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Wellesley Island nature center offers kids fishing classes

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Minna Anthony Common Nature Center at Wellesley Island State Park has announced the dates for the annual series of Kids Free Fishing Classes, and the first session is slated for May 25. The other dates are June 15, July 6, Aug. 31, Sept. 14, and October 5. Again this year, noted outdoor writer and book author, Spider Rybaak of Canastota, will be the instructor.

Two separate classes will be held on each date. Traditional fishing with worms and lures will take place from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. each day while fly-fishing will be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. All sessions include actual fishing at the Nature Center’s dock, an area frequented by sunfish, yellow perch, and rock bass, as well as the occasional bass and northern pike.

Students 16 years and older are reminded that they must have a valid fishing license. At the event, Rybaak will have signed copies of his popular books (“Fishing Eastern New York” and “Fishing Western New York”) for sale. For more information, contact the Nature Center at 482-2479.

The Kids Free Fishing Classes are made possible thanks to the efforts of Spider Rybaak, Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, and industry sponsors. Sampo Swivels underwrites the program; Shakespeare, Berkley, and Mustad provide the fishing tackle; and Morgan Lyle donates the flies.

Catch-and-release Bass Season

The traditional bass season in New York State runs from the third Saturday in June until Nov. 30. Several years ago, though, DEC adopted statewide regulations that created a catch-and-release, artificial-lures-only bass season that extended from Dec. 1 through the Friday preceding the third Saturday in June.

While the majority of waters across the state are open to bass fishing during the catch-and-release season, there is no catch-and-release season for the waters of Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence counties. In these four counties, anglers are prohibited from fishing for bass, including catch-and-release fishing, until the traditional season opens on June 15.

Henderson Harbor Classic

Sponsored by the Henderson Harbor Performing Arts Center, the always popular Henderson Harbor Spring Classic is set for May 16-19. The 2013 derby features a $1,000 first-place prize in the brown trout, northern pike, and walleye divisions and a $500 first-place prize in the pickerel and lake trout divisions. In addition, prizes will be awarded for second through fifth places in all divisions.

Interested individuals can register ($20 for adults and $5 for youths 16 and under) and get a complete set of rules at Henchen Marina in Henderson Harbor, Gander Mountain in Watertown, or BJ’s Bait Shop in Dexter. Weigh-ins will take place at West View Lodge from 2-6 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday and from noon until 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Opening Weekend Fishing

Last Saturday and Sunday, I was fortunate enough to fish the St. Lawrence River for the opening weekend of walleye and pike seasons. Overall the fishing was slow, and I attributed that to the cold water temperatures (45 degrees), bright sun, and lack of a breeze to break up the water’s surface.

For walleyes, we trolled diving plugs along structural edges in 22 feet-or-so water. Those efforts produced a couple of nice fish, but we didn’t encounter numbers of fish in any of the areas we worked.

For northern pike, we cast buck-tail jigs and swim baits. Even though we caught a released a few hefty pike, the action was uncharacteristically slow for early May. Most of the bays we fished were pretty much void of weeds, and when we did find fish, they were in the weedy areas. During the outing, we saw 16 different pike that saw our lures but ignored them, looked at them, followed them, or nudged them without striking the lures as pike typically do.

Bowhunter Education Course

The St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club (Rte. 37 River Rd., Ogdensburg) will host a Bowhunter Education Course from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 8. The course is limited to 30 students, and interested individuals must pre-register by calling instructor Paul Montpetit at 393-3775.

Outdoors Calendar

Tuesday: Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of SLC meet at Canton BOCES at 7 p.m.

Saturday: Gary Strader Coyote Seminar at SLVSC at 3 p.m. (393-5318).

Thursday-Sunday: Henderson Harbor Spring Classic Fishing Derby for trout, pike, walleye, and pickeral.

May 25: Cape Vincent C of C hosts Annual Spring Fishing Derby (654-2481).

May 25: Kids Free Fishing Classes at Wellesley Island State Park (482-2479).

May 31: Spring Turkey Season closes in NYS.

June 8: Bowhunter Education Course at SLVSC (Pre-register at 393-3775).

June 15: Traditional Bass Season opens on NYS waters.

June 15: SLRWA hosts Annual Smackdown Walleye Tournament at Massena (384-3450).

June 15: SLVSC hosts Annual Opening-Day Bass Derby at Ogdensburg.

June 29-30: Free Fishing Days on NYS waters.

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