discount stores and many tackle and sporting goods stores).
When purchasing a fishing license, anglers should also consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, which is available to anyone for $5 from any sporting license issuing agent. Proceeds from sale of this stamp have funded many valuable trout stream access and habitat projects in New York, such as the development of a parking area and footpath on Felts Mill Creek in Jefferson County this past year.
For anglers seeking publicly accessible stream fishing locations, DEC continues to add to its inventory of public fishing rights (PFR) maps that can be downloaded from http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9924.html.
Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species and Diseases – With the recent discovery of the fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) in New York, and an invasive species of algae, didymo, in the Delaware River system and the Batten Kill, anglers are reminded of the important role that they play in preventing the spread of these and other potentially damaging invasive species and fish diseases. Please thoroughly dry equipment, particularly waders and wading shoes, for 48 hours before moving from water to water. If drying is not possible, equipment must be disinfected. One of the easiest and safest ways to disinfect gear is by soaking it for 10 minutes in a cleanser/disinfectant containing the ingredient alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. This ingredient is found in most common household antiseptic cleansers such as Fantastic, Formula 409 and Spray Nine. Anglers are also encouraged not to use felt-soled waders as they are more apt to transport didymo and other invasives than other forms of wading soles. For more information on invasive species and disinfection procedures, request a copy of the new DEC brochure “Anglers and Boaters: Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species and Fish Diseases in New York State” from your local DEC office.
New Baitfish Regulations Established to Protect New York Fisheries – Anglers are reminded that a new “Green List” of baitfish species that can be commercially collected and/or sold for fishing in any water body in New York where it is legal to use fish as bait has now been established in regulation. For a complete discussion of these regulations and how to identify these approved baitfish species, download the new brochure “Baitfish of New York State” at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/baitfishofny.pdf. 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. These new regulations have been established to stem the spread of non-native baitfish and dangerous fish diseases in New York State.
Best Bets for Trout Anglers in the Adirondacks:
DEC Region 5 – Adirondack trout streams are icy and there is plenty of snow in the mountains. A relatively mild thaw should clear the ice, but expect high stream flows until the snow pack is reduced. Best bets for early season angling in the southern part of the region are the Batten Kill, Kayaderosseras and Mettawee rivers. Catch-and-release regulations were enacted on the Batten Kill in 2004 from the Eagleville covered bridge to the Vermont state line. Year-round trout fishing is permitted in the catch-and-release section (artificial lures only). The lower two miles of the catch-and-release section will be stocked with two-year-old brown trout some time in May. A creel census of anglers will be conducted in 2009 to assess the fish population and the effectiveness of the catch-and-release regulations.
Many regional streams and rivers will be stocked in April and May. However, due to ice conditions, very few streams are stocked prior to opening day. If possible, yearling brook trout will be stocked in the Chateaugay River in Franklin County by April 1. The Chateaugay, Salmon and St. Regis rivers are scheduled for a creel census in 2009 to assess angler use and the fish population in these rivers. Rainbow trout might also be stocked in the Saranac River within the Village of Saranac Lake prior to April 1. Hundreds of smaller streams contain wild brook and brown trout. Fish slowly, especially if the water is cold, high, and swift. Contact the regional fisheries office for a brochure listing many of the wild trout streams in Region 5.
Remote ponds in the Adirondacks are rarely ice-free until mid-April or later, a pattern that is likely to hold this year. Once waters are ice-free and temperatures rise, surface trolling for salmon and lake trout is a good bet on the larger lakes. Brook trout pond fishing is good from ice-out through May. Anglers are reminded that in many Adirondack ponds the use of fish as bait is prohibited. For a list of these waters check the “Special Regulations by County” section in the Fishing Regulations Guide, or contact the DEC’s Region 5 Fisheries Office in Ray Brook at (518) 897-1333. A variety of leaflets are also available from the regional office including stocking lists for Region 5, top fishing waters, a list of reclaimed trout ponds, and others. For up-to-date information on fishing conditions in the region, anglers can access www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9219.html on the DEC web site. While browsing the Region 5 Fisheries website, be sure to check out the public fishing rights maps at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/32610.html for many area rivers. These maps can be downloaded and printed out to provide detailed locations for stream sections with purchased and deeded public rights for angling. Maps are also available from the regional office.
DEC Region 6 (Western Adirondacks)
The opening of trout season expands the region’s trout fishing beyond Lake Ontario and a select set of large lakes, to the rest of the region’s great variety of large and small streams, ponds and lakes. Region 6 includes the Western Adirondacks, Tug Hill, and the Black, Mohawk and St. Lawrence river valleys. The region’s wide diversity of water types provide habitat for everything from small headwater brook trout to large deepwater lake trout.
Stocking proceeds from the Mohawk Valley in mid-April north to St. Lawrence County throughout the month of May. The Oswegatchie River below Cranberry Lake is the only river in the region that is stocked prior to April 1, if conditions allow. The popular two-year-old brown trout stocking occurs in early May on some of the region’s larger, more accessible streams. Worms usually produce the best catches this time of year when the water temperatures are colder and the fish are more sluggish. Spinners and salted minnows also are popular lures. For best results, fish the pools and slow, deep riffles. Fishing in the late afternoon after the water has been warmed by the sun is also productive.
Lake Ontario tributaries should also offer good fishing conditions for steelhead. Try Stony Creek, North and South Sandy Creeks, Lindsey Creek, Skinner Creek and the Black River in Watertown, from the Mill Street dam down to the Village of Dexter. Use egg sacs, single hook spinners, wet flies and streamers.
Coldwater anglers in Region 6 should be aware of a few new regulations that are currently in effect. The catch-and-release section for trout on West Canada Creek in Herkimer and Oneida counties has been extended to the Route 28 bridge (Comstock Bridge) and is open year-round. A three-trout-creel limit with a minimum size limit of 12 inches has been established in Beardsley Lake (Montogomery and Herkimer Counties), Kyser Lake (Fulton and Herkimer Counties), and Stillwater Reservoir (Herkimer County). The catch-and-release season for trout on the West Branch St. Regis River in St. Lawrence County has also been extended to all year.
This year, Region 6 staff will be surveying approximately 25 remote brook trout ponds that contain stocked temiscamie hybrids to assess wild reproduction. This information will help guide future management of this unique resource.