The other day I got an email from an old friend of mine in the Adirondacks. He was a student of mine when I taught in Wells many years ago. He sent me a picture of a five-pound brook trout that he caught when the ice went out of a wilderness lake this spring.
When I moved there back in 1969, I asked my neighbor who had been a licensed guide since he was young, “Where can I catch a really big brookie?”
Now I told you about old Hi Craig many years ago. He took his finger and pointed off to the east. “It’s about a three-mile hike, but go to the pond right out there. It’s a small pond, but there are some big brookies in that water.” The problem was his finger had a 45-degree bend in it on the second joint from an earlier logging accident, and there were three or four ponds in that general direction. It took me a couple of years to find his secret spot, but I was too late. Other people had already fished it out.
Back in the late 1950s there was an article in Field and Stream magazine about the huge brook trout in a pond a few miles east of Speculator. It was never named but enough clues told some locals where to find South Pond. By the time I found it, there was not a fish in it.
Well, there are at least 13 South Ponds in the Adirondacks. There are 22 or so Mud Lakes and 16 or 17 Rock Ponds. So, which one is which? Trust me… I’ve fished many of them, but the acid rain killed most of them years ago.
Well, they are coming back thanks to the DEC. Brook trout have even been found in Lake Colden near the base of Mt. Marcy. I remember camping there back in 1980. I got out my pack rod and started to fish. The back-country ranger asked me what I was doing. I thought it was quite obvious. He told me there hadn’t been a fish in that water for many years.
A year or so ago a fellow from Northville claimed he caught a five-plus-pound brook trout in Silver Lake along the Northville-Placid Trail. Trust me, that’s not really the truth. No one tells where they caught a fish like that. Besides, everyone knows that fishermen often stretch the truth just a little.
There are places today that hold fish like that. I’m told that trophy-size brookies can be found in the St. Regis Canoe Area in the northern Adirondacks above Saranac Lake. The trouble is finding them. There are 58 ponds and lakes, and many miles of waterways in that area to explore.
There used to be canoes and rowboats hidden around most wilderness lakes. It was hard to believe that guys worked that hard to get those boats that far back in the forest. Over the years those old watercrafts have rotted away or been eaten eaten by porcupines. Fishing from shore is nearly impossible because of shallow water along the edges with wooded and brushy shorelines.
If you are interested in searching out one of these special spots, I suggest using one of those new Kevlar canoes that only weigh 10 or 12 pounds. The Hornbeck Canoe, which is made in Olmsteadville in the Adirondacks, is one of the favorites. You can easily throw one over your shoulder and hike to most backcountry spots. And don’t go without some special lures – the Lake Clear Wobbler. It is a flasher/attractor type lure that was made in Gilbertsville, NY. Maybe it still is, but they are still available in most Adirondack fishing shops. It always worked the best when trolled with a worm or nightcrawler a foot behind.
As you can see, I’ve avoided telling you where my buddy caught that big brookie. Heck, I bet he never even told his father. By the way, after taking the picture, he released it back into the pond. It’s still there to be caught another day.