I just returned from a 3 week trip fishing the Adirondacks, doing everything from paddling boreal forest canoe routes in search of native brook trout to searching the West Branch of the Ausable for browns. The country really is beautiful up there in that neck of the woods, but the fishing was downright tough. The water temperatures were high throughout the park, and that shut off the trout fishing for most of my stay up there. In the interim, I fished the low country rivers for smallies and walleye, which was a lot of fun in itself. But the few times when the trout fishing were productive were true reliefs. The first, and last day of my trip, the water temperatures were just low enough on the famous West Branch of the Ausable for good fishing. I fished a stretch of river on the first evening that I know well from previous trips, and managed to catch some nice browns and a few brookies too, all on dry flies. As a matter of fact, the only fly I used the entire trip for trout was a #10 Ausable Wulff. Whenever the water temperatures were low enough for the fish to feed, this fly was extremely productive. I had my best trout fishing of the trip on Tuesday, after a cool rain had dropped the water temperature to 68 degrees from the unfishable 73-78 degrees it had been previously. I fished in a deep, well oxygenated pool, and though there was no hatch, the trout rose eagerly to the Ausable Wulff-one thing about the West Branch of the Ausable: when the water temps are low enough to fish, those are some of the least selective trout on earth.
But I had the most fun on a 3 day wilderness paddle trip through the northern part of the park, the exact location of which I'm not telling anyone. I was paddling a canoe route that lead through 4 lakes and 3 streams. When I got to my put in on the first lake, I saw that the area look like excellent brook trout habitat- deep, cool water. Definitely the place for nymphs and sinking line though. I decided to start fishing right away, and came across an unwelcome surprise... Apparently some bastard had dumped bass (largemouth and smallmouths) into the heritage brook trout lake. I caught these non-native pests all day long (I like bass fishing, but I don't like them when they are a non-native competitor in heritage brook trout water). So I decided to keep each and every legal bass I caught, which contributed greatly to the amount of protein I had for dinner that night. Finally, the final day, in a deep pond far in the wilderness, I caught the only brook trout of the trip, a 15 inch spotted beauty. I released him gently, and on the next cast caught his competitor, a 16" smallmouth which became shore lunch. The country was beautiful, and the fishing was a lot of fun, but the portages were a little tough, often involving waist deep mud near the beginnings and ends. The trip involved five portages, the longest being 2 miles.
When I came out of the wilderness, I told a local that I ran into about the bass in the heritage ponds. He said that a local had dumped them in a couple years ago to make some obscure point, and the brook trout population has been on a nose-dive ever since. He seemed shocked that I had even caught the one brookie. Very, very sad.
"I don't know what fly fishing teaches us, but I think it's something we need to know."-John Gierach