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Random shots in the woods

Random shots in the woods
As the autumn season begins to accelerate, with diminishing hours of daylight, cooler weather and finally a bit of rain; thoughts drift to the big woods and the approaching deer season. Spitting snow, winds whipping across the ridge and frost so heavy the ground crunches like a bowl of kids cereal. What happened to the fall I remember? Its difficult to catch the fever when the weather remains so warm.

While a typical Indian Summer has always been a most welcome occurrence across the North Country, this falls weather patterns appear to simply be an over-extension of summer. Despite the turning of the leaves and flocks of geese overhead; to date, the season has been mild beyond comparison.

I spent most of last week camping and fishing through the ponds of the St. Regis Canoe Area. Water temperatures were still hovering in the mid-60s, comfortable enough for a quick dip in the midday sun. Although a thick fog embraced the ponds each morning; by noon, we were reduced to t-shirts and sunscreen. Even the trout had a sun tan.

Even intermittent rains that fell earlier this week have failed to raise water levels appreciably. Rivers such as the Ausable, Boquet and Saranac remain desperately low, while the shorelines of lakes and ponds continue to grow larger each day. Conditions have gotten so bad in the southern Adirondacks that the DEC recently closed 28 miles of the West Canada Creek to fishing in order to protect the resource. Similar measures were enacted on the Salmon River in Pulaski last month, to protect spawning salmon.

Clear, skinny waters provide piscatorial predators such as herons, osprey and otters with easy, convenient meals; while at the same time, the elevated water temperatures result in diminished oxygen levels. This combination is extremely stressful to fish populations, especially salmon, brook and brown trout, which are fall spawners.

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