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Last ice

Rich Preall, a senior aquatic biologist with the DEC in Ray Brook, said the law states that anglers can only fish in natural openings in the ice.

ECOs (environmental conservation officers) will ticket anyone making their own opportunity, Preall said. I even heard of a couple guys getting a ticket for breaking up the edge of the ice with their canoe so they could troll.

And, while there is some subjectivity involved, Preall said the difference between a natural opening and one created by man isnt difficult to distinguish.

Although some still try to deceive.

For example, one age-old method of creating a fishable hole involves placing a rock or other object on the ice for the sun to warm, thus creating a hole big enough to fish through.

But that will probably be a tough sell to a veteran officer, Preall said, and will no doubt net you an appearance ticket.

Id hate to be the guy explaining to an ECO that a rock made the hole, Preall said with a quick laugh.

While there are special regulations for some water bodies, as a rule of thumb, any trout waters closed to ice fishing are protected by the natural openings law.

And, of course, the use or possession of bait fish on these waters is also prohibited.

Those with questions about a specific lake or pond should call the DEC before taking a chance, Preall recommended. You dont want to be expressing your doubts to an ECO, he said.

Ive found the backcountry fishing for speckle trout to be steadily improving in the Adirondacks, thanks in large part to aggressive reclamation efforts by the state aimed at ridding non-native fish like perch and bluegill from trout waters.

Since 1989, the state has also been stocking heritage strain brookies in these waters. Theses strains native to Adirondack waterbodies like Horn Lake, Windfall Pond and Little Tupper Lake typically live longer and grow larger than hatchery-raised strains.

Some of my favorite reclaimed ponds include Rock, Little Rock and Grizzle Ocean in Ticonderoga; Crab and Gull in Schroon; and Bass, Howard, Upper and Lower Twin and Moose Mountain in North Hudson.

So get off the road this trout season and enjoy some of the best speckle trout fishing anywhere in the country.

Just dont get caught with your paw in the compost pile in the process.

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