Longer daylight hours generally mean warmer temperatures and for local sportsmen that means looking forward to springtime fishing and the spring turkey youth hunt weekend.
This year the DEC has gone out of its way to stock the local trout waters with fingerlings and brood stock. With the past couple weeks' temperatures ranging from the 40s a week ago to this past week barely getting above freezing and with high water in local streams it's a been a challenging stocking season for Randolph Hatchery staff.
With the help of local sportsmen and students, as much stocking as possible will be completed in time for opening day, April 1.
With a five-trout limit and no-size limit, but anglers can't have more than two fish more than 12 inches, trout fishing is a long-standing springtime tradition for anglers, young and old. According to the list of stocking numbers, it looks like that this year most of the fisheries and streams will be receiving good numbers of local hatchery-raised stock.
For Chautauqua County anglers, Goose Creek will be stocked with 1,810 first yearlings and 300 two-year old stock.
Local favorite and early-season hotspot, the Clay Pond in Falconer, will again be stocked with 300 yearlings and 100 two-year-old stock.
Brown fingerlings have also been stocked in Beaver Meadow, Connoisaruley Creek, Great Valley Creek, Wrights Creek, Forks Creek, Beaver and Meadow Creek. A large number of fingerlings and two-year old brood stock have been put in Ischua Creek.
Science Lake, Quaker Run and Red House Creek have been stocked with browns. Quaker Run and Red House have been stocked with more than 2,300 yearlings.
A little closer to home, Little Conewango Creek will receive 1,270 spring yearlings, North Branch of Sawmill Run will get 110 spring yearlings and Bone Run Creek will 300 yearlings.
While fishing in Allegany State Park has a great place to chase early-season trout, it's important before anglers head to the streams or lakes in the park that they make a stop at the Park Police Office to have their fishing license "stamped" and receive a copy of the park's fishing guidelines.
Remember, the majority of trout we will be catching early in the season have been pond raised. Having spent hours at the Randolph Hatchery viewing trout being fed, I have noticed that as soon almost reminds me of late-summer night top-water smallmouth action.
The frozen corn hitting the water triggers a Pavlov's Dog-type response for the trout. They know it's feeding time and they come to the surface to take part in the day's meal.
As always check with your New York State Fishing Regulations Guide before you head to the water. Some streams and lakes have may special rules.
The special Youth Spring Turkey Weekend in New York will be April 20-21. This is actually a week before the traditional dates of the weekend before opening day of the regular season on May 1.
The weekend is designed to help introduce youth to the excitement and joy of hunting spring turkeys.
There are many things that are trilling about spring turkey hunting, but one that I - as a child at heart - find real exciting is the sound of the spring time wild turkey. We all know that just about every species we hunt has some form of vocalization, but the none is more vocal then a spring gobbler.
Whether it be a hen yelping her head off or a longbeard gobbling on the roost at first light, one of the exhilarating parts of hunting spring turkeys is the sounds that they make.
New York State licensed youth between the ages of 12-15 that have a current NYS small-game hunting license and turkey tags are allowed to take part in this youth-only weekend. The rules are fairly simple. Each youth must have a licensed hunter over the age of the 21 for 12- or 13-year-olds, 14- or 15-year-olds have to be accompanied by 18-year-olds and the senior hunter must have a license to hunt spring turkeys. Check the NYS DEC website for more of the particulars.
The senior hunter cannot carry a weapon or attempt to kill a turkey during the youth hunt, but may assist in calling and coaching the youth hunter. As always make sure you check the laws before you head out on your hunt.
Again this season we will be hosting our annual Youth Spring Turkey Essay Contest.
The contest is open for all youth in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties that are 12 to 15 years of age and that have a New York State hunting license and proper tags.
The essay shouldn't be more than 400 words and the topic this year is: If you could pick one person to go hunting with, who would it be and why.
Each essay should have your full name, age, email address and phone number.
Your essays should be submitted no later than April 10, with the winner be announced the following Sunday.
The winner will receive a guided morning hunt (winner picks either day) for Spring Turkey with me during the Special Youth Spring Turkey Weekend, a TruWoods camo jacket and an Oak Ridge Game Call of their choice.
The winner must have their 2012-13 small game hunting license and spring turkey stamp and be ready to get up at dawn.
The winner will contacted via email and/or phone.
Essays should be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.