N ew York State’s trout season may have started Monday but the quality of fishing will likely depend on where you chose to cast your line.
Unseasonably cool temperatures during the last few weeks of March have left many lakes and ponds covered in a thin layer of ice.
Hank Neddo, owner of South Bay Bait and Tackle on Broadway, said there were still people ice fishing on Lake George, which had as much as eight inches of ice as late as last week.
Fortunately, anglers should still be able to find some good fishing opportunities on some of the area’s rivers.
“The rivers are down. If you look at the Mettawee and Poultney (Rivers), they’re down to normal height. There’s no ice and the shore lines are pretty dry, said Neddo.
Nathan Krusko, owner of Northeast Ice Fishing, a multimedia company dedicated to the promotion of fishing in the northeast, says northern portions of the Mettawee and Battenkill Rivers should be good for early season trout fishing.
“Where the water is running slower because of less runoff, you’ll be able to find some success as opposed to down stream where there is more influence from runoff and feeder streams.”
Early season trout fishing is largely dependent on water temperature and depth. Fish tend to be more lethargic when the water levels are high and cold. As temperatures warm up and water levels drop, the fish tend to become more active.
“The fishing doesn’t really pick up until the second or third week of April,” Krusko. “The best time is typically in May after the water has dropped and the temperatures have come up. Plus most waters will be stocked by then.”
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation plans to stock more than 2.1 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in 307 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams across the state.
Locally, the Mettawee River will be stocked with 3,700 brown trout and 4,400 rainbow trout this spring. The Poultney River in Hampton will see 360 brown trout and 500 rainbow trout introduced into its waters and the Indian River in Granville is expected to be stoked with 440 brown trout later this month. In the southern half of Washington County, the Batten Kill will be stocked with more than 10,000 brown trout.
DEC’s stocking program traditionally commences in early April as weather and stream conditions permit.
Krusko cited the Mettawee, Schroon and Batten Kill as excellent trout streams, as well as Otter Creek in Vermont (Vermont’s season starts on April 13). Neddo said many anglers find success on the Poultney River in Hampton and Hatchery Brook near Ticonderoga, as well.
The key, particularly early, they say is in the presentation.
“Your presentation needs to be slow and small,” Krusko said.
He suggests using small bait like meal worms or spinner bait, such as Panther Martins. Insects can also yield an impressive catch later in the season.
“Just remember to be patient and remain persistent,” Krusko said.
New York’s trout season runs through Oct. 15. A valid New York State fishing license is required and anglers are encouraged to clean all equipment to prevent the possible spread of invasive species.
Hank Neddo and Nathan Krusko both own fishing-related businesses and are avid fisherman. Below are few tips and suggestions they offered to help make your next fishing outing a successful one.
-Fish in slower moving water or in eddies behind rocks.
-Be patient and keep your presentation (bait) small and reel it in slowly.
-Use a thermometer and find pools where the water temperature may be slightly warmer, like where brooks enter larger streams. Many experts claim trout will not be active in water temperatures below 40 degrees.
-Dress warm, particularly early in the season.
-Bring a piece of overripe fruit to attract bees and large flies that can be used as bait when the temperatures begin to warm up.
-Fish facing the sun so that fish can’t see your shadow.
-Fish in the afternoon when water temperatures have warmed up.
-Be safe, stay patient and have fun.