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Speculator, NY ,

Fifteen of the more than 750 members of the Pine Tree Rifle Club of Johnstown pose below the billboard the club recently took out to stress the importance of registering and voting in the November general election. Standing in support with the group from just right of center are Fulton County Sheriff Tom Lorey, Republican state senate candidate George Amedore and club President Paul Catucci. The billboard is on state Highway 30 in the Town of Perth, where it can be seen until Nov. 4. (Photo submitted)


Hamilton County Outdoors -- 06252014 Black bass are back on the hook By Dick Nelson

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - Updated: 10:08 AM

I don't know if the third Saturday in June was chosen as the opening of the black bass fishing season because of the proximity to the official start of summer or because spawning largemouth and smallmouth bass are generally off the nest, but whatever the reason the season is now open across the state.

There is little doubt that when the bass fishing season opened June 21 thousands of bass fishermen were sitting on the edge of their swivel seats, casting everything from shiners and nightcrawlers to artificial lures such as plastic worms, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. And that's not just me saying that.

When it comes to freshwater game fish popularity, a state Department of Environmental Conservation Angler Survey showed black bass (largemouth and smallmouth) were favored by one-third of responding anglers with three-quarters of them ranking bass number one among their top five favorite species to fish. The same survey shows bass fishermen spent 4.6 million days in pursuit of these feisty fish.

Trout, walleye, and yellow perch respectively rounded out the top five for about half the anglers.

Fishing is a lifetime sport that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age, and you don't need a $25,000 bass boat or a boatload of expensive rods and reels to have fun. All you need is some modest tackle, lures or bait and a current fishing license.

In any event, largemouth and smallmouth bass should be active and hitting on both live bait and artificial lures, and early season bass fishing often produces the best catches.

Water temperature is key, and since bass are a warm water species they can generally be found in the shallows, so this is where you want to concentrate your efforts. Target areas with a lot of shoreline and zero in on stumps, uprooted trees and boat docks. Bass use this cover to hide from predators and to ambush prey.


The question now is where to cast that lure or bait?

In Hamilton County, Forked Lake has always been one of my favorites for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. The three tips of the lake are shallow with the southern end having the best habitat for smallies.

Indian Lake can run hot and cold, but most smallmouths are taken around the island campsites.

Lake Pleasant in Speculator is another good location. Smallmouth bass can pretty much be found throughout the entire lake, with most running about 13-16 inches, but if you're looking to hook into a hawg largemouth cast a topwater lure into the weedy areas.

Sacandaga Lake and the Mohawk River have sizeable populations, but if I had to choose one it would be the Mohawk, especially between Locks 7 and 16. West Caroga Lake also supports a good population of smallies, as does the Schoharie Creek, with many of the Schoharie fish averaging 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.

Two other good waters for hefty largemouth are Peck Lake and the Crescent Pool section of the Mohawk River.


The season for muskellunge also opened June 21, but the hype announcing the opener of New York's largest game fish isn't anywhere near what it is for other species. That's because the population is pretty much limited to the northwestern part of the state, and even then they're in short supply.

If you happen to hook into one of these toothy monsters, keep in mind the statewide legal size limit starts at 30 inches and the daily creel limit is one. Special regulations apply within Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and their tributaries, where size limits can run between 48-54 inches, so check the freshwater fishing guide beforehand.


Established in 1991 and legislated to be held the final weekend in June -- this year June 28-29 -- New York's Free Fishing Days is a time when residents and non-residents alike have an opportunity to fish New York waters without having to purchase a license or, in the case of poachers, looking over their shoulder. Even though it has been ongoing for 23 years, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts the press release announcing the dates will -- as do all DEC press releases -- credit Gov. Andrew Cuomo for making it possible.

The release will either open and/or close with how it's all part of the governor's "Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state."

The agency gave him credit for the spring turkey hunting season; something I was told retired DEC biologist Jim Glidden found amusing since he was part of the 1959 trap and transfer team that helped restore New York's wild turkey population. The agency even credited Gov. Cuomo when Eric Lester of Goshen broke the inland striped bass record with a 60-pound, 53.4-inch linesider on May 14, almost making it sound as if Cuomo's initiative was responsible for the monster female bass being in the Hudson River.

DEC biologists estimated the record fish to be at least 20 years old, so if to anyone should receive "undeserved" credit it should be former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who was in office the year the mammoth fish was spawned. In any event, should you have a hankering to go fishing this coming weekend you can save the cost of $5 for a one-day license, $12 for a seven-day license or the $25 annual license fee, which is now good for one year after date of purchase.


In its effort to get sportsmen and women, gun owners and others to register and vote in the upcoming November election, the Pine Tree Rifle Club of Johnstown recently brought that message to the public via a billboard on state Highway 30 in the Town of Perth. According to Brent Phetteplace, this is the 750-member club's and its director's way of driving that message home. The 12- by 24-foot billboard will be up until Election Day. For more information on the club call (518) 762-4033 or visit

In a related matter, The Federated Sportsmen's Clubs of Ulster County presented a check for $3,000 to the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association at the NYSRPA's annual members meeting held June 14 at the Wallkill Rod and Gun Club. According to FSCUC President Ray Lux, the money -- which was raised by selling signs calling for repeal of the SAFE Act -- was provided to help offset NYSRPA's costs in its legal battle against the law. _In accepting the check, NYSRPA President Tom King said, "I am extremely grateful for FSCUC efforts and with the support of individuals and groups like this we will prevail with our legal action."


In case you aren't aware, earlier last week the Supreme Court -- in yet another ideological 5-4 decision -- ruled "straw" purchases of guns illegal; concluding that one legal gun owner may not acquire a firearm on behalf of another.

The case, known as Abramski v. United States, centered on former Virginia police officer Bruce Abramski, who sought to buy a Glock 19 handgun for his uncle. Though both men are allowed to own guns, Abramski claimed on forms that he was the actual transferee / buyer of the handgun and was later convicted of making false statements. _Abramski's attorney argued that federal gun law -- intended to keep guns out of the wrong hands -- did not apply to his client's transaction.

SCOTUS disagreed. _"No piece of information is more important under federal firearms law than the identity of a gun's purchaser, the person who acquires a gun as a result of a transaction with a licensed dealer," Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority. _Voting in favor of the decision were Justice Anthony Kennedy -- who always seems to be the swing vote -- and justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Kagan. _Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia voted against the decision with Scalia writing the dissent. _"The Court makes it a federal crime for one lawful gun owner to buy a gun for another lawful gun owner," he wrote. "Whether or not that is a sensible result, the statutes Congress enacted do not support it -- especially when, as is appropriate, we resolve ambiguity in those statutes in favor of the accused," Scalia wrote. _The ruling was hailed by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and other anti-gun advocates, with Brady Center President Dan Gross, declaring, "the decision will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people."

Yeah, right. What it does is prevent a parent or grandparent from purchasing a child a .22 single-shot rifle for Christmas or a potential trap and skeet Olympian a shotgun for their birthday.

Jim Shepard of had an interesting take on the SCOTUS decision. You can read it by visiting the site.


Tentative waterfowl dates have been released for the opening of duck and goose seasons. They are: as follows-- Southeastern Zone: Youth Days, Sept. 27-28; Ducks, Oct. 11-19 and Nov. 8 - Dec. 28; Snow Geese, Oct. 1 - April 15; Canada Goose, Sept. 1-25, Oct. 21 - Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 - March 10.

-- Northeastern Zone: Youth, Sept. 20-21; Ducks, Oct. 4-19 and Nov. 1 - Dec. 14; Snow Geese, Oct. 1- April 15; Canada Goose, Sept. 1-25, Oct. 25 - Nov.16 and Nov. 18 - Dec. 14.

-- Lake Champlain: Youth, Sept. 27-28. Duck and goose season dates for the Lake Champlain Zone are determined by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board and will not be available until August.

A complete list of the tentative dates for ducks and geese in other zones can be found on the web at

Dropping anchor 'til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson email


July 5 -- Kid's Fishing Derby, Byron Park on Lake Adirondack, Rt. 28, Town of Indian Lake. 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Ages 15 and under. All children get free use of a fishing pole (if needed), free bait, free lunch and free prizes. Pre-registration not required.

July 5 -- Indian Lake / Blue Mountain Lake Fish and Game Association Kids .22 Rifle Shoot, club range on Chain Lakes Rd. 2:30 p.m. Ages 16 and under (must be accompanied by a parent or guardian). Shooting is in a safe and supervised environment. Club members will provide gun safety instruction. Hand Dobbin (518) 251-4063.


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