Lake Champlain Ice Recedes Just in Time for Trout Season Opener

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Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism offers fishing tips for ice out.

Lake Champlain ice out

Lake Champlain ice out

In anticipation of the trout season opener, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism has compiled a list of ice-out tips for fishing this spring.

Lakes and ponds in the Lake Champlain region are emerging from winter, and area fishermen are readying for spring angling. And area guides and experts know that ice out means good fishing, and this year, ice out is just in time for the April 1 trout opener.

Following are some TIPS for ICE-OUT FISHING this SPRING:

WEATHER:
It's changeable at any time of the year, but early spring can be especially cruel - a nice 50 degrees one day, dropping to below freezing the next. Anglers should take ample layers of clothing and be prepared to use any and/or all of them.

WATER SAFETY:
If the ice has just disappeared from the surface of a pond, it stands to reason that the water is cold. Backcountry ponds and lakes are favorites at ice-out, but one has to be prepared. New York State law requires that ALL boaters must wear a personal floatation device (PFD) between Nov. 1 and May 1.

Stay in the shallows: As the ice recedes and trout begin to shake off winter, they'll head to warmer, shallower waters. If fishing ponds and lakes, shallower, of course, means the edges, and in streams, along the banks. Fish the southern exposures and pay attention to the wind, which will push warmer water toward shore.

BAIT:
For now, nymphs and midges are a go; there will be plenty of time to throw those picturesque dry flies later. The insects are just shaking off their winter slumber and haven't had a chance to begin their life cycles in earnest. Spin-fishermen have a great opportunity to get the first real food of the year in front of the hungry fish - worms, egg sacs, marshmallows, cheese all work. Small spoons, spinners and jigs will also entice the fish.

WHERE to FISH

    -The Boquet River Main Stem: flowing through the towns and hamlets of Willsboro, Whallonsburg, Wadhams, Elizabethtown and Lewis, this stream is home to a great spring landlocked salmon run.
    -The North Branch of the Boquet River: There's less fishing pressure here, but a pretty stream nonetheless that travels through the towns of Elizabethtown and Lewis.
    -Spruce Mill Brook is a tributary of the Boquet, home to native brookies in its upper reaches. It's stocked for spring closer to the town of Lewis.
    -The LaChute River winds its way through the town of Ticonderoga from Lake George to Lake Champlain. You don't have to go far to hook into one of several fish species.

SEASONS and DATES:
It is important for anglers to know what type of fishing is permitted. Following is a sample of the general regulations, but check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website for information on specific waters. Many of the Essex County fishing spots have special regulations to keep the unique fisheries, well, unique

  •      Trout (brook, brown and rainbow trout and hybrids of these species; and splake): April 1 through Oct. 15, no minimum length, with a 5-fish daily limit.

    -Lake Trout: April 1 through Oct. 15, a 21-inch minimum size and 3-fish daily limit.
    -Landlocked Atlantic Salmon: April 1 through Oct. 15, a 15-inch minimum size and 3-fish daily limit.
    -Black Bass (largemouth/smallmouth): catch-and-release and artificial lures only until the third Saturday in June.
    -Crappie: no closed season, minimum length of 9 inches and a 25-fish daily limit.
    -Perch and sunfish: no closed season, no minimum length and a 50-fish daily limit.
    The season is closed in April for muskies, northern pike, pickerel, walleye.

Of course, it never hurts to bring along an expert. Plan a fishing trip with one of the Lake Champlain outdoor guides, and/or check out the available places to stay!
For more information about the Adirondack Coast of Lake Champlain visit lakechamplainregion.com.

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Kimberly Rielly
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