We mark this second birthday with 61 new followers and over 24,000 page hits! And we thank the 32 staff, interns, and partner organizations who have shared their passion for State Parks through the blogs that they have written. We also want to recognize our partnership with the New York Natural Heritage Program who helped in initiating this feature and continues to provide support.
We look forward to continuing our celebration of State Parks in the months to come in Nature Times. Hope to see you soon at one of our Parks or Historic Sites!
Today, we celebrate 150 followers of the New York State Parks Nature Times Blog!
To date, the blog has featured more than 110 posts than span a myriad of topics including park history, endemic and endangered species, special studies, quizzes, scavenger hunts and more. More than 30,000 visitors from 40 different countries around the world have visited the blog.
To become a follower, visit the blog homepage and click on the button in the upper left hand corner, just under the logo. Tell your friends and family to “follow” the Nature Times Blog, and they’ll never miss a post!
Ice fishing opportunities abound in New York State. Winter anglers can catch a variety of fish; primarily perch, sunfish, pickerel, northern pike and walleye. In addition, many waters throughout the State are open to fishing for trout, lake trout and landlocked salmon.
Ice fishing requires doing a little homework. Learning about the equipment needed, proper clothing, safety precautions, the water you want to fish, and fishing regulations are all part of a successful, enjoyable winter fishing experience. Accompanying a friend on an ice fishing outing or visiting a tackle shop in a popular ice fishing area can be great ways to learn about the skills and equipment needed. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) ice fishing webpage also has some very good information to help you get started and lists some of the waters where you can ice fish. Pay particular attention to the ice safety section. There are also a number of free fishing clinics held in New York each year, including ice fishing clinics.
DEC and State Parks will co-host a free ice fishing clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17, at Glimmerglass State Park in the town of Springfield, Otsego County. The event will be moved to the public boat launch at Canadarago Lake just south of Richfield Springs on NYS Route 28 if there is not sufficient ice on Otsego Lake. Find out if the clinic is going to run by contacting Glimmerglass State Park at 607-547-8662.
In order to ice fish, you must first cut a hole in the ice. An ice auger is a good way to accomplish this. Ice augers come in a variety of sizes, so try to use an auger that is appropriate to the species of fish you are after. You will also need an ice scoop to clean slush and ice chunks out of the hole after it is cut.
Ice fishing methods include “jigging” with short, light fishing rods and using tip-ups. There are many different kinds of jigging poles and tip-ups available. Jigging involves the use of a jigging rod and either an ice jig or a small jigging spoon which is often tipped with a piece of bait. Spikes and mousies (maggots) are a good bait to use for smaller panfish, while minnows are often used for larger species. By jigging your bait (raising the rod tip up and down a few inches), you help attract fish to your bait. Generally, you will jig the bait a few times, then pause for a few seconds. Fish usually take the bait during the pause.
A tip-up is basically a spool on a stick that holds a baited line suspended through a hole in the ice. When the bait – usually a minnow – is taken by a fish, the pull on the line releases a signal, such as a red flag.
Placing the tip-up, photo by DEC Fisheries
Tip-up ready to catch a fish, photo by DEC Fisheries
Fish in similar areas you would during other seasons: weed lines, humps, depth changes, points, or other structure. Contour maps can help you find some of these places. Early morning or late afternoon tend to be the most productive times of day to fish.
Proper clothing is critical for safe ice fishing outings. Dress warmly, paying extra attention to your head, feet and hands – dressing in layers is essential.
You may not see any snow when you look out the window right now, but winter is here and now is the time to think about all of the outdoor activities it brings. One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of New York in the winter is on a snowmobile, exploring The New York State snowmobile trail system which crisscrosses 45 counties through woods, fields, towns and our State Parks. Snowmobiling is a fun, family-friendly way to enjoy winter scenery and wildlife, especially for those people with disabilities who are unable to do strenuous activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
With over 10,000 miles of public trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy from local loops to weekend getaways. A Google Earth map of the trail system is available on the snowmobile page of the State Parks website. Many of our parks have trails connecting to the statewide trail system. And some parks, like Allegany State Park, not only have over 60 miles of groomed trails, they also have winterized cabins which are open year-round for a warm winter weekend retreat.
If you’re new to the sport, or have never been on a snowmobile before, the New York State Snowmobile Association is teaming up with State Parks to offer Take a Friend Snowmobiling events where you can learn more and take a free snowmobile ride, conditions permitting. An event is scheduled at Selkirk Shores State Park on January 31, 2015. Necessary equipment will be provided; participants are urged to dress appropriately for outdoor weather conditions.
State Parks recommends all snowmobilers attend a certified New York State snowmobiling safety course, and never drink & ride!
The dog days of summer are a very distant memory, but many intrepid New Yorkers thrive in winter and are eager for falling temperatures and continued snowfalls. To these hardy adventurers, a few extra layers of gear combined with the snowy terrain offer a winter wonderland of nature, fitness and fun.
In fact, a few of New York’s State Parks remain open and offer accommodations this time of year. From cold-weather sports to the quiet beauty of snow-covered landscapes… snowshoe treks to winter carnivals, skating rinks to seal walks, New York State Parks are popular destinations for winter recreation and the perfect remedy for cabin fever.
Allegany State Park is not only the largest state park in New York at 65,000 acres, but this flagship property offers four seasons of adventure and is considered to be a premier winter-time destination for cold-weather fun in the northeast. Allegany features 18 trails with 80 miles of hiking and snowshoeing, more than 25 miles of cross-country skiing and 90 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. While the mercury may be dropping, the park heats up as families and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy winter activities and snow-based recreation in this vast wilderness setting. Convenient and affordable winter lodging options at the park include year-round cabins and cottages available for rent.
With winterized cabins and the incredibly scenic Genesee Valley gorge as a backdrop, Letchworth State Park is another ideal destination for winter sports. Winter activities include snow tubing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Families can also rent the Maplewood Lodge, located in the middle of the park near the entrance to the Highbanks Camping Area. A popular choice for snowmobilers, it connects to the New York State snowmobile trail system. The three-bedroom lodge sleeps up to eight people and consists of a furnished kitchen, living room with cozy fireplace, dining room and a full size bath and powder room.
Wellesley Island State Park along the St. Lawrence Seaway in the Thousand Islands is another prime location with winterized accommodations to host weekend getaways or an impromptu overnight when available. The park’s Minna Anthony Common Nature Center is open year-round and includes nine miles of hiking trails, and five miles of cross country ski and snow shoe trails. During the winter months visitors can warm up by the fireplace and meet other explorers. The trails have a diversity of habitat including field, forest, wetlands and views of the St. Lawrence River.
In Cooperstown, Glimmerglass State Park offers a variety of child-friendly activities such as tubing, ice skating and winter trail sports. Reserve one of the cottages that sleep eight at nearby Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park and bring the whole family to enjoy a day of snowmobiling too.
For patrons enjoying New York’s state parks year-round, there is no ‘off-season” and every reason to get outside and embrace all types of cold- weather recreation among the wintry landscapes.
Post by Wendy Gibson and MaryAnn Corbisiero, OPRHP.