Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Salmon in the Adirondack High Peaks

Yes, you read that title correctly. Last weekend, after a rough week, I headed up to the Adirondacks with a close friend to camp out and take it easy... and of course, do some fishing. I was surprised with the results.

We camped next to the headwaters of a small river in the high peaks region. It was crazy just how low the water was. I can't remember it being this low ever. Luckily it was still in the mid 60's, temperature-wise.

The river has a typical Adirondack "boulder field" as its base. Lots of places for trout to hide, even with low water. This also makes for some great hiding spots and successful sneaky fishing with a long Tenkara rod. 

The first catch had my surprised. At first look, I thought it was a baby brown. But closer inspection upon landing the fish indicated that it was not a brown, but in fact was a small Atlantic salmon parr. 

After moving down stream a bit I caught a little Brookie. I thought maybe the Salmon parr was just a one time fluke.

I fished a mini-gorge next, the section I had been wanting to scout since noticing it on my map. And this proved that the Salmon Parr was not a fluke.

The river had some older growth trees that were a reminder of times passed.

The first night I played around with my red light and the night sky. My camera is not really made for this, but I made it work.

We were tired and hit the sack early. Which was good, because I woke up really early the next day. I let my friend sleep while I went fishing.

 More Salmon. It was an active morning. 

This would be the last fish for this particular fly... you can see it coming apart in the fish's mouth.

I had pulled a stupid move and left my main fly box at home, next to the vise, after tying some new flies for the trip.

Instead of being mad about it, I just used what I had... a small plastic box with 5 dry flies, and the one bead head nymph that was already on my spool from the last trip. So I fished mostly dries all weekend. It was fun.

We had in mind to bushwhack a lower elevation mountain nearby. The hike started out just fine as we navigated around a swamp and found some beautiful woods.

Following the lay of the land as best we could, aided by game-trails, we pushed our way through the thick adirondack woods.

At some point I got enough spider webs in my face and spiders on me to actually start to change my mood from great to "less than excited."

We soon gave up on our bushwhack and hiked back to camp with the promise of a cold soak in the stream. There were many beautiful things in the parts of the forest that rarely see humans...

Back at the river I found some Chanterelles. We decided to head up river to explore some possible swimming and fishing holes. I was eager to see how far up the Salmon could go.

But it was clear that the Brookies dominated above our site. I caught this beauty in the first deep hole we found. The brookies in this area often seem to have dramatic iridescent pink and purple hues along the belly.

My friend worked on his Tenkara skills, and caught some Brookies as well.

This tomato worm was floating in the stream. Too big even for the trout, I guess?

Late season flowers were still in bloom, even as the leaves began to change.

My home for the weekend.

I had some more fun tinkering with the camera and got a great photo of the stars.

In the morning I packed up my stuff quickly and couldn't resist a few more casts. I caught 3 or 4 more Salmon parr and finally hooked into a brown trout. 

I knew they were in there, but for some reason I just couldn't get one until the last cast. Appropriately, it was the fish of the weekend for me. Look at those markings!

I've noticed two different kinds of brown trout that I've been catching in the Northeast USA, with some crossover/hybridization... this type has larger red spots with white circles, more closely resembling the mediterranean brown trout I caught in Italy than many of the browns I find in the average New York river. 

We had a long drive ahead. We stopped at a Bison farm to buy some blueberry cake and fresh veggies to take home. It had been a nice weekend to relax and take it all in. 

Meanwhile, I'm really looking forward to the Tenkara USA Summit in Estes Park, CO! Stay tuned for updates starting next week.


  1. Excellent post Adam......I never knew there were salmon in that area.

    1. Thanks, yes this is my first time catching them there, too. I wonder if this is a "new development" or a sign of recent recovery, of if they've been there all along and its just my timing that was right...

  2. I assume that those are landlocked? Weird place to find salmon

    1. They are landlocked, yes. Likely from a lake that the river flows into.

  3. Adam, I would check further into those salmon. I'm assuming they are stocked as fry, but to what end.

    1. It's possible, but I wasn't aware that New York stocked streams with Salmon. More research is in order for sure.

  4. Not entirely strange if this stream drains into Lake Champlain via the Boquet. (Ausable and Saranac Rivers also have landlocked runs, but the Saranac, at least, has an impassable dam at its lower end.) The interesting question is if these are wild landlocks or stocked fish. The native Atlantics in Champlain were wiped out in the 19th century but restoration has been underway for several decades. NY DEC promotes the fishery:

    1. That's great news on the restoration project of lake Champlain salmon. I wouldn't be too surprised if other lakes are getting the same treatment as well? Thanks for the link, worth checking out. I'm curious where these guys came from :)

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