It happens about this time of year, as water temperatures rise and flies begin to hatch. The deep, cold Adirondack waters give up monster lake trout that are measured in pounds rather than inches. They come from the depths of local waters such as Upper Saranac Lake, Hoel Pond, Pine Pond, Tupper Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Mirror Lake and Moose Pond.
Yet among them all, it is Lake Placid that retains the reputation for true lunkers. In 1985 the lake produced the New York state record fish weighing in at over 32 pounds, erasing the previous state record of 31 pounds, also from the lake.
While the current New York state record is a 41 pound, 8 ounce laker from Lake Erie harvested in August of 2003, Lake Placid is still considered one of the premier lakes for the species.
Over the years, local lake trout anglers with names like Shackett, Frayne, Baillargeon, Mader, Benham and Doyle have produced memorable specimens.
They're taken by trolling spoons, wobblers or a series of spoons such as a 'Christmas Tree' tipped with cut bait or a live minnow, or with plugs trolled on downriggers or flutter spoons jerked along on lead core or wire line.
Experienced handliners use leadcore or wire lines to get their offerings down to the proper depth. These "bottom thumpers" dredge up fish from the extreme depths where lakers seek cold, clear, well-oxygenated waters.
Lakers prefer water from 40 to 52 degrees F and can live at depths of 100 to 200 feet, and some have even been found at depths down to 600 feet.
With life spans of 25 to 40 years of age, the largest specimen ever topped the scales at 102 pounds and 49.5 inches in length. It was taken in 1961 in Saskatchewan, Canada, in a gill net.
The current world record lake trout stands at 72 pounds and was caught in August of 1995 in Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada.
In the early spring, lakers can be found in shallow depths of 20 feet or less and can be taken on lures, flies, plugs and spoons, as well as live bait.
In the spring of 2005, the fishing trio of Bob Chabot, Pete Kershbaumer and Robert Dafter spent three days "trolling wobbler rigs like the locals told us to" on Lake Placid.
Finally, after two days of limited success, "We decided to try something else and we switched to lures: Rapalas," Chabot revealed.
The change worked when 80-year-old, Mr. Dafter, from Newtown, Pa. boated a monster that weighed an even 27 pounds. It was 41 inches long.
At the time, Chabot, from Milford, N.J., revealed, "I know there's bigger ones out there still. It kinda gives me the incentive to get back out. I expect we'll be doing a lot of fishing from now on."
Chabot got his own Saturday, May 10, three years after Dafter's beauty. He hooked into a Lake Placid laker that weighed over 28 pounds and exceeded 42 inches in length.
"I took it down to the taxidermist," Chabot explained when he recently showed a picture of the giant fish to me. "We kind of want to keep it low key because we know that there's more where that came from!"
Does an angler need any better reason to get out?
A consortium of organizations will join together to provide a workshop on invasive species for local tourism businesses. Those who work in the woods and on the waters should be aware of the threat invasives present, and they should know what invasives look like.
Jointly sponsored by Jones Outfitters, the Ausable River Association and the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the session will feature Hilary Oles of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP), a regional cooperative initiated in 1998 among citizens and organizations in the park.
APIPP's mission is to protect the park from the negative impacts of non native invasive plants, and the program coordinates two projects, the Aquatic Invasive Plant Project and the Terrestrial Invasive Plant Project.
The free evening workshop will be hosted at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake from 7 to 8:30 p.m. May 20.
It will provide an overview of problems caused by Adirondack aquatic invasive species and offer suggestions and solutions to combat the situation.
It will also offer specific ideas and resources that local businesses can share with their clientele in order to limit the spread of such threats as Eurasian milfoil, zebra mussels, didymo (aka rock snot, a particularly dangerous threat to local trout streams) and others.
Oles will assist outfitters, guides, marina owners and other tourism businesses concerned with protecting our waters against invasives. Participants will learn to identify threats and potential pathways of transport.
Most importantly for tourism providers, the workshop will offer methods to communicate this information to their customers: the boaters, paddlers, anglers and swimmers that frequent the Adirondack Park's precious waters.
Individuals interested in attending should contact Janet Manor at the Lake Champlain Sea Grant by calling 564-3038 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by May 13.
A cool summer job
if you can bear it
The Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Adirondack Program and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are looking for a summer intern to serve as a backcountry bear steward to aid in the WCS Black Bear Education, Awareness, and Research (BBEAR) Program and NYS DEC's High Peaks Black Bear Study.
The position will focus on black bear research in the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks and include outreach efforts centered on regional retail shops, summer camps and other groups.
Specifically, the steward will help WCS and NYS DEC understand the effectiveness and compliance rate of the new NYS DEC bear canister regulation for the High Peaks through a backcountry trailhead survey and other means including interviews, entering data, collecting surveys and being a resource for backcountry users. The steward will also distribute bear and food storage information and educational materials to regional retail shops, outdoor groups and summer camps.
The position requires independent work, although WCS and DEC will provide leadership and support throughout the project period.
A background in environmental science and research is desired; data analysis skills are a plus. Weekend and holiday work is required. Travel around the Adirondacks and the North Country is required and reliable transportation is necessary. The position may require up to 40 hours per week of work from end of June to early September.
Interested? Fax or e-mail your resume and letter of interest to: Wildlife Conservation Society's Adirondack Program, BBEAR Program, 7 Brandy Brook Ave. #204, Saranac Lake, NY 12983. Fax to 518-891-8875 or send email to email@example.com.