Although the traditional opening of trout season is a month away it is not too early to get your trout fishing tackle ready for the season. It takes some time to change line on multiple reels, shop at the stores for supplies, and make some necessary repairs. While you are at it you might as well work on getting bass fishing equipment or pike gear ready as well. Besides, it makes the cold, wet March weather pass faster if
you are doing something productive.
If you are an optimist you might consider that trout fishing on streams is technically open for catch and release now. Remember that last spring the DEC passed new regulations establishing different classifications for many trout streams.
This rule change also established a statewide catch and release season for most streams from October 16 until March 31. The exceptions are listed in the statewide fishing guide.
On these streams you can use artificial lures only and all trout must be released properly. Technically that means removing the hook and not lifting the fish from the water. It does not apply to the steelhead-run tributaries of Lake Ontario which are listed under special regulations.
Personally I doubt that many people took advantage of this option in this area.
However I know that several people used to fish on the sections of Oneida and Chittenango Creek that were open to fishing in previous winters.
However we all know that weather is extremely changeable in central New York and often in years past the fishing conditions on streams in March might be better than they are in mid April. It is also important to remember that this special catch and release season only applies to streams. Ponds and lakes are not open to trout fishing until the traditional April 1 opener.
But get your tackle ready now just in case. Besides it will keep you off the streets and out of trouble.
Check your rods to make sure that the guides are not loose or there are no rough spots to wear your line. Pull a scrap of nylon stocking through the guides to check for burrs or rough spots. You can clean any cork handles with some warm water and mild dish detergent.
Reels take a little more attention. Check the bail springs to see that they are tight and that there are no rough spots or nicks on the bail to cause your line to fray.
Make sure you have the owner’s manual to reference the parts and what lubricant to
use in the right place.
If there is an accumulation of lots of dirty grease in the gear area, they should be cleaned with a solvent like Quik Scrub III to remove it. Clean them thoroughly and lubricate with a proper lubricant.
Avoid water-displacing lubricants like WD-40 since the chemicals can actually dissolve the protective grease needed. At first the reel may seem to operate smoothly but when the lubricant is gone the parts will be rubbing against each other. Generally, you should use grease for parts that mesh like gears; use oil on parts that may rub. If you are missing screws or have a damaged bail, etc. get it taken care of.
Discard all the old monofilament on your reels and spare spools and replace it with new line. Line is the vital connection to you and that fish, so don’t risk having old, brittle line. Monofilament line deteriorates with ultraviolet light, ozone, etc. so it should be replaced at least once a year.
It also becomes stiff and takes a set curl when it becomes wet and exposed to sun so it pays to change line frequently. Many people change their lines two or three times per season. Any line that you purchased last year and is still on the original spool and kept in the cellar away from light will be alright to use.
Choice of line can be difficult. Different lines have special qualities such as abrasion resistance, limpness, low visibility, etc. These qualities are often exclusive, ie you can’t have one line with all of them. You probably have several reels or spare spools for some of the reels, so buying large bulk spools of line can save you money. If you want abrasion-resistant line, monofilament is much better than either braided or
If the lures have rusty hooks, replace them now. You can get packs of hooks and “O” rings at most tackle shops. Sharpen all the hooks. A small hone or inexpensive sharpener will quickly put a good point on the hooks. A diamond groove makes it easy to put a sharp point on your hook with just a few strokes.
If some of your spoons are tarnished, clean them up with silver polish or toothpaste. Some lures might need repainting. Make sure that all your plugs have eyes; it really does make a difference. Do you have pliers or hemostats, knife, penlight, and similar tools? A few needle threaders come in handy for tying on flies,
especially during periods of low light. Clippers, hook sharpeners, and polarized sunglasses are essential. Check waders now for leaks and patch or replace them if they are too bad. A reliable way to check Is to fill the tub with water, put on your waders, and kneel in the tub.
We all have lots of other gear or supplies that we need to check. Start it now so you won’t waste valuable time later when you could be out fishing.
Safest Hunting Season Ever
New York hunters experienced the safest season ever in 2021 since the record keeping of hunting related accidents began. There were only nine hunting-related accidents, with one fatality. This was the lowest number on record since 1949 when DEC’s Hunter Education Program began.
Seven of the nine incidents that occurred in 2021 were two-party firearm incidents; the other two incidents were self-inflicted. All identified shooters were experienced hunters with an average of 40 years of hunting experience, emphasizing the need to remain vigilant when going afield. All these incidents could have been
prevented if those involved had followed hunting safety rules.
A new hunting regulation that took effect in 2001 extended big game shooting hours from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. None of the deer hunting incidents last year took place during the new extended hours. The four incidents involving deer hunters occurred between 10:30 am and 2 pm
Another new regulation change effective last year requires all persons hunting deer or bear with a firearm, or anyone accompanying these hunters, to wear solid or patterned fluorescent orange or pink hat, vest, or jacket. The single fatality that occurred in 2021 involved a deer hunter not wearing pink or orange. This hunter was mistaken for game and was shot by a hunting partner.
Also new in 2021, 52 upstate counties passed local laws allowing 12 and 13 year old licensed hunters to hunt deer with a firearm or crossbow while under the supervision of an experienced and licensed adult hunter. None of the accidents in 2021 involved a 12 or 13 year old hunter.
All first time hunters, bowhunters, and trappers must successfully complete an appropriate DEC hunter safety education course before being eligible to purchase a hunting or trapping, or bowhunting license in New York State. The DEC stresses the primary rules of hunter safety:
Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
Control the muzzle and keep it pointed in a safe direction.
Identify your target and what lies beyond.
Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
Wear hunter orange or pink.
Tree Stand Accidents
Only recently has the DEC investigated Tree Stand incidents (“Elevated Hunting Incidents”) which are typically underreported. In 2021 there were 10 EHIS reported, one was fatal. Only one of the hunters was wearing a safety harness and that harness was not connected to the tree.