By all indications, area anglers will soon be enjoying the earliest 'ice out' in recent memory. Currently, ponds in the Saranac Lake area are on the cusp of opening up, while numerous waters to the south and west have already shed winter's white cap.
Many local ponds are already sporting the telltale 'spider webs' which indicate their ice is soon to go. The shorelines of most ponds are also beginning to open up, which will provide productive angling opportunities around trees, brush, outlets and inlets.
Areas around inlets will provide some of the best early season opportunities especially on waters with smelt populations, as the annual run of the slim, silvery swimmers typically begins soon after the full Sap Moon, which passed on March 30th.
Over the course of my first 20 years of guiding, I rarely provided a fishing trip on the ponds prior to the first weekend in May. In fact, there were several years when the ice cover prevented access to the ponds until Mothers Day weekend.
However, for the past dozen years, I've usually had a boat on the ponds during the month of April, but rarely as early as the season opener.
Boater's Seat Belt Law
Anglers planning to jumpstart the trout season with an early visit to the ponds, should be aware of Section 40, Subdivision 1 of the NYS Navigation Law which requires "each person on board pleasure vessels less than twenty-one feet, including rowboats, canoes, and kayaks must wear a securely fastened United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device of an appropriate size when such vessel is underway between November first and May first."
Failure to wear a lifejacket is a violation of the Navigation Law and is punishable by a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100, applicable to either the operator and/or the owner of the vessel.