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Tue., Oct. 6
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
Hooks and Antlers
By Mike Seymour
Johnson Newspapers
Hooks and Antlers

Hooks and Antlers: DEC promotes pheasant hunting with programs

First published: September 27, 2015 at 12:30 am
Last modified: September 27, 2015 at 12:30 am

Even though the ring-necked pheasant is a non-native species, the bird ranks as the number-one game bird among hunters in the United States’ farming regions.

Pheasants were introduced to the United States in 1881 when Judge Denny, American Consul General in China, sent 30 birds to his home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Because the birds did so well, Denny sent over another shipment of birds two years later.

On the east coast, pheasants were first stocked in 1888 on the Rutherford-Stuyvesant estate at Allamuchy, N.J., when the estate brought a gamekeeper by the name of Dunn and his pheasants to this country from Scotland. The Rutherford-Stuyvesant project was a success, which resulted in numerous birds escaping and breeding in the wild.


New York’s first-designated hunting season took place in 1908, but the glory days for pheasants were the late 1960s and early 1970s. Even though some pockets of wild pheasants exist today, populations are at an all-time low. Still, hunting opportunities exist throughout the state due to two DEC programs: Adult Pheasant Release Program (APRP) and Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program (DOCP).

The APRP is an annual stocking effort that sees 30,000 adult pheasants (18 weeks and older) released on 100 DEC-managed public-hunting areas across the state. Raised at the Reynolds Game Farm near Ithaca, birds are released prior to the opening of the regular pheasant season, although some sites see additional stockings during the season. Too, some pheasants are used for youth hunt weekends as well as special-sponsored hunts for people with disabilities, women, and novice hunters.

The DOCP involves 60,000 day-old chicks that are hatched at the Reynolds Game Farm and distributed to 160 cooperators who raise and release the birds. Cooperators include 4-H youths, sportsmen’s clubs, county federations, landowners, NYS Department of Corrections, and other individuals. All pheasants in the DOCP must be released on lands open for public hunting even though many of those lands are privately owned.


Seven traditional sites in the counties of St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis will see stockings for the 2015 pheasant season that opens on Oct. 1. The St. Lawrence County sites are Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Canton, Wilson Hill WMA in Louisville, and Fish Creek WMA in Macomb, while the Jefferson County locations are Perch River WMA in Brownville, Ashland WMA in Cape Vincent, and French Creek WMA in Clayton. The lone site in Lewis County is the East Martinsburg Road in Martinsburg.

Pheasants will be released at various locations at Upper and Lower Lakes WMA, including along County Route 14, State Highway 68, Irish Settlement Road, and the public hunting area off the McAdoo Road (CR 16).

At Wilson Hill WMA, pheasants will be released in the upland areas surrounding the open-marsh pools. Special regulations are in effect for this WMA, so hunters should check the posted rules at the kiosk in front of the check-station building.

Stocking locations at Fish Creek WMA include the fields with access roads off the West Lake Road and off State Highway 58.

At the 7,862-acre Perch River WMA, pheasants will be released along the Dog Hill Road and both sides of the Vaadi Road where hunting regulations are posted at the check station and there is self-sign in.

For more information on DEC pheasant programs and stockings, visit

Outdoors Calendar

Thursday: Deadline for Deer Management Permit applications.

Thursday: Turkey Season opens in Northern Zone.

Thursday: Pheasant, Rabbit,and Hare seasons open in Northern Zone.

Thursday: Early Bowhunting Season opens in Southern Zone.

Saturday: Duck Season opens in Northeast Zone.

Saturday: SLR Valley Ducks Unlimited hosts Sportsmen’s Night Out Heuvelton VFD (854-4150 or 212-0728).


National day celebrates conservation advocates

First published: September 20, 2015 at 1:05 am
Last modified: September 20, 2015 at 1:05 am
Matt Zappia of Massena went out fishing with his parents and caught his first walleye onboard Muskie Magic Charters with captain Don Lucas.  

This Saturday marks the 44th annual celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day, a day intended to acknowledge the conservation and economic importance of sportsmen and women across the country.

More than a century ago, hunters and anglers were supporters of conservation and wildlife management, and those early efforts gained momentum with the support of President Theodore Roosevelt. Their combined efforts resulted in laws restricting the commercial slaughter of wildlife, the concept of sustainable use of fish and game, the creation of hunting and fishing licenses, and taxation on sporting equipment to provide funds for state conservation agencies.

These actions evolved into today’s wildlife conservation model that is characterized by a science-based, user-pay system. Yes, hunting and fishing are user-pay activities as hunters and anglers pay for fish, wildlife and habitat programs through license fees, permit fees, and special taxes on all of their outdoors-related purchases. In essence, no other group contributes more for conservation.

NHF Day Origins

Despite being major players in our nation’s conservation movement, there was minimal awareness of their contributions. That changed when Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, suggested that there should be a special day to thank sportsmen and when Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe’s idea and created “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day” in the state in 1970.

From here, the National Shooting Sports Foundation undertook efforts to have the concept brought to the floor of the U.S. Senate. In June of 1971, Senator Thomas McIntyre (New Hampshire) introduced a resolution calling for the authorization of the fourth Saturday of every September as NHF Day. Representative Bob Sikes (Florida) introduced an identical measure in the House, and Congress unanimously passed both bills in 1972.

In May of 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the first proclamation of NHF Day. He wrote, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”

Since its inception, NHF Day has been formally proclaimed by every U. S. President.

NHF Day Co-Chairs

Each year NHF Day officials select a celebrity to serve as honorary chair, and these celebrities volunteer their time to help spotlight the conservation accomplishments of sportsmen and women. On Saturday’s NHF Day will have honorary co-chairs, the father-daughter team of Jim and Eva Shockey, two recognizable figures in the outdoor industry as they are co-hosts of the popular series “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures.”

Jim, a world-class big-game hunter, is also the host of the Outdoor Channel series “Jim Shockey’s Uncharted,” which documents hunting adventures in the most remote reaches of the world.

“It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the hunt, but we, as hunters and anglers, need to remember what it takes to generate such beauty,” Jim said. “We have a duty to conserve our heritage and that starts by recognizing the efforts of those before us and establishing a mindset of conservation in the next generation of outdoorsmen.”

When Eva was featured on the cover of Field and Stream, she became just the second female to appear on the cover in the magazine’s 119-year history. This NHF Day co-chair is a strong advocate for female hunters looking to get into the sport, and she travels more than 250 days a year pursuing her love of hunting and spending time in the outdoors.

“Growing up, my dad always instilled a passion to conserve the natural resources that we often take for granted,” said Eva. “As a woman of the outdoors, I see the value in keeping and expanding the natural resources that we have to enjoy. NHF Day is a great way to stop and observe those who came before and the efforts taken by those to conserve our lands and waterways.”

NHF Day at Salmon River Hatchery

In recognition of NHF Day the DEC Salmon River Hatchery is hosting its 20th annual open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and admission is free. The day’s events include environmental education programs and displays, hatchery tours, fly-fishing demonstrations, fish petting zoo, fishing instruction, and outdoor-related vendors.

The hatchery is located at 2133 County Route 22 in Altmar, and more information is available by calling the hatchery at 298-7605.

Friday: September Canada Goose season closes in Northeast Goose Hunting Area.

Saturday: North Country Chapter of Ruffed Grouse Society’s annual sportsmnen’s banquet in Malone (518-521-4559).

Saturday: Youth pheasant hunt at Upper and Lower Lakes WMA (323-2107 or 528-7787).

Saturday-Sunday 26-27: Youth pheasant hHunt in northern and eastern New York.

Sunday: Early bowhunting season opens in Northern Zone.

October 1: Deadline for Deer Management Permit applications.

October 1: Turkey Season opens in Northern Zone.

October 1: Pheasant, Rabbit,and Hare seasons open in Northern Zone.

October 1: Early Bowhunting Season opens in Southern Zone.

October 3: Duck Season opens in Northeast Zone.

October 3: SLR Valley Ducks Unlimited hosts Sportsmen’s Night Out Heuvelton VFD (854-4150 or 212-0728).

October 5: Black Lake Panfish Marathon concludes.

October11: First portion of Duck Season closes in Northeast Zone.


Hooks and Antlers: Ruffed grouse challenging quarry in autumn woods

First published: September 13, 2015 at 1:13 am
Last modified: September 13, 2015 at 1:13 am

The startle caused by an erupting bird and the ensuing erratic flight pattern through thick foliage combine to make the ruffed grouse a challenging quarry for autumn hunters.

One study of New York grouse hunters revealed that hunters averaged just over an hour of field time per flushed bird, and only one out of 11 flushed grouse was actually harvested. In essence, the action on most hunts is measured in number of flushes rather than the number of birds taken.

Many hunters refer to their activity as “partridge hunting,” but no matter whether the bird is called a partridge or a grouse, early season is an excellent time to go afield.

For one thing, current populations are at a seasonal high. Also, grouse are extremely active now as they spend good portions of the daylight hours in feeding areas. And unlike the winter when the majority of a grouse’s day is spent roosting in conifer stands, autumn finds birds spending most of their time on the ground.


Grouse feed on a variety of items, but two autumn favorites worth keying on are fruits and berries. Like white-tailed deer, grouse favor edges so hunters should seek out the edges of clearings, trails, logging roads, swamps, orchards, fields, alder stands, aspen stands, deciduous/coniferous stands, and mature/new growth.

Grouse are wary creatures so hunters should proceed slowly and quietly, constantly using their eyes and ears. Sometimes a hunter can locate a male bird by the sound of his drumming wings. A popular strategy is the stop-and-go as birds that might otherwise let a hunter walk by flush upon the stop or the go.

Veteran grousers know the importance of always being ready, and once a bird is flushed, the hunter should pay attention to the bird’s path as grouse rarely make long flights. Often a second opportunity presents itself, and this time the hunter might have 20-percent odds for success rather than the more typical 10 percent.

A well-trained dog can enhance any grouse hunt. Not only are the odds of locating birds increased, but the hunter also has the joy of sharing the hunt with a loyal companion. When a pair of hunters pursues grouse, one hunter often takes on the role of dog as he works his way through thickets hoping to flush a bird to his partner who takes the easier path. Such a strategy calls for hunters to wear blaze orange and for the shooter to always know his target and beyond.

Since grouse hunters cover a lot of ground, they are reminded to go light and to wear a comfortable pair of boots. Prior to heading afield, a hunter who practices some “snap shooting” at the range increases the chances of putting a grouse or two in the game bag. Success for the grouse hunter, however, is not measured in the number of birds in the game bag. Rather, it is measured in the number of hours spent in the glory of the autumn woods.


The North Country Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is hosting the 3rd Annual Conservation and Sportsmen’s Banquet on Saturday, Sept. 26 at Mo’s Pub and Grill on Route 11, Malone.

Social hour kicks off at 6 p.m. and dinner is set for 7:30. All proceeds from the event will be used to support the sporting traditions through the creation of healthy woodland habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and other forest wildlife.

Banquet cost is $65 for RGS membership and dinner, $90 for RGS membership and two dinners (spouse), and $45 for junior membership (17 and under) and dinner. For more information contact Corey Bowen at 518-521-4559 or at Information on the banquet and the RGS is also available at

Outdoors Calendar

Saturday: Early Bear Season opens in designated Northern Zone WMUs.

Saturday-Sunday: Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days in Northeast Zone.

Saturday-Sunday: Syracuse Gun Show at State Fairgrounds (426-8741).

Sunday: Ruffed Grouse Season opens across Northern Zone.

Sept. 25: September Canada Goose Season closes in Northeast Goose Hunting Area.

Sept. 26: North Country Chapter of Ruffed Grouse Society’s Annual Sportsmen’s Banquet in Malone (518-521-4559).

Sept. 26: Youth Pheasant Hunt at Upper and Lower Lakes WMA (323-2107 or 528-7787).

Sept. 26-27: Youth Pheasant Hunt in northern and eastern New York.

Sept. 27: Early Bowhunting Season opens in Northern Zone.

Oct. 1: Deadline for Deer Management Permit applications.

Oct. 1: Turkey Season opens in Northern Zone.

Oct. 1: Pheasant, Rabbit,and Hare seasons open in Northern Zone.

Oct. 3: Duck Season opens in Northeast Zone.

Oct. 5: Black Lake Panfish Marathon concludes.


Hunters will see changes in turkey, deer regulations

First published: August 16, 2015 at 12:30 am
Last modified: August 15, 2015 at 7:07 pm

The new sporting-license season begins on Sept. 1, bringing a number of September hunting opportunities. Hunters will also see several changes in the fall turkey and the deer hunting regulations for 2015-16.

September Seasons

Sept. 1 marks the traditional opening of squirrel season across New York state as well as the opening of Early Canada Goose season in the Northeast Goose Hunting Area.

The Northern Zone’s Early Bear season begins on Sept. 19 while the Youth Waterfowl Hunt runs on Sept. 19-20 in the Northeastern Zone.

Sept. 20 sees the opening of Ruffed Grouse Season across the Northern Zone, and Northern New York’s Youth Pheasant Hunt is slated for Sept. 26-27. Finally, Early Bowhunting season for deer opens on Sept. 27.

Fall Turkey

Because of a significant decline in the wild turkey population since the peak around the turn of the century, DEC has opted to tighten up the fall hunting regulations for wild turkey.

In the past, fall seasons have varied in length from two to six weeks for different parts of the state, and hunters in much of the state were allowed to take two birds of either sex.

New regulations allow for a two-week season in the fall and for a season bag limit of one bird of either sex.

The season in the Northern Zone runs from Oct. 1-14 while the Southern Zone’s season extends from Oct. 17-30.

Wildlife Management Unit 6A

For the most part, deer regulations for Northern Zone hunters will remain as they have been in recent years; however, a major change is in store for muzzleloaders who hunt Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 6A.

That unit extends from Malone to Alexandria Bay, and it includes the portions of Franklin, St. Lawrence, and Jefferson counties that lie between Route 11 and the St. Lawrence River.

A number of years ago, a Deer Task Force recommended that DEC take steps to increase deer numbers in WMU 6A.

When deer numbers did not increase, DEC stopped issuing Deer Management permits for the unit.

Still, deer numbers did not grow to desired levels because muzzleloaders were taking so many antlerless deer.

As a result, new muzzleloading regulations for 2015 allow hunters to take only antlered deer in WMU 6A during the Early Muzzleloading season that runs from Oct. 17-23.

Hunters previously may take a deer of either sex in WMU 6A during the Early Bowhunting season and during the Late Muzzleloading season.

Hunters should also note that regulations for WMU 6N, an area that includes much of Lewis County and eastern portions of Jefferson and Oswego counties, allows hunters to shoot only antlered deer during the Early Muzzloading season.

Antlerless Deer Only

Unlike many WMUs in the Northern Zone, particularly in the Adirondack Region, a number of Southern Zone units have too many deer, and hunters are not harvesting enough of them to reach desired quotas.

In an effort to take more antlerless deer in those units, hunters may shoot only antlerless deer during the first 15 days of the Early Archery season (Oct. 1-15) and during the Late Archery and Late Muzzleloading seasons (Dec. 14-22).

The affected WMUs are 3M, 4J, 8A, 8C, 8F, 8G, 8H, 8N, 9A, and 9F.

Hunting and Trapping Guide

The 2015-16 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide is currently available at license-issuing agents, and I was pleased to see a trapping photo on this year’s cover.

That photo shows Trapper Education instructor Tom Delisle demonstrating the proper handling of body-gripping trap to Melanie Zusy at last year’s Eastern Youth Trapping Camp.

Outdoors Calendar

Today-Oct. 5 — Panfish Marathon at Black Lake (375-8640; 541-3720).

Monday — Trap and skeet shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday — Trap shooting at Gouverneur R&G Club at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday — Trap shooting at Black Lake F&G at 7 p.m.

Saturday — Northern New York Bassmasters Tournament on St. Lawrence River at Ogdensburg (

Saturday — Fifth Annual Biggest Bass Fishing Tournament at Chaumont Bay state boat launch to benefit Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (782-2451).

Saturday — Outdoor Adventure Day at Fort Drum Natural Resource Permit Building (Free and open to public).

Aug. 29 — Outdoor Heritage Family Rendezvous at Black Lake F&G Association (

Sept. 1 — New license year begins.


Hooks and Antlers: Fishing helps build bond with outdoors

First published: August 09, 2015 at 12:49 am
Last modified: August 09, 2015 at 12:49 am

The obligations and routines of everyday life tend to keep people away from the natural world, and this is where fishing can fill a void in one’s life. Fishing gets us out in nature, and spending time in nature reduces stress and improves one’s quality of life. Also, fishing is a natural human act that allows us to be active participants in the natural world where our senses come alive, we encounter wildlife in its natural habitat, we become one with the weather, and we experience an array of positive emotions.


Angling brings our senses to life. Our eyes view the colors and movements of water, the miracle of sunrise, the brilliance of sunset, fabulous formations of drifting clouds, distant shorelines, ascending mountain peaks, and more. Our noses gather the scents of fresh air, earthy shoreline, nearby vegetation, campfires, and hopefully fish essence on our hands.

Our ears hear the bubbling brook, lapping waves, chirping songbirds, quacking mallards, calling gulls, splashing fish, and swaying treetops. Our body feels the warmth of the sun, the freshness of the wind, the moisture of the rain, and the gentleness of the earth, sand, and water at our feet. Our taste buds enjoy the delightful flavor of lunch, a meal that is always more enjoyable at water’s edge. And if things go well, the angler also gets to enjoy a savory meal of fresh fish at day’s end.


Encountering wildlife goes hand in hand with fishing ventures. Common sightings of winged creatures, who are also fishermen, include terns, fish hawks, ospreys, herons, eagles, mergansers, and cormorants. Then there are gulls, geese, mallards, and more. Muskrats, mink, beavers, and otters inhabit fish-holding waters and shorelines. Chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, and white-tailed deer make their way to the water’s edge, too. And if one is fortunate enough to fish in such places as Yellowstone, Quebec, or Alaska, he or she may encounter creatures such as moose, caribou, elk, black bears, brown bears, and wolves.


Except for extreme weather conditions such as wind storms and ice storms, we are pretty much weather-proof as a society today. For anglers, however, weather is very important because our sport demands that we spend time in the natural elements, and not in a man-made structure. The weather affects such decisions as whether to even venture forth, where to go, and how to dress. Thunderstorms, drizzles, wind direction, wind strength, water temperature, and air temperature impact our decision making, so the weather channel and other informational sources become an intimate part of our lives.

As an angler becomes more immersed in the sport, he or she will learn how weather impacts fish-activity levels, what conditions make for good fishing, and what conditions mean the likelihood of a less productive outing.


Angling, like other sports, elicits emotional experiences. All fishing ventures begin with high anticipation, hopefully consist of the thrill of the catch, and conclude with the satisfaction of time spent in the outdoors. Experiences may range from total relaxation in a lawn chair at the neighborhood park to extreme adventure at a remote Alaska lake. An individual who fishes is a person who is emotionally alive.


This writer encourages all anglers to grab their fishing gear and head to the water in the coming days. After all, we are in the second week of August, and it’s only a matter of weeks before our weekends will likely become occupied with the fall sports seasons and fall hunting seasons.

Outdoors Calendar

Today-Oct. 5: Panfish Marathon at Black Lake (375-8640; 541-3720).

Monday: Hunting and trapping licenses go on sale for 2015-16 seasons.

Monday: Trap and skeet shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Trap shooting at Gouverneur R&G Club at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Trap shooting at Black Lake F&G at 7 p.m.

Aug. 15-16: Clayton-1000 Islands Rotary Club’s 38th Annual Gun & Sportsmen’s Show at Clayton Arena.

Aug. 20-22: International St. Lawrence Junior Carp Tournament (386-4000).

Aug. 22: Northern New York Bassmasters Tournament on St. Lawrence River at Ogdensburg (

Aug. 22: Fifth Annual Biggest Bass Fishing Tournament at Chaumont Bay state boat launch to benefit Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (782-2451).

Aug. 22: Outdoor Adventure Day at Fort Drum Natural Resource Permit Building (Free and open to public).

Aug. 29: Outdoor Heritage Family Rendezvous at Black Lake F&G Association (


St. Lawrence River walleye tournament starts Saturday

First published: August 02, 2015 at 1:34 am
Last modified: August 02, 2015 at 1:34 am

The 14th annual St. Lawrence River Walleye Challenge Team Tournament is slated for Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Massena Intake boat launch.

Sponsored by the St. Lawrence River Walleye Association (SLRWA), the event promotes the river’s top-notch walleye fishing and helps develop camaraderie among walleye anglers while also raising funds for the group’s walleye-stocking efforts.

The Challenge is a two-person-team competition, with the winning teams determined by the total weight of three walleyes. The entry-fee payout schedule includes 50-percent payback for first place, 30-percent payback for second place, and 20-percent payback for third place. In addition, the winning teams will receive plaques and SLRWA hats, and numerous door prizes will be awarded.

Registration takes place on Friday at the Massena Rod and Gun Club (Patterson Road) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The entry fee is $50 per team, with an additional $10 restocking fee for non-SLRWA members. Also, there is an optional big-fish contest with an entry fee of $20 per team. The biggest walleye earns that team the Big Fish title, 100 percent payout of entry fees, and a plaque.

Tournament rules will be reviewed at the Friday sign-up at which time teams will draw their boat numbers. Fishing hours fun from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m., and all teams must be present in the water at the Massena Intake by 5:45 a.m. for an “ease-off” as the launch bay is a no-wake area.

Boundaries for the Challenge include both American and Canadian waters from the Iroquois Dam at Waddington to the top side of the Robert Moses Dam at Massena. If anglers plan to fish in Canada, they should report to Canadian Customs by calling (888) 226-7277. In the event of poor weather conditions, a rain date has been set for Aug. 9.

Tournament organizers request safety, integrity, and sportsmanship from all participants.

For more information, call 384-3450 or 705-2181, or e-mail Information is also available at

2014 Challenge Winners

Mike Bradish and Rob Eddy will defend their 2014 Walleye Challenge title, which they won last year with a three-fish weight of 17.01 pounds. The Bradish-Eddy team also did welll in 2013, earning the third-place spot.

The team of Rob Barkley and Eric Prashaw placed second last August with a 16.02-pound catch, while Larry and Brandon Greenwood entered a 12.01-pound catch for the third-place cash prize.

Bassmasters at Oneida Lake

Syracuse’s Oneida Lake will be the site of Bass Pro Shops Northern Open, which runs Thursday through Saturday

The event features 199 pro anglers competing for prize money and the chance to qualify for the 2016 Bassmaster Classic.

New York angler Jim Bianchi won the 2013 Northern Open at Oneida where he weighed in 52 pounds, 7 ounces of bass. Most of Bianchi’s winning catch were largemouth bass, and the majority of anglers are expected to pursue largemouth bass this week in their efforts to win the event.

Because of early summer’s cooler-than-normal water temperatures, weed growth has been slow on Oneida Lake, as well as on other area waters. Less weed growth means that anglers will find the largemouth bass more concentrated than normal. For example, areas that might typically contain 20 acres of vegetation might have only several acres of weeds at this point of the summer.

Even though Oneida’s largemouth bass run larger than the smallmouth bass there, some anglers will target bronzebacks. During the summer, Oneida’s smallmouths hang out near rock shoals and humps, but the fish tend to focus on schools of baitfish rather than actual structure.

Fishing gets underway at 6 a.m. daily, with the Thursday and Friday weigh-ins held at Oneida Shores Park at 2 p.m. The final weigh-in on Day 3 will be held at Bass Pro Shops in Auburn at 3:15 p.m. For up-to-date information, visit



Today: Final weigh-in for Bassmasters Elite Series on the St. Lawrence River at Waddington at 3:15 p.m.

Today-October 5: Panfish marathon at Black Lake (375-8640; 541-3720).

Monday: Trap and skeet shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Trap shooting at Gouverneur R&G Club at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Trap shooting at Black Lake F&G at 7 p.m.

Thursday-Saturday: Bass Pro Shops BASS Northern Open at Oneida Lake.

Saturday: SLRWA 14th Annual Walleye Challenge Team Tournament at Massena Intake (384-3450).

Saturday: Northern New York Bassmasters Tournament at Cranberry Lake (

August 10: Hunting and trapping licenses go on sale for 2015-16 seasons.

August 15-16: Clayton-1000 Islands Rotary Club’s 38th Annual Gun & Sportsmen’s Show at Clayton Arena.

August 22: Outdoor Adventure Day at Fort Drum Natural Resource Permit Building (free and open to public).

August 29: Outdoor Heritage Family Rendezvous at Black Lake F&G Association (


Hooks and Antlers: Time of day affects fish feeding habits

First published: July 19, 2015 at 12:59 am
Last modified: July 19, 2015 at 12:59 am

The time of day can affect angling success.

There’s a saying among the fishing fraternity that the best time to go fishing is whenever you can. That thinking bears an element of truth, but certain times of the day do offer better odds for success than others.

With the stable water temperatures of midsummer, fish tend to remain in a general area that meets their safety, feeding, and comfort needs.

In this temporary “home range,” fish develop a routine of resting, moving, feeding, and avoiding predators. Even though various factors such as wind velocity, wind direction, barometric pressure, moon phase, cloud cover, sunshine, boat activity, angling pressure, and more play an important role in affecting fish moods and behaviors, anglers are advised to consider that time of day also plays a vital role in fish-activity levels and the likelihood of an angler finding fish at line’s end.

Today’s column takes a general look at how time of day affects fish-activity levels.


While in their home areas, many species become active at dawn and dusk, times of change in the degrees of light and dark.

At dawn, fish become active as they seek food and then shelter prior to the brighter conditions of midday. Prior to dusk, fish do their final feeding before settling in for the night. In muskellunge circles, the hours at dusk are often called the “magic hours” because they offer the day’s best odds of hooking up. In essence, low light makes for better fishing, and the hours around dawn and dusk reliably produce those conditions.


Close behind dawn and dusk as prime fishing times are the early morning and early morning hours. The morning hours can be especially productive during the warm-water temperatures of summer. While the morning hours see significant activity from nearly all game fish species, that period is excellent when pursuing the largest predators in a water system. Summer’s warm water temperatures also make the early evening excellent fishing hours as lakes and rivers seem to come alive with insect hatches, baitfish activity, and feeding fish. Also, on those days when the wind makes for difficult conditions, the evening hours often see that wind die down.


For the most part, the midday hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. are considered the poorest fishing period of the day, particularly during the summer months.

Exceptions do exist, though, as fishing can be good in stained waters where sunlight increases visibility and in cold waters where the midday sun warms the shallows and surface layer. During the spring, fall, and winter, the midday lull is less pronounced than it is at this time of year.


While many species such as yellow perch lie low during the hours of darkness, some species are very active and offer good fishing opportunities. Generally, night fishing is best when water temperatures are warm, although the warming temperatures of late spring and the onset of cooling temperatures in early autumn also lure these same species towards the shallows where they actively feed.

Among the species commonly pursued after dark are brown trout in streams, largemouth bass on surface lures, bullheads in soft-bottomed areas, catfish in river holes, and crappies around lighted fixtures such as bridges. Also, structural edges are prime locations for taking walleyes, rock bass, and muskellunge under the cover of darkness.

While bullheads and catfish rely on their senses of smell and touch for after-dark feeding, walleyes rely on their special low-light vision for night feeding.

Species such as rock bass and muskellunge have large eyes that allow for taking in light so they, too, commonly pursue prey after dark.

Outdoors Calendar

Monday: Trap and skeet shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Trap shooting at Gouverneur R&G Club at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Trap shooting at Black Lake F&G at 7 p.m.

July 25-26: Gun Show, Flea Market and St. Lawrence County Trappers Rendezvous at the Massena Rod & Gun Club, Patterson Road, Massena.

July 30-Aug. 2: B.A.S.S. Elite Series on the St. Lawrence River at Waddington.

Aug. 8: SLRWA 14th Annual Walleye Challenge Team Tournament at Massena Intake (384-3450).

Aug. 8: Northern New York Bassmasters Tournament at Cranberry Lake (

Aug. 15-16: Clayton-1,000 Islands Rotary Club’s 38th Annual Gun & Sportsmen’s Show at Clayton Arena.


State waters rank among nation’s best bass lakes

First published: July 12, 2015 at 12:55 am
Last modified: July 12, 2015 at 12:55 am
HOOKED -Attorney Anne Weaver caught a nice 42” Muskie on the St. Lawrence River on opening day. It was her first Muskie and now she’s hooked. Promising to come back to the area with her children again to fish. The fish was caught on a charter with Let’s Go Fishin’ Another with Ed Reyes.

Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” New York bass anglers can exclaim, “There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home.”

After all, Bassmasters just released its annual ranking of the 100 Best Bass Lakes, and that list includes six New York state waters, three of which are ranked in the top 20. Those waters and their respective rankings are St. Lawrence River (8), Lake Champlain (14), Lake Erie (19), Oneida Lake (40), Cayuga Lake (61) and Chautauqua Lake (79).

St. Lawrence River

Commenting on the Thousand Islands 50-mile stretch of the river’s top-ten ranking, Bassmasters wrote: “A more picturesque fishing destination you will not find. It seems for each of the islands poking out of this section of the St. Lawrence River, a dozen 5-pound smallies exist. It took more than 50-10 to win a September 2014 BFL event here, and you had to average more than 18 pounds over the two days to be in the Top 10. And this is more than a trophy fishery, as you likely will be tired of setting the hook and fighting better-than-average brown bass at the end of a fishing day.”

Lake Champlain

New York shares the 490-square miles of Lake Champlain with Vermont, and Bassmasters explained this lake’s 14th-place ranking by writing: “The smallmouth in this giant body of water are almost as big as Champ, the lake monster that supposedly lives here. It’s now taking 20 pounds of brown bass to win derbies here. That said, some anglers are starting to mix in some largemouth, which are thriving in the shallows of this beast.”

Lake Erie

The 30-mile radius of Lake Erie out of Buffalo earned that portion of the lake a 19th-best-bass-lake rating, and even though Bassmasters utilized up-to-date 2015 fishing reports in its evaluative process, they noted: “It seemed ice would never melt from this section of the Great Lake this year. But, once it did, the smallmouth fishing heated up in a hurry. No tournament results are available yet, but a writer’s event here in May yielded scads of 4-pound-class fish, with a handful topping 5 pounds, and two exceeding 6 (Not bad for outdoor writers.).”

Oneida Lake

Commenting on 40th-ranked Oneida Lake and its 79.8 square miles, Bassmasters noted: “Although this historically awesome lake has not yet returned to its best form, it’s headed that way. Ice-out was a few days later this year than it was last, so bass fishing hadn’t really revved up as of this writing. That said, looking at summer through fall tournaments here last year, weights are climbing back to glory levels for this lake. A mid-July derby took 18.40 to win, and the top 37 teams had more than 14 pounds. And remember, the smallmouth and largemouth get equal billing here; you can win with either species.”

Cayuga Lake

The 38-mile-long and 3.5-mile-wide Cayuga Lake earned a 61st-place ranking, and Bassmasters wrote: “This is the longest of New York’s famed Finger Lakes. It’s also the best for targeting largemouth. Ask Greg Hackney how good it can be; he won the 2014 Elite Series event here with a four-day total of 85 pounds.”

Chautauqua Lake

Covering 13,156 acres, Western New York’s Chautauqua Lake merited a 79th-place ranking. Commenting on the lake, Bassmasters wrote: “According to the New York fisheries folks, this may be one of the healthiest lakes in the state. Both largemouth and smallmouth thrive here, and anglers can focus on shallow grass or deep structure to catch them. Don’t expect the fish of a lifetime from this fishery; instead, expect a whole bunch of fish in the 2-to 3-pound range.”

Toledo Bend

Toledo Bend along the Texas/Louisiana border ranks as America’s number one bass lake. Elite Series pro Mark Davis of Arkansas said of this 185,000-acre lake: “There are fish in this lake that will be born and then die of old age and never see a lure. I guarantee it.” Bassmasters wrote: “But the real tale of the tape for the new best bass lake in America comes from the 2014-15 Toledo Bend Lake Association Lunker Bass Program data. This group gives a bass replica to any angler who brings a live bass over 10 pounds to an official weigh station on either the Texas or Louisiana side of the lake. Between May 18, 2014 and April 24, 2015, 79 bass in the double digits were certified.”

Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin ranked number two on the list while Michigan’s Lake St. Clair earned the third spot.

For more information on the best bass lakes list, visit



Monday: Trap and skeet shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday—Trap shooting at Gouverneur R&G Club at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Trap shooting at Black Lake F&G at 7 p.m.

July 17-18—Clayton’s 47th Annual Decoy and Wildlife Art Show.

July 18: Ogdensburg Seaway Festival Kids Fishing Derby at Greenbelt Docks at 9:30 a.m.

July 19: Ogdensburg Seaway Festival 5th Annual Sandbar Classic Fishing Derby.

July 19: Colton Youth Fishing Derby (Kevin Lamora at 262-0899).

July 30-August 2: B.A.S.S. Elite Series on the St. Lawrence River at Waddington.

August 8: SLRWA 14th Annual Walleye Challenge Team Tournament at Massena Intake (384-3450).


Top B.A.S.S. anglers will compete on St. Lawrence River at Waddington

First published: July 05, 2015 at 12:56 am
Last modified: July 05, 2015 at 12:56 am
FAMILY TRADITION - Ben Rolfe Carol Rolfe Rosie turnbull and jim Rolfe took part in the St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmans Club Bass Derby as a family tradition.

For the second time in three years, the world’s top 100 bass anglers will converge on Waddington to compete in the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at the S. Lawrence River, July 30 through August 2.

When the elite anglers fished the St. Lawrence in 2013, they had high praise for the quality of fishing, the beauty of the river, and the friendliness of area residents and businesses.

Similarly, weigh-in attendees were impressed by the fish catches and the professionalism of the elite anglers.

Elite 2015 Schedule

B.A.S.S. has eight Elite Tournaments on the 2015 schedule. To date five tournaments have been completed, and Waddington is next on the schedule with the final two events taking place in August on Chesapeake Bay at Cecil County, Maryland and on Lake St. Clair in Detroit.

Chris Lane of Guntersville, Ala., won the initial Elite Tournament held on the Sabine River in Orange, Texas in mid-March while Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., finished first in the second event held on Lane’s home water of Lake Guntersville in mid-April. Justin Lucas, also of Guntersville, claimed the top spot at the Sacramento River Elite in California in early May. Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., won the fourth tournaments at Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City, Arizona also in early May, and Edwin Evers of Talada, Okl. placed first at the Kentucky Lake Elite in Paris, Tenn., in early June.

Angler of the Year Standings

Heading into the St. Lawrence River Elite, Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu, Ariz. leads in Angler of the Year (AOY) points with 424. Rojas placed third on the Sacramento River and sixth on his home water of Lake Havasu while finishing 19th, 11th, and 46th in the other tournaments, respectively. In addition to qualifying for 13 Bassmaster Classics, Rojas is approaching the $2-million mark in tournament winnings.

Having won the Sacramento River Elite and earned top-ten finishes at the Sabine River and Lake Havasu, Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Ala., is second in AOY standings at 421 points. Lucas also has 2015 Elite finishes of 30th and 38th. He has one Classic appearance despite 2015 marking only his second year on the Elite trail.

Third place belongs to Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., who sits at 420 points, just a single point behind Lucas. Martens boasts of a first-place finish at Lake Havasu, a second-place finish at Sacramento River, a third-place finish at Sabine River, and a 15th-place finish at Kentucky Lake, while placing 66th at Lake Guntersville. Martens has two AOY titles to his credit as well as 16 Classic appearances and tournament earnings of $2.4 million.

Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., sits in fourth place with 356 points due to an eighth-place finish at Lake Guntersville and respectable finishes of 20th, 22nd, 45th, and 60th at the other Elite events.Vinson has fished in three Classics and has earned over half a million dollars on tour.

With 354 AOY points, Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., claims the fifth spot. Despite an 87th-place finish at Sabine, Ehrler stepped up his performance with finishes of ninth, 28th, 13th, and 16th respectively at the last four Elite tournaments. This year marks Ehrler’s rookie season on the Elite tour although the angler does have a Forrest Wood Cup win on his resume.

A single point behind Ehrler is Cliff perch of Payson, AZ. Pirch had a second-place finish at Lake Havasu and a seventh-place finish at the Sacramento River while placing 40th, 40th, and 69th in the other events. This angler has two Classic appearances to his credit.

After a disappointing year in 2014, Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., has rebounded to seventh place in the current AOL standings. The four-time Classic champion placed 46th and 45th at Sabine and Guntersville before finishing 13th at Sacramento, 58th at Havasu, and 2nd at Kentucky. VanDam’s resume boasts of 24 Classic appearances and tournament earnings approaching $6 million.

Mike Iaconelli of Pittsgrove, N.J. will be looking to move up from 44th place in the standings. The animated angler has 16 Classic appearances, a Classic championship, and $2.3 million in earnings.

Brandon Palaniuk, winner of the 2013 Elite event on the St. Lawrence River, currently stands in 50th place. The Hayden, Iaho resident has appeared in five Classics and will looking to defend his Waddington title.

Outdoors Calendar

Monday: Trap and skeet shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Trap shooting at Gouverneur R&G Club at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Trap shooting at Black Lake F&G at 7 p.m.

Saturday: Bob Moss Memorial Bass Derby sponosred by Redwood United Methodist Church at Redwood Fire Hall.

July 17-18: Clayton’s 47th Annual Decoy and Wildlife Art Show.

July 18: Ogdensburg Seaway Festival Kids Fishing Derby at Greenbelt Docks at 9:30 a.m.

July 19: Ogdensburg Seaway Festival 5th Annual Sandbar Classic Fishing Derby.

July 19: Colton Youth Fishing Derby (Kevin Lamora at 262-0899).

July 30-Aug. 2: B.A.S.S. Elite Series on the St. Lawrence River at Waddington.

Aug. 8: SLRWA 14th Annual Walleye Challenge Team Tournament at Massena Intake (384-3450).


Wind, clouds, storms can affect fishing trips

First published: June 28, 2015 at 12:30 am
Last modified: June 28, 2015 at 12:06 am
BIG CATCH - Dr. David Speer, Canton, went out for a days fishing onboard Muskie Magic with his son David Jr.  Walleye & perch were caught, but most memorable was the fight from this 15 pound catfish.  

Anglers pay close attention to wind direction and velocity.

A veteran angler is most likely a weather-conscious individual who checks the forecast when planning a trip and again just prior to heading out on the water.

And there are anglers of a different electronic generation I than who actually consult up-to-date weather conditions during the fishing trip.

Anyway, while an angler might check on details such as approaching storms, cloud cover or lack thereof, odds of precipitation, air temperature, barometric pressure and more, he or she is often most interested in wind conditions because of the significant role that wind direction and wind velocity play in fishing success.

Wind Direction

Over the years, fishermen have created short verses that capture the general effect that weather, expressed in wind direction, has on fish activity and the likelihood of angler success. One such verse proclaims, “Wind out of the north, don’t leave port; wind out of the east, fish bite the least; wind out of the south, a fish opens its mouth; wind out of the west, fish bite the best.”

While these words appear to suggest that we should only go fishing when the wind blows from the west or south, my motto is to go fishing whenever I can safely do so in spite of the wind direction. Still, when the wind blows from the north or east and fish become inactive, an angler can take measures to improve the odds of getting fish at line’s end.

For example, on north- and east-wind trips, an angler might lower his expectations for number of fish caught, utilize a slower presentation, work deeper water, fish closer to bottom or cover, use live bait, try smaller lures, and expect softer bites.

Wind Velocity

Velocity is another important wind factor. When winds are too strong, they present a safety issue especially on large, open waters and on shallow lakes or shallow-water areas because of wave buildup. A wise angler follows the creed, “When in doubt, don’t go out.”

In addition to the safety issue, strong winds present other difficulties for anglers, especially in the area of boat control where winds hamper efforts to stay along a structural edge or weed line to maintain a proper speed for bait or lure presentation, or to move in a desired direction.

Strong winds also raise havoc with casting effectiveness, maintaining the all-important “feel” of lure or bait at line’s end, detecting bites, and keeping an offering at the targeted depth. Even though windless conditions may eliminate such negatives, windless days have their downside, too, as perfectly calm days allow fish to easily detect angler presence particularly in shallow water or in clear water.

Two techniques that somewhat combat windy conditions are trolling and anchoring although big waves can result in inconsistent lure presentation and an up-and-down ride when trolling, and windy conditions can make holding anchor on a precise spot an impossibility.

Strong winds do have an upside, though, as they blow organisms into the shallows where bait fish follow and where anglers will find active game fish especially if those winds blow from the west or south. Also, wind action oxygenates shallow lakes and shallow-water areas, another factor that activates fish. Windy conditions are a time, too, when larger fish feel comfortable moving about and roaming the shallows.

In essence, light or moderate winds are the most angler-friendly ones as they allow for effective boat control and effective bait or lure presentation while creating lower light conditions that tend to put fish in a more positive mood than do calm, undisturbed surface-waters.

Clouds and Storms

Cloudy, overcast days make for good fishing because of the low-light conditions and the resulting increased fish activity. Essentially, a low cloud cover creates dawn-like and dusk-light conditions throughout the day. In contrast, bluebird-colored skies and a bright sun make for tough fishing especially in clear water.

For safety reasons, strong thunderstorms are a good time to stay off the water. Also, such storms typically put fish in a negative, inactive mood even though the 24-hour period prior to the storm’s arrival offers good fishing. After a significant storm passes, it may take fish another 24 or more hours to return to normal activity levels.

Outdoors Calendar

Monday: Trap and skeet shooting, 5:30 p.m., at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club.

Wednesday: Trap shooting, 7 p.m., at Black Lake F&G.

Saturday: Kids Free Fishing Classes (regular at 11 a.m.; fly fishing at 1:30 p.m.) at Wellesley Island State Park.

July 11: Third Annual Bob Moss Memorial Bass Derby, sponosred by Redwood United Methodist Church, at Redwood Fire Hall.

July 17-18: Clayton’s 47th Annual Decoy and Wildlife Art Show.

July 19: Ogdensburg Seaway Festival 5th Annual Sandbar Classic Fishing Derby.

July 19: Colton Youth Fishing Derby (Kevin Lamora at 262-0899).

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