Outdoor Journal: Trout season spawns unique kind of fever

Although you may not find a reason for it in any medical journal, today in New York state, thousands
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Although you may not find a reason for it in any medical journal, today in New York state, thousands of men and women will become ill later this morning or right after lunch and have to leave work early.

The others will be affected this evening and have their spouses call in sick for them Friday morning. It’s a sickness doctors may diagnose, but have not found a serum or pill that can remedy or eliminate it. Unlike other diseases, it’s not contagious and it does not strike everyone, but it can be hereditary.

The common name for this disease is Cabin Fever, and Friday, the opening of the trout season in New York state, literally thousands of those afflicted by this feverish disease will attempt to lower it with water — that is, water they’re either standing in or over, on a bank holding a fly or spinning rod and reel. And I guarantee, whether they catch a fish or not, they’ll be smiling and back to work, all better Monday morning.

OUTLOOK

‘Unfriendly conditions’ is what this year’s opening-day trout anglers should expect, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Those heavy and frequent snowfalls, high and cold streams will definitely make a difference. And from the reports, these conditions could even be more severe in the Adirondacks and Catskills, where snow cover may restrict access to streams and cause high and fast-moving waters.

But despite the conditions at 12:01 a.m., trout, lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon seasons will open. According to DEC, the best fishing and access this opening day could be found on Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley, but there are waters around here that will be fishable. To help trout anglers, DEC will be stocking 2.3 million good-sized brown, brook and rainbow trout in more than 300 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams throughout the state.

Spring stockings include 1.77 million browns, 390,000 rainbows and 147,000 brookies. And 97,000 of the browns will be two years old, 12-13 inches long. This stocking, depending upon conditions, should have begun by now and go into April in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island and western New York, and then proceed to the Catskills and Adirondacks.

More than 2.25 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon will also be stocked this spring. If you like getting away from the crowd, DEC, will be stocking 350,000 brook trout fingerlings in 342 lakes and ponds during the spring and the fall. So where are some of the more popular and larger stocking going to be done this spring? Let’s take a look.

My favorite, which I won’t be able to fish opening day, is the Kayaderosseras Creek. DEC will stock the Greenfield and Milton stretch of this creek with over 13,000 browns, 1,200 of which will be 12-15 inches long. Nearby Great Sacandaga Lake will receive 12,000 rainbow trout measuring 8-9 inches. Also in Saratoga County is one of my sleeper spots, the Snook Kill in Northumberland-Wilton area which will receive 2,200 browns, some of which I hope to will find their way to my dinner table later in April.

Other popular and productive trout waters receiving generous brown trout are Kinderhook Creek in Rensselaer County, where the Nassau and Stephentown stretches will receive 11,000-plus browns, 900 of which are in the 12- to 15-inch range. The Greenfield and Salem stretches of the famous Batten Kill in Washington County will get 22,000 with 2,675 browns in the 12- to 15-inch range. Good choices in Albany County include Six Mile Waterworks (2,000 rainbows) and Thompson’s Lake (1,700 rainbows and 500 browns). East Canada Creek is a frequent trout angler destination and the Oppenheim-Stratford stretch will get 7,300 browns. In Schenectady County, the Lisha Kill in Niskayuna will get 760 browns.

Click here for a complete list of DEC trout stocking statewide this year.

PUBLIC ACCESS

Over the years, DEC has purchased permanent stream/creek easements from landowners known as public fishing rights (PFRs) that allow anglers the right to fish and walk along the bank. The width of this strip is usually 33 feet on one or both banks of the stream. This right of way is for fishing purposes only and is a privilege. Violations of this privilege could easily result in the owner’s withdrawal of this easement. Therefore, DEC strongly suggests not abusing these privileges. Click here for copies of the public fishing right areas.

CATCH & RELEASE

Trout are excellent food fish, but there are many anglers who prefer to release their catches or have caught fish that are not within the legal size limits of the state and must be returned to the water. But whatever the reason, “throwing them back” isn’t necessarily the right way to do it without harming them. Here are a few tips from DEC on how to properly release your catches.

Handle the fish as little as poss­ible and do not play/fight them until they are exhausted. Minimize the time the fish is out of water, espec­ially trout, which are more fragile than other species. If possible, don’t use a landing net, and try to remove the hook while the fish is still in the water. And speaking of hook, when the fish is deeply hooked, do not try to remove it, clip the leader/line as near to the hook as you can. Barbless hooks and artificial baits (lures) are also recommended. During warmer summer months, stream temper­atures elevate and DEC suggests not fishing for trout if they are going to be released because the fish are already stressed and much more fragile.

SPRING FISHING TIPS

In April and even May, I’ve been a “worm dunker” since I was a kid. I’ve caught lots of stream and pond trout with a juicy garden worm or piece of night crawler wiggling tantalizingly on a size No. 8 or 10 hook. In terms of tackle, the best choice is a light or ultra-lite five or 51⁄2-foot graphite spinning rod with a matching 5.1:1 retrieve spinning reel, spooled with 4-6 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line.

Generally in spring, streams move fairly quickly, and this year, with all the melting snow, they’ll definitely be flowing very quickly. Getting your bait offering down to them will probably require a little more weight. I prefer to use the pinch-on weights because they can be put on and taken off quickly. Pinch them on about 15 inches from the hook, and remember, weights less than a half-ounce cannot be made of lead.

One last thought and something I was taught many years ago — when fishing stream trout, be sneaky. The old gentleman who took me trout fishing for the first time told me trout are spooky, and he and I never walked the bank when moving from spot to spot. He would either get several yards away or, if in a wooded area, move through the trees to move up- or downstream. And there were times we’d hide behind a tree when casting into the stream. We always caught fish, so I believed him.

DIDYMO

DEC is reminding all anglers to be sure and disinfect their fishing equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water. Since 2007, Didymo, an invasive algae species, has been discovered in the Battenkill and Kayderosseras creeks in Region 5, Esopus and Rondout creeks in Region 3, and the Little Delaware, West Branch and East Branch of the Delaware rivers in Region 4. Didymo can attach to waders, and this is believed to be the primary mechanism for its spread from its initial discovery location. Didymo is known as “rock snot,” and forms a thick brown matt on stream bottoms that threatens aquatic hab­itat.

CREEK SURVEYS

This fishing season, DEC and Cornell University will jointly be initiating a new study to further refine the stream trout management program. As part of a three-year research project, creel surveys and trout population assessments are planned for seven stocked trout streams throughout the state. At each of these streams, surveyors will check the performance of the Catch Rate Oriented Trout Stocking model used by DEC to set stocking rates. The waters included are, the Carmans and West Branch of the Delaware rivers, Oriskany, Esopus, Otselic, Meads and East Koy creeks. Anglers fishing these waters can help by answering a few questions on their fishing trip if approached by a DEC creel clerk and by allowing the clerk to examine and measure any harvested fish.

FISH TALES

With Friday’s opening of the trout season, I’d like to begin this year’s Fish Tales. If you have a good day on your favorite stream, pond, lake or river and would like to share you good luck with other anglers here in The Daily Gazette, send me an email with all the details. Please include full name, city where you live, where you fished, what you caught including size, how you caught it and anything else you think would help the tale. You can send photos, but I can’t guarantee they will be published. Send the information to [email protected]

Think trout!

Categories: Sports

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