Troutopia is a new sporting term that I recently coined. The definition should be self explanatory for anyone who has ever taken a rod and reel for a walk along a lonely trout stream.
I recently traveled upstream on a small mountain brook which flows from high up on a small mountain range in the Adirondacks. The exact location will remain nameless, however it was a stream that I had often wondered about before I took the time to travel to it.
Like most local streams, it gatherers it’s drainage from a variety of small mountain brooks, creeks, rivulets and springs. My only regret is that I did not take the time to explored the waters sooner.
In classic Adirondack fashion, it’s waters are a tumbling mass of cold mountain brooks, creeks, spring and bogs that begin from up-on-high before settling into a short valley of a slow moving, sinuous, flow surrounded by a tag-alder-strewn tangle of beaver meadows, small falls and several layers of beaver dams.
The beaver dams have created numerous small ponds, which are surrounded by a lot of standing dead wood. It is truly a fearsome looking sight at first glance.
My first impression upon stumbling upon the first tier of ponds was, “I guess I better turn back now. It sure would save me a lot of trouble!”
I had been paddling, pushing, dragging and hauling my little canoe over a series of tiered dams for nearly an hour. I was scratched, sore, sunburned and bug bit. The tangle of foliage, deep mud, tall swale grass and natural punji-sticks was nearly impenetrable.
The further I traveled up the main stream, the more divided the rivulets became.
A few of the rivulets were muddy and shallow, but one in particular was clear as blown glass, and it was cold, really cold, brain freezing cold.
I decided that was the route to take. So, with all my gear stowed away I began dragging my canoe behind on a short tether.
I waded up and over downed trees, through alder tangles and was forced to drag the canoe overland around several obstacles.
Finally, near the head of the small flow the stream was filled with an oxygen rich froth, which was obviously been created by the falls I had been hearing.
I slogged through one last bottleneck on the stream and there it was, the dam.
It was the final tier, and if judging by all of the standing deadwood, the final pond was of considerable size.
Carefully, I hauled the canoe over the dam and slipped into it. In the first 50 yards, I encountered a tangle of dead trees, a few beaver lodges and signs of at least three more feeder streams that drained into the ponds.
Peering through polaroid sunglasses, I was shocked to see the water’s depth. In some places on the bends the stream was over 8-10 feet deep. And when the shadow of my canoe passed over these deep holes, the mud actually parted! But it wasn’t mud. ... it was trout, hundreds of them!
I had finally discovered troutopia, the ultimate trout anglers utopia. I casted delicate dry flies and they were devoured. I tried streamer flies, and large trout swirled and chased them.
I switched and tied on an old school, red and white wet fly. It disappeared from the still surface in a swirl of a large square tail, bright, red spots and white outlined fins.
In a short hour, before darkness arrived, I caught and released over 30 brookies; and I was still laughing like a mad man.
“How come I’ve never traveled this way before?” I asked no one in particular.
Darkness came quickly, and rather than haul my canoe all the way back to the roadside, I decided to stash it so that I could return for more fun the following day, which I did.
In two days time, in the stream and on the small beaver ponds, I landed over 100 fish. Many times, I took six or eight in succession, especially late in the day when they were taking flies from the surface. It was a non-guilty, guilty pleasure, as all of the trout were returned unharmed.
Although the largest fish of the day barely topped 13 inches, they were all brilliant, spunkie, strong and oxygen rich. I have to believe they were all wild fish, as the stream has no history of being stocked especially in the upper reaches, and there were schools of fingerlings recognizable. In fact I caught over two dozen that were barely 4 inches in length. In fact, they occasionally sailed by my ear when I set the hook sharply as they rose to a dry fly.
All of the scratches, the bug bites, the cursing, the wet feet and the tree hugging I needed to remain upright in the deep mud was worth it. I’d do it all again, and I likely will soon. For now, I’ve got Troutopia on the mind, and I simply can’t wait to get my butt back in the canoe and point it upstream.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.