The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

August 2, 2013

Brook trout have made a comeback

The Daily Star

---- — For the eighth time in the last nine years, the record for catching the largest brook trout in New York has been broken.

On May 16, a fisherman from Mayfield caught a 6-pound, 22.5-inch brook trout in Silver Lake in the southern Adirondacks. Wow!

I know some of you think you should rush right back into the wilderness and get one of these for yourself. Well, it’s only a little more than seven miles to Silver Lake on the Northville-Placid Trail. You’ll need a canoe and some camping equipment, but remember, no motor vehicles are allowed. So that makes it quite a hike to get in and back out.

It’s interesting that Silver Lake was dead in 1969, totally absent of fish because of acid rain. In 2002, though, the state stocked an acid-resistant strain of brook trout in the lake. Today, they are growing to record sizes.

By the way, the fish was caught on a Lake Clear wobbler (made in Gilbertsville) with a worm trailing a foot or so behind it and trolled behind the canoe in 18 to 20 feet of water. This is the same lure that was used to break the record in South Lake a couple of years ago.

I remember when I moved to Wells some 40-plus years ago. I asked one of the local fisherman where I could catch some decent brook trout. He sent me to Johnson Vly, a small pond on top of a mountain not far off Route 30 on the way to Speculator.

That pond also was dead in 1969, but he never told me that. The only thing I got were leeches on my legs as I tried to get out far enough to fish.

Another time, I asked an old logger and retired Adirondack guide about some ponds that might have brookies. Hi Craig took me up some back roads before stopping his old truck.

“Right out there,” he said, pointing his finger. “About three miles beyond that hill, there’s a small pond. Used to have some great trout.”

Well, Hi’s finger was permanently bent at a 45-degree angle on the second knuckle from smashing it with a hatchet, so I really didn’t know which direction to go. I later found his famous brook-trout water but never caught a fish. It too was dead.

Not long ago, a friend told me about a pond near Raquette Lake that he had fished several times over the years. It seems that when one of the old Adirondack bush pilots was stocking fish for the DEC, he’d always drop a few in this particular pond so he’d have a place to take his clients and they’d have some luck.

Joe told me of the great trout fishing he had in that pond over the years and wanted me to hike in there with him some day. Well the other day, I was talking to some folks who have a camp in the Old Forge/Inlet area. It seems that the old guys in a next camp also know of that same backcountry pond. They spent a few days in there back in May and caught more than 100 nice brook trout on flies right on the surface. They released all of them except for a few that were hooked too deep, so they ate those for supper.

Good brook trout fishing has returned. Acid-resistant strains of brook trout are thriving in the wilderness ponds. So I guess it’s about time to start fishing for them once more.

I don’t care about breaking some record, but catching a brookie in the four- or five-pound class would make a five- or six-mile hike worthwhile.

Besides, if I caught a six-pounder, I’d release it after taking a few pictures so someone else could have the thrill of a lifetime. I don’t put fish on my wall anymore, but I sure like to eat a bunch of little ones.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at