THE FASCINATING WORLD OF FRESHWATER SNORKELING

Colorful fish, like this Niangua darter male, with good color, bring new life into our understanding of the lake, the stream, the pond.  Missouri Department of Conservation Photo

By Larry Whiteley
When most people think of snorkeling they think of sandy beaches, blue saltwater and coral reefs, but Missouri’s freshwater streams and lakes can also be a fascinating snorkeling adventure.
We don’t usually think of our local fresh bodies of water as a place to grab your mask, fins and snorkel for an adventure but after you read this I think you will change your mind. You would be amazed at the opportunities that are available for snorkelers in Missouri and all you have to do is go find them.

Largemouth bass might be youth anglers best friend, but they also help keep the balance of pond life in order. Missouri Department of Conservation Photo

The marine life can be as diverse as that found in saltwater, just maybe not quite as colorful. There are many species of fish to be seen as well as turtles, snakes, crawdads (crayfish, crawfish or whatever you want to call them), hellgrammites and other forms of tiny aquatic life.
My wife and I have had a cabin in the Missouri Ozarks for over 20 years.
The clear water of a creek that runs through our land makes snorkeling a popular thing to do for everyone who visits on a hot summer day.
Bluegills swim right up to your face or nibble at you as you float along in the water. Bass and hog suckers don’t want anything to do with these homosapiens that have invaded their home and skitter along ahead. Colorful sunfish and goggle eye usually guard their nest or hide back under a rock ledge. Multitudes of baitfish swim around in schools continually battling the swift water. Colorful darters hide among the rocks.
If you’re lucky, you might see a turtle or a huge crawdad. There was the time I took some real lobster claws and placed them where they stuck out under a rock ledge making them look like the granddaddy of all crawdads was there. I then watched as my neighbor snorkeled closer and closer to where I had hidden them. Cost of the lobster claws – $35. Cost of the camera to take my neighbor’s picture as he came up out of the water – $250. Look on my neighbors face – priceless!
If visitors are really lucky or unlucky, depending on your fear of snakes, they might get to swim along with a 4-foot-long water snake. No, it’s not a fake snake and no I’m not scared of snakes. At least as long as I know it’s not poisonous.

Bluegills are a special treat with all their color, appetite and attitude around docks for when kids are dunking worms.  Missouri Department of Conservation Photo

I was a little nervous once though when I dangled a crappie jig in front of this same snake and he struck at it catching the hook in his mouth. I haven’t had a whole lot of experience unhooking a writhing, very mad water snake, and was thankful the line broke before I had to figure it out. I guess he forgave me, because he now lets me swim along underwater with him. He does look at me funny some times and he would probably stick his tongue out at me if there wasn’t a crappie jig in the way.
I think what people enjoy the most while snorkeling in the creek is underwater fishing. We use either a small kid’s rod and reel combo or a tiny ice fishing spinning combo baited with a worm or crawdad. You float along with your mask and snorkel watching fish take your bait. Then you set the hook and reel in the fish, all underwater. I think the adults love it as much as the kids. Now how many of you can say you caught a fish while underwater with the fish?
Another thing we do is have someone stand on the bank and cast different artificial baits into areas where fish are holding and then we snorkel underwater to watch how fish react to the different baits. Doing so has helped us all become better fishermen.
Snorkeling around with an underwater camera or a smart phone in a waterproof bag is another thing we enjoy doing. It is amazing the fantastic photos you can take underwater in freshwater.
So what are you waiting for? It’s July, it’s very hot and it’s a whole lot cooler when you’re snorkeling. Plus it’s a whole lot of fun!

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York Lake Ontario, Lake Alice, Erie Canal for October 13, 2016

The cold temperatures and frost of Monday night and Tuesday morning should go a long way in convincing salmon that it’s spawning time. Even though daytime temperatures will be back up in the 70’s this week, tributary temperatures are definitely heading in the right direction.

Some solid reports have Brown trout and even some Atlantic salmon entering the mix. The best action is still occurring around the mouths of the tributaries and from small boats working the shoreline.

There are fish all the way up to the dam on Oak Orchard, but not as heavy as you would expect at this time of year.

Basically it seems that everything is about two weeks behind where you would expect it to be. A good rain would go a long way towards bringing things back to something close to being normal.

On Lake Alice the cooler temperatures have moved many of the species back to the weed beds around the lake. Bluegill and Crappie are still being taken from the Waterport Bridge but not in the numbers they were a week ago.

Don’t lose out on some great fishing, food, friends and prizes at the St. Mary’s Archer’s Club Catch and Release Derby which will be held on October 19th to the 21st this year. It is truly one of the great events of the fall fishing season.

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County. We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.

Email: sportfishing@orleansny.com

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York Lake Ontario, Lake Alice, Erie Canal for October 6, 2016

The cooler temperatures of the past few days have the salmon population slowly moving towards their spawning grounds. The biggest concentration of salmon on the “Oak” seems to be by the deep hole at the bridges area.

Later this week we will be experiencing even more cool down which should speed up the pre-spawn movement.

Water levels on all of the tributaries within Orleans County are at slightly below levels to low levels for this time of year. With no great amount of precipitation in the near future these levels should remain.

On Lake Alice, Bluegills are still being taken by the Waterport Bridge and now some Crappie are starting to show up. Bass are becoming more active and should increase in activity as temperatures cool down.

Don’t miss out on some great fishing, food, friends and prizes at the St. Mary’s Archer’s Club Catch and Release Derby which will be held on October 19th to the 21st this year. It is truly one of the great events of the fall fishing season. Visit the weigh station, Narby’s Superette – to sign up, see Sharon Narburgh, 1292 Oak Orchard Rd. (RTE 98), Kent, NY 14477, or call 585-682-4624.

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County. We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.

Email: sportfishing@orleansny.com

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York Lake Ontario, Lake Alice, Erie Canal for September 29, 2016

Hats off to Joe Yeager with this monster King Salmon recently caught in western Lake Ontario.

The cool down continues for the rest of this week and well into next week.

Rain is in the forecast throughout the end of the week and into Monday of next week, which should spur movement of salmon towards their spawning locations. Fishermen are reporting more hookups around the tributary mouths of Johnson and Sandy Creeks, as well as at the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek.

Right now the flows on the tributaries within Orleans County are at moderate levels to slightly below moderate levels, but the rain over the next few days should improve those conditions.

Right now fishing pressure is light but with conditions improving that should be on the increase.

The weather conditions are moving these fish up to at least the mid-pools and some all the way up to the Waterport dam on the Oak. Please remember that if you are utilizing fishing opportunities on Brookfield Power property to take the time to familiarize their guidelines concerning safety procedures.

On Lake Alice, the Bluegill fishing is starting to drop off slightly, but the bass fishing is on the rise.

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County. We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.

Email: sportfishing@orleansny.com

Fishing Report: Orleans County, New York Lake Ontario, Lake Alice for September 15, 2016

The weather for the next week or so seems to have higher than normal daytime temperatures and cooler than normal night time temperatures, or at least that is what the weathermen say.

There doesn’t seem to be much action on our portion of Lake Ontario, but the pier fishermen are starting to get some hook-ups. With the shorter days and longer nights water temperatures should start dropping towards that magic number to signal the start of the spawning migration for trout and salmon. With September also half gone, tributary fishermen are preparing for what should be a great tributary season.

This is also the time of year when many fishermen’s minds and hearts start turning towards hunting season.

On Lake Alice there has been an upswing in the Bluegill catch rate and also the sizes of the catch especially around the Waterport Bridge area. Also the bass fishing productivity has increased due to some cooler water temperatures.

Please remember that the St. Mary’s Archers Club Catch and Release Tournament will be held from October 19th to the 21st this year. It’s a great time for some great competition, fantastic food and some of the finest tributary fishing to be found anywhere.

From Point Breeze on Lake Ontario, the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town USA and the rest of Orleans County. We try to make everyday a great fishing day in Orleans County.

Email: sportfishing@orleansny.com