To get the trout, get the gear
Apr
25
2017

Ah, spring in the Adirondacks. Everyone loves it, and for good reason. The sun gains strength, the forest is warm and bright, and the streams and ponds are breaking free of their ice.

That's the key thought for safety on the water. Basically, it is remembering that our water bodies have barely melted.

For many anglers, the rush of freed water whispers "trout season." These fighting fish love the overcast days and cool temperatures of spring. While trout and salmon love the cold water, so do their anglers. That's fine, as long as we remember some important tips.

Just in case, here's a gear refresher.

the power of silk

I came to the concept of "death cloth" through whitewater rafting. But it applies to any spring activity, with its high likelihood of combining water retaining clothing with low temperatures.

Death cloth is cotton.

As anyone who has dealt with jeans fresh out of the washer knows, cotton is very stubborn about staying wet. While jeans, denim jackets, and even t-shirts or socks can be warm and comfortable when setting out, the slightest moisture can turn this fabric into trouble. It can be as simple as feet sweating in boots or that continued trickle of water that runs down to our elbow from a wet hand.

You might have to launch in ice, as seen in this shore in mid-April.

What is merely annoying or uncomfortable on a hot summer day becomes a "heat sink" in cooler spring temperatures. The wind can have a biting edge that is brisk and invigorating against dry skin, but makes soggy material pull more and more heat from the area it's nearest. Chilly fingers and toes are bad enough, but if the sogginess spreads, it can start to cool our core temperature, and that can be dangerous - not to mention we don't want our fun adventure derailed by hypothermia.

Once trout season is open, we are at a state with our weather where no one should anticipate any ice holding them up. A place like Lake Colby can look completely iced over, but the ice is a lot slushier and fragile than it appears.

Lake Colby looks like mid-winter in this photo, but that ice is slushy and fragile.

While one place can look deceptively solid, another place can look deceptively warm. As seen below, a picture taken the previous day and only two and a half miles away, on Lake Flower. Quite a difference!

Meanwhile, Lake Flower, in this photo taken the day previous to the Lake Colby photo, is wide open with only rims of ice showing.

A strategy some of my angler friends use is to put down a base of silk underwear and wool socks, both materials which will keep people warm even when the fabric is wet. Then top with water-shedding materials like alpaca or nylon.

Modern technology has come up with many miracle fabrics which have similar qualities. Put one set on and pack a similar set in a waterproof bag or container. In case an item gets wet, you switch it while keeping the base on. In this way, you'll be ready to stay warm in any conditions. 

lure them in

A collection of favorite lures is essential since many trout ponds prohibit bait fish entirely. If we are after the prized brook trout, these ponds are especially fussy about not using bait fish. 

Brookies are very sensitive to competition from other fish, and fussy about their water quality, too. Keep our prized trout waters safe and productive by being alert to all regulations designed to protect them.

Bait fish can ruin a good trout pond. At left, the declines which had to be stopped. Middle, the sign which reminds anglers of prohibited bait fish. Right, happy anglers who used a Lake Clear Wabbler.

But this is no real hurdle at all, since trout are perfectly happy to strike on lures and flies. Our local outfitters have a lot of great choices, but always consider the classic Adirondack lure: The Lake Clear Wabbler. This particular lure was fully developed by 1920 and named after one of the iconic Adirondack lakes, Lake Clear. That's our neighborhood!

Trout look for frenzy and flash which will remind them of food. The dappled surface of the Wabbler, especially when plated with actual metals for more sparkle, creates an attraction they like very much. This is even more important as ponds and streams heat up and trout go deeper.

Deceptively simple, like most fantastic ideas.

The New York speckled trout record, 6.03 pounds in 2013, was caught on a Lake Clear Wabbler in the Adirondacks. Of course.

One pro-tip is to tie one end directly to a monofilament line and attach a 12–18 inch leader to the other end. Finish with a hook and worm, or vary it with a smaller lure, streamer, or nymph. Use slow speeds for trolling that allows for wobble, but not spin. Let enough line trail behind the boat to cover 150 to 100 feet.

Copper finishes have been mentioned, but you didn't hear it from me.

pick those spots

"Where?" is the most important question. The advice of "going where the fish are" can be answered happily by understanding the stocking schedule. For instance, Saranac River was stocked with four hundred rainbows near the hand launch on the corner of Pine Street and Bloomingdale Road, right at the start of trout season on April 1.

The rapid current at this part of the Saranac River offers some fine fishing all the way to Bloomingdale.

Here's some pertinent places that will be enjoying spring stocking:

Water

Town

Number

Date

Species

Size (inches)

Sumner Brook

Bloomingdale

300

March - April

Brook Trout

8 - 9 inches

Deer Pond

Brighton

210

Spring

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Ampersand Brook

Harrietstown

700

Spring

Brook Trout

8 - 9 inches

Lake Clear

Harrietstown

1650

Spring

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Lake Colby

Harrietstown

2810

Spring

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Lake Colby

Harrietstown

3400

Spring

Rainbow Trout

8 - 9 inches

Saranac River

Harrietstown

400

April

Rainbow Trout

8 - 9 inches

Saranac River

Harrietstown

250

May

Brown Trout

12 -15 inches

Black Pond

Santa Clara

150

Spring

Rainbow Trout

8 - 9 inches

Deer Pond

Santa Clara

430

Spring

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Green Pond

Santa Clara

500

Spring

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Horseshoe Pond

Santa Clara

1000

Spring

Rainbow Trout

8 - 9 inches

Little Long Pond (East)

Santa Clara

1000

Spring

Rainbow Trout

8 - 9 inches

Polliwog Pond

Santa Clara

1240

Spring

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Rat Pond

Santa Clara

500

Spring

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Whey Pond

Santa Clara

1240

May

Brown Trout

8 - 9 inches

Whey Pond

Santa Clara

1100

Spring

Rainbow Trout

8 - 9 inches

As you can see from these recent photos, we are ready for you.

The snow melting from our mountains is what make our rivers, lakes, stream and ponds, so clear and full of fish.

And we want you to be ready for us. Happy angling!

Choose handy lodging. Have a great meal. Find out more about getting ready for the spring fishing season.


This week in related ADK news:

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Trout ’n about

Wet and wild

Chasing waterfalls

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Author:Pamela Merritt
Vroom! Daffest Derby creator shares memories
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