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Hooks and antlers outdoor column

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April 1 marks the traditional opener of trout season across New York State, and while some advice on stream fishing would ordinarily be in order, such is not the case this spring. Since streams are currently ice-covered, and forecasted low temperatures for the coming days are below freezing, stream fishing does not appear to be a viable option for opening day. Instead, anglers are likely to have better luck using their jig poles and tip-ups rather than spinning rods and fly rods.

Here’s an overview of six of the numerous regional lakes that offer ice fishing opportunities.

Lake Colby

Lake Colby is popular among ice anglers because of good access and an abundance of trout and salmon. Located just north of the village of Saranac Lake, this 30-acre water is accessible at the DEC boat launch off Rte. 86. Browns, rainbows, and landlocked salmon are stocked in Colby. Typically, annual stockings consist of nearly 3,000 browns and 3,400 yearling rainbows. Under the ice, rainbow trout move constantly in search of food, but they show a preference for shallow water. Brown trout favor fairly deep water so sloping drop-offs are worth checking out. Landlocks can be found in a variety of water depths, but they often feed just under the ice so work your baits and jigs accordingly.

Lake of the Woods

This Indian River lake is best known for its lake trout, and 10-pounders fin the waters here. Lake of the Woods has an abundance of fresh-water shrimp that provide ample feed and account for the excellent growth rates of its trout. The bad news for anglers, though, is this plentiful food source makes it challenging to catch fish. Traditional wisdom calls for anglers to work their baits and jigs near the bottom in the vicinity of structural edges when pursuing lakers. On Lake of the Woods, however, anglers should also experiment with various depths because the lake trout here commonly feed on suspended shrimp. Covering 166 acres, Lake of the Woods is accessible via a DEC launch site off the Burns Road.

Lake Bonaparte

Named after Napoleon’s older brother who sought refuge there, Lake Bonaparte holds both brown and lake trout. Ice-caught browns in the 4- to 6-pound range are common, and fish weighing 10-15 pounds are a possibility. Bonaparte sees an annual stocking of more than three thousand brown trout. Set live minnows and work jigging spoons at various depths from the bottom when targeting browns, but look for lake trout near bottom in areas with structure. Located near Harrisville, anglers will find public access by taking the North Shore Road off State Route 3 or 812, and following it to the DEC boat launch at Hitchcock Bay.

Lake Ozonia

Lake Ozonia is located on the Lake Ozoniza Road half way between Hopkinton and St. Regis Falls. Anglers access the ice via a DEC hand launch at the lake’s northwest corner. Annual stockings typically consist of rainbow trout, splake, and landlocked salmon. No matter which species an ice angler seeks, though, the best action occurs along contours especially those near points. A portable depth finder can facilitate the identification of fish-holding contours where anglers suspend live minnows on tip-ups or work small jigging spoons.

Jigging is generally the more productive technique on Ozonia, a lake whose abundance of natural feed and high density of yellow perch make catching trout a challenge.

Lake Clear

Located in the Town of Harrietstown in Franklin County, Lake Clear is rated among Region Five’s top fishing waters for landlocked salmon. In addition to annual stockings of landlocked salmon, the lake also sees a significant stocking of brown trout.

Anglers can access the lake from the DEC Day Use Area off Rte. 30 between Tupper Lake and Paul Smith’s. Like other Adirondack waters, Lake Clear is a scenic spot as conifer trees and mountain peaks dominate the landscape.

Meacham Lake

Located off Rte. 30 between Malone and Saranac Lake in Franklin County, the 1200-acre Meacham Lake offers scenic views and ice fishing for a variety of species including brown trout, splake, and landlocked salmon. All three species have been stocked in recent years, and splake receive the most angler attention. Good areas to target are points, drop-offs, and the mouths of in-flowing brooks. Anglers access the ice through the state campground on Meacham’s north shore.

Outdoors Calendar

March 28-30—Great Outdoor Expo at YMCA Fairgrounds Fitness Center.

March 28-30—Big East Camping and Outdoor Sport Show at Turning Stone in Verona.

March 29—Tug Hill Friends of NRA Banquet at North Side Improvement League (688-2166).

March 30—Coyote season closes in NYS.

April 1—Trout season opens in NYS waters.

April 4-6—1000 Islands Spring Boat Show at Clayton Arena.

April 5-6—Massena R&G Club’s Annual Sportsman’s Expo at Massena Arena.

April 7-8—Bowhunter Education Course at St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club (393-3775).

April 12—Sportsman’s Show at Golden Dome in Ogdensburg (393-3620).

April 12-13—Syracuse Gun Show at NYS Fairgrounds.

April 19—SLC Trapper Association’s Annual Dinner (212-0283).

April 26—Seaway Valley QDMA Benoit Brothers Seminar at Gouverneur High School (287-4968).

April 26-27—Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

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