Small streams filled with wild brook trout are the answer to an angler’s dreams. There are very few places in the Northeast where such wonderful angling conditions exist, and most anglers don’t even realize they can be found just down the road.
June has always been a great month for outdoor travelers, and especially for kids. It is a month that has delivered freedom from the daily drudgery of schoolwork, as it ushers the exhilaration that arrives with the prospect of a long summer’s vacation.
June of 2013 has also been a unique month, bringing with it a total of five complete weekends, rather than the usual four. In fact, most students only toiled for a total of 20 days during the month of June, 2013, compared to an average of 23 or 24 days in a typical month of school. For the seniors, June of ‘13 signaled the end of their high school career.
In addition to breaking loose from the educational calaboose, the month of June also delivers the opening day of Bass season, and a weekend of free fishing on any public waters in New York state.
The free fishing weekend arrives Saturday, June 29-30. It provides an ideal opportunity for Mom, Dad or a friendly Uncle to get the kids outside and introduce them to an entertainment system that does not require batteries or an electrical outlet. A fishing pole is the best X-Box Detox tool ever invented. With a big fish on the end of a fishing rod, most kids realize it is safe to leave the electronic entertainment at home.
Any child who grows up in the Adirondacks without the proper equipment and the knowledge of how to enjoy the local woods and waters is at a severe disadvantage.
Likewise, any parent who fails to provide a child with the proper equipment and the knowledge of where and how to use it, is guilty of recreational neglect.
In many of our local communities, there are precious few recreational opportunities for our youth. There are very few safe or appropriate “hangouts.”
For many years, every local town had a small diner that a served as a gathering place. There were also movie theaters, snack bars and other such places.
Sadly, the current generation has few of the traditional hangouts left. In many towns, the only business with the lights on after 8 p.m. is the local Stewarts Shop.
Fortunately, Stewarts Shops also sell gas, so teenagers can still get around in their cars. But with the lack of a familiar hangout, many have no place to go.
I speak from experience when I say there is nothing more dangerous than a bored teenager. If they can’t find trouble, trouble will find them. It is a natural instinct, and it is evident in all wild species, not just human teenagers or juveniles as they are referred to in the animal kingdom.
Juveniles, whether they are raccoons, eagles, bears or Billy who lives just down the street, are unpredictable. In most cases, their brains are not fully developed, even if their bodies apparently have.
Similar to their distant cousins in the animal kingdom, human adolescents are highly susceptible to dangerous, pack behavior. Their brains are not capable of recognizing or comprehending risks. And yet the troubles can be equally dangerous for either species.
In the wild, just as at home, juveniles often exhibit a tendency to wander, and explore, and trouble is usually just a short distance away.
Whether the trouble comes from an immature bear marauding through a campground, or a couple of young geese wandering off from the flock, the potential for trouble is as omnipresent as a young man in a fast car zooming down a country road in the dark of night.
Parents wlll do their best to keep their kids safe. Cautious does will hide their fawns in the tall ferns, while they wander off looking for food, just as a mother goose will tend to a tidy flock, as they travel in a straight line behind her, and her mate.
Bear cubs can be just as adventuresome, until their mother cuffs one of them upside of the head. Immediately, they learn to pay attention to mom. If human mother’s had such resolve, there would be far less trouble in modern society.
I never cease to marvel at the awkward aeronautics of fledgling birds.
Flying is one of the activities where it surely pays to pay attention to mom. It is often a feathered equivalent of watching a teenager walk face first into a closed door without even attempting to open it.
The entertainment isn’t always pretty to watch, especially when it involves prey.
I once witnessed a raccoon devour a nest full of young robins, despite the mother’s best effort to ward it off. It was heart rendering to hear her calls, and to watch as the raccoon climbed down the tree to scavenge the lone bird that had escaped the initial attack.
All the frantic mother bird could do was watch the danger from a safe distance, and scold the raccoon. The parallels to a human family in distress were eerily similar, and equally disturbing.
Whether for bass or trout, it is the time to get out
Anglers looking to get out this weekend will find a variety of water conditions, ranging from high to very high.
The recent rains have kept most local waters running at spring levels or above.
Currently, the Saranac Lakes are at spring levels, forcing many lakeside residents to wear hip boots to get to their docks.
I spent the weekend fishing on the lakes, and on the small streams and beaver dam ponds.
The big lakes offered up plenty of bass and a few pike, while the beaver dams were equally productive with brook trout devouring flies as fast as I could cast them.
Smallmouth bass were all over the Gary Yamamoto Senkos we tossed on the rocky shoals, and pike were willing to chase buzz baits or surface lures with an equal lack of abandon.
On the small streams, brook trout were hesitant to take dry flies on the sunny days, but they quickly turned on during the low light of dusk.
In one particularly productive outing, I managed to take over a dozen scrappy brookies in consecutive casts. I will admit that I was using a nymph as a dropper below a Ausable Wulff dry fly.
Often, I was able to take two small brookies on a single cast, especially if the first fish took the dry fly. A fish in distress will always attract other fish, and the sight of a big nymph bouncing around behind a stressed fish is obviously too good to resist.
The little, 9 to 12-inch wild brookies usually aren’t difficult to land. However, when you’re battling two of them on a single line at the end of a six foot, three weight flyrod, they are a challenging quarry.
Add into the mix a few squadrons of deer flies, a cloud of punkies and some very unhappy alder spiders, and you’ve got a real interesting mix of both prey and predators. I was often unsure of my true role, but I was simply having too much fun to be concerned.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.