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Press-Republican. (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) 1966-current, October 15, 1995, Image 21

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-PRESS-REPUBLICAN - PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. OUTDOORS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 1995 PAGE B-9 The Outdoor Perspective • . AP Photo Fishermen line Salmon River at Pulaski Sept. 23 during annual salmon run. Annual spawning run inspires certain madness By MARY ESCH Associated Press Writer PULASKI - Shadowy shapes swarm up the Salmon River, programmed to complete a sim- ple mission: spawn and die. The riverbanks teem with life, • too. Men wearing rubber from chest to toe line up shoulder to shoulder. Lines lit by the sun arc in an aerial ballet from either shore. Fur-and-feather flies and rubber eggs rain down on the water. This is the annual salmon run. It turns this tiny village north of Syracuse into a boom town reminiscent of Gold Rush days, with prospectors angling for trophy fish rather than panning for gold. Every autumn, thousands of chinook and coho salmon swim 18 miles from Lake Ontario to spawn where they were spawned, at a state hatchery in nearby Altmar. Thousands of anglers from as far away as the West Coast and Europe come to catch the salmon, as well as steelhead and brown trout. What's the big deal? \Big fish,\ said Les Wedge, regional fisheries manager for the state Department of En- vironmental Conservation. \There's no place else you can get big fish like that. You could in Alaska, but it would cost a few thousand bucks just for travel. Here, a few hundred dollars covers everything.\ It's not uncommon to catch chinooks weighing more than 30 pounds here. A 47-pound Great Lakes record chinook and a 33- pound world record coho were cabght in the Salmon River in autumns past. On a recent morning, spec- tators crowded the rails of bridges to watch the battle of wits, piscine versus human, and to debate ways of giving anglers the edge. This year, the hot topic is snagging, or snatching. That is, hooking a fish in the fin, gills, tail or anywhere outside the mouth and hauling it ashore to keep. The state Legislature banned the practice this year after five years of debate and court battles between the DEC and business owners in Pulaski, where fishing reels in an estimated $10 million a year. ' The law also prohibits posses- fi THE ORIGI <AL SOLUNAR BY MW. RICHARD AIABN KNIGHT For the wtcfc of October 15-22,1995 AM PM Data 10/1S 10/16 1417 UYlfc ibh* to oay Sun Man Yuw \Hi far Ife JU ban ••nor iftSS It 46 t£30 — V 140 TO 306 350 hU|or 435 535 6.20 700 740 8-2S 9-tO 9 55 ll.—rir •wnu* 11 25 12.15 12 55 1 W i4o 2& 3SB 405 Maior 510 800 640 7 25 805 850 9 35 1020 ! lue sion of weighted treble hooks— the big, three-pronged hooks that are loaded with lead and dragged through the water to snag fish. Fly fishermen were glad to see snagging end. \It isn't sportsmanlike,\ said Joe Bacher of Rochester. \They snag everything, steelhead, brown trout. Those fish aren't coming here to die (like spawning salmon are).\ \It's dangerous,\ said Jeon Lee of Boston. \I saw one guy get a three-pronged hook in his head.\ Some snaggers still are snag- ging, surreptitiously, Wedge said. Others have switched. \I'm not happy about it, but what can you do?\ said Donald Barber, a former snagger who was casting a Mister Twister without success. Fishing with a single hook \makes for a long day,\ he said. Those who catered to the snagging crowd are disgusted with the new law and the small army of officers and office workers sent by the DEC to en- force it. \It's totally gestapo tactics,\ said Don Andrews, owner of the D.A. and L.A. Lodge in Altmar, population 280. \I've been trying to build up my business, and now they're taking it away,\ said Shane Muckey, who opened a lodge in Altmar 18 months ago. \This is a renewable resource being wasted,\ Muckey said. \Those fish will just die and rot, float down the river and stink up the town.\ \Our taxes pay for these fish to be stocked, so people should be allowed to catch them any way they want,\ said Paul Hippie, Muckey's partner. The state has spent millions of dollars over the last two decades on stocking Pacific salmon in Lake Ontario. The idea was to curb the population of alewives, small fish eaten by salmon, and to create a fishing industry for tributary towns like Pulaski. Both plans worked a bit too well. The hatchery at Altmar started churning out salmon in 1970. When salmon fishing reached its peak in 1989, 93,000 chinooks were hauled out of the Salmon River, Wedge said. There were 10,000 anglers here on one October day. By 1992, the number of chinooks caught had dropped to 53,000, Wedge said. Since then, the state has cut stocking to save the alewives, which were threat- ened by too many chinooks as well as disruptions in the food chain caused by Great Lakes cleanup efforts. \For Lake Ontario, we stock 1 million chinook a year now,\ Wedge said. \We used to stock 2.7 million.\ With fewer fish, each becomes more valuable. ., \A fish can be caught more than once with cat- ch-and-release,\ Wedge said. \Snaggers take them home to eat.\ Last year was the safest hunting season on record in New York State. There was only one fatality statewide, and that was not in the nor-, them zone. In fact, there were only three hunting related acci- ' dents in the tri-coun- ty region. Compared to sports like football and activities like bicycling, hunting, as statistics show, is far safer. Even with this positive trend, hunters should not become com- placent. Lt. Michael O'Hara, Department of Environmental Conservation Sportsman Educa- tion Administrator, warns that hunters should be continually aware of situations where acci- dents can happen, and try to avoid such mishaps. O'Hara says visibility-related problems are the most common causes of accidents in New York State. These come in three forms: the victim is mistaken for a game animal; the victim is shot by someone swinging his gun in the direction of the target; or the vic- tim is in the line of fire. The only hunting accident reported from Franklin County last year was visibility-related: the hunter mistook the victim for a deer. To increase their visibility, hunters are encouraged to volun- tarily wear some bright orange clothing (this is not required by law in New York). I used to be skeptical, believing the bright color scared deer. But from per- sonal observation over the past couple years, I now think such things as a hunter's unnatural and unnecessary movement, wind direction and noise to be more significant than clothing color. I have, while wearing brightly-colored clothes, been able to stalk close to deer, moose and caribou. How much orange is enough to DENNIS APRILL Outdoors Columnist be safe? O'Hara isn't sure, but he en- courages hunters to wear at least an orange hat, for, as he puts it, 'A little orange color is better than none at all.' Re- cent DEC surveys show only 25 percent of hunters in our region wear hunter orange. Hopefully, with the increased awareness to safety, that percentage will rise substantially. Misdirected shots, often judgmental errors, are another cause of hunting accidents. A common example is the victim being out of the line of sight of the hunter, or even less likely, having a bullet ricochet and hit him. The key to avoiding these kinds of accidents is for the shooter to be absolutely certain of his or her target and what lies beyond it before squeezing the trigger. Careless gun handling is the third important cause of New York hunting accidents. Most in ' this category are self-inflicted and are not the result of a person intentionally firing the weapon. The only hunting injury in Clin- ton County last year, that of a goose hunter, fit in this category. The same is true in Essex County where a muzzleloading hunter accidently shot himself. This is rare because muzzleloaders, along with archers, are among the safest of hunters.. The most common way to get a self-inflicted wound is while climbing a fence or a tree stand with a loaded rifle. To avoid this and the other types of hunting accidents, hunting safety instruc- tors recommend the following: 1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded. 2. Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. 3. Be sure of the target and Pholo/Kathleen Aprill This hunter is wearing an orange piece of clothing. Can you tell which one? what lies beyond. The consequences of a hunting accident go beyond the pain and suffering of the victim. Such an event is often well publicized in the local media causing embar- rassment to the hunter and his family. A fine and/or imprison- ment could follow. Add to this personal grief from such a mis- hap, and most would agree no deer or bear is worth the risk of taking a questionable shot. Hunters should keep in mind Lt. O'Hara's advice that he em- phasizes each year: \The ultimate responsibility lies with the person handling the firearm and pulling the trigger.\ Field Notes For 1995, hunting accidents are up slightly from 1994, and there have been three fatalities so far this year. Two of the vic- tims were young hunters, which makes these tragedies all the worse. All fatalities this year have been downstate. For more information on safe hunting, see page 43 of this year's 'New York Hunting and Trapping Regulations' guide. Photo provided TAKING AIM:The Plattsburgh Rod & Gun Club team, in only its third year of competition, plac- ed in the top 5 percent at the 10th Northeast Grand American Trap Shoot held in Cicero last month. Local competitors were, from left to right: Bob Howard, Mark Cross, Mike Duquette and John St. John. All four advanced to shoot-offs among themore 5,000 on hand from the United States and Canada. 'SPORTSMAN'S' DIGEST DETECTING A FLINCH SHOOTERS WHO ARE SENSITIVE TO THE RECOIL FROM A FIRED SUN OFTEN DEVELOP AN INVOLUNTARY FUNCH WHEN THEY PULL ON THE TRIGGER WITHOUT KNOWING IT. I F YOU'RE MISSING MANY TARGETS^ IT MAY BE FROM FLINCHING. FOR A TEST, HAVE A FRIEND LOAD YOUR SUN ANO SNEAK A FIRED CASE IN PLACE OF ONE UNFIRED SHELL— WITHOUT YOU SEEING HIM DO IT. IF XXJ WINCE WHEN THE EMPTY IS TRIGGERED, YOU'VE GOT A FLINCH.' 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