REGIONALS: East

New York's top gobblers, shad-time on the Delaware, top-ranked water for trout,trout on the Lehigh in PA, double-digit pike in MA.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

** Connecticut **

Big Bantam Pike: Bantam Lake (916 acres) is Connecticut's go-to place for big northern pike. Fish the coves on the northeastern and western sides in early to mid-May with big plugs, and submerged weed lines later with spoons or live bait. Find a ramp on the south end on East Shore Road via Route 109. Contact: Bob Orciari, supervisor of fisheries, Western District Headquarters (230 Plymouth Road, Harwinton, CT 06791; 860-485-0226).

Thames Stripers: The Thames River, near New London, holds stripers over the winter, and in spring they are joined by big migrant fish coming upriver to feast on shoals of spawning alewives. Fish the Montville Power Plant earlier, then move downriver to meet the migrants, especially at Fort Shantock. Contact: Rod McLeod, Department of Environmental Protection (Marine Headquarters, 333 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, CT 06376; 860-434-6043).

Big Land Buy: The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has completed the largest open space acquisition in the state's history. More than 15,300 acres of undeveloped land were preserved when the DEP, along with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), acquired the acreage from the Kelda Group, a water utility.

The land, located in Fairfield, Litchfield, New Haven and Hartford counties, was purchased for $90 million, with the state providing $80 million and TNC adding $10 million. Public hearings have been held to plan what uses of the acreage-which includes lands in the Housatonic and Naugutuck state forests and along at least eight rivers, lakes and reservoirs-will be allowed by the public. At press time, the closing date for the acquisition was March 31, 2002. This could be a major boon to outdoorsmen. Contact: Matthew Fritz, Communications Section, DEP (79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106; 860-424-4100).

Key Dates
April 20: Trout season opens; certain designated streams are open all year for trout (see 2002 Connecticut Angler's Guide).
May 1: Blackfish (tautog) season closes; reopens on June 15.
May 1-21: Spring turkey season.
Delaware
Gone Troutin': Take the kids and dunk some PowerBait. Tidbury Pond, in Kent County near Lebanon, and a Department of Transportation-owned pond about three miles east of Georgetown (off Route 404) offer can't-miss rainbow trout fishing. The Division of Fish and Wildlife heavily stocks both impoundments several times prior to the opener on April 6. Contact: Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, Fisheries Section (302-739-3441).

Lums Pond Lineup: In addition to being the largest freshwater impoundment in Delaware, Lums Pond is also one of the state's best "mixed bag" fishing destinations. The 200-acre lake near Kirkwood is home to healthy populations of largemouth bass, bluegills, crappies, catfish and chain pickerel, as well as a few stocker striped bass. Contact: Lums Pond State Park (302-368-6989).

Waterfowlers Decline: Recent figures show that Delaware licensed 21,383 hunters in 2000. Of this number, just under half purchased waterfowl stamps. While the overall number of hunters in Delaware had dropped slightly over the previous decade, the state saw a huge decline in waterfowlers. In 1990, four out of every five Delaware hunters pursued ducks and geese. That dropped to two in five in 2000, which translates into a serious decline in waterfowl funding. The declines in Delaware waterfowl hunting have been attributed to a decrease of hunter interest.

Key Dates

April 6: Trout season opens on designated waters at 7:30 a.m.
April 15: Spring turkey season opens (special permit required).

** Maine **
Auburn Landlockers: Maine's Lake Auburn in North Auburn produces catches of landlocked salmon to 6 pounds and lake trout to 15 pounds each year. Ice-out is the time to go-usually in late April, spillingver into May. Troll Magog smelt or Gray Ghost streamers in shallow water. Access is via a ramp off Center Street, Route 4. Contact: Mark Latti, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (Station #41, 284 State St., Augusta, ME 04333; 207-287-6008).

Brookies and Salmon: Use Joe's Smelt streamers at Pierce Pond to catch brookies 12 to 16 inches long and salmon to three pounds in April through mid-May. Later, match the hatch. Access is via the west side of the Kennebec River north out of Bingham and on the Bowtown Road to Otter Pond Cove. Contact: Mark Latti, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (Station #41, 284 State St., Augusta, ME 04333; 207-287-6008).

Lots of Moose: Approximately 2,550 moose were taken this past autumn in Maine out of 3,000 permit holders, an 84.8 percent success rate. Last year was the first time the season had been split into two segments, the first of which occurred during the third week of September, the prime moose rutting week. The second segment was a week later. The reason for the split was to ease hunting-pressure conflicts between moose and grouse hunters, and also to ease pressure among moose hunters. The moose harvest was not affected by the change. Contact: Mark Latti, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (Station #41, 284 State St., Augusta, ME 04333; 207-287-6008).

Key Dates
April 1: Moose permit application deadline; trout, salmon and togue open-water seasons opener.
April 1-June 20: Artificial-lure-only black bass season.
Maine's wild turkey season is split: Season A permit holders: April 29-May 4 and May 20-25; Season B permit holders: May 6-11 and May 13-18; all permit holders: May 27-June 1.

Maryland
Youghiogheny Gobblers: Don't overlook the spring gobbler hunting in the Youghiogheny Scenic Wild River lands in western Maryland's Garrett County. This area offers 1,200 acres of state-owned woodlands that flank the Youghiogheny River between Friendsville and Oakland. The acreage is open to public hunting and holds good numbers of turkeys. Contact: Youghiogheny Scenic and Wild River, Deep Creek Lake Recreation Area (301-387-5563).

Wicomico River Bass: While the Potomac River is lauded as Maryland's best largemouth bass fishery, the Eastern Shore is home to some productive tidal bass fisheries. One of these is the Wicomico River. Flowing past Salisbury and into Monie Bay, the Wicomico holds good populations of bucketmouths. The brackish water reaches to the Upper Ferry line. Work spinnerbaits near submerged structure during a falling tide. Contact: Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service (800-688-3467).

Separate Fish and Game? The Maryland General Assembly will soon consider a proposal to create an independent fish and wildlife commission to regulate hunting and fishing. If enacted, it would take game management decisions away from the DNR, which, under the direction of Governor Parris Glendening's administration, has become one of the most openly anti-sportsmen state agencies in the nation.

Key Dates
April 16, 18 and 20: Hunter education course offered at New Germany State Park (301-895-5759).

April 18: Spring turkey season opens statewide (April 16 for hunters 16 or younger).

Massachusetts
Cod Off Gloucester: May is cod month out of Gloucester Harbor on Massachusetts's north shore. Party-boat anglers can expect the best action of the year on cod averaging 15 pounds but occasionally reaching 40. The basic outfit is a six-foot "boat pole" rigged with a big diamond jig or a fish-finder rig with 8- to 16-ounce sinkers, baited with clams. Contact: The Yankee Fleet (978-283-0313); Amanda Marie Charters (978-283-5203); Cape Anne Chamber of Commerce (978-283-1601).

Long Pond Bass: Long Pond (1,721 acres) in Lakeville, in Massachusetts's southeastern corner, produces many of the state's heavyweight largemouth bass. The lake is shallow with plenty of weed beds and submerged rocks for cover, and alewives and herring provide the forage. Access is via a ramp on the southeastern corner of Route 18. Contact: Steve Hurley, fisheries head, Southeastern Wildlife District (195 Bournedale Road, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532; 508-759-3406).

Room to Hunt: The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) added 12,000 acres of open space to its inventory in fiscal year 2001. Funded mainly by the Wildlands Fund, which is created and entirely supported by the state's sportsmen in the form of a $5 stamp that is added to each hunting or fishing license, and by the Open Space Bond Fund, MassWildlife now controls over 120,000 acres in 112 wildlife management areas, while there are over 600,000 acres in state-protected lands. Contact: Bill Davis, MassWildlife (One Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581; 508-792-7270, ext. 153).

Key Dates
April 1: Rivers and brooks return to an eight-trout-per-day creel limit (brook trout, browns, rainbows and tiger trout).
April 10: Crow season ends.
April 29-May 25: General spring wild turkey season; check dates for specific counties.
** New Hampshire**
Pike Time on Spofford: Spofford Lake (707 acres) in southwestern New Hampshire gained fame for its big northern pike, including the state record taken last summer. Good action on trophy rainbow and brook trout that gorge on smelt also fits the bill. Find the public boat launch on the south end on Route 9A. Contact: Scott Decker, fisheries specialist, Fish and Game Department (2 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301; 603-271-2501).

Mascoma River Trophies: New Hampshire's Mascoma River flows through Canaan, Enfield and Lebanon and offers wild brookies above Mascoma Lake and trophy browns and rainbows below the lake. Use bright attractors and spinners for the brookies and match the hatch for the browns and rainbows. Route 4 parallels the river and provides access. Contact: Don Miller, fisheries biologist, Fish and Game Department (Region 2, P.O. Box 417, New Hampton, NH 03256; 603-744-5470).

High Moose Success: New Hampshire's 582 moose permit holders bagged 419 moose this past season, a 72 percent success rate. Successful hunters included 77-year-old Arthur Beauchesne, who shot a 650-pound bull, and 11-year-old David Lemieux, who took a cow.

Key Dates
May 3-31: Spring wild turkey season. Moose permit applications must be postmarked before May 31, 2002.
May 15-June 15: Black bass catch-and- release artificial-lures-only season.
New Jersey
Carnegie Cats: Lake Hopatcong captures most of the glitz in the Garden State catfishing scene, but there are plenty of other places to haul in double-digit cats frrner, produces many of the state's heavyweight largemouth bass. The lake is shallow with plenty of weed beds and submerged rocks for cover, and alewives and herring provide the forage. Access is via a ramp on the southeastern corner of Route 18. Contact: Steve Hurley, fisheries head, Southeastern Wildlife District (195 Bournedale Road, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532; 508-759-3406).

Room to Hunt: The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) added 12,000 acres of open space to its inventory in fiscal year 2001. Funded mainly by the Wildlands Fund, which is created and entirely supported by the state's sportsmen in the form of a $5 stamp that is added to each hunting or fishing license, and by the Open Space Bond Fund, MassWildlife now controls over 120,000 acres in 112 wildlife management areas, while there are over 600,000 acres in state-protected lands. Contact: Bill Davis, MassWildlife (One Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581; 508-792-7270, ext. 153).

Key Dates
April 1: Rivers and brooks return to an eight-trout-per-day creel limit (brook trout, browns, rainbows and tiger trout).
April 10: Crow season ends.
April 29-May 25: General spring wild turkey season; check dates for specific counties.
** New Hampshire**
Pike Time on Spofford: Spofford Lake (707 acres) in southwestern New Hampshire gained fame for its big northern pike, including the state record taken last summer. Good action on trophy rainbow and brook trout that gorge on smelt also fits the bill. Find the public boat launch on the south end on Route 9A. Contact: Scott Decker, fisheries specialist, Fish and Game Department (2 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301; 603-271-2501).

Mascoma River Trophies: New Hampshire's Mascoma River flows through Canaan, Enfield and Lebanon and offers wild brookies above Mascoma Lake and trophy browns and rainbows below the lake. Use bright attractors and spinners for the brookies and match the hatch for the browns and rainbows. Route 4 parallels the river and provides access. Contact: Don Miller, fisheries biologist, Fish and Game Department (Region 2, P.O. Box 417, New Hampton, NH 03256; 603-744-5470).

High Moose Success: New Hampshire's 582 moose permit holders bagged 419 moose this past season, a 72 percent success rate. Successful hunters included 77-year-old Arthur Beauchesne, who shot a 650-pound bull, and 11-year-old David Lemieux, who took a cow.

Key Dates
May 3-31: Spring wild turkey season. Moose permit applications must be postmarked before May 31, 2002.
May 15-June 15: Black bass catch-and- release artificial-lures-only season.
New Jersey
Carnegie Cats: Lake Hopatcong captures most of the glitz in the Garden State catfishing scene, but there are plenty of other places to haul in double-digit cats fr