The Freshwater Phil guide to Montreal shore fishing spots

Montreal's best shore fishing spots

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Trout fishing New York rivers

Trout aren't among my standard target species to fish for. I typically prefer chasing bigger wild fish that put up a drag peeling battle, than chasing after a fish that rarely exceed 2 lbs in most of the region. However, when my friend Jimmy invited me out to fish the Saranac River in upstate New York, I readily agreed, as it had been quite quite a while since we last fished together. Having fished the Ausable River with him a couple years ago, I had a pretty good idea of what we were in for. To boot, Jimmy has fished many of the rivers a number of times since then, so his experience trout fishing in the area proved to be a great asset. As I have a 2 week trip planned into the Colorado Rockies later this summer, I figured I could use some experience, as the area of the rockies I'll be staying at only has trout.

Coming from Quebec, fishing the Adirondack region is definitely an eye opener as to how and what a well managed fishery in a pristine environment should be. To begin with, the rivers in the area such as the Saranac, AuSable and Boquet are very well stocked on a yearly basis, mainly with Brown, Rainbow and Brook trout. Landlocked Salmon and Lake trout are stocked as well, but typically don't make it to the upper reaches of these rivers, preferring to remain in Lake Champlain most of the season, with the exception of spawning runs into these rivers. In addition to stocking hundreds of thousands of trout every year, New York state department of environmental conservation manages their upstate river fishery through a series of anglers friendly management systems.Many stretches of these river have minimum slot size and strict bag limits, others allow only artificial bait, still others allow only fly fishing, and they even have catch and release only segments stocked with trophy sized trout. Needless to say, fishing licenses are available online, so there is no need to waste any time going into local stores or bait shops to buy one. These zones are very well indicated with signs posting the rules, and many hotspots have angler parking on the side of the road. In a fishing sense, they are light years ahead of us here in Quebec, with our mismanaged fishery run by underfunded biologists and misguided politicians...

The morning and evening hatches are apparently prime time for trout fishing on the these Northern New York rivers. As we both had errands to run early during the day, we made it out for an afternoon/evening outing. We got to our first spot around noon, water level was quite high, the cold water rushing faster than usual. Got into our waders, and headed out attempt to catch my first brown trout of the season. We both started by casting Meps #1 spinners for a while. Jimmy manages a couple small rainbow trout, I wasn't catching a thing. Switched to a small Rapala CD5 countdown, wasn't very efficient either, missed one small hit. That's when I decided to slow things down, switching to 1/2 a worm on a micro jig. Instead of casting into the current and drifting, I targeted the outer seams and pools of back current to get my bait down to the bottom. Technique proved very efficient, I landed a small brown trout, followed by a rainbow trout on my first few casts:


After landing ca couple more rainbow trout, I finally caught my first keeper of the day, as that area has a minimum slot size of 12 inches. The nice 13 inch brown put up a decent fight in the strong current, I was lucky to land it as it was barely hooked.


Though I'm mainly a catch and release fisherman, tasty trout from clear, clean streams are one of my exceptions to that rule, especially when I'm paying $15 per day to fish a put and take fishery. Snapped another pic of  the colorful brown trout before putting it out of it's misery:


Stayed with the same setup, managed a total of 4 rainbow trout, 4 brown trout, 2 fallfish and one bullhead in about 3 hours of fishing. Jimmy landed another couple rainbow trout on his spinners, but still no brown trout for him. Fishing calmed down for a while, so we decided to try some other spots. 2 of the spots were dead, the third yielded only one fish, a nice keeper sized brown trout for Jimmy on his Mepps spinner. We eventually headed back to our original spot. The trout were starting to rise, and my worm setup wasn't performing any longer, nor was Jimmy's spinner. We decided to try files on our spinning rods, While the technique worked for Jimmy with his extra long 10 foot ultralight rod, I wasn't having any success casting or controlling the drift, despite trying with split shots, nor the crystal cast bobber I brought along designed to make me able to fish flies with a spinning rod.

Jimmy landed a few more small rainbows, I eventually decided to tie on a Rapala J5 jointed floating minnow. On my second cast, I hooked into a beauty. The fish was right at the current seam, and ran straight into the current, After a surprisingly good fight, I landed a chunky 14 inch brown trout. Didn't feel like disturbing Jimmy to snap another pic, but now I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture!!!

Fishing slowed down again, only to turn on a again at the very end of the day, hooked another couple rainbows (lost 1), and missed another big brown all within 5 minutes.

Sadly but inevitably, it was time to leave. There is something special about wading into a cold, rushing river surrounded by mountains to catch fish, even if they aren't much more than oversized, tasty baitfish. The calming effect of the bubbling, rushing water, the sounds and smells of nature, and a couple happy friends blending into the scenery while trying to catch dinner. We are truly blessed to have such a great fishery less than 2 hours drive from Montreal, may have to return another time this season.

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