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Hamilton County Outdoors -- 06/04/2014 Fishing and boating is more than a weeklong celebration By Dick Nelson

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 - Updated: 11:38 PM

I don't know why anyone would need a congressional proclamation to enjoy a day on the water, but since both state and federal lawmakers always seem to agree on issues of little or no importance, you may be interested in knowing that June 1 was the start of National Fishing and Boating Week. So whether you plan on sitting in a boat or canoe or relaxing in a shady spot along shore, the U.S. Congress (bless their overworked hearts) want to remind you about fishing and boating.

Not to be confused with National Hunting and Fishing Day, which has been the fourth Saturday in September since 1972, National Fishing and Boating Week originated in 1979 as National Fishing Week and was responsible for the free fishing days citizens from Maine to California currently enjoy. Boating became part of the campaign in 2001.

Here in New York free fishing days are celebrated during the fourth weekend in June, which this year is June 28-29.

During the early years the slogan Take a Kid Fishing dominated promotion of the event. In later years the campaign included adults and the slogan became Take Me Fishing. But the emphasis was always on children, and pretty soon messages such as "Hooked on Fishing not Drugs," and "Fish with Your Kids Now, So You Won't Have to Fish for Them Later," began appearing as bumper stickers across the nation.

But keeping youngsters on the straight and narrow wasn't the only reason the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (later named the American Sportfishing Association) wanted to introduce kids to fishing. The most obvious reason is the continuous sale of fishing tackle and related equipment._

According to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children between ages 8-18 spend more than 53 hours a week in front of video screens. Not only are kids spending more time in front of screens, they are also coming up with more excuses not to go outside.

"After looking at the research, we want to show kids that there are many easy and free activities available for them," said Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation President / CEO Frank Peterson Jr. "That's why we're encouraging families to get outside and connect with nature, starting with National Fishing and Boating Week. We hope to motivate everyone, young and old, to check out their local waterways and give boating and fishing a try."


Anyway you fillet it, if you plan on taking your youngster fishing this week, or anytime in the future, put some thought into the decision of where to fish. Don't forget, depending on the child's age, the outing could last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Begin with short outings and advance to a longer trip when the youngster is ready for it.

If you're going somewhere without a nearby secondary attraction, potential for fast action is a key. Waters with plenty of panfish are usually good for this, but personally, with a young angler along you're better off targeting bullheads and sunnies over walleye or trout.

A couple of keeper marble eyes in four hours may be a great outing for adults, but a 5-year-old will take a bucket of sunfish over the course of an hour, instead of spending hours of action-less fishing.

It's not always easy, but try to focus on the success of the kids. If that means leaving your rod at home to concentrate on them then by all means keep it in the garage. You'll be spending enough time baiting hooks, untangling lines and pulling kids out of the mud that you wouldn't have much of a chance to fish anyway.

From a kid's perspective, I think, this undivided attention from their parent or mentor is part of the draw. Let's face it, kids want our attention, and fishing is a great way to connect.

Finally, don't overstretch your ability. While one-on-one is an ideal adult-to-kid ratio, it may not always be possible. If you are taking a group fishing, a good mixture of ages and ability will allow more experienced anglers to help smooth out the rough edges. And experienced anglers, no matter their age, relish showing a novice how to tie a knot or bait a hook.


Provide children with simple tackle in working order. Nothing can be more discouraging to a child than complicated equipment or equipment that doesn't work. A small cane pole, a hook, a split shot, a bobber and a worm or minnow still work very well. The bobber will give a visual focal point to fishing that will hold children's interest longer. 

Keep realistic expectations when taking young children fishing. Most kids have short attention spans and may want to move on to something else after a very short time. Take time out to explore the area you are fishing. Try looking for bugs or animals or even skip rocks across the water. You can't expect children to have the same level of enthusiasm you do the first few trips. 

Don't make fishing a chore for them. Don't expect their interest to last all day, let them decide the time. It might be five minutes; just don't force them to fish beyond their interest level. Once they are older or show real interest, a six-hour or eight hour day-trip may be okay.

Above all else, have patience; don't yell, scream or be critical. Let them have fun. By taking the time to introduce a child to fishing, there is a good chance of ending up with a fishing buddy and a friend for life.


New York's spring turkey-hunting season ended May 31, but for many hunters it ended long before that, with or without filling their tags. That's because interest wanes after the first couple of weeks, especially if birds are scarce, not responding to a hunter's call or develops a case of lockjaw once they fly down from the roost. Poor visibility also adds to a hunter's frustration, and anyone who has spent any amount of time in the turkey woods knows how fast everything turned green.

In my neck of the woods it almost seemed like the foliage popped out overnight. That of course cuts back on the harvest. Going by past seasons, the number of birds killed during the final week of the spring hunt is so little it's hardly worth adding to the statewide total.

The kill could possibly be higher during the waning days of the season if New York's spring turkey hunting regulations were similar to Pennsylvania's. During the last two weeks of the season Keystone State turkey hunters are permitted to hunt from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, a regulation that began in 2011.

Not that it has had a huge affect on the harvest. According to Pennsylvania Game Commission Wild Turkey Biologist Mary Jo Casalena, since the "all day" spring hunt was adopted the overall spring harvest has not increased from previous harvests, for two reasons. The first is because hunter participation decreases significantly by the second half of the season. Second, nesting hens are less prone to abandon nests.

Now you would think with fewer hens available a romantic gobbler would be more likely to respond to a hunter's call. Not so, and because of it, the all-day hunting regulation has had minimal impact on the population. Since 2011, afternoon and evening harvests have comprised 5 percent of total reported harvests and 20 percent of harvests during the all-day portion of the seasons. In other words, even during the all-day portions of the season, 80 percent of the harvests occurred before noon.

What's interesting about the all-day hunting regulation is that Pennsylvania is one of 34 states that have similar hunting hours for all or part of their seasons.

Now if you think New York is going to become the 35th state to adopt an all-day spring turkey hunting regulation, think again. New York's turkey population has been in decline for almost a decade and if anything, turkey hunters -- especially fall turkey hunters -- will be limited to one bird of either sex. According to one DEC biologist who spoke in anonymity, limiting the kill to one bird will increase the number of hens available for breeding in 2015. He also said there has been talk about reducing the seasons.


The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association will hold its annual meeting and chicken bake June 14 at the Wallkill Rod and Gun Club from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day's activity includes displays by agencies, collectors, taxidermists, gunsmiths, vendors and outdoor sporting organizations. Attendees are reminded to bring their shotguns, since the five-stand sporting clays course will be open until dinner.

Dinner starts at 4 p.m., followed by speakers and election of officers. Guest speakers include National Rifle Association Vice President Jim Porter and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. There will also be a Political Victory Fund fundraiser shoot with a number of new firearms both on display and in some cases available to shoot.

The cost of the Chicken Bake is $15 each. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling Brenda at (518) 272-2654. Vender and organization space is still available; contact Ray Carney at The club is located at 316 Bruyn Turnpike, Wallkill.

Dropping anchor 'til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson email or


June 7: Long Lake Fish and Game Club Kids Fishing Derby, Jennings Pond Park (across from the Long Lake Town Beach) 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (518) 624-3077.

June 21: Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation Summer Fishing Contest, Great Sacandaga Lake 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Headquartered at Sport Island Pub. Early registration for the three-category event -- bass, walleye and trout -- is $20 or $25 the day of the contest. Children age 12 and under fish free when accompanied by a paying adult. In addition, six trout are wearing orange tags each valued at $1,000. Tagged fish are for GLFF members only and can only be redeemed the day of the contest ($10 memberships are available on site). Applications are available at Ross' Bait Shop in Hagaman, Dave's Bait & Tackle Shop in Mayfield, LaPort's Bait Shop in Edinburg, Jim's Bait Shop in Mayfield, Frank's Bait Shop in Vails Mills, Fuel & Food in Mayfield; online at For more call Randy Gardinier at (518) 848-7248 or Jack Smith at 863-1062 or email to 


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