Finding relief in a pond or mountain stream
Seasoned outdoor travelers have long claimed that the Adirondack region knows only three seasons, which include winter, not quite winter and bug season. The determining factor is established by what is in the air. If smells like smoke, it’s likely to be winter, and if it isn’t, you’ll be busy swatting black flies.
The Adirondack calendar is equally divided between winter and bug season, which are generally separated by a single day. However, due to the ongoing effects of climate change, the actual date of winter’s arrival is anybody’s guess.
I refer to the late/early winter season season as Sprinter, since it is not quite winter and not yet spring. The remainder of the year is composed of the Bug Season, which is slightly more tolerable than the Tourist Season.
Currently, the region is in the throes of a full-on summer season. It is a good time to hike into the smaller ponds for a dip, rather than to fish. In such weather, l prefer to spend my free time exploring small mountain streams that offer private swimming holes and some relief during the heat of the day.
As the season warms the rivers and streams, anglers will have increasingly limited opportunities to fish trout on the streams. In such conditions, ethical anglers often limit their outings to early-morning or late-day forays, if they fish at all. Rather than stress the more vulnerable trout, this is a great time to get out on the lakes and ponds in search of bass.
In a region that has been recognized for its trout and salmon, there are very few species that offer the combination of great action and the ready availability that bass have to offer. The time is prime for casting poppers along shorelines, jigging black jigs into the depths or working a deer-hair popper as the sun sinks in the sky. For a sure bet, there is nothing that beats sending a crayfish down into the depths on a light line.
Pound for pound, smallmouth bass remain one of the most entertaining of all sport fish. They are also one of the most overlooked sport fish.
Very few flyrodders take advantage of the opportunities available in the region, in terms of taking bass on the rivers and and streams. Although flyfishers continue to flock to the local rivers seeking trout, l have rarely ever encountered fellow anglers fly casting for bass, even on the easily accessible sections of the Ausable, the Saranac and the Boquet.
However, word is slowly getting out about some of the fantastic fishing that can still be had in and around the expansive Raquette River watershed, the original, watery highway of the Adirondacks. I have fished on many sections of the river, and l have been entertained for hours, catching and releasing 12- to 20-inch smallmouth bass, often within sight of a road.
Although the river is easily accessible, often just off the main highway, it is still one of the most underutilized fisheries in the Park, and nobody ever complains about that.
To top it off, bass also offer a firm, flaky white meat that is excellent table fare — whether deep fried, baked or cooked on the grill along with some fresh corn on the cob.