I've spent most of the past week working the local waters in pursuit of brook trout and lake trout, with limited success.
The first few weeks of October mark a gradual change of seasons, with hunters beginning to replace anglers as the primary sporting group. As the weather turns cooler, hikers will still maintain a presence, but paddlers will begin to throw in the towel. Birders, a user group that has been largely forgotten since the spring, will again be out in force, eagerly seeking new additions to their life lists during the steady southern migration of northern species.
Despite the appearance of fall foliage, which has already advanced past its peak, most area waters have temperatures that still range in the mid to low 60s.
As a result of the warmer temperatures, the trout fishing has been rather slow and their spawn may be belated.
However, the annual salmon run on the lower sections of the Boquet, AuSable and the Saranac is still churning along at full tilt. Despite the ravages of Tropical Storm Irene's floods, the fall run has been providing plenty of fish and plenty of action, with anglers landing a number of trophy-sized landlocks in the 7- to 9-pound range.
Although trout season officially ends on Oct. 15, there are a wide variety of local waters that permit anglers to fish for trout year round, including Lake Colby, Meacham Lake, Lake Clear, Tupper Lake, Square Pond, Connery Pond and Rollins Pond.
Additionally, there are sections of major Adirondack rivers that also remain open for trout and salmon all year, including the West Branch of the AuSable, the Saranac, the Boquet and the Schroon River.
On the same day trout season ends, the big game hunting season will get under way with the launch of the muzzleloading season. Currently, the big game season is open for archery only.
Hunters will replace anglers and the primary sporting species shifts to whitetail deer and wild turkey. The fall turkey season concludes on Oct. 21 in the northern zone.
Not to be forgotten in this season of harvest are wing shooting opportunities for ruffed grouse, woodcock, geese and ducks. Woodcock hunters must remember to register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) by calling 1-866-426-3778 or visiting the Harvest Information Program website at www.ny-hip.com/.
Who's out there and what are they doing
To take a glimpse into the sporting ways of the outdoors, I've been looking at information provided by a variety of recent surveys and studies.
The total number of U.S. citizens who currently hunt or fish is estimated at nearly 38 million, or roughly one in five Americans. Annually, hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation activities contribute more than $250 billion directly and indirectly to the national economy, employing 1.6 million people a year.
The most recent study, conducted for the National Sporting Goods Association, estimates more than 3 million women now hunt, accounting for about 16 percent of the nearly 21 million active hunters in the United States.
The most popular outdoor sporting pursuits remain hunting for whitetail deer and fishing for bass.
A recent survey conducted for Outdoor Life magazine indicates that 48 percent of all hunters prefer to pursue whitetail deer, while 10 percent seek rabbits/squirrels, 10 percent ducks/geese and seven percent wild turkey.
Respondents indicated that 86 percent eat their harvest always, 12 percent sometimes and two percent never. Fully 61 percent indicate their father taught them to hunt, 18 percent learned from a friend, 10 percent from a grandparent, 6 percent from an instructor and 5 percent from other sources.
A new nationwide poll, conducted for The Nature Conservancy, uncovered a wide range of reasons to explain why kids don't spend more time outside. The poll asked 602 kids between the ages of 13 and 18 about their attitudes toward nature, outdoor activity and environmental issues.
Less than 10 percent of the children interviewed indicated they spent time outdoors every day. Yet 88 percent of American youth currently indicate they spend time online every day, with 69 percent playing video games or watching TV with that same level of frequency.
Electronic attractions represent a far greater proportion of children's time (58 percent) than either homework or study for school every day. But youth participate in all of these activities far more than they spend time outdoors.
Fewer than two in five American youth participate in hiking, fishing, hunting or visiting a park or beach on even a weekly basis.
According to the survey, American youth are unhappy with the condition of the environment and lack faith in adults to address it. A majority of American youth (51 percent) rate "the condition of the environment and nature" as an "extremely" or "very serious" problem. And they place the blame squarely on previous generations.
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) agree that "previous generations have damaged our environment and left it to our generation to fix," and they lack faith in government efforts to address this or any other major problem. Only one-third of respondents believe government leaders are doing a "good job" addressing major environmental problems.
The poll also uncovered a wide range of reasons kids don't spend more time outside, including: 80 percent who said it was uncomfortable to be outdoors due to things like bugs and heat, 62 percent said they did not have transportation to natural areas and 61 percent who claimed there were no natural areas near their homes.
Among youth whose body mass index classifies them as obese, there were notably lower rates of participation in outdoor activities and less interest in pursuing them in the future. However, the survey also revealed that 66 percent of youth who "have had a personal experience in nature" indicate that it made them appreciate nature more.
Sadly, 75 percent of respondents reported they had little if any access to nature through their schools.
Researcher David Metz claims, "That subset of youth is markedly different from those who have not had personal experiences with nature. They are almost twice as likely to say they prefer spending time outdoors and more than twice as likely to strongly agree that protecting the environment is cool. Clearly, getting kids meaningful experiences outside is key to getting them to care about the environmental issues of our day."
Three quarters of the respondents reported they had little if any access to nature through their schools.
The poll suggests that the best way to get kids more involved in nature may be through peer pressure; 91 percent said that if a friend encouraged them to spend more time outdoors they would listen.