Many have claimed the Adirondack region has no respect for seasons, and for good reason. Despite the time of year, Adirondack microclimates can produce an unexpected snowfall, heavy rains or a stiff blow at any time.
Extremes of weather are considered normal in this part of the state, as evidenced by the many places named "Windfall."
Thus, it should be no surprise that snow persists on the peaks from autumn 'til spring, while the summer season disappears faster than a dollar bill at the gas pump. The only season in the region that outlasts winter is the fishing season, although hunting season typically runs a close race for second place.
John Roggee of Pawling hoists his last brook trout of the season.
(Photo — Joe Hackett)
As always, the seasons remain ill defined, and it seems they often reappear at will. A heat wave referred to as Indian summer may produce a spell of 75-degree days in autumn, while a late-spring deep freeze can recap the ponds with a skim of ice in the middle of May.
Regular big game hunting season
On Saturday, Oct. 20, the annual big game hunting season will officially begin. The season ends Dec. 2 in the Northern Zone.
The regular big game season follows fast on the tail of the muzzleloading season, the archery season, the early bear season and the annual Columbus Day Youth Hunt weekend.
The regular big game period also runs concurrently with a variety of seasons for small game, predators and game birds, including coyotes, raccoons, ruffed grouse and rabbits.
Hunting remains a traditional Adirondack sporting pursuit, and continues to drive the economy of many rural communities. Current estimates of New York's whitetail population range around one million animals, with nearly 400,000 hunters harvesting about 200,000 deer annually.
The fishing report
Although the annual trout season came to completion on Monday, Oct. 15, there remain numerous local angling opportunities for dedicated anglers who simply refuse to put away their rods, reels and other fishing gear.
Landlocked Atlantic salmon begin returning from Lake Champlain to the tributaries in late autumn on their annual spawn run. As of Tuesday, Oct. 16, no salmon had passed through the fish ladder on the Boquet River in Willsboro.
However, according to state Department of Environmental Conservation Fisheries, salmon are currently being found in the pool at the base of the falls in Willsboro, and they will likely move upstream as water levels permit.
The Willsboro fish ladder provides salmon with access to over 40 miles of potential spawning grounds, as far upstream as Wadhams Falls.
In addition to the Boquet River fishery, salmon have also begun moving into many other tributaries along Lake Champlain, including the AuSable River and the Little AuSable, which enter the big lake further north.
There have also been reports of salmon entering the Saranac, near the mouth of the river in Plattsburgh.
Salmon can be taken on nymphs, wet flies and streamers, as well as lures or even night crawlers.
I expect the salmon fishing will continue to improve with the arrival of colder weather and additional precipitation. They will continue running the rivers until mid November, and this year's crop has the potential to provide some very large specimens, due to the lake's burgeoning forage base of alewives.
The three main tributaries to Lake Champlain - the Boquet River, Ausable River and the Saranac River - permit fishing all year for trout and salmon from the mouth of the river to the first barrier impassable to fish. On the Boquet River, this is the dam at Wadhams Falls, and on the AuSable River, it is AuSable Chasm.
Despite efforts to establish a fish ladder to near the old, Imperial Dam on the Saranac River, salmon currently have no access beyond the dam.
Top local waters that provide angling access for trout and salmon beyond the Oct. 15 closing date include:
1. Mountain Pond, state Route 30 north of Paul Smiths - a no kill-artificials only, special brook trout water open until Nov. 30
2. Saranac River from Pine St. Bridge to the Lake Flower Dam - open all year for trout
3. Lake Colby - open all year for trout and landlocked salmon
4. Tupper Lake - open all year for trout and landlocked salmon
5. Lake Clear - open all year for trout and landlocked salmon
6. Meacham Lake - open all year for trout and landlocked salmon
7. West Branch of the AuSable River, from mouth of Holcomb Pond outlet downstream to marked boundary of no-kill section, 2.2 miles downstream of Monument Falls - catch and release, artificials only, open all year for trout
It is important to note that there are more than 1 million anglers in New York, and more than a half-million hunters that annually pump over $390 million into the state's economy.
Big game hunting creates 5,500 jobs annually, with $410.9 million in retail sales and another $221.4 million in salaries and local taxes. In addition, outdoor sporting activities provide an economic stimulus that equates to $5 million per day into the state's economy.