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Early trout opportunities a rarity in the 'Dacks

Posted on April 2, 2012

Steve PiattI'm pounding out this blog a little early this week because I really don't want to be saddled with this duty on opening day of trout season. That's a bit unusual up here in the North Country; normally the April 1 kickoff doesn't mean a thing to us, except a chance to make a few ceremonial casts in a nearby stream while standing on something that could probably qualify as an iceberg.

This year is different. A mild winter was followed by an incredible heat wave which, albeit brief, chewed up ice, opened up many backcountry brook trout ponds and warmed streams to temperatures generally not seen until May. So there's a real chance we can do some serious fishing on the opener, with options ranging from those backcountry brookie haunts to some streams that may have even received stockings of trout before the season kickoff. Mirror Lake, tight to downtown Lake Placid, may yield some holdover rainbows, and if Lake Placid – which is actually the lake located north of town – is open, it's always worth plying those waters for lake trout that can grow to frightening sizes. Every year it seems at least one fish on either side of 20 pounds is landed, with by an angler who knows the lake's potential and is prepared for tangling with a Leviathan, or one who by dumb luck manages to win the tug-o-war and drag it into his boat or canoe.

The early trout fishing opportunities are especially welcome to a serious turkey hunter like myself. In a typical spring, trout fishing doesn't heat up until May, and that's when my entire focus is on the gobblers. I've never been very good at that turkey-and-trout daily double. What usually happens is that I hunt in the morning and fish in the afternoon, but when hopping back into a truck that's been warmed by the day's sun, I nap right there, awakened an hour or two later to find myself nearly floating in my own drool. An evening fishing outing is out of the question; that's when I'm scouting for more birds or trying to roost a gobbler for the next morning.

So Paula and I plan to take advantage of this April trout fishing. Chances are the weather will be cool, the waters still chilly. But up here, an open pond or lake in April doesn't happen often. Neither does the sight of a DEC stocking truck before opening day. Stocked or wild fish doesn't really matter to a trout angler in April in the Adirondacks. In fact, there are some years when anglers take advantage of a quirk in the regulations on some waters that allows for ice fishing on and after April 1. That should tell you something about how unusual the current conditions are.