A trout in the hand, always beats a dozen in the stream. Small native brook trout, which can be found in most Adirondack streams, offer anglers a bonanza of scenery, seclusion and good sport when the larger rivers become too warm to fish.
The heat of the summer has descended upon the Adirondacks, delivering temperatures that have soared well above 80 degrees. Combined with high humidity, these weather systems have produced sticky, lazy days and hazy mountain top vistas.
Although the majority of Adirondackers are not used to such scorching heat, they can take comfort in the evenings, when the mercury in local thermometers slips back into the 40’s and a thick fog develops over the area lakes.
The summer season has finally hit full stride. Hiking trails are crowded, the local swimming holes are as full as the highways and the sweet smell of barbecues again drifts by on the late afternoon air.
Berries and brookies
Despite a distinct lack of rain this summer, most local berry patches have finally ripened across the region, and the pickin’ season is now in full swing. While this year’s crop of berries may not be as large or as plentiful as usual, the berries appear to be just as sweet as always. Fresh picked berries own a unique sweetness, that’s simply not available from any ‘store-bought’ batch. It may come from the morning dew, or from the purple fingers of little pickers. Either way, pickin’ berries is a tradition that should be shared.
While in camp last week, I enjoyed fresh blueberry pancakes each morning, and we also discovered some large patches of raspberries while hiking in the afternoon. It’s always a pleasure to stumble upon a new stash of berries that hasn’t already been picked over, by man or beast.
Devoted ‘berry pickers’ are as tight-lipped as brook trout fanatics, in their efforts to protect the location of favorite berry patches.
Anglers on the local rivers have been faced with low water levels, and rising water temperatures. In addition, the combination of brilliant, sunny days, startling water clarity and steadily diminishing oxygen levels has made for limited success.
During the heat of the summer, the best angling opportunities are often limited to the very, early morning hours, or at dusk and into the evening. While trout may remain receptive to the fly at these times, they can lose so much energy while battling an angler, that the resulting lactic acid in their system will cause them to go into shock.
As a result of such dangers to the fisheries, I will often retreat to the small, shaded mountain streams or the higher elevation ponds, at this time of year. I often abide by the old saying, “If you want more, maybe its time to desire less.”
While trout may be smaller in such waters, their surroundings typically have much cooler waters, which are far less crowded than the usual lower elevation haunts. Despite this fact, a majority of these small streams and little ponds remain lightly traveled by most anglers, which often makes it easy to find a place all to yourself.
I’d prefer to catch a dozen little brookies with a small, six foot flyrod, than spend a day in the hot sun, slinging flies on a big river to no avail.
The Big Lake in crisis
Last week, while attending another lecture in the weekly series presented by the Essex County Historical Society, I listened to a plea for help.
The message came from Dr. Tim Mihuc, a professor and the director of the Lake Champlain Research Institute at Plattsburgh State University.
Dr. Mihuc has issued a plea to his fellow researchers and to the general public to demand the State of New York close the Champlain Canal immediately.
The urgency is necessary to prevent the pending introduction of a new invasive species know as the Spiny Water Flea from entering Lake Champlain.
The potential threat posed by the flea to the lake’s ecosystem is considerable. Once it arrives, there will be no way to eradicate it, since it will have no known predators. The fleas will disrupt the food chain and severely impact the lake’s burgeoning sport fishery, which will also have a huge impact on the regional economy.
Since Michuc issued his plea, over 100 fellow scientists, experts and lake advocates have signed the petition.
Unfortunately, as of Monday morning, the New York State Canal Corporation had refused to comply with numerous requests to close the locks.
When I spoke with DEC Region 5 spokesman David Winchell earlier this week, he explained that the NYSDEC was very concerned with the potential introduction of spiny water fleas via the Champlain Canal. However, he noted the department does not have authority to close the locks.
Once the fleas arrive, there will be no way to turn back the clock, and the Big Lake will be forever altered. It has happened before with the introduction of zebra mussels, alewives and a host of other exotic species. However, the potential negative impact on the lake’s fishery has never been so drastic. Please call your state representatives, the Champlain Canal Corporation or sign onto Dr. Mihuc’s petition, before it is too late!
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.