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Will ice out be early this year?

April 1 may mark the official opening of trout season in these parts, but any wily veteran will tell you your chances of actually getting out on a pond that early are about as good as Tiger Woods staying monogamous.

Well, alas, this year I truly believe will be different - but perhaps not as different as you might think.

I took a stroll last weekend into a couple of my favorite ponds in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area and found they looked like this (yes, that's solid ice covering the pond from shore to shore):

Aside from an opening at the outlet and signs of decay around boulders which got warmed by the mid-day sun, this particular pond looked nearly identical last year at this time.

I know, I was there. And it wasn't fishable until April 15.

One of the most useful tools in my brook trout fishing arsenal has been a log my brother and I keep that details information like when ice out occurs on a particular pond, as well as when fish seem to hit best and on what.

What I've found is that ice out rarely varies much from one year to the next - at least not wildly.

Certainly the ice covering may be gone a week early this year (at least if this recent cold snap breaks) but I doubt it will be any earlier than that. I plan to head back in again this weekend and will keep you apprised of what I find.

I can guarantee you that if there is fishable water on April 1, I'll be taking advantage of it. I've already cleaned every reel to a spit shine and replaced my line three times. I'm like a kid at Christmas this time of year.

The warmer-than-usual month of March may speed up the DEC's stocking efforts as well, especially in local rivers and streams that are often more accessible than backcountry ponds.

The Boquet River, for example, is infused with 5,220, 8-9 inch brookies in the spring right here in E-town along with hundreds of browns, and the AuSable gets loaded with thousands of browns, brookies and rainbows in Keene and Jay.

For a complete list of waters to be stocked by the state this spring, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html. Once there, you can click on the appropriate county of interest.

John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at johng@denpubs.com.

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