Great getaways close to home – the 1,000 Islands

Anytime I get to visit the Thousand Islands region of the state is special, and so my recent trip to take part in the NYS Outdoor Writers Association’s ( Annual Safari was no different. In addition to this region being a perennial tourist favorite for all ages and interests, it produces some of the state’s best fishing opportunities.

The contingent of NYSOWA writers and photographers met at Cal’s Cottages (615-686-1743), a short distance out of Clayton and located right on the river. Day One didn’t appear all that promising, as strong winds and rain were pummeling the area, but our accommodations, consisting of snug, roomy cabins and a large main lodge building -- complete with spacious living room and kitchen -- quickly created an improved attitude as we anticipated the rapidly moving front passing on downriver. Cal’s facilities are open from May 1 to October 1 so tourists and anglers have nearly the entire open-water year to plan and reserve their visits.

That evening we had dinner in the main lodge and then lounged in the living room and swapped stories about what everyone had been doing since the last time we’d got ten together.

The first morning broke clear but cool, and fellow writers Kathy Balbierer, Wayne Brewer, Leo Maloney and Mike Seymour joined me on the Thousand Islands/Clayton’s (, A.B.’s Office, aboard Capt. Al Benas’ roomy charterboat, to fish for pike. Other anglers went with Capt. Myrle Bauer (315-686-2122) Normally each drift over prime pike spots will yield dozens of strikes, but the abnormally cold water had delayed the pike spawn and the fish were very lethargic, unlike their aggressiveness after they finish spawning. But we did entice a dozen or so fish up to six pounds to smack our lures. Besides, even a slow day for fishing doesn’t take away from cruising and drifting among the numerous islands and scenery on this portion of the big river.

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