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Old 10-12-2013, 09:22 AM   #1
randomscooter
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Reflections on the ponds

After a decade-plus hiatus from fishing while undergoing treatment for an extreme case of high peaks fever I returned to my beloved ponds late this summer. I had moved to Keene in the interim so, rather than returning to my favorite pre-fever ponds, I decided to do a sampler of several ponds closer to home. The nearest was a very convenient local roadside lake, which I used to reacquaint myself with gear or just to squeeze in some time on the water when only having a few hours to spare. The furthest involved several hours of drive/hike/bushwhack time, so required finding a full day. In total I've visited 18 different waters since Labor Day weekend, fished 14 of them, and connected in 5. I couldn't be happier, especially considering that (a) these were all new-to-me waters and (b) I only fished for 1-4 hours at each one.

I've also picked up a few new toys, most notably an Outcast Trinity float tube. First time I carried that to a pond I had mis-estimated the bushwhack time and ended up casting from shore for a half hour before having to make tracks home. Since then I've been on three ponds with it, gone through a steeper learning curve than anticipated, had my expectations properly adjusted, and the tube has now found a permanent place in my arsenal. For this I thank my fellow forum members for your guidance and encouragement!

Yesterday was my most ambitious outing to date, involving 4 hours of travel time (drive/hike/bushwhack) each way between home and water. I arrived to find no trash, boats, fisherman paths, or other signs of human visitation scarring the shoreline. Not even a staging area for launching my float tube was to be found, so I swept forest debris from a small area not far from the water and forced myself to stay calm while prepping, as the sight and sound of rising fish regularly broke the glassy surface and the still morning air.

I pushed off, checked the water temp (52F at the surface), finished setting up rod and reel, and made a few test casts only feet from the launch site. Bam! For a half hour I never moved, catching and releasing around half a dozen beautiful brookies. I say releasing because although I do love trout for dinner I knew on this day I would have no trouble filling my creel. So I rigged each offering to be release-friendly and fished contentedly, keeping only those fish that were injured.

I felt like a kid in the candy store; it mattered not where I cast - whether to the abundant shoreline structure or to the center of the pond - there was always a trout (often several) waiting to take my offering. My choice of offering made little difference. The little beasties even went aerial (hmm, flying monkeys?) to grab the hook as it dangled over the water beside me.

The action continued unabated for nearly four hours, during which time I hooked and brought to net around two dozen brookies, with an even larger number throwing the hook. When the fifth injured trout came to net I reluctantly called it a day. Probably a good thing too, because I did have a four hour trip home ahead of me.

Although the pond is probably known to others by a different name, I'll call it Minnow Pond. My naming is not arbitrary. There may be no flying monkeys in or on this pond, but there were plenty of minnows; the abundance of trout causes me to wonder if they are over-populated and therefore stunted... not a one of these fish broke 12" in length. Or maybe due to the abundance of fish I just wasn't looking very hard for the big ones.

The clock is ticking down on the season, but I'm not done yet. I'll probably revisit one of this year's ponds today, perhaps tomorrow I'll fish one I've only scouted to date, and weather permitting another full day outing is on the calendar for the 15th.

WARNING: some forum members may find the following image disturbing.

Minnows for dinner...
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Last edited by randomscooter; 10-14-2013 at 06:53 AM.. Reason: restructure paragraphs
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Old 10-12-2013, 09:39 AM   #2
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Scoot,

If you provide the GPS coordinates for those ponds I can tell you what strains of brookies are in there.

Congrats on getting back in the game. The Trinity tube does take a few tries to get it right, but easy once you get the hang of it. Did you get footwear yet?
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:26 AM   #3
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Scoot,

If you provide the GPS coordinates for those ponds I can tell you what strains of brookies are in there.

Congrats on getting back in the game. The Trinity tube does take a few tries to get it right, but easy once you get the hang of it. Did you get footwear yet?
Based on your inputs I came up with the idea of using my Tingley boots (rubber farmers' galoshes, get them at Agway). They worked great! They don't have a rigid sole, but as long as I don't step on my fillet knife it's unlikely they, or the wader socks, will get punctured. And I didn't have to spend a dime. Thanks!

I figured you guys could tell the strain from the pics. But if you really need the coords...

Coords for Minnow Pond - 570615E 4910955N
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:27 AM   #4
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Scoot,

If you provide the GPS coordinates for those ponds I can tell you what strains of brookies are in there.

Whoa! This sounds fishy to me.
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:37 AM   #5
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Whoa! This sounds fishy to me.
Yes, but I trust Glen explicitly. And I'm really anxious to hear his strain determination.
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:39 PM   #6
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Aw crap! Anyone can find this now.

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Old 10-12-2013, 04:53 PM   #7
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Beautiful fish, RS.
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:36 PM   #8
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Holy Jeekers Chrimers!! as an old friend of mine used to say,God Bless him!!

Those are classic ,perfect ,thick bodied beauts!!Authentic natives!!..VT , Glen and Ross can agree I`m sure... A great payoff for your efforts too!! Also,thanx for sharing such a very nicely written story depicting your thoughts and adventures!! Love your area and desires!!
Good luck the rest of the nearly ended season!!..but,gotta ask , was the flesh "colored up" as old Adk`ers always ask!!?? and how did they taste? Plus, what was your method of cooking `em?? Sorry for all the questions..ughh!!.missing these beautiful fish a lot!!.


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Old 10-13-2013, 06:48 AM   #9
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Thanks WB! They are beauts to be sure. My knowledge of minnow pond is based on a single sentence, uttered by a complete stranger, that got stuck in my ear about 30 years ago. I've wanted to see for myself ever since then if he was just bs'ing me. I've never seen it on any DEC stocking list either, so I agree with you 100% that these are authentic native brookies.

Funny you should ask about the color. I was surprised that they did not have that beautiful salmon-colored flesh I've seen so many times. Can't explain it, but I won't snub my nose at them for it either.

My usual recipe is foil wrapped on the grill, with butter, lemon, garlic, and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mm mm good! When I was a kid my mom always prepared the little "fish sticks" we caught in the streams by breading and pan frying. Loved them too, and I may just take a trip down memory lane with the next batch I bring home.
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:57 AM   #10
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If you provide the GPS coordinates for those ponds I can tell you what strains of brookies are in there.
How's the research coming along Glen?

You've piqued my curiosity. I would love to continue learning more about this treasure we have up here in the Adirondacks, and one place where my knowledge is next to zero involves identifying the heritage strains. Can you point me to a resource where I can learn to identify heritage strains? Or perhaps, as your post implied, is there a list of which ponds contain which strains?
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Old 10-13-2013, 07:02 AM   #11
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Beautiful fish, RS.
Thanks GG! And back at ya for that beaut of a brown you caught a few days back.
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Old 10-13-2013, 07:38 AM   #12
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Those brookies sure are beautiful. congrats
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:48 AM   #13
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Hey RS, loved seeing and reading this! Its funny to me as I my story is similar. Trout fished a lot when I was a kid in rural Rensselaer County in my teens and then fell out of it (ie- partying, typical stuff). Then when I met my wife/girl friend at the time, we started hiking in 2002. My wife has a bum knee, and with accepting as she is, let me continue on with the 46. Found this forum in the meantime and was able to meet and/or hike with some great people (JoeCedar, Snickers, JimC, Neil, etc., and the list goes on)and make some great friends. Then after 12+ years, in 2008, we went up to Old Forge to camp and I went trout fishing on the Moose River with my daughter, brother and nephew and fell back in love with it, however vowed not to fish the 'dacks until I finished the 46 (if I brought my fishing gear, I would never make it to the summits ). In 2009, I finished the 46, and now combine my hiking/fishing with and without my family. I spent a lot more time fishing up in your back yard this year and now started canoeing to extend my reaches to places to fish. I really would like to get a float tube in the future. I am just so amazed by the beauty of these fish. It such a fulfilling feeling when you hike for hours too or along a body of water and finally hook a beautiful Brookie. I practice alot of C&R but also eat them and would never let them go to waste. My wife does not like them but between my 2 children and I we do.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:49 AM   #14
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...and those are some beauties!
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:37 PM   #15
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How's the research coming along Glen?

You've piqued my curiosity. I would love to continue learning more about this treasure we have up here in the Adirondacks, and one place where my knowledge is next to zero involves identifying the heritage strains. Can you point me to a resource where I can learn to identify heritage strains? Or perhaps, as your post implied, is there a list of which ponds contain which strains?

Scoot,

Check out a thread called "Heritage Strain Brook Trout" which is fairly current. Vtflyfish posted a good link to get you started. I can get you more info during the week. There are some older threads as well which list the known heritage strains, 3 of which are being used by DEC; Windfall, Little Tupper and Horn Lake. Many other ponds are stocked using Temiscamie hybrids, which is a Canadian strain. Back in the 80's biologists were looking for a better growing fish with more acid tolerance than the "domestic" strain they were using. Bill Flick at Cornell did a lot of the early work and they experimented with both Temiscamie and Assinica strains. The Temiscamie seemed to fare better in the Adirondack environment although I caught some Assinica hogs in a private fishery back in the early 90's. Take stocking lists with a big grain of salt as the fish counts and accuracy are more of a wish list than reality. For instance a lot of Temiscamie stock was lost at one hatchery last year, but the heritage strain hatcheries did better than usual. So...some lakes scheduled for Temiscamies won't get anything, while in others they are mixing some heritage strains with Temiscamies to make up for the shortfall. It is all hit and miss and a lake/pond not getting an annual stocking is not necessarily a bad thing. Less fish equals larger fish. It's just anecdote from my own experience but I find Little Tuppers and Windfalls easier to catch than Horn Lakers or Temiscamies. All depends on the day but the latter two seem to like bottom structure and depth which makes getting them on flies a bit tougher.

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Old 10-13-2013, 07:04 PM   #16
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Those are beautiful, beautiful brookies! They may or may not be a heritage strain. It's not always evident just by looking at them or at the stocking lists. Even if that pond is not currently stocked it may have been at one time, which led to natural reproduction. In the end, it doesn't matter. You've found your own little gold mine!

Don't ever feel bad about taking a few fish from a pond with a population like that. And looking at the shape those fish are in they're getting plenty to eat.

So now that you've caught the disease we have to start talking about fly fishing...
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Old 10-13-2013, 09:36 PM   #17
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Check out a thread called "Heritage Strain Brook Trout"
.
.
.
...some lakes scheduled for Temiscamies won't get anything, while in others they are mixing some heritage strains with Temiscamies to make up for the shortfall
.
.
.
It's just anecdote from my own experience but I find Little Tuppers and Windfalls easier to catch than Horn Lakers or Temiscamies. All depends on the day but the latter two seem to like bottom structure and depth which makes getting them on flies a bit tougher.
I saw the Paul Smith's presentation and the Bill Flick article from that thread. Good stuff! I hear ya about only trusting the stocking lists just so far, but I was hoping to find data on strain as well as quantity/size for each pond, or at least for a subset of the ponds stocked. Any chance that's out there?

I wouldn't have guessed they'd be mixing strains on a single pond. Doesn't this create the possibility that the pond will end up with a hybrid of those strains, or does DEC only mix strains on ponds that are known not to support natural reproduction? What is the primary factor preventing some ponds from supporting natural reproduction? I'm guessing siltation. But what caused the siltation to begin with, perhaps logging? Or was it happening anyways? Can it be reversed?

Just speculating based on your observation that Windfalls and Little Tuppers are easier to catch, does DEC preferentially stock the ponds to produce a p&t environment on some ponds (Windfalls & Little Tuppers) versus size (Horn Lakers & Temiscamies) on other ponds? Also, assuming a full life span and natural death do Windfalls & Little Tuppers live as long and get as big as the Horn Lakers and Temiscamies?

Three more questions for every answer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vtflyfish View Post
Those are beautiful, beautiful brookies! They may or may not be a heritage strain. It's not always evident just by looking at them or at the stocking lists. Even if that pond is not currently stocked it may have been at one time, which led to natural reproduction. In the end, it doesn't matter. You've found your own little gold mine!

Don't ever feel bad about taking a few fish from a pond with a population like that. And looking at the shape those fish are in they're getting plenty to eat.

So now that you've caught the disease we have to start talking about fly fishing...
Thanks VT, they really are pretty fish!

In the past I've never felt bad about taking fish for dinner, but the more aware I become of the hard work that's been done in the Adirondacks to preserve/restore some semblance of "the old days" the more sensitized I have become to the need to do my part. On this particular pond I didn't have any dilemma. There were loads of fish and no signs of fishing pressure, so taking five for dinner wasn't going to have an impact, and may even be beneficial.

I do need to become more proficient at c&r. I outfitted all my lures with a single barbless hook and used no meat. After pinching myself to confirm it wasn't all just a dream, I figured I'd practice c&r until my arm got too sore, then catch five more for dinner. The reality didn't quite match the plan, but close, and I did get in four hours of fishing before the fifty injured fish ended my day. I'm guessing that fly fishing might be more gentle on the fish, correct?

As I was floating around in this tub full of trout I was thinking how great a place this would be to learn the art of fly fishing. Plenty of willing victims to keep me encouraged during the awkward beginner phase. So I get home, tell Doreen about my day, and she says to me "It would be really cool if you learned to fly fish." I swear on the Holy Bible, may God strike me dead if I'm lying, she really said that. Game on!

Btw, You seem very determined to convert me to fly fishing. Is this part of your penance for that momentary slide to bait slinging a few weeks ago?
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:12 PM   #18
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I'm very disturbed I wasn't inviting to the grilling
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:26 PM   #19
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[QUOTE=randomscooter;208491]

I wouldn't have guessed they'd be mixing strains on a single pond. Doesn't this create the possibility that the pond will end up with a hybrid of those strains, or does DEC only mix strains on ponds that are known not to support natural reproduction? What is the primary factor preventing some ponds from supporting natural reproduction? I'm guessing siltation. But what caused the siltation to begin with, perhaps logging? Or was it happening anyways? Can it be reversed?


Scoot-I don't know how widespread the mixing is, but I doubt they would do it in a pond with known natural reproduction for the reason stated. Gravel, oxygen and some moving or upwelling water seem to be the needed ingredients for successful spawning. Many ponds without any inlets or outlets never had native trout to begin with. They were stocked later on. In other cases, people (including fisheries guys) argue that beavers block spawning habitat, but since they were here in great numbers for 10,000 years, I have a hard time with that one. I suppose siltation plays a role. I still maintain that the loss of large lake and river systems resulted in headwater systems not being supplied by natural migration. Native strains have shown their resilience over the domestic strain as evidenced by brook trout reappearing in larger lakes previously classified as fishless. Remnant populations in headwater streams moved downstream as conditions (acidification mainly) improved. I don't think the DEC will ever have the resources to analyze and improve on spawning habitat. Liming and reclaiming more ponds would yield much faster benefits. The larger systems cannot be reclaimed.



[QUOTE=randomscooter;208491]

Just speculating based on your observation that Windfalls and Little Tuppers are easier to catch, does DEC preferentially stock the ponds to produce a p&t environment on some ponds (Windfalls & Little Tuppers) versus size (Horn Lakers & Temiscamies) on other ponds? Also, assuming a full life span and natural death do Windfalls & Little Tuppers live as long and get as big as the Horn Lakers and Temiscamies?



I don't think that enters into their decision. I think it depends largely on supply, which varies widely from year to year. Not sure about size, I never catch anything under 4 pounds. Then again I never catch anything over 4 pounds either. I do think they all have potential to reach 5 lbs. After that who knows?

By the way, according to my GPS, the coordinates you gave me point to a Hooters in Syracuse. A fun place no doubt, but not what I was looking for.

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Old 10-14-2013, 11:13 PM   #20
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Hmmm....pretty trout, sweaty, dirty, cold and tired....verses big tatas and cheap cold draft beer.
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