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Ice out on horizon

I spoke to a handful of DEC experts about this phenomenon, and received a wide range of theories about why some are better than others, especially in the early spring.

Tom Austin, director of Warren County's fish hatchery and an avid brookie fisherman himself, believes its linked mostly to water temperature.

"The shallower ponds tend to warm a bit quicker, and ponds that have inlets or waterfalls where warmer water and sources of food flow in, stimulates fish activity," Austin said.

Lakes and ponds with dark, stained water warm up quickest of all.

Ponds like Spectacle and Crab in Schroon and Grizzle Ocean and Rock in Ticonderoga fit this description.

Also important are the food sources present. Nearly all brook trout ponds produce hatches of Caddisfly, Stonefly and Mayfly, for example - but each hatch at different intervals, once again depending on water temperature.

Knowing when different hatches are appearing and where can definitely help predict when a pond will be hot, Austin said.

Documenting it will help develop trends with certain ponds, and give you the best chance for success, always a plus after a three or four mile portage.

And since my day job interferes with my fishing agenda, I closely schedule each trip. I rarely hit the same pond twice in one year - unless I'm lost and walking in circles, that is.

Don't worry, mom, that only happens half a dozen times or so a season.

From fins to feathers

The eighth annual youth turkey hunt will kick off this weekend, April 23-24. Participation in the youth hunt has steadily increased since its inception in 2004, proving that starting kids earlier peaks their interest in the outdoors.

In 2010, roughly 9,100 junior hunters harvested about 1,600 birds during the spring youth turkey hunt.

The youth weekend allows junior hunters ages 12-15 to hunt with an adult mentor who is allowed to call but not carry a firearm. The bag limit is one bearded bird, which counts toward the youth's regular season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken beginning May 1.

The regular spring season opens May 1 and continues until May 31. Shooting hours are from one half-hour before sunrise to noon and hunters with a valid turkey permit can take two bearded birds.

Successful hunters are required to report their harvest within 48 hours of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest on-line, www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html.

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

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