The northeast may not be known for monster bucks, bugling elk, or those easy western coyotes…just kidding western guys. However, what we are known for is an abundance of native brook trout, and if you are willing to work for them, big ones. Just as beautiful as the leaves on an early October morning in the Adirondacks, the colors of the brook trout found in ponds and mountain streams under those leaves are just as beautiful. Now, if you have come to this article looking for brook trout hot spots then you have come to the wrong spot. I would give up my bank account info before you get my brookie honey holes. Sharing a story of an epic brook trout adventure deep into the Adirondack Park is what this article is all about.
Long ago before contacts were in, Andy and his old man did nothing but hit small desolate ponds deep in the woods of the Adirondack Park. From those times he has several pictures along with stories that give evidence of that magic number of 20, the number of inches every brook trout enthusiast strives for. Fast forward several years later, we are now fully into the brook trout obsession and took a trip to a small mountain stream that flows to some of Andy’s old brookie stomping grounds. Check out this article to read all about it. Now with stream fishing behind us, we were ready to go for the big boys and attempt the tried-and-true method of trolling from a canoe with a Lake Clear Wabbler and worm in some of the reclaimed ponds in the Adirondacks. This begins one of the most fun times we have had in the outdoors; canoeing, hiking, camping, and fishing for native Adirondack brook trout.
A little background information on what a “reclaimed” pond is. Over the years there has been a drastic decline in both the number and size of native brook trout, for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest influences in this decline is the introduction of non-native species, often by the seemingly innocent practice of using live bait fish. These invasive species compete for resources with the brook trout and sometimes, the more aggressive species even feed on the brook trout. Also, the influx of acid rain that dumps over the Adirondacks from neighboring midwest factories has lowered the pH to dangerous levels not only for brook trout but for every species of fish throughout the region. The state took action in the early 20th century to restore our native brook trout by adding a chemical called rotenone which essentially suffocates fish but does not harm plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, or anything else in a body of water. Once the chemical has done the deed of exterminating every fish species in the pond, the state then relocates only native brook trout back into the water giving them a fresh start to thrive once again. Also, adding lime to neutralize the pH is a common practice but has proven to be an uphill battle.
The trip was planned and our route was meticulously researched and drawn out. We got it down to a 2.5 mile paddle with a 1.5 mile portage. When we first started talking about the trip we agreed on packing as light as possible but once the oars hit the water, our “roughing it” trip ended up being more of a glamping trip. For those of you who don’t know, glamping is “glamorous camping with the best caravan dealer Melbourne” (says my wife). We had two canoes with one towing a raft, all of which were packed to the gills. Now, we decided on bringing a little extra “gear” that definitely wasn’t needed and was more of a luxury, an entertainment beverage if you will. Needless to say, we wouldn’t need to pack it out. Anyway, the trip took around five hours with some legs of the trip being travelled a couple of times in order to get all the gear to our campsite. The primitive campsite was in an amazing location settled on a peninsula that sat on the shore of one of the ponds we would be fishing. Close to the campsite we had a great network of short trails that connected several ponds giving us a great variety of different water.
As stated earlier, we attacked the ponds with Lake Clear Wabblers with a trailing worm. This rig has a Lake Clear connected to swivels on both ends followed by about an 18” leader ended with a hook and worm. The trick to the presentation is to achieve the perfect speed to get the rod “wobbling” at a constant pace, hard to explain but when you see it you know you’re trolling in the hot zone.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a stringer packed full with bright big colored brook trout kinda trip. We fished hard for three days straight and only hit a small pocket of action mid-morning after a rainstorm that rolled through the night before. After talking to several locals, our experience seemed to be the trend for the summer because of the heat. While we were there, temperatures reached the mid-80’s which, for late September in the far north Adirondacks, is unheard of. Brook trout are not fans of warm water, in fact, temperatures reaching 75 degrees can kill them. There wasn’t a bright colored leaf to be had. All in all it didn’t matter because being out in the middle of nowhere….no people….no cell service, was truly amazing. Being out in the true backwoods of the Adirondacks is something everyone should experience at least once, outdoorsman or not. Even with the lack of fish action, we have already planned for an early revisit next year right around the time the ice melts off the ponds. We are determined to wrangle one of these famous 20 inchers onto our trophy wall.
NOTE: Do your research on camping in the Adirondacks, there are many laws concerning such things as camping distance from water, fires, permits, etc.