With nowhere near the glitz and glamour of the Academy Awards, March came in more like a lamb than a lion, although if they were handing out awards for the weather Mother Nature would most assuredly win for the best performance in a female role; Old Man Winter would get the best performance in the male category and the Abdominal Snowman would win for one of his best supporting roles in a decade.
Personally, I‘d give each of them the cold shoulder (pun intended), but together they have provided one of the longest hardwater fishing seasons we’ve had around here in years. And, looking over the long-range forecast, it doesn’t appear it’s going to end anytime soon.
But what may be good news for ice fishermen doesn’t give the guys and gals looking forward to the opening of trout season much reason to celebrate. Given the thickness of the ice on Great Sacandaga Lake and other impoundments, it’s going to be awhile before we’ll be able to cast a lure into a lake without having it bounce off the surface.
More than 1,400 participants competed for cash and prizes during the Fuel-n-Food 16th annual ice-fishing derby on Great Sacandaga Lake. Held out of Wally's Driftwood Park Marina in Mayfield, the three-day contest ended March 2 with a drawing for a Bass Tracker boat, motor and trailer – a $13,000 package won by John Lavada of Broadalbin.
As for the fish contest winners, Karen Mault of Gloversville was tops in the walleye division, winning $600 with a 26-15/16 marbleye; Northville’s John Webber won $400 for second with 26-9/16; Rich Schroeder of Fonda won $200 for third with 26-3/8; Kris Reed of Gloversville won $100 for fourth with 24-11/16; and Greg Warner of Broadalbin won $50 for fifth with 22-1/2.
Jay Flickinger of Galway brought in the largest northern with a 46-7/16 inch pike that barely fit through the hole, winning $500; Craig Jones of Mayfield was next with a 43-1/4 incher winning $300, followed by Corey Berlin of Gloversville with 41-3/4 ($200), Thomas Sterner, 39-3/4 ($100), Jerry Morris of Broadalbin 39 inches ($50) and Dick Sarsick of Ballston Spa, 38-3/4 ($50).
Only a quarter inch separated Northville’s Bob Bailey and Amsterdam’s Jim Jasewicz in the trout category, Bailey winning the division and $300 with a 20-1/2 inch trout and Jasewicz coming in second with 20-1/4 winning $200. Douglass Brooks of Amsterdam was third with 19 inches ($100) followed by Mayfield’s Alfio Coco and Prattville’s Brian Melios with 18-3/4 inch trout and Mayfield’s Jeremy Lawrence with 16-3/4.
The GSL gave up quite a few yellow perch during the contest but it was the 14-1/2 perch Bowen Wagner of Broadalbin caught that took the $200 first place prize. Sarsick and Northville’s Luke Olsen each caught 14-1/4 inch perch winning $75 and Jeremy Lawrence of Mayfield and Jim Loose of Gloversville each caught 13-7/8 perch collecting $50. There was a four-way tie for sixth between Mayfield’s Jim Manzer, Pete Chupka, Brent Muhlberger and Martin Rebisz, all of whom brought in 13-3/4 perch. They won $25.
In the non-game species, Christy Bates-Mooney of Bleeker caught a 9 inch rock bass that provided $50 and Tom Sisco Jr. of Broadalbin landed a 13-7/8 mudpuppy -- an aquatic salamander also referred to as a waterdog. He won $100.
ROSS BAIT SHOP
Ross Bait Shop held its two-day, 100 percent payback contest Feb. 28 and March 1, with a record 224 anglers taking part. By no strange coincidence some of those icemen (and women) that won cash in the FNF event also won money in the RBS contest.
Karen Mault is a prime example. That same 26-15/16 marbleye that provided her with $600 in the FNF event earned her $450 in the RBS contest a day earlier. Ditto for John Webber, who finished second winning $350 with 26-9/16 and Rich Schroeder, who won $250 for his 26-3/8 third place catch. Kip Sumond of Rockwood took the fourth spot and $150 with a 22 inch walleye while Zeb Weaver won $100 for his fifth place finish with 20-3/4.
Broadalbin’s Bowen Wagner won the $450 first place purse in the perch category with a 14-1/2 incher, followed by Pete Chupka, Jim Manzer of Johnstown and Brent Muhlburger of Gloversville, each of whom caught 13-3/4 inch fish and won $250.
Ben Morcy of Mayfield won $150 with a 13-5/8 inch perch and Kip Sumond won $125 a 13-9/16 inch fish.
The 39-3/4 inch pike Galway’s Tom Sterner lugged up to be measured added $450 to his bank account, while Randy Voris of Schenectady pocketed $350 for the 38-1/2 inch northern he caught. Third place and $250 in this division went to Ira Cromling III of Broadalbin with a 35-3/4 inch pike, while Mike Vertorano took the fourth spot and $150 with a 34-1/2 incher and Robert Manzer of Johnstown won the $125 fifth place prize with a 34-1/6 incher.
According to Cindy Ross 28 fish were entered, which surprisingly didn’t include a single trout.
TOUGH WINTER FOR DEER
I received an email from Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County President Jack Danchak last week that contained an article he and his wife Kay wrote for the Sullivan County Democrat. Because of the extreme cold, snowy weather, the article focused on feeding deer and other wildlife.
Actually it was more of an SOS urging sportsmen’s clubs and individuals to put their deer and wildlife feeding programs into high gear, explaining that feed should be spread out in a long line to make sure all the animals and birds get their “fair share.” The article even contained a list of preferred foods, which the Danchaks described as “sweet-feed.” The suggested foods included deer pellets, whole corn, molasses and other minerals that are beneficial to deer and other wildlife.
Wait a minute; I thought feeding deer in New York was illegal.
It is anywhere within the other 61 New York counties, but ever since a state Appellate Court reversed a 2010 lower court’s decision that found a Sullivan County man guilty of feeding deer; declaring the lower court’s ruling as “unconstitutional” and saying it went against the “Due Process” clause of the 14th Amendment and violated the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights, Sullivan County is the only county in the state where feeding deer and other wildlife is legal.
That doesn’t mean a hunter can dump a pile of apples or a bushel of corn under a tree stand. Baiting deer and/or bear is illegal no matter where you hunt, including Sullivan County. But as long as you live in that county and are not looking to bushwhack the animal as it feeds you can do so without fear of being taken away in handcuffs.
Still, I don’t understand how a state regulation could be legal in one county and illegal in others. It seems to me that with more than two feet of snow on the ground the state’s deer herds are in survival mode, regardless of where it beds down.
Established in 2003, the law regarding feeding deer was enacted to curb the spread of chronic wasting disease by deterring the deer from congregating over feeding sites. But during a winter such as this, deer congregate or “yard up” and, as I pointed out to a reader who wanted to know why he hasn’t been seeing any deer or deer tracks, unlike ducks, geese and human snowbirds white-tailed deer can’t fly south for winter, nor can they curl up and hibernate like a bear. All they got when Mother Nature was handing out survival kits was a coat of long, hollow hairs that act as insulation.
While yarded up deer rarely move around, which conserves energy. Those yards are usually located in conifer stands such as hemlock, cedar, pine and spruce that provide a windbreak and protection from extreme cold and limit snow depth. Turkeys seek out the same type of cover. Deer can gain a little more protection by going around to the lee side of a hill. Either way it limits them to 10 to 40 percent of their range, depending on the cover pattern and the severity of the weather. They are further limited by what food they can reach from the ground.
The first problem with snow is it covers food, including the food plots cultivated by hunters. Deer will dig in the snow for such things as ferns, trefoil and apples, but as the snow gets deeper and firmer this becomes impossible. The second problem is when snow depths reach 20 inches (15 inches for fawns) it becomes a serious inhibitor of travel.
Granted, snow depths have decreased from a few weeks ago, but during times when snow is deep travel gets harder, and when travel is harder deer become vulnerable to coyotes and dogs -- both directly as killers and indirectly because their harassment causes a high energy demand during a period of food scarcity. This additional food requirement can mean the difference between starvation and survival.
NOT OUR SEAL
Kudos to the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors for adopting a resolution opposing the use of the county's seal and name on any state material associated with the NY SAFE Act. The resolution -- which has been adopted by more than half of New York’s 62 counties -- not only sends a message to Gov. Cuomo on how county legislators feel about the controversial law but will save the county thousands of dollars in processing costs.
DEC AND MUTE SWANS
Even before the DEC’s mute swan draft management plan came to conclusion the agency was considering changes, including an additional public comment period. Noting that the original draft plan received significant public interest, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said the agency received more than 1,500 comments from individuals and organizations as well as more than 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on various petitions during the initial comment period which closed Feb. 21.
Because of the outpour the DEC will likely acknowledge regional differences in status, potential impacts and desired population goals in its revision by setting varying goals for different regions of the state. In addition, DEC will consider non-lethal means to achieve the management plan’s goals.
A revised draft seeking to balance the conflicting views about management of mute swans will include another 30-day comment period this spring. Prior to finalizing the revised draft, DEC will meet with key stakeholder groups to ensure that all potential management options are identified and considered.
For more information about mute swans in New York visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7076.html.
Dropping anchor ‘til next time.
To contact Dick Nelson with event or club news or to send a photograph email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Events should include the what, where, when and cost (if any). Photographs should include name of subject(s), town of residency and a brief description of the photo.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
March 15-16 -- Gun & Militaria Show, Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga. See the Coming Attractions section of this newspaper for details.