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Trout Season Has Finally Arrived

Jared Doverspike shows off a large-mouth bass. Submitted photo

Trout season opens Wednesday, with many local ponds and streams already stocked with everything from fingerlings to a few breeders.

With Bear Lake Outlet receiving 660 rainbows; Cassadaga Creek getting 220 rainbows now and 370 in later this spring; 200 brown in Cassadaga Creek; Clay Pond will be getting 290 brown trout from 8-15 inches; Mill Creek in Gerry will be receiving 100 browns and 600 rainbows; and Goose Creek 1,580 rainbows and 770 browns from 8-15 inches. The DEC hatchery staff is doing their best to all the above fish stocked by mid-April due to coronavirus.

Alright, I used the “c” word again. The world around us seems to be taking a turn in a direction that is unknown and, as my Grandpa Robbins always said, the “light at the end of the tunnel isn’t getting any brighter.”

As sportsmen, we have been training for this very thing our entire life. Most of us aren’t really that concerned about toilet paper or food, because we know that we can make it work if we really have to. What has been getting under my skin recently is all the folks who ask for advice or input.

If I had a nickel for every phone call/text/email/message I have gotten from someone looking for shells or which shell is best, I would be owning my own mountain somewhere. Of course, some would say me on a mountain alone would the best place for me.

It’s not the questions that bother me so, it’s the folks who ask them. Many of these folks are the same who are on the front line of taking our rights as sportsmen away, in one way or another. First of all, why does anybody, who has never shot a given firearm before, want to buy one, “just in case.”

I ask, “Just in case what?”

I refuse to go into a rant on the current state of the world. What I will say is this: It’s pretty simple folks. Do what is asked of us and this too shall pass. Is it inconvenient? Heck, yes. But remember, your inconvenience is somebody else’s worst-case scenario.

Just imagine this: You are a single parent who worked two jobs just to make ends meet for your family. Then all heck breaks loose and your companies have to close down and you aren’t getting paid. Who is going to feed the hungry mouths every day? Where is the money going to come from for the basic rent, gas, electric and so on?

Each of us has a different version of this same story or knows somebody who is in that spot or who is going to be in this spot very soon.

Some would argue the point by saying that they can get unemployment or the government will help. That is all well and good when the help finally comes, if it ever comes. These things take time and just because some politician on TV says we are here for you and help is on the way. A day goes by, a week, two weeks turn into a month, little if no help arrives.

With all that said, I say this: If half the licensed anglers in the county took half a day and headed out fishing, took all they caught for the day home, cleaned and packaged their catch and gave their catch to somebody who really needs it, is this is going stop the pressure on said family? Nope, but what it will do is take a little off them.

If we as sportsmen did this once a week and helped a different family or, better yet, take them along and teach them how to fish, they will be able to feed their own family for a lifetime.

Speaking of spring fishing, it looks like Mother Nature has loosened her grip on us and business is about to pick up for anglers. From what I see, all the ice is off Chautauqua Lake. Crappie and perch bite is on throughout the lake.

While there are larger, tastier fish in Chautauqua Lake, there is none more popular than the bass. Either large or smallmouth, either sub-species is the most popular chased fish on Chautauqua Lake. With a catch-and-release/artificial bait season running from Dec. 1 until the third Saturday in June each season, anglers are able to pursue their favorite line-tightening bass, but are not allowed to keep any bass currently.

If you all are looking for some catch-and-release action, the ice-out bite for bass is a great time to get in some great fishing opportunities. The melting ice allows the water to heat, and that sets a number of processes in action which are favorable to bass and to those who are fishing for them.

While the water is still cold, the best bass fishing will be in flowing water and grassy, shallows exposed to full sun. Shallow water is the best place for fishing on cold days and cool mornings. As the day warms up, moving to open water in mouths of many creeks that line Chautauqua Lake casting minnow style baits like RattleTrap or rubber worms produce good action.

During the heat of the day and into evening, concentrate on crank baits in deeper water. Keep in mind that fish get more active as they warm up, and retrieve the lure at faster speeds to match, from a slow crawl in the morning to a medium pace in the late afternoon.

The key to finding bass during the first part of the season/ice-off is to cover as much water as possible to find where the fish are holding. Start out deep near points or common deep areas that bass like to hang out and work your way more shallow. Faster moving lures work best during this time, try throwing RattleTraps, jerkbaits, swim baits and crankbaits. Keep moving until you find the fish. Once you do, it can be fast and furious. Make sure that you have some finesse baits rigged up to follow up if you get short strikes. A stick bait or Senko style bait weightless is a perfect option.

More than any time of the year, in the spring it is really important to pay attention to what’s going on under the water. If you have a boat, make sure you have some decent electronics that will alert you to fish activity where you’re fishing. When you don’t see bait and fish, move on. Invest in a decent pair of polarized sunglasses and spend some time looking in the shallows for bass moving up into their spawning flats. Keep in mind that if you see smaller males around, the big girls aren’t far away. Pay attention to that area where you can barely see the bottom. Many times, you’ll spot a bigger fish cruising in and out of your visual area. Get away from the little fish, pull off the shallows a bit and target that slightly deeper area. This can pay off huge this time of year.

Always consider the location when selecting a lure. Under docks – once they are put in and near the bank – is a good place to use spinnerbaits or artificial 3-inch grubs. In deeper water, spinners and swimbaits are more successful. Once weed edges begin to pop up, a medium-size jerkbait is your best bet.

After ice-out, lakes and ponds come alive. Sunlight penetrating to greater depths encourages the growth of plankton, and that feeds the entire marine food chain. To get the most out of bass fishing, control the depth of your bait according to the warmth of the day.

That means keeping close to the surface in the spring, but moving away from banks into deeper water as summer begins to show its face.

The melted ice also triggers spawning, and bass are feeding more often to accommodate increased activity. While I am not a big fan of casting to beds, it can be very successful when done properly and the fish are safely placed back into the water to return to guard their beds.

I’ve received word from the Chautauqua Lake National Wild Turkey Federation Chapter regarding its annual banquet. Due to the recent coronavirus, its annual banquet, which was schedule for April 5 has been rescheduled for June 7, still at Lakewood Rod and Gun. As I get more information, I will pass it along.

YOUTH SPRING

TURKEY HUNT

As of this writing, one of the only things that Albany hasn’t closed down is spring turkey season.

The spring youth turkey hunt is designed for New York State-licensed youth between the ages of 12-15, who have a current NYS small-game hunting license and turkey tags. The dates are April 25-26. The rules for the Youth Hunt are fairly simple. Each youth must have a licensed hunter, over the age of the 21 for 12 or 13-year olds. For those 15-year-olds must be accompanied by an 18-year-old. The senior hunter must have a license to hunt spring turkeys. Check the NYS DEC website for more of the particulars. The senior hunter cannot carry a weapon or attempt to kill a turkey during the youth hunt, but may assist in calling and coaching the youth hunter. As always, make sure you check the laws before you head out on your hunt. The essay contest is open for all youth in The Post-Journal coverage area who are 12-15 years of age and who have a New York State hunting license and proper tags.

The essay topic — “The Best Hunting Story You’ve Heard” — should not be more than 400 words. Each essay should have your full name, age, email address and phone number. Your essays should be sent no later than April 20.

The winner will receive a full-guided, morning spring turkey hunt April 25-26 (winner picks either day); breakfast; and an Oak Ridge Game Call pod call. The hunt will be videotaped for an upcoming TV show on Oakridge Outdoors TV.

The winner must have his or her 2019-20 small game hunting license and spring turkey stamp, and be ready to get up early. The winner will be contacted via email and/or phone. Essays should be emailed to me at crobbins60@gmail.com.

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