Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Already, brookie record may be broken

By Steve

Saranac Lake, N.Y. – You’ll have to forgive Robert Dora Jr. if
he doesn’t sound too excited about catching a new potential state
record brook trout.

Maybe it’s because he already has a bigger one hanging on his

Dora, a 34-year-old Saranac Lake resident who grew up fishing
for back-country brook trout in the Adirondacks, landed what
appears to be a new state record brookie last month, a four-pound,
five-ounce beauty.

That fish would, pending official certification from the state,
top the four-pound, two-ounce trophy taken last fall by Adirondack
guide Joe Hackett, who lives just down the road a few miles from

Dora, who was fishing with his 11-year-old son Kyle, says the
game of state record leapfrog has likely begun.

“I knew Joe’s record wouldn’t last; mine won’t either,” he
predicted. “I’ll probably catch one bigger this year. Every year we
get them in the fours. Not a lot, but a couple. So do some other
guys. I’ve caught bigger. My biggest is hanging on the wall. Four
pounds, 15 ounces.”

Like Hackett, the exact location of Dora’s record-setting fish
will remain vague, listed only as within the St. Regis Wilderness
Canoe Area, a maze of lakes and ponds offering superb canoeing and
fishing in a remote setting.

That’s the way Hackett wanted it when he set the record last
year – so much so that he would have withdrawn it from
consideration if the water was identified. Anglers fishing for the
Adirondack brookies often do so in fear of having the fishery
decimated by overharvesting of the speckled trout.

“I didn’t know I could do that (list the fish as caught within
the St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area), until they (DEC officials)
told me that’s what Joe did,” Dora said.

That suits Dora just fine. In fact, he’d prefer to be vague on
what he caught the fish on. “A lure,” he said. “Do I have to tell
you what kind?”

He did say he and his boy were throwing lures at a water where
the ice had not completely departed, fishing the shallows near log
structure when he caught the big fish.

“It was actually a slow day. We only caught three fish – one was
about a pound-and-a-half, one was two-and-three-quarters, and this
one,” Dora said.

Unlike some serious back-country brook trout anglers, Dora
fishes only in the spring. In the fall, he’s out bowhunting.

“I grew up fishing back on those ponds,” Dora said, noting that
his father, Robert Sr., is a veteran brook trout angler who still
treks into the St. Regis ponds.

When he landed the potential record, he took it to E & M
Markets in Saranac Lake for an official weight. “I knew it was over
four pounds,” he said.

After that, DEC Region 5 Senior Aquatic Biologist Rich Preall
verified that the fish was indeed a brook trout.

“It wasn’t an accident, or luck,” said Preall of Dora’s catch.
“He fishes the water all the time, and he’s from a very well-known
fishing family.”

Hackett established the new state record last fall by design.
Seeing that the previous record brook trout – along with others
before that – had been vacated because documentation was lacking or
they were stocked hatchery fish, he set out last fall to set the
new standard. When he did, he predicted it wouldn’t last long.

He was right.

Preall, too, was hardly surprised. He said last fall he “can
think of at least five waters that hold fish that big” in the

Most of the big fish will be taken in the spring shortly after
ice-out and again in the fall as the brookies prepare for

Is there a five-pounder out there. Probably, says Dora, who fell
an ounce short of that with his biggest fish.

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