The Year of the Brook Trout by Mark Usyk

Nothing says Spring is here like the opening day of Trout season. Let’s face it. As fisherman, the seasons for us revolve less around temperatures and snow falls, leaves changing and the sun beating down on a hot summer day, and more on what season for any particular fish is about to open up. Sure, there’s a couple rivers and creeks we here in NY can chase Trout on year round, but there’s something about the last few days leading up to April 1st, the opening day of Trout season, that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Like the prom queen feeling that cheesy plastic tiara rest on her head for the first time, it almost brings tears to our eyes as anglers to realize all our hopes and dreams are about to come true. All we ever wished for, Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, is nearly within our grasp… If we can only catch it.

We rig and re-rig reels with new line and backing that didn’t need to be re-spooled. We empty chest packs of their contents, taking inventory, perhaps adding an item or taking one away but more or less re-packing it the way we found it. We tie flies in the last days leading up to the first day, even though the flies left from last year are still there, still fine, still fishable. Why? Because idle hands create idle minds. And idle minds leading up to the first day of Trout season have been known to drive anglers nearly to the brink of insanity. “Poor old Bob, they found him splashing around in his old waders in the fountain at the mall the other day. When security pulled him out he was mumbling incoherently, something about “the monster broke me off in the drain grate.”

To me it’s not so much about the fish as where I’ll be headed to hunt for them. I don’t keep any, so it’s not about bringing home dinner either. These could both be nothing more than excuses laid out ahead of time to cover the fact that I’m not a great fisherman, but I digress. The opening of Trout means the opening of waters I otherwise had no reason to cast to until now. They only hold Brookies. Therefore, Brookies mean Spring. At the end of last year’s season, I referred to 2015 as my year of the Brook trout, because looking back, I’d spent the majority of my time casting on northern streams photographing the scenery and the gorgeous Brook Trout that have called the Adirondacks home since long before we searched them out there.

But this year I believe will truly be dedicated to the Adirondack Brookie. Father’s Day weekend we will be hosting the 2016 Trout Power event on and around the site of the Adirondack Great Camp, Camp Sagamore. The waters here are a comeback story of epic proportions. I actually dislike the word “epic” and I try my best not to use it. It’s a watered down word these days, used to describe almost everything that clearly is not, but in this instance, I feel it’s more than warranted. Approximately some 15 miles of thin blue lines were once damaged so badly by acid rain that to fish these waters was a lost cause. The Brookie was M.I.A. Today, left alone, nature staged its comeback and has succeeded in historic waters, a victory over a battle it never asked for against man and industry. That’s epic.

This year’s Trout Power event will provide research necessary to help preserve and protect this stretch of what is nothing more than thin blue lines on paper, but is so much more that almost can’t be described while one actually stands surrounded in it. From fish counts to DNA samples to photos and measurements, steps will be taken, research compiled, and in the end hopefully the fish that were once gone and came back on their own will be protected and preserved. In conjunction with the New York State Museum, Trout Power, and Trout Unlimited, YOU can become part of a valiant effort to do right by the Brookie that fought so hard to come back. Does a true heritage strain Brook Trout swim in this watershed? Do fish get bigger in one area more than the others? What are they eating? You can be a scientist and an angler for a weekend and help out. If this sounds like something you’d be proud to be a part of, check out the link below, and get involved. A bear once said that only you can prevent forest fires. Well, I say that only YOU can protect the wild Brook Trout. It ain’t gonna happen just talking about it. Get moving!