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Mud season not far off, but beware of late-winter storm

March 13, 2010
By Joe Hackett, Enterprise Outdoors Columnist

The region's snowpack is rapidly diminishing as daytime temperatures have remained above freezing and a stretch of cloudless days has allowed a steady, snow-sucking sun to erase the white of winter.

Over the next few weeks, frost heaves will rule the highways as mud season seizes the backroads and the sweet scent of maple vents from sugar shacks across the region.

March is a month of transition as the landscape slowly escapes the firm grip of the frosted fist of winter and bursts into the burgeoning birth of spring. It is a time for the return of wildlife, birds and buds. Despite glimpses of green peeking through, the constant threat of a winter storm still looms on the horizon.

Article Photos

Erratics like this one could soon be training grounds for future Olympians.
(Photo by Joe Hackett)


Entertainment on the fly

A reminder to area anglers: The annual Flyfishing Film Tour will return to Lake Placid Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 13. Doors will open at 6 p.m., with the show beginning promptly at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available in advance at Jones Outfitters or at the door. Call 523-3468 for further information.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the local Tri-Lakes Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

For anglers wanting more than a virtual flyfishing experience, the guides at Jones Outfitters will be heading west to Pulaski on March 20 for a full day of flyfishing for steelhead on the Salmon River. The river holds a world-class fishery full of 'silver bullets' that will test both an angler's skills and the quality of their equipment.

Jones' experienced guides know both the river and the necessary tricks of the trade to help first-timers hook into the ride of a lifetime. Try it once and you'll be hooked.


Climbers to scale the Olympic podium?

Fast on the heels of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, where a highly-successful local contingent of athletes returned to the Adirondacks with a horde of medals and great memories, comes news that the International Olympic Committee has granted full recognition to the International Federation of Sport Climbing.

Recognition by the Olympic Committee will make sport climbing eligible for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics and if our skiers, boarders and skaters gave the competition troubles in Vancouver, they'd better look out for our climbers.

Ice and snow are only around during the winter, but Adirondack climbers do it all year 'round.

In recent years, sport climbing competitions have become hugely popular in Europe. Across the continent, competitive climbing events regularly draw thousands of spectators and large television audiences.

Canadian climbing champion, John Bowles, who competes in Europe explains, "It's like hockey is here."

In the U.S., bouldering has been attracting large crowds to events such as the 2010 American Bouldering Series Nationals. USA Climbing, the national governing body, reports tremendous interest in the sport has been spurred on by the steady growth of indoor rock gyms and the availability of natural climbing opportunities.

Boulder fields, like those located off the McKenzie Pond Road, may one day be considered as Olympic training facilities.


Turkey banquet postponed

On March 21, the newly minted Adirondack chapter of the National Wild Turkey Foundation had planned to hold its inaugural banquet at the Crowne Plaza in Lake Placid. Unfortunately, the event has been postponed.

For information on rescheduling, please contact Bill Moore at NWTF-ADK@hotmail.comor call 523-3742.


New York's wild side: Whitetail deer

Statewide, hunters took more than 222,800 whitetail deer during the 2009 season, roughly the same number harvested across the state in 2008.

However, across the North Country hunters generally reported a slower season than usual. Many veteran buck chasers never saw a set of horns the whole year. Now, the DEC verifies these observations.

In the Northern Zone, the antlerless deer take was off by nearly eight percent, while the overall buck harvest was down by more than 21 percent compared to the 2008 season total.

The buck take during the regular season was affected by warmer than usual weather during November. The lack of consistent snowcover put the odds firmly on the side of the deer.


Bald eagles

By 1974, after suffering the ravages of pesticides, habitat loss, indiscriminant killing and DDT contamination, New York's resident bald eagle population had dwindled to single nest.

In 1975, when DEC officials could document only one unproductive pair of eagles, the department decided to launch an effort to restore bald eagles to New York.

Now, it appears that eagles have managed a marvelous recovery. Although once considered a rarity, the sighting of a bald eagle has now become rather common, especially during the winter season when the big birds gather near open waters of rivers and lakes seeking their primary diet of fish or waterfowl.

A recently completed mid-winter survey indicates that the bald eagle population in New York State is at an all-time high.

During last month's aerial survey, observers counted a record 101 eagles along the St. Lawrence River, 30 on Lake Champlain, 277 in southeastern New York along the Hudson River and Delaware River basins and 51 in western New York along the Allegheny River and Lake Erie.

New York has conducted annual surveys since 1979 with the highest official winter count occurring in 2008 when 573 bald eagles were spotted.

As of January 31 of this year, 459 eagles had already been sighted, a pace well ahead of the 2008 record.

The recent news of record winter eagle numbers comes on the heels of a record-breaking breeding season for bald eagles in New York. In 2009, 173 breeding pairs were confirmed to have successfully raised (fledged) 223 young.


Weird weather down under

We've all heard the expression, "It's raining cats and dogs," but nobody ever mentioned fish.

According to a report on, the Australian town of Lajamanu recently reported "two days worth of live fish falling from the sky."

According to news reports, residents of the remote desert town experienced two series of massive downpours that delivered hundreds of healthy, if not stunned, spangled perch.

Experts have suggested that the phenomenon was the result of the pressure of thunderstorms sucking water and fish from the river (which is 326 miles away) into the sky; then dropping them back down again with the rain.

It is third time in less than 30 years that the town has experienced this crazy weather that bombarded it with fish from above.

I'll bet the local cats were very happy.



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