Outdoor Journal: Fishing a cure for cabin fever
Trout season opens on Monday
For decades, northeast outdoorsmen and women have been plagued by an seasonal epidemic illness known as “cabin fever.”
It usually begins to fester not long after the New York state big-game season ends and continues to rise for several months. Those who walk on water also get it, but less severely. Research has not been able to find a vaccine or medication, but it does have a very strange remedy, especially for anglers.
Year after year, New York anglers who suffer find their fever begins to decrease, beginning April 1, the opening day of trout fishing season.
The only real side-effect I can see with this remedy is that when it falls on a workday like it does this year (Monday), the fishing flu bug seems to strike the day before. One suggestion: When you call in sick Monday morning, be sure to cough a bit.
It’s time to think trout. Monday morning, thousands of men and women all over the state will be reducing their fever by standing knee-deep in, or on the banks of, their favorite trout waters.
My trout fishing career started with garden worms, either on a small hook and allowed to free-float and/or slowly floated with the current just under the surface. This works well on quiet streams and pounds, but I believe our streams will be moving quite a bit this year with the amount of snowfall we’ve had, and it will mean muddy, dark waters.
To stop your bait from moving down river too quickly, add a split shot or two about 18 inches above the bait. Attach just enough to allow the bait to bounce slowly along the bottom. An 11-year-old I met on the banks of the Battenkill taught me to add a little color to the worm or minnow by dipping it in Berkley Bio-Dip. The dip is unscented and biodegradable. I like the chartreuse color.
In college, a friend invited me to fish opening day in the Poesten Kill near his home in Rensselaer County. It was the first time I’d ever fished for trout. He said we were going to use threaded minnows which I assumed was a species. I was wrong. He handed me a small minnow bucket of bait, a size 14 treble hook and a three-inch sewing needle.
My rod and reel combination consisted of a 51⁄2-foot spinning rod and Zebco reel spooled with six-pound-test monofilament. I lacked hip boots or waders. After wading all day in jeans and sneakers, I bought waders the next day.
The rigging for the minnow is interesting. First, the needle is threaded with the line, then pushed through the minnow’s mouth, out the anal opening, and tied to the treble hook. Once tied, the tag end is snipped and the line pulled until the hook is snug to the bait’s belly. The last step is pinching on a small sinker about 18 inches from the hook. I used the whole three dozen of my baits that day and caught plenty of browns. This method can be used with a bigger bait to troll for and catch northern pike and walleyes.
WHERE TO GO
One thing that New York has plenty of is trout waters, and one of the main reasons for this “good fishing” is the Department of Environmental Conservation’s annual stocking system.
Each year, it releases over one million pounds of fish into more than 1,200 streams, rivers, lakes and ponds all across the state. These fish come from 12 fish hatcheries that specialize in one or more species, including brook, brown, rainbow and lake trout, steelhead, Chinook, coho, landlock salmon, walleye, muskellunge and tiger muskellunge.
Here are a few of the local counties you could wet a line in Monday morning. It should be noted that the counties’ Federated Sportsmen help DEC with the stocking. The majority of trout stocked measure between 8-91⁄2 inches. Some waters will also get 12- to 15-inch trout.
In Albany County, the Six Mile Waterworks (agreat place to take kids) will be getting 2,000 rainbows; Thompson Lake, Berne, will get 1,700 rainbows and 440 browns; Onesquethaw Creek, New Scotland, 1,050, 100 of which are 12-15 inches.
The largest recipient in Columbia County is the Roeliff Jansen Kill, will receive 13,890 browns, 1,010 larger going into the Clermont-Gallatin stretch; Kinderhook Creek, 6,100 browns, 800 larger going in the Chatham-New Lebanon stretch.
In Fulton County, the popular East Canada Creek will receive 7,450 total, 1,250 rainbows, the rest browns; the Stratford stretch will receive over 6,000 of these fish; Northville Pond, Northampton, 2,500 rainbows; Canada Lake, Caroga, 1,530 browns.
In nearby Montgomery County, Canajoharie Creek will get the biggest stocking, 1,190 browns.
Rensselaer County is another popular trout fishing destination. The major stocking this year will be in the Kinderhook Creek, a total of 9,430 browns, 6,890 in the Nassau stretch; Poesten Kill, 5,850 browns; 3,470 in Brunswick, 200, 12-15 inches; Walloomsac River will get 3,460 in April, and 840 12- to 15-inch browns in May-June.
When it comes to trout fishing in Saratoga County, the most popular and most fished has to be the Kayaderosseras Creek, which will receive a total of 7,300 browns, 800 of them 12-15 inches. The biggest stocking of rainbow trout in this county is 12,000 for the Great Sacandaga Lake.
Washington County has one of the most popular and highly publicized creeks in the country, the Batten Kill, which is shared by Vermont and New York. With its headwaters in Vermont, it winds its way 25 miles down to New York’s border, then continues 24 miles through Shushan, Salem and Greenwich Junction. It ends in the Hudson River at Schuylerville. This year, from April through June, DEC will add 18,920 brown trout to its population. Stocking points include Greenwich and Salem. Three locations of the Mettawee River in the Whitehall area will be stocked with a mix of rainbow and brown trout totaling of 8,100.
PUBLIC FISHING RIGHTS
Public Fishing Rights are permanent easements purchased by NYSDEC from landowners that give anglers the right to fish and walk along the bank, usually a
33-foot strip on one or both banks of the stream. This right is for fishing only, and anglers are asked to treat the property with respect. For a list and detailed map of the PFRs go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/32610.html.
If you decide to fish a new trout stream or even one you’ve fished before or are not just catching fish, here are a few suggestions.
Get to the stream early, preferably at daybreak. Put on your Orvis Pro Guide Waders, GoreTex jacket, Clearwater fishing vest, and don’t forget to attach the walnut trout net to the vest. Then take out your G.Loomis 51⁄2-foot graphite ultra-light spinning rod with matching Symetre reel, but don’t tie anything on “yet.”
Be patient and watch other anglers. You’re looking for a kid, usually dressed in jeans and sneakers, carrying an old spinning or bait casting rod with grandpa’s old Shakespeare spinning reel that he may wind upside down and backwards. His line is usually at least 12-pound-test and likely three to four years old. Every stream has one of these kids. This is the angler to follow and watch when he starts pulling out those browns on pieces of night crawlers. Make friends with him, and chances are, you’ll learn a lot.
Good luck and don’t forget to cough a few times when you go back to work Tuesday.
If you have a good day of trout fishing and/or any other kind of fishing, email me the details. We can start Fish Tales early this year. Send your information to, firstname.lastname@example.org.