It didn't take very long for the county to go into winter mode.
A couple good snow storms and temperatures staying below the freezing mark and along come snow games. The lowering of the area lakes water levels, which can be attributed to a number of factors, has got winter waterfowlers on the hunt for a place to harvest migratory birds during the split duck season, which re-opened Saturday, and will remain open until Jan. 13, 2013.
Goose season also re-opened saturday, and will remain open until Jan. 16. The goose season will close and re-open on Feb. 23, and will remain open until March 10. The duck limit per day is six (see exceptions), and the limit on Canada geese is five per day during both winter seasons.
OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek
Waterfowl hunters will be looking for open water “honey holes,” like the one pictured above, to attract ducks and geese during the split waterfowl season, which is open from Dec. 29-Jan. 13, 2013.
With the snow and freeze on, finding open water to hunt ducks is going to be challenging, with slush ice or aqua firma providing a halo around any open available water. Trying to motor, or plow through slush, is like paddling through pudding. Duck hunters who frequent the Niagara River blinds reported that 173 hunters applied for the few that were available.
A road trip on Saturday afternoon revealed that Chautauqua Lake is well on it's way to icing up with Cassadaga Lake also well on it's way. Smaller ponds are snow covered and snow mobilers were out in force, especially around Mayville.
The Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced they will be stocking lake herring into Lake Ontario at Irondequoit Bay. It is estimated that as of 1950, Lake Ontario had seven species of whitefish that occupied varying depths of the lake. Only three species remain now: lake whitefish, round whitefish, and lake herring. Their abundance and distribution has been greatly reduced.
The DEC recently re-introduced the bloater, which is a deep water form of the whitefish, and now the herring will be introduced, which occupy and spawn in shallower water. According to DEC Commissioner, Joe Martens, "Re-establishing spawning populations of lake herring in Lake Ontario will diversify the native prey fish community and add stability to the lake eco-system."
The joint effort will be from the DEC, the U.S. Geological Survey, The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, as well as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and support from the Nature Conservancy.
Trout and salmon, which feed on the invasive alewive, can suffer from a vitamin B deficiency that can effect reproductive failure. Predators feeding on the native bloater and herring are less likely to suffer this problem. The DEC staff collected herring eggs in Chaumont Bay in November and December. The eggs were hatched and the juveniles reared at the USGS Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Sciences in Cortland.
On Jan. 19, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Southtowns Walleye Hall, there will be a flea market-type sale of used fishing and hunting equipment, with free parking, free entry and food and drinks available. Tables are $20, with reservations due by Jan. 17. Call 649-8202 for information.
The local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Lakeshore Longbeards, will host its next meeting on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m., at Liberty Vineyards, located on Route 20, in Sheridan. Topic of discussion will include the upcoming membership banquet to be held on Feb. 9, 2013, at the Kosciuszko Club, in Dunkirk. Also on the agenda will be scholarship submissions. All local high school seniors are invited to participate. For more information, find the National Wild Turkey Federation online, and look for scholarship information. The deadline for scholarship submission to be eligible for statewide and national awards is Jan. 15, 2013.
Announcing the NYS Ice Pro-Am Tournament Series: There are three Main Tournament Events scheduled (If the ice co-operates) The first is on Tupper Lake, from Jan. 4-6. The second is on Chautauqua Lake, and is scheduled for Feb. 15, 16, and 17. The final event is on Sodus Bay, from Feb. 22-24. There are three divisions: Professional (1-2 anglers per team). The entry fee is $160 per team. There will also be an Amateur Division, which will be for singles or pairs. The entry fee is at $90 per team. The Open Division, which is for single anglers, is the final division. The entry fee is $40. Check the official tournament website at www.NYSiceproam.com. The official Tournament email address is info@FK sportfishing.com
The SAREP Youth Fly Fishing Program will continue its 14th season of free fly tying and fly fishing classes on Monday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m., at the Fredonia Middle School Cafeteria. Field trips will occur shortly afterwards. Classes are free and are open to children and community members. Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The classes will continue to meet every Monday until early summer.
There will be a Fur Handling Seminar on Saturday, Jan. 5 at the Collins Conservation Club located on Conger Road, Collins. This FREE event will run from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Learn better ways of preparing your pelts. There will be kids games, prizes, raffles and the kitchen is open. There will be a fur buyer available after the event. Call Hoot at 532-2457, or Patti at 337-2556 for information. This event is sponsored by the Erie County Fur Trappers Association.
The Northern Chautauqua Beagle Club will host its annual rabbit hunt on Sunday, Jan. 13. The hunt is open to all area hunters. You can enter the day of the event at the club house located 8455 Fredonia Stockton Road in Fredonia from 6-8 a.m. Entry fee is $5. Awards and hot food available at the club around 3 p.m. For information, call Pete Criscione at 366-8989, Liz Dorman at 595- 3993 and John Depew at 789-5522.
For those of you interested in taking a NYS Pistol Permit Class, there will be one held locally on Jan. 26 from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. For information, call Gary Dudek at 366-3397.
The Jamestown Rifle club will hold Pistol classes on Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 24 and April 28. You must be 21 years of age and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m. and last around four hours. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.