Last Sunday, I was over on the West Branch of the Ausable River on a visit; I didn't bring along my fishing tackle, figuring the water level would be too high — a mistake.Even though the river was full, it was fishable, and one fellow brought in a photo to the Evening Hatch of a nice 18-inch brown trout he caught below the Lake Everest Dam. He and his comrades had caught a number of browns on opening day. It was also good opening-day fishing on the early April-stocked Chateaugay River. I have also heard of a 19-inch salmon caught at the mouth of the Saranac River, and that fish was clear of lamprey scars.In other fishing news, the eastern trout focused on again this year is the brook trout, the New York state fish. The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a coalition of conservation groups and state agencies, has released its first strategy to restore healthy populations of these trout. The key is proper land management. The Joint Venture, in a report, states as its goals, "Improvement of 30 percent damaged brook trout watersheds, and reintroduction of brook trout to 10 percent of those watersheds where they have disappeared."Strategies will be localized in states and could include cleaning up polluted waters, restoring stream-side habitat or even fixing road culverts to improve brook trout passage.For those who enjoy catching (and most of the time releasing) the brook trout we have, just after ice-out is a good time to go after them, and at that time, from my own experience, they are not overly difficult to catch. In fact, the largest brook trout I've caught in the Adirondacks was in mid April of '85 when I was fooling around with my northern pike rig. It was a bait casting reel with 10-pound test, and I was chucking a Daredevel into a pond half covered with ice. The lure hit the edge of the ice, and plopped into the open water. There was a strong tug, the stiff pole bent, and I reeled, knowing this was certainly not a limb I'd hooked. Up came a big brookie.
To complete the story, I kept the fish and had it weighed at a local mom and pop grocery that had a certified scale — exactly 3 pounds. I entered that fish in the now defunct Genesee Beer monthly statewide fishing contest and, to my surprise, didn't even place. All the winners came from the Finger Lakes Region!There are three major catch-and-release trout fishing contests scheduled locally for this spring. The first two are the same weekend. The Ausable River Two-Fly is May 19 with the reception at the Hungry Trout in Wilmington (1-888-Whiteface). The Hendrickson Hatch Catch & Release Fly Fishing Tournament is scheduled for May 19-20 in Malone (483-6333). These are followed on June 12 by the AuSable Wulff Fly Fishing Contest headquartered at the Evening Hatch in Wilmington (946-2605). All three are very low-key competitions, catch and release, with numerous prizes for participants. There will be more details on each later this month.For trout enthusiasts who don't mind a little traveling, the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary this Memorial Day. The museum, located on Old Route 17 between Roscoe and Livingston Manor, is a mecca for fly-fishers of all persuasions and features not only the tools and materials of the craft, its location so close to the Beaver Kill River, but also has exhibits on famous Catskill fly tiers like Lee Wulff and Theodore Gordon.This year the museum has created its Golden Hook Medal, crafted by artist Bud Wertheim, that will be given to a person who has made a major contribution to the art of fly tying through innovations and new techniques that continue to aid fly tiers. That person's publications are also considered.I know of one local person who should be considered, and he shares a space with me on this page.
Nominations should be sent in brief letter form to CFFCM Golden Hook Award, PO Box 1295, Livingston Manor, NY. The deadline is Aug. 15.