Brookie mark unchanged

Staff report

Ray Brook, N.Y. — New York’s state record brook trout didn’t
climb to the 5-pound mark as some DEC officials anticipated this
fall.

But, says one DEC fisheries biologist, that doesn’t mean 5-pound
brookies weren’t caught.

“A lot of guys just don’t want to give away a lake or their
secret spot, so rather than submit a catch (for state record
consideration), they just release it or keep it to themselves,”
said DEC Region 5 Senior Aquatic Biologist Rich Preall.

The current state record remains at 4 pounds, 11 ounces, a
21-inch brookie caught May 21 by Rich O’Brien of Fulton, N.Y., in
the remote backcountry of the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness Area of
Herkimer County.

DEC officials purposely allow the specific water to remain a
secret to avoid putting high fishing pressure on it. They did the
same when Adirondack guide Joe Hackett established the state
standard, which had been vacated due to a lack of solid information
on some fish and knowledge that other big brookies were
recently-stocked hatchery breeders.

Hackett’s fish, caught last fall in the St. Regis Wilderness
Canoe Area, was a 4.2-pounder. That mark was eclipsed the following
spring by Jesse Yousey of Croghan, who landed a 4.52-pound brookie
while fishing Lewis County’s Pine Lake.

DEC biologists in the Adirondacks, known for its high-quality,
remote brook trout fishing, had been awaiting word of a 5-pound
fish, knowing they exist in those waters.

“I know of several big fish caught that were not submitted,”
Preall said. “There were some beauties caught this summer.
Potential state records? I think so. They were in the 5-pound
range, according to the fishermen. And these guys know their brook
trout.”

O’Brien’s fish was 21 inches; Preall said one angler released a
23-inch brook trout. “He thought it was well over 5 pounds,” Preall
said.

Another diehard backcountry brook trout pursuer logs his fishing
efforts and told Preall he caught “30 or 40” big fish this
season.

“I asked him if any were over 5 pounds, and he said, ‘Yup. At
least three,’” Preall recalled.

While the spring brook trout fishing was highly productive, the
fall action, which typically yields equally big fish, was stymied
by weather factors.

A hot summer led to higher-than-normal water temperatures across
the Adirondacks, which slowed September brook trout action. And
October fishing was made challenging by rainy weather.

“I haven’t heard of any big fish lately,” Preall said. “I know a
lot of guys who take trips back in to their hotspots each fall
simply got rained out this year. We had about two solid weeks of
rain, and a lot of guys just didn’t get out.”

Since virtually all the top-producing brook trout waters are off
limits to ice fishing, the state record won’t likely be challenged
until next spring.

Preall says it will take the right combination to topple
O’Brien’s mark — a big fish, and an angler willing to submit it for
consideration.

That’s no guarantee among the fraternity of anglers who fish
religiously for big brook trout in remote settings — the kind
they’d like to remain remote.

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