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Hooks and Antlers
By Mike Seymour
Johnson Newspapers
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Hooks and Antlers

Hooks and Antlers: Bear take in Northern Zone is ‘typical’ in 2014

First published: April 19, 2015 at 12:50 am
Last modified: April 19, 2015 at 12:50 am

Northern Zone hunters harvested 518 black bears during the 2014 seasons, and that number marks a 36 percent increase over the 2013 take of 380 bears. Still, the 2014 take was right in line with the five-year average (2009-2013) kill of 519 bears and the historic average (1991-2000) harvest of 515 bears.

HARVESTS BY SEASON

Available food sources typically affect whether Northern Zone hunters shoot more bears during the Early Season or the Regular Season. For example, hunters took 291 bears during this past year’s Early Season and 84 bears in that season in 2013 while the 2014 Regular Season saw 159 bears shot and the 2013 Regular Season accounted for 246 kills. Bow hunters took 26 bears in 2014, an increase over the previous year’s take of 15 bears; muzzleloaders shot 42 bears last year, an increase over the 2013 harvest of 35 bears.

INTERESTING BEAR FACTS

The largest bear taken in the state in 2014 had a dressed weight of 646 pounds, and that bear was taken during the Regular Season in the Town of Wells in Hamilton County. Across the state, hunters harvested one bear per 29 square miles of land.

Hunters reported 24 tagged bears, and 16 of those animals had been tagged in New York for a variety of reasons such as research, relocated urban bears, nuisance responses, or released rehabilitated bears. Of the remaining tagged bears, three were originally tagged in Pennsylvania, two in New Jersey, and one in Massachusetts.

Because of black bears expanding their range in the state, DEC opened new areas to hunting in 2014, and two of those areas were Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6A and 6G, units that border the St. Lawrence River and the eastern basin of Lake Ontario. Hunters in WMU 6A shot seven bears while WMU 6G hunters shot a single bear.

TAKE BY WMU

The top-producing WMUs this past season were 5H, 6C, 6J, and 6F. Hunters in 5H shot 162 bears, and that WMU is a large Adirondack one extending across Herkimer and Hamilton counties and into portions of Oneida and Fulton to the west and Essex and Warren to the east. WMU 6C extends across central St. Lawrence County and into a portion of Lewis to the west and Franklin to the east. Hunters in 6C harvested 84 bears. WMU 6J is that section of the Adirondacks where the counties of St. Lawrence, Lewis, Herkimer, and Hamilton merge, and hunters here accounted for the taking of 81 bears. WMU 6F consists of land in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, an area where hunters killed 47 bears in 2014.

COUNTIES AND TOWNSHIPS

St. Lawrence and Lewis counties were the Northern Zone leaders with respective takes of 99 and 85 bears last year.

Other counties and their harvests were Herkimer (61), Hamilton (51), Essex (35), Franklin (31), Clinton (30), Warren (29), and Jefferson (23).

Hunters in St. Lawrence shot 51 bears in the Early Season, 35 bears in the Regular Season, four in Bow Season, and nine in Muzzleloader Season. The top-producing townships were Parishville (11), Pitcairn (11), Hermon (10), Clare (10), and Hopkinton (9). Hunters in Lewis took 63 bears in the Early Season, 14 in the Regular Season, five in Bow Season, and three in Muzzleloader Season. The leading towns were Croghan (24), Greig (15), Watson (15), Diana (9), and Lyonsdale (9). Actually, more bears were killed in the Town of Croghan than in any other township across the Northern Zone.

Franklin County hunters took 20 bears in Early Season, 10 in Regular Season, none in Bow Season, and one in Muzzleloader Season. The leading towns were Bellmont (6), Waverly (6), and Malone (5). In Jefferson County, hunters shot 17 bears in Early Season, five in the Regular Season, one in Bow Season, and none in Muzzleloader Season. Wilna and Antwerp were the leading towns with kills of 12 and seven bears respectively.

RODS AND REELS FOR YOUTH

The St. Lawrence River Walleye Association is holding a Rod and Reel Collection on Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Corky’s Collision on East Orvis St. in Massena. Collected items will be used to benefit local youths who are without rods and reels. Organizers ask that any donated rod or reel be in good-working order. For more information or pick-up, call 212-7410.

Outdoors calendar

Monday: Trap and Skeet Shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

April 25: Greater Odgensburg Chamber of Commerce’s Sportsman Show at Lockwood Civic Center (393-3620).

April 25: SLRWA Rod and Reel Collection for youths who lack gear (212-7410).

April 25-26: Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

April 27: Trap and Skeet Shooting at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club at 5:30 p.m.

May 1: Spring Turkey Season opens in New York State.

May 2: Northern pike, walleye, and pickerel seasons open in New York State.

May 14-17: Henderson Harbor Spring Classic Fishing Derby (Henchen Marina at 938-5313).

May 16: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation CNY Chapter’s Annual Banquet in Cicero (Dan at 882-8694).

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Hooks and Antlers: April is prime month to pursue steelhead on Salmon River

First published: April 12, 2015 at 1:02 am
Last modified: April 12, 2015 at 1:02 am

The Salmon River offers world-class fishing for salmon and steelhead, and there is no better month to pursue steelhead than April. This month marks spawning time, a time when the river sees its highest number fish for the year.

The steelhead will be in one of three stages: pre-spawn, actively laying, or post-spawn. While fish can be caught in any of the three stages, those that are finished spawning become active feeders and are the easiest to catch. Post-spawn steelhead are also called drop-back fish because they work their way back to Lake Ontario.

PLACES TO FISH

The Salmon River has 12 or so miles of fishable water for steelhead, but certain locations can get crowded as anglers, too, invade the river in April. When fishing conditions do get a bit tight, anglers are reminded to practice common courtesy.

Ten miles of river are free to fish, and a sensible strategy for those unfamiliar with the river is to stop at a local store and pick up a map. Such maps will identify access points, adjacent roads, bridges, popular fishing pools, and more. Expect a fair number of fellow anglers at any of the easy-to-access sites.

Two free-to-fish sections are limited to fly-fishing only, and tackle is restricted to traditional fly rod, fly reel, fly line, and artificial fly. The Lower Fly Section extends from the County Route 52 Bridge in Altmar upstream 0.25 mile to the marked boundary at Beaverdam Brook.

The Upper Fly Section extends from a marked boundary upstream of the NYS Fish Hatchery property to a marked boundary 0.6 mile upstream at the Lighthouse Hill Reservoir tailrace. For additional regulations on the fly-fishing sections, consult the current regulations guide.

The Douglaston Salmon Run covers two miles of the Salmon River, and this is a pay-to-fish section. Because the number of anglers along this stretch is controlled, conditions are typically less crowded. For daily and seasonal rates, check out the Douglaston website at www.douglastonsalmonrun.com. This is a worthwhile site for anglers along any stretch of river because the site is updated daily with information on fish activity, water conditions, angler success, angling techniques, and more.

STEELHEAD TECHNIQUES

Both spin fishers and fly fishers take their fair share of steelhead along the river. Spin fishers cast and retrieve various spoons or spinners, and they also drift eggs, beads, or Berkley-type trout worms with the current flow.

Fly anglers, too, work their flies or eggs with the natural current flow. The use of floats has become extremely popular among anglers who present their offering in the current flow. No matter which technique an angler uses, he or she wants to get the offering near bottom for the best results. Too, anglers are advised to practice stealth in approaching fish-holding areas.

DRIFT BOAT FISHING

The more water an angler covers, the more likely he is to improve his steelhead success. Thus, drift-boat fishing is an ideal way to pursue steelhead on the Salmon River. I had such an opportunity last spring when Leo Maloney, editor of Adirondack Outdoors, and I hooked up with Captain Chris Mulpagano of Get the Net guide service.

We launched at the Compactor Pool in early morning, and fished public waters downstream from there. Our basic technique was casting out a brightly-colored bead situated above a No. 6 hook and letting the offering drift with the current flow. The set-up also included several split shot to keep the bead down and a float to aid in recognizing takes by a fish.

Mulpagano’s intimate knowledge of the river and his expert boat handling put us on more steelhead than any pair of anglers deserves to catch and release in a day. Also, the catch included several brown trout and native rainbows. The veteran guide also offers trips for salmon, brown trout, and walleye. For more information, call 387-2623 (home) or 430-7512 (cell).

Outdoors Calendar

Today-May 1: Those on vessels under 21 feet must wear PFDs.

April 18: SLC Trappers Association’s Annual Sportsmen Recognition Dinner (528-2953 or 389-5096).

April 25-26: Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

May 1: Spring Turkey Season opens in New York state.

May 2: Northern pike, walleye, and pickeral seasons open in New York state.

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Hooks and Antlers: Wounded Warrior Turkey Hunt seeks local support

First published: April 05, 2015 at 1:14 am
Last modified: April 05, 2015 at 1:14 am
WILD HUNT - Joel Schneller of Heuvelton took this antelope during a Wounded Warrior Hunt in New Mexico. (Photo Provided)

In the fall of 2013, Joel Schneller received a phone call from Mike Dimmer, a soldier stationed at Fort Drum. Dimmer was looking for places to hunt, and that interest led him to call Schneller who was an army veteran, skilled hunter, and Environmental Conservation Officer living in Heuvelton.

The pair spent several evenings hunting raccoons, and when Dimmer called this past fall, Schneller assumed the wounded Iraqi veteran was looking for another hunting trip. Instead, the Alabama resident invited Schneller to participate in a New Mexico antelope hunt arranged for wounded warriors.

MISSISSIPPI TURKEY HUNT

In addition to the antelope hunt, Schneller was invited to participate in a wounded warrior turkey hunt in Mississippi last month. Joining him on that hunt was Harold Cole, a Vietnam veteran from Rosie.

As the St. Lawrence County duo approached Crystal Springs, the host community for the hunt, they passed a sign for Hazlehurst, and that name rang a bell for Cole. When Cole went to Vietnam in 1970 as a 19-year-old soldier, he met Hal Granger of Hazlehurst, and the two became friends. That friendship stemmed from their similar interests in hunting and fishing.

When hunt organizers learned of Cole’s relationship with Granger, they sought out the Mississippi veteran and arranged for a meeting of the two soldiers who hadn’t seen each other in 45 years. That encounter left the pair overcome with emotion, and they have since made plans to do some hunting and fishing together.

JEEP SULLIVAN’S

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

Both the antelope and turkey hunts were set up by Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures, Inc. of Bonifay, Fla. Operated by Jeep Sullivan, Outdoor Adventures arranges wounded warrior trips at no cost to the participants. Sullivan said, “We have to give back to these veterans. By the grace of God, these are the guys that let us live the lives we have here.”

Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures is able to offer the no-cost trips for wounded warriors due in large part through donations from sponsors and benefactors. As a 501(c)(3) corporation, they accept contributions (including in-kind donations), and all donations are tax exempt for the given year. For more information on Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures, visit www.JeepSullivan.com.

ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY WOUNDED WARRIOR HUNT

During his participation in the hunts, Schneller said to Dimmer, who arranges wounded warrior outings with Jeep Sullivan, “Is there anything I can do to help your efforts?” Hearing the offer, Dimmer told Schneller that if he could get places to hunt, places to stay, and meals; Outdoor Adventures would take care of transportation and license costs for five wounded warriors from across the country. And so, a Wounded Warrior Turkey Hunt will take place in St. Lawrence County during the last week of May.

CURRENT SUPPORT

The hunt has received significant support to date as Nick McNamara of Basswood Lodge in Rensselaer Falls has offered lodging, and Gilbert Green’s Country Club in Heuvelton is donating a meal. New York Conservation Officers Association has offered financial support while individuals assisting in the hunt include Matt Lochner, ECO Lieutenant from DEC Region 8; Jason Pollack, owner of Dual Game Calls and Pennsylvania state-champion caller; Nick McNamara of Basswood Lodge; and Eric Brunet of Ogdensburg.

LOCAL SUPPORT NEEDED

Local organizers continue to seek support for meals. Also, organizers want to present the participants with special North Country gifts such as maple syrup. Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible contribution can do so at the Jeep Sullivan Outdoor Adventures account at Community Bank, 78 State St., Heuvelton, NY 13654 (344-2421). For other donations or more information, contact Laura Pirie at 854-4808.

Outdoors Calendar

Today-May 1: Those on vessels under 21 feet must wear PFDs.

Wednesday: Deadline for commenting on 2015 waterfowl season dates (mcnamara624@yahoo.com).

April 18: SLC Trappers Association’s Annual Sportsmen Recognition Dinner (528-2953 or 389-5096).

April 25-26: Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

May 1: Spring Turkey Season opens in New York state.

May 2: Northern Pike, Walleye, and Pickeral seasons open in New York State.

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Hooks and Antlers: Melting ice means yellow gold rush for perch anglers

First published: March 29, 2015 at 1:54 am
Last modified: March 29, 2015 at 1:54 am
TAKING AIM - Frank Barr gets help from his uncle to sight in his bow during a session of the Kids Archery League at the St. Lawrence Sportsmen’s Club range. (Provided Photo)

Yellow perch thrive in many area waters, and ice out brings fantastic fishing for what is arguably the best tasting of all freshwater fishes. In fact, the delicious taste of perch has earned this species the nickname “yellow gold.”

Spawning

After ice-out in April when water temperatures move into the upper forties, yellow perch migrate to shallow bays and tributaries to spawn. Under the cover of darkness, perch seek out marshy areas and flats with vegetation where females deposit gelatinous strands of eggs on cattails, reeds, brush, or weeds.

Perch, unlike smallmouth and largemouth bass, do not protect their nests, but for the most part, these fish remain in the general vicinity of their spawning through the month of May.

From the angler’s perspective, this behavior translates to large numbers of fish concentrated in relatively small, near-shore areas, making yellow perch accessible to both shore and boat anglers for a period of six weeks or so.

Locating Spring Perch

Like other times of the year, spring finds yellow perch travelling in schools. This time of the year, however, offers advantages for the angler as schools are large and close to shore. When attempting to locate perch, fishers should think weedy bays and any nearby structures or edges.

Usually, the best spot in a spawning bay is the drop off at the edge of weedy flat. If that doesn’t produce, anglers should check out both the shallow water and the deep water adjacent to the drop off.

A good starting point for deciding where to pursue spring perch is to visit a local bait shop because such shops are in daily contact with anglers.

Once on the water, clusters of boats clearly give away the location of fish. When approaching a group of boats, do two things. One is to respect the space of other anglers and to fish a reasonable distance from them, and the other is to determine if they are catching fish on a drop off, weed line, etc., and then set up accordingly.

Clusters of shore anglers also signal good perch spots. Again, avoid “crowding” such fishers. Even though shore anglers are limited in their mobility, they, too, should move as much as their situation allows.

If moving around is not an option, the good news is that perch are roamers that routinely move in and out of areas, so patience can have its rewards.

Since perch are roamers, though, anglers should not always expect to catch fish where they were biting yesterday or even an hour ago. Certainly such spots must be checked, but continually stay on the move to locate an active school.

Basic Technique

Yellow perch are bottom-oriented so anglers need to present their offerings close to bottom. Also, perch generally prefer smaller offerings over larger ones. Since perch are not finicky feeders, they will hit both artificial offerings and live baits. If the fish do show a preference, it is usually just a mild one.

The most popular artificial offering is a tube jig or a twister-tipped jig. Productive colors include white, yellow, green and chartreuse.

Jigs tipped with maggots or piece of crawler see increased strikes because these tippings add both scent and texture, and even though perch are not fussy eaters, they will quickly expel an unappealing offering. Lively minnows and fresh crawler-pieces are the top choices of bait anglers.

During the spring, perch may feed throughout the day, but as a general rule the best activity occurs in early morning and early evening as it does during other times of the year. No matter when you decide to head to the water for some spring perch fishing, though, be sure to take a young angler along.

Perch Regulations

The statewide regulations for yellow perch allow for year-round angling, and the daily limit is 50 fish of any size. For the waters in Jefferson County, however, special regulations call for no daily limit on yellow perch so anglers are permitted to keep any number they desire. Likewise, the regulations for the Great Lakes and its tributaries allow anglers to keep any number of perch in Jefferson County.

Outdoors Calendar

Today-May 1—Those on vessels under 21’ must wear PFDs.

Tuesday—DEC public meeting on bass seasons at Dulles State Office Building, Watertown at 7 p.m.

April 1—New fishing regulations take effect.

April 1—Trout season opens.

April 8—Deadline for commenting on 2015 waterfowl season dates (mcnamara624@yahoo.com).

April 18—SLC Trappers Association’s Annual Sportsmen Recognition Dinner (528-2953 or 389-5096).

April 25-26—Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

May 1—Spting Turkey Season opens in New York State.

May 2—Northern pike, walleye, and pickeral seasons open in New York State.

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State’s new freshwater fishing regulations take effect April 1

First published: March 15, 2015 at 1:19 am
Last modified: March 15, 2015 at 1:19 am

Changes in the state’s freshwater fishing regulations typically occur every two years at which time DEC issues a new regulations guide.

DEC recently adopted dozens of rule changes, and those new regulations will take effect on April 1, 2015. The new regulations guide will be available sometime in March.

Today’s column takes a look at some of the regulation changes, but a full text of those changes is available at DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov where you will have to type “Recently Adopted (Previous Twelve Months)” into the site’s search guide.

Muskellunge

The previous statewide regulations for muskellunge called for a 30-inch minimum-length requirement although that requirement was 40 inches for Chautauqua Lake and the rivers and streams in St. Lawrence County. The new regulation sets the statewide minimum length requirement for muskellunge at 40 inches.

Also, the traditional muskellunge season has always opened on the third Saturday in June, but the new statewide regulation calls for opening the season three weeks earlier on the last Saturday in May.

The minimum length requirement for muskellunge in the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River has been increased from 48 inches to 54 inches. That 54-inch requirement has been in effect for Lake Erie and its tributaries.

While the statewide regulations call for a muskellunge opener on the last Saturday in May, the St. Lawrence River, as well as the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, will continue to open on the traditional third Saturday in June.

Trout and salmon

Special regulations for trout are in effect more than any other species, which is understandable due to the variety of trout species, trout waters, and angler interests. Thus, many of the new trout regulations deal with minimum size, daily creel limits, season dates, and angling methods.

One regulation calls for a catch-and-release season for trout on sections of the Salmon River in Franklin County while other regulations eliminate the previous special regulations that allowed for catch-and-release-only fishing on Cold Brook and the West Branch of St. Regis River in St. Lawrence County.

Prior statewide regulations allowed for a daily limit of five trout (brook, brown, rainbow, and splake) of any size while the new regulation establishes a special regulation of a daily creel limit of five fish with no more than two fish longer than 12 inches for some waters in Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, and St. Lawrence counties.

For Star Lake and Trout Lake in St. Lawrence County, trout regulations have been modified to increase the minimum size limit to 12 inches and to reduce the daily creel limit to three. Also, year-round angling will be allowed for landlocked salmon on Star Lake, and ice fishing will be permitted.

New regulations also establish an open year-round trout season for St. Lawrence County’s Sylvia Lake, with a 12-inch minimum size limit and three-fish daily creel limit, and with ice fishing permitted. Too, Millsite Lake in Jefferson County will have a year-round season with a 12-inch minimum and daily limit of three fish for both trout and landlocked salmon.

Gear and use of gear

To streamline what devices may be used for ice fishing, a new regulation modifies the statewide regulation to now allow an angler to use a total of seven ice fishing devices/lines that may include any combination of tip-ups, jig poles, tip-downs, etc. Ice anglers on Lake Champlain are allowed to use a total of 15 devices.

Many gear-related changes deal with Lake Ontario tributaries. One regulation permits the use of floating lures with multiple hooks with multiple hook points on all Lake Ontario tributaries with the exception of the Salmon River. A second regulation clarifies the current regulation for the Great Lakes tributaries restricting the use of hooks with added weight was not intended to ban the use of small jigs, while a third clarifies that the use of flies with up to two hook points is legal on all Great Lake tributaries.

Also, new regulations expand the prohibition of weight added to the line, leader, swivels, artificial fly or lures to all Lake Ontario tributaries (i.e. beyond a limited group of tributaries) from September 1 through March 31 of the following year. Also, a new regulation calls for replacing the Lake Ontario tributary regulations for St. Lawrence River tributaries in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties with the statewide terminal tackle restrictions.

Outdoors Calendar

Today: Ice shanties must be removed from NYS waters.

Today: Cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare seasons close in Northern Zone.

Saturday-Sunday: Parishville Sportsmen’s Gun Show at Fire Hall (265-5944; 265-2922).

March 24: SLC Fisheries Board hosts DEC public meeting on bass seasons at VFW Post, Canton at 7 p.m.

March 31: DEC public meeting on bass seasons at Dulles State Office Building, Watertown at 7 p.m.

April 1: New fishing regulations take effect.

April 1: Trout season opens.

April 25: Greater Ogdensburg Chamber hosts Sportsmen’s Show at Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad Building.

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Hooks and Antlers: Outdoors Calendar

First published: March 01, 2015 at 1:38 am
Last modified: March 01, 2015 at 1:38 am

Outdoors Calendar

Saturday: Lake Ozonia Ice Fishing Derby with Adult and Youth Divisions (212-2106).

Saturday-Sunday: Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby, Saranac Lake (518-201-4009).

March 10: Presentation on State of North Country Deer Herd at SLC Federated Sportsmen’s Club Meeting (854-5563).

March 15: Ice shanties must be removed from NYS waters.

March 21-22: Parishville Sportsmen’s Gun Show at Fire Hall (265-5944; 265-2922).

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Hooks and Antlers: Fan favorite Ashley wins Bassmaster Classic

First published: March 01, 2015 at 1:38 am
Last modified: March 01, 2015 at 1:38 am
Ashley

Casey Ashley’s performances in the 2013 Elite Series on the St. Lawrence River at Waddington and in last week’s 2015 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina are evidence that some fishing days are better than others. At Waddington, Ashley finished in 79th place and earned no money for his angling efforts. But at Lake Hartwell, the 31 year-old Elite Series pro won the Classic, the ensuing fame, and the $300,000 top prize.

Living only a few miles from Lake Hartwell, Ashley was the clear favorite of South Carolina fans at the daily weigh-ins.

Today’s column takes a look at the three-day Classic and Ashley’s rise to the top.

DAY ONE

Like much of the country, South Carolina saw unseasonably cold temperatures last Friday, and those temperatures caused officials to delay Friday’s takeoff time due to unsafe, icy conditions at the boat ramps. Too, anglers had to deal with ice on their reel spools and rod guides throughout the day.

Of the 55 Classic anglers, 24 brought a five-fish limit to the scales on Day One, and Dean Rojas, of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., emerged as the leader with a total weight of 21 pounds, two ounces. Following Rojas were Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif. (20-2), Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas (18-8), Brett Hite of Phoenix , Ariz. (15-7), Randy Howell of Springville, Ala. (15-5), and Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C. (15-5).

DAY TWO

On Day Two, 31 of the 55 anglers brought five-fish limits to the weigh-in. Day Two saw Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., land the biggest bass of this year’s Classic. That largemouth bass weighed six pounds, 11 ounces.

Takahiro Omori of Emory, Texas, jumped from seventh place to take the lead on Day Two when the Elite pro weighed in a catch of 16-11. Omori said that he took all of his fish from a 200-yard stretch of water on Hartwell during both days. Dean Rojas had a catch of 10-7, which put him in second place, only two ounces behind Omori.

Mike Iaconelli moved from ninth to third place on Day Two with a catch of 16-9. The popular Pitts Grove, N.J., angler stood 11 ounces behind the leader. Randy Howell moved from fifth to fourth place on the second day, and he was a pound shy of the leader mark.

Casey Ashley moved to the fifth spot and one pound, 13 ounces short of the lead on Day Two while Brett Hite dropped slightly from sixth to fifth going into the final day.

DAY THREE

Of the 25 anglers advancing to Day Three, 17 caught five-fish limits, including Ashley who weighed in 20-3 for a three-day catch of 50-1 and the Classic championship. Ashley beat out the surging Bobby Lane Jr. by three pounds, two ounces. Lane was in 20th place after Day One and ninth after Day Two before finishing second and earning $45,000. The Lakeland, Fla., pro showed his versatility by using a variety of techniques and taking bass at various depths from 2-40 feet.

Omori and Rojas each dropped two places on Day Three so Omori finished third ($42,500) and six ounces ahead of Rojas who finished fourth ($32,500). Like Lane, Jacob Powroznik had significantly better catches each day of the Classic as he advanced from the 25th and 19th places to fifth. That finish earned the Port Haywood, Va., angler $25,000. Iaconelli dropped from third to sixth on Day Three and took home a $22,000 paycheck.

OTHER PURSUITS

In addition to being a world-class angler, Ashley is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and musician. In fact, he sang the national anthem at the opening ceremonies on Friday, and as he hoisted the Classic trophy at the closing ceremonies, his own song, “Fisherman,” played throughout the arena while a capacity crowd gave their local hero a standing ovation.

Ashley used a homemade lure for his winning catch, a lure made by his father, Danny. That lure was a fish-head spinner rigged with a Zoom Super Fluke Jr. in white pearl.

For more information on the Lake Hartwell Classic, visit www.bassmaster.com.

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Vielhauer Drops Giant Alaskan Kodiak Bear

First published: February 22, 2015 at 12:49 am
Last modified: February 22, 2015 at 12:49 am

Larry Vielhauer, award-winning taxidermist and avid outdoorsman, has a fascination with bear hunting, and that fascination has led the Ogdensburg resident to black bear hunts in Maine, Quebec, Ontario, New Mexico, and New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

The allure of bear hunting also resulted in Vielhauer taking a three-week trip to Alaska in the summer of 2013.

While he booked the trip as a salmon-fishing excursion, the adventure also doubled as a means of checking on brown bear hunts on Alaska’s famed Kodiak Island.

That trip, and some at-home research, led the hunter to guide Tom Kirstein and Alaska Adventures Unlimited.

Vielhauer was unable to arrange a trip because Kirstein was totally booked, so Vielhauer placed his name on a waiting list, and as luck would have it, a cancellation occurred, leaving an opening for a 2014 spring hunt.

After a series of flights from Syracuse to Chicago, to Anchorage, to Kodiak City, and to southeast Kodiak Island, Vielhauer arrived at Dead Man’s Bay for a 15-day brown-bear hunt on the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Typical Day’s Hunt

Hunting Kodiak brown bears is a spotting game where the hunters spend the majority of their time looking for their quarry. This hunt saw the group spotting from the boat and shoreline at Dead Man’s Bay as well as from the adjacent mountain sides where they scoured the high country for spring boars.

On most days, the hunters saw a handful of bears, but there were limited stalking efforts because the bears were females with cubs or young males.

Sometimes a desirable boar was sighted, but the animal was too far away for a one-day stalk. Any spotted bear was generally 2-4 miles out from the hunting group.

When a mature boar was spotted and enough daylight remained, the group would initiate their stalk into mountain goat country, and stalking was generally limited to those times when the bear was lying down.

Regarding the stalks into high country, Vielhauer said, “A hunter wants to be in good physical condition to traverse the unforgiving land. It was rough country and rough going.”

Day One Hunt

On the first morning of the mid-April hunt, assistant guide Ty Fulsom of Denali spotted a big boar about 2.5 miles from Dead Man’s Bay at 11 a.m. Led by guide Atlin Dougherty of Juneau, the group began what turned into a 6.5-hour stalk. That stalk included several stops for spotting and monitoring the bear that moved a half-mile or so.

When the group approached within 200 yards of the bear, they set up for the shot, but the bear was lying down in a position that prevented a good-shot opportunity. As a result, Veihauer and the guides patiently waited for two hours for the bear to move.

When he finally did move around 7 p.m., Vielhauer made the 190-yard killing shots with his .338 magnum. The bear’s large size and well-worn canines indicated it was an old one.

A team effort had the bear skinned at 10 p.m. and dark at which time they began the 3.5-hour, steep-downhill trek to the boat.

The amazing day ended with a 2 a.m. arrival at main bear camp. Reflecting on the day’s experience, Vielhauer said, “My success was due to a whole lot of luck, a professional and top-notch outfitter, and his well-conditioned and experienced guides. I was blessed with a miracle.”

Fifteen-Day Hunt

Even though another hunter might have opted to head home after a successful take, Vielhauer decided to complete his Kodiak experience by assisting fellow hunter, Jerry Skeens of Virginia, in his attempt to harvest a Kodiak bear.

Several days of rain and fog hampered hunting efforts, but weather-friendly days found the group spotting and climbing for another good boar, and on Day 13 Keens, too, put his tag on a bragging-size brown bear that the hunters had spotted on several prior days.

Record-Book Bear

The skull of the Veilhauer brown bear measured 29 inches, and the cape measured 10 feet, six inches.

Since the minimum score for acceptance into the Boone and Crockett Record Book for an Alaska brown bear is a skull measurement of 26 inches, Vielhauer believed he had taken a record-book animal, and that belief was verified recently when the 63 year-old hunter received confirmation that his bear made the all-time Boone and Crockett Record Book and will be listed in the 2016 printing of that publication.

Vielhauer believes his bear will rank somewhere around 120 of the 500 bears listed.

More Information

Alaska Adventures Unlimited operates the oldest established bear-hunting camp on the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, visit www.kodiakbearhunting.com.

Larry Vielhauer owns Larry’s Taxidermy, and contact information is available at www.larrystaxidermy.com.

Outdoors Calendar

Wednesday: Seaway Valley QDMA Chapter meets at 714 Chub Lake Rd., Gouverneur at 6 P.M. (287-4968).

Saturday: Seasons close for squirrels, ruffed grouse, and pheasants in Northern Zone.

Saturday: Howie’s Ice Fishing Derby on Wheathouse Bay in Ogdensburg. Registration is being taken at Howie’s and will also be taken at Wheathouse Bay on derby day. The fishing will take place from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and all fishing must be done on Wheathouse Bay.

All fish must be alive when entered and Marshalls will be on the ice to assist disabled veterans. For more information call 393-3669.

March 7-8: Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby, Saranac Lake (518-201-4009).

March 10: Presentation on State of North Country Deer Herd at SLC Federated Sportsmen’s Club Meeting (854-5563).

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Hooks&Antlers: Catch-Release Ice Fishing Derbies Gain Popularity

First published: February 08, 2015 at 1:38 am
Last modified: February 08, 2015 at 1:38 am

Ranked among the most celebrated North Country fishing derbies, the St. Lawrence River Walleye Association’s (SLRWA) 9th Annual Northern Pike Challenge and the Clayton Fire Department and Knights of Columbus 10th Annual Clayton-1000 Islands Ice Fishing Derby are scheduled for Saturday, February 21.

Among the special features of these derbies are their catch-and-release nature.

Since significant ice-fishing pressure can stress the northern pike population in a given area, more of the area’s larger derbies are becoming catch-and-release and/or open-boundary events.

A growing number of derbies have a minimum-length requirement for pike and a luck-of-the-draw system for determining winners, and both of these features allow anglers the option to release some of their pike.

Also, on-site weigh-in stations are a key factor in successful releases. When taking a fish to such a station, anglers are encouraged to place their fresh catch in a container (bucket, fish bag, cooler, etc.) with water so the head and gills of the fish are submerged in water.

SLRWA Pike Challenge

The Challenge features a $1,100 payout per hour for the four largest northern pike, including $500 for first, $300 for second, $200 for third, and $100 for fourth.

This payout is based on a registration of 1,000 anglers. Also, $100 cash will be awarded for the day’s largest pike and $100 for the biggest walleye.

Three River’s Taxidermy in Lisbon is awarding a free mount for the largest pike of the day. The Youth Division (age 15 and under) is a yellow perch competition. Also, $50 will be awarded for the wackiest hat in both the adult and youth divisions.

Another special feature of the Northern Pike Challenge is the five $1,000 Ice Cold Cash door prizes, which along with numerous other prizes, will be awarded at Sandy Beach at 3 p. m.

Entry fees are $30 for adult division, when registering before Saturday, Feb. 14, and $35 after that date. Registration for the youth division is $10, although youths may also enter the adult competition for the adult registration fee.

Registration sites include Chapman’s Sport Shop (Black Lake), Green Machine Bait and Tackle (Irish Settlement Rd., Waddington), American Legion (East Orvis St., Massena), Northwoods Outfitters (Potsdam), and Uppstrom’s Bait and Tackle (130 Rookey Road, Waddington). A last-chance registration will take place at the Louisville Fire Station #2 on the day of the event, and this registration begins at 3 a.m. and closes promptly at 7 a.m.

Participating anglers are restricted to fishing the Waddington waters of Fobare’s Pond from the train trestle to Rte. 37, Cole’s Creek Marina and Bay, Wilson Hill, and Brandy Brook. Fishing hours for the event run from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Prior to fishing, all entrants must sign in on the day of the event at the Louisville Fire Station #2 located on Route 37 (approximately five miles east of Coles Creek and approximately three miles west of Massena).

Sign-in hours run from 3 to 7 a.m., and each angler will receive a registration number for the door-prize drawings. For more information, visit www.stlawrenceriverwalleyeassociation.com, or call Mike at 384-3450.

Clayton Derby

The Clayton Fire Department and Knights of Columbus 350 are teaming up for their annual northern pike derby that features open boundaries, a catch-and-release category, a youth division for yellow perch, and numerous door prizes.

Fishing hours run from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., and minimum-length requirements for eligibility for prizes are 26 inches for pike and eight inches for perch.

Anglers can register ($10 for adults and $5 for under 12)) at the Knights of Columbus (James St.) on Friday, February 20 from 4 pm. until closing and at the Clayton Fire Department (Graves St.) on Saturday from 5 to 10 a.m.

The Fire Department will also serve as the awards site at 5 p.m. Pre-registration is available at TI Bait, Chaumont Hardware, and Felders Bait & Tackle.

A $500 luck-of-the-draw prize will be awarded in each of three northern pike divisions: Men’s, Women’s, and Catch-and-Release.

Also, prizes in the youth perch division will be awarded via luck-of-the-draw.

Major sponsors and prize donors include FX Caprara Car Companies, Clayton Marina Sales and Service, Rusty Johnson Masonry, and Charles Garlock & Sons.

For more information on the derby, call Terry at 771-3533 or Charlie at 767-4497.

Outdoors Calendar

Saturday: Chippewa Bay F&G Club’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby.

Saturday: Waddington Sons of the American Legion “Come Hook Some Cold Hard Cash” Ice Fishing Derby (250-5252).

Saturday: Howie’s Ice Fishing Derby at Wheathouse Bay, Ogdensburg (393-3669).

Saturday-Sunday: 29th Annual Theresa FD Luck of the Draw Ice Fishing Derby (777-3936).

February 20-22: Bassmasters Classic at Lake Hartwell in Greenville, South Carolina.

February 21: SLRWA Annual Northern Pike Challenge at Louisville (www.stlawrenceriverwalleyeassociation.com;384-3450).

February 21: 10th Annual Catch & Release Ice Fishing Derby sponsored by Clayton FD and K of C (771-3533).

February 21-22: West Potsdam Fire Department Gun Show (265-2577).

March 7-8: Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby, Saranac Lake (518-201-4009).

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Ice fishing derbies among area’s most popular, fun activities

First published: February 01, 2015 at 1:03 am
Last modified: February 01, 2015 at 1:03 am

Ice fishing derbies rank among the area’s most popular winter activities.

For one thing, derbies offer numerous benefits such as socialization, competition, the fun of fishing, the opportunity to introduce youngsters to ice fishing, a chance to win quality prizes, and the satisfaction of spending a winter day in the outdoors.

Derby participation affords the opportunity to support worthwhile organizations such as volunteer fire departments, service organizations and sportsmen’s clubs.

Certainly, there is no shortage of opportunity for anglers to enjoy the benefits of derby participation in the north country in the coming weeks.

Redwood derby

The Redwood Volunteer Fire Department is hosting the Redwood “Luck of the Draw” Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday.

This is a northern pike event with open-boundaries. Anglers can pre-register ($10 for adults and $5 for youths) at Felder’s Service Station and Crossroads Grocery in Redwood, T.I. Bait Shop in Alex Bay, Chapman’s Sport Shop at Black Lake, Hunter’s Hideaway in Theresa, and Ace Hardware in Chaumont.

Activities will take place at the Redwood Fire Hall where anglers can register from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and from 6 a.m. until noon Saturday. For more information, call Cindy at 486-6629.

tupper lake derby

The Tupper Lake Rod and Gun Club will host the Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday.

This event pays out more than $33,000 in cash and other prizes, including $800 each hour ($500 for first, $200 for second, and $100 for third). Giveaways include two four wheelers and $6,400 in door prizes.

Detailed rules for the contest are available at www.tupperlakearchers.net. Registration fee is $35, and more information is available by calling Dave at 518-359-9715.

Sackets Harbor Derby

Also slated for Saturday is the Sackets Harbor Sons of the American Legion 6th Annual Northern Pike Ice Fishing Derby. The event has both adult and youth divisions, and registration ($10) and rules are available at Sackets Harbor Country Mart, Chaumont Hardware, and Sackets Harbor American Legion at 209 Ambrose St. There will be a chicken barbecue at the Legion Hall.

cape vincent derby

Another Saturday event is the 2nd Annual Knights of Columbus Ice Fishing Tournament at Aubrey’s Inn, Cape Vincent.

The derby has open boundaries, and anglers can register ($10 for adults and free for youths 12 and under) at Chaumont Hardware, Cape Legion, Reinman’s Department Store, and TI Bait.

Top prizes for the heaviest pike or walleye in the adult division are $300 cash, $200 cash, and $100 cash. Top prizes for the heaviest perch in the youth division are $100 cash, $75 cash, and $50 cash. Awards and door prizes will also be awarded at Aubrey’s Inn at 4 p.m., and there is a free buffet dinner for registrants. For more information, call 783-2244.

Chippewa bay derby

The Chippewa Bay F&G Club’s Annual Open-Boundary ice Fishing Derby will take place on Saturday, February 14. Anglers can preregister ($10 for adults and $5 for youths) at the Clubhouse on Friday, February 13 from 5 p.m. through the evening with music by Juke Box Hero. Anglers can also register at the Clubhouse on Saturday morning.

Divisions include Adult Northern Pike, Youth Northern Pike, and Catch-and-Release Pike. For pike to qualify in the various divisions, the fish must measure a minimum of 24 inches. A unique feature of the Chippewa Derby is that all prizes will be awarded via a lottery system.

Top prize in the Adult Pike Division is $1,000 cash and gift certificate donated by Rt. 37 Building Supply and Wellesley Island Building Supply.

Youth prizes include $250 donated by Felder’s Roofing, $250 donated by Mercer Contracting, and $150 donated by Gerald Umstead.

Prizes in the Catch-and-Release Division (pike must be caught in Chippewa Bay) include a $900 gas grill donated by Garlock Lumber, a gas auger donated by CPR, and $50 by Craig McLear of Butternut Cottages.

Waddington Derby

The Waddington Sons of the American Legion is holding its 14th annual Come Hook Some Cold Hard Cash Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday, February 14.

In addition to numerous door prizes, awards include $500 for the largest pike, $50 for the biggest walleye, and $50 for the heaviest perch.

Anglers can register ($25) in Waddington at the American Legion, Green Machine Bait & Tackle, Uppstrom’s Bait & Tackle, or Coles Creek Marina. For more information, call Mike Tiernan at 250-5252.

Wheathouse bay derby

Howie’s Ice Fishing Derby will take place at Ogdensburg’s Wheathouse Bay on Saturday, February 14.

The regstration fee is $25 prior to February 7 and $30 after that date. Hourly cash prizes will be awarded for the largest pike and walleye, and more information is available at 393-3669.

theresa derby

The 29th Annual Luck of the Draw Open Boundaries Ice Fishing Derby sponsored by the Theresa Fire Department will take place on Saturday and Sunday, February 14-15.

Daily drawings include $1,000 cash in adult division (pike must 24 inches or longer) and $300 in youth division (pike must measure 22 inches or longer).

Anglers can register ($10 for adults and $5 for youths 12 and under) at Hunter’s Hideaway in Theresa, Felder’s Service in Redwood, and Chaumont Hardware in Chaumont. The fire hall will be the site of a dance (no cover charge) on Saturday night and a chicken barbecue on Sunday. For more information, call 777-3936.

Outdoors Calendar

Saturday: Redwood VFD “Luck of the Draw” Ice Fishing Derby (486-6629).

Saturday: Sackets Harbor Sons of the American Legion Ice Fishing Derby.

Saturday: Tupper Lake R&G Club Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby (518-359-9715).

Saturday: 2nd Annual K of C Cape Vincent Ice Fishing Derby (783-2244).

Saturday: Parishville VFD 19th Annual Rabbit Hunt (244-0817).

Febraury 14: Chippewa Bay F&G Club’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby.

February 14: Waddington Sons of the American Legion “Come Hook Some Cold Hard Cash” Ice Fishing Derby (250-5252).

February 14: Howie’s Ice Fishing Derby at Wheathouse Bay, Ogdensburg (393-3669).

February 14-15: 29th Annual Theresa FD Luck of the Draw Ice Fishing Derby (777-3936).

February 20-22: Bassmasters Classic at Lake Hartwell in Greenville, South Carolina.

February 21: SLRWA Annual Northern Pike Challenge at Louisville (www.stlawrenceriverwalleyeassociation.com;384-3450).

February 21: 10th Annual Catch & Release Ice Fishing Derby sponsored by Clayton FD and K of C (771-3533).

February 21-22: West Potsdam Fire Department Gun Show (265-2577).

March 7-8: Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby, Saranac Lake (518-201-4009).

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