The regular bass season began last weekend and according to numerous reports, there appears to be a good supply of bass this season, in terms of both the quality and the quantity of fish.
In addition to being the season opener, the weekend of June 23-24 has been designated as a "Free Fishing Weekend" by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
These are the only two days of the year when anyone can fish New York waters without a license. The purpose of the free weekend is to give people an opportunity to sample the fantastic fishing the state has available. Since no license is required, it is the perfect time to introduce a friend to fishing or for parents to go out with their kids and enjoy a family outing that hopefully will continue as a lifelong sport.
Father and son fishing outings can account for some of the most indelible memories of a childhood that was well spent.
(Photo — Joe Hackett)
While most bass anglers tend to focus their efforts on the lakes and ponds, many local rivers that hold healthy populations of smallmouth bass remain relatively untapped.
(Photo — Joe Hackett)
As is to be expected, the highly productive bass haunts of the Saranac lakes, Tupper Lake and the St. Regis lakes will attract numerous bass anglers for the weekend.
Although there were plenty of anglers seeking bass last week, it appears there was room for everyone, especially on the waters that are a bit off the beaten track, such as Barnum Pond, Floodwood Pond, Connery Pond, Jones Pond and Lincoln Pond.
With a majority of the local rivers and streams already running at mid-summer levels, it may be a good time for anglers to begin targeting bass rather than putting additional stress on the trout population. As river levels continue to drop and water temperatures continue to rise, the dissolved oxygen content will diminish.
In addition, the increasingly clear and skinny waters will provide the fish with little protective cover from piscatorial predators such as blue heron, kingfishers and mergansers.
Going to the birds
While I've never considered myself much of a birder, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid encountering them in recent months, during the breeding season.
A few weeks ago, I witnessed a kestrel take a small songbird out of the air, along the shores of Lake Flower. The kestrel, a small member of the falcon genus, hung hovering in the air for a moment before swooping down to strike the smaller bird, which blew up in a shower of feathers.
The smaller bird immediately fell to ground and in an instant the kestrel was on it. But before it had a chance enjoy the meal, a pair of ravens arrived on the scene, and with the appearance of a couple of mobsters, they moved in and chased off the kestrel to claim the prize.
Earlier in the season, I watched the amazing aerial acrobatics of a pair of peregrine falcons that danced on the mountain air, high above Cobble Hill in Elizabethtown. According to the DEC, peregrines have been nesting on Cobble Hill for several years, while enjoying a steady diet of pigeons that inhabit the county buildings.
Peregrine falcons, which are still listed as an endangered species in New York, have again returned to their nesting on cliffs across the Adirondack Park. Peregrine falcons have grown steadily ever since the DEC first began hacking programs in the late 1970s.
Peregrine nesting sites are monitored annually, and rock climbing routes are routinely closed during the breeding season to prevent any disturbances. The climbing community works closely with the department, often supplying biologists with information on the current status of nesting sites.
The closures are based on a route's proximity and visibility to an established nesting site. And while DEC's priority is the protection of an endangered species, the department also attempts to maximize climbing opportunities.
As with all birds, falcons will defend their nest vigorously. In recognition of this fact, it is a particularly wise choice to avoid climbing near nesting sites at this time of year.
It is not an encounter most climbers would care to experience, especially while dangling from a rope high upon a cliff. An adult peregrine, which measures 15 to 20 inches tall, with a 3 1/2-foot wingspan and weighs between 1 1/4 to 2 3/4 pounds can hit speeds in excess 150 mph.
As of June 14, route closures include Shelving Rock Cliff on Lake George. In Wilmington Notch, all routes on Moss Cliff and the Labor Day Wall are closed.
In the Chapel Pond area, all routes on the Upper Washbowl Cliff are closed as a nest site has been confirmed. However, all routes on the Lower Washbowl Cliff are open to climbers.
On Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, falcon nesting has been confirmed on The Nose on the main face. All climbing routes are open except for routes including and between #26 Garter and #82 Mogster on the main face (as described in "Adirondack Rock: A Rock Climber's Guide") which remain closed to protect the nest site. The full list of closed climbing routes is available on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov.
I've learned to never underestimate the protective nature of nature. The lesson was learned while I was portaging a guideboat back to the vehicle. A ruffed grouse hen confronted me, all puffed up and scolding. Her brood of chicks scattered into the nearby underbrush.
I paused to let the woods settle for a moment before attempting to put the boat on top of my truck. Without warning, the infuriated grouse attacked from under the truck, and struck me on the shin.
It would seem that a 6-foot man, with a 16-foot boat on his shoulders would present a rather intimidating presence, and under normal circumstances it probably would, but not while in the presence of a hen and her brood. Now, I know better.