The summer season was ushered in by a series of unsettled weather
systems that delivered thunderstorms, heavy rains, and in typical fashion, the Lake Placid Horse Show.
Steady rains have raised levels on rivers and clouded the waters, yet fly hatches have been prolific with clouds of caddis in the air, as well as Green Drakes, Brown Drakes and even a few Blue Wing Olives appearing during the morning's drizzle.
As levels diminish, water clarity will improve. The rains have refreshed the streams, cooling the waters and providing a supply of
Area ponds are still full, which facilitates easy put-ins/take-outs at the carries. Despite the influx of fresh water, the surface temperatures on the lakes and ponds now hovers in the mid-70's.
Brookies and lakers have returned to the depths, although rainbows are
still interested in offerings presented in the upper reaches of the water column.
Although I didn't witness any flies in the air, I did find numerous shucks (cases) of hexigenia mayflies littering the water while traveling through the ponds in the St. Regis area last weekend.
Hex's are a large, pale green mayfly hatch in the late afternoon and
evening hours. Like the expected rains, the hex hatch typically arrives about a week before the Horse Shows and lasts about two weeks. They are one of the largest flies in the air and can be found on the screen doors of lakeside homes nearly any morning in early July.
As the big mayflies float along on the water's surface with upright wings, they resemble a flotilla of miniature America's Cup yachts
racing to the line; until a cruising rainbow trout sips one down.
The hex hatch brings many large fish to they surface, including bass.
However, it is below the surface where the action really happens as fish gorge on the emerging insects before the reach the adult stage.
Although most anglers prefer to take fish on the surface during the hex hatch, experienced anglers have learned that trolling a hex nymph bare, or behind a small Lake Clear wobbler, can also provide vicious strikes. Regardless of technique, this is one hatch that is not to be missed.
Bass season opens
Fair weather prevailed as the regular bass season opened on Saturday, June 21. Despite a few passing showers, the day turned bright and sunny, not really ideal conditions for bass.
While bass anglers were out, it is obvious that gas prices had a major impact on enthusiasts. It appeared there were plenty of parking spots still available at most local boat launches.
The recent low pressure fronts that have been passing through have provided outstanding opportunities for top-water action. Bass will feed heavily prior to the arrival of a storm, but once the first raindrops begin to speckle the water, the game is over.
With an approaching storm, surface waters often turn still, flat and smooth. At such times, bass will be on the prowl and looking up.
In such conditions, offerings that disturb the surface tension of the water will get noticed. Bass will hit top-water lures with avengeance, hoping to strike the object before it can escape. Their vicious strikes can startle an unsuspecting angler and result in an unrivaled tail-walking, surface-dancing, multi-finned exhibition of raw power.
When water goes flat, it's time to toss floating lures like Chuggers, Hula Poppers, rubber frogs or mice. Fly rodders should try offering cork poppers or deer hair bugs like the famous Tuttle Bug, which originated in Old Forge.
Once an angler experiences such action, they'll maintain a vigilant eye for those still, windless days where there isn't a ripple on the water.
One strike and
I recently spent an afternoon fishing for brook trout on a small pond, located high on the shoulder of a nearby mountain peak. The pond, which is tucked in a small ravine, is quite well sheltered from the prevailing winds and surrounded by a stand of soaring pines.
The pond's orientation makes it impossible to see the horizon and equally difficult to discern the likely results of approaching weather.
So, when I heard rumbles of thunder in the distance, I decided to exit the pond and hike to nearby ledges, where I would have a better vantage point to assess the situation. it didn't take long to see what was coming. And I didn't have much time to prepare.
Dark clouds rolled in and soon let loose with a blanket of driving rain. Huddled under the hull of the inflatable canoe, I was dry but
concerned. Lightning was in the air.
As soon as the rain let up, I dragged the boat further from the pond. I went over a small ridge and settled into a small depression. I sat under the boat, and the rain again picked up.
Flashes of lightning lit up the now dark woods and there was an acrid smell in the air.
After the storm
passed, I noticed a shattered, jagged pine at the far end of the pond that took the brunt of a strike. Much too close for comfort.
With rumblings continuing in the distance, it didn't take long to break down the canoe, hoist the pack and begin the journey downhill. A fishing rod is fine; a lightning rod is a whole different matter.
What should a person do in such a situation, other than not putting yourself there in the first place?
With current predictions of more
frequent and more violent weather continuing as a result of climate change, it may be useful information.
Here are some rules to follow to avoid being struck during a thunderstorm. Always avoid being the tallest object around. Get as low as you can, but don't lie prone on the ground; go into a squat, instead.
It is unwise to be near the tallest object around, like an isolated tree. Avoid softwood trees like pine, spruce or hemlock. Softwoods
carry more moisture and are most likely to take a strike.
Your best protection is to get down from the peaks or off the water as quickly as possible. Do not remain out in open, exposed areas; seek cover in a depression.
There is no "warning sign" that will tell you reliably that lightning is about to strike. The time from the flash to the thunder is a rough measure of how distant the lightning is.
If you see a flash and count the seconds, five seconds corresponds to about a mile. There is no distance from a thunderstorm that is absolutely safe!
If you can see the lightning, then you are under threat. What is currently advocated is the "30-30" rule.
You should take shelter if the time from seeing a flash to the time you hear thunder is 30 seconds or less. Don't resume activities until 30 minutes have elapsed
from the last lightning and thunder.
You do not have to be directly hit by the lightning to be affected. Lightning can travel along the ground from a nearby strike to you. It can also jump from nearby objects that are struck. Do not take shelter in a tent with metal poles.
If someone in your group is struck by lightning, their heart and breathing may stop but they still have a chance to survive.
Perform CPR on them until professional medical help arrives.