Nature Note - High Water Paddling

Listen for lakeside leopard frogs. Photo by Carolyn Bates.

The high waters of early spring flood low-lying forested areas offer an excellent opportunity to maneuver your kayak or canoe through the trees and button bush of floodplains and back waters. Flooded navigable habitat can be found at the mouths of most major creeks and rivers along the lake. In Vermont, check the Missisquoi, Otter, Little Otter, Lewis, Poultney Rivers. In New York, the Ausable and Little Ausable provide opportunities.

Wood ducks will be seeking tree cavities for nesting sites; you’re most likely to hear them first as their squawks echo through the forest ahead of your boat. A surprising thud under the boat could be an encounter with a carp that has moved into the area for spawning. In the broader waters near the lake the long raspy drone of pickerel frogs or the slow creaky door calls of leopard frogs are more common than the spring peepers of tiny vernal pools further inland. By summer the water levels will drop and plant growth will make these areas inaccessible. Enjoy them while you can but remember waters are still chilly; dress and prepare accordingly.