Heritage Strains

My grandfather built a remote fishing cabin deep in the wilds of northern Quebec. It was a seven hour trip from Newcomb, through Ottawa to the first dirt road another hour and a half of dusty roads to the lake.

But man were there brookies.

Wed frequent a state park containing hundreds of ponds. For a fee, you could drive to nearly any one and catch sizable brook trout.

And I mean sizable.

The Quebec Ministry of Wildlife and Parks stocked each lake well, then closely monitored each one, counting every fish taken from a particular pond as fisherman exited the park through a heavy gate. Theyd close lakes that had met a certain quota, thereby ensuring seed for the following season. It was an incredible display of pond management and I definitely cant remember a fishless trip to Quebec.

I have to say, though, today Id rate many Adirondack ponds right up there with them - especially as you get further from the highway. Never thought Id hear myself say that, but its true.

Its a testament to the aggressive effort by our state fisheries to save the legacy of the brook trout which has long been threatened by manmade problems like acid rain and the introduction of trash fish.

In response, DEC each year reclaims half a dozen ponds, using a quick-dissipating chemical called rotenone to kill off non-native fish like perch and bluegill. Then they restock with native brook trout.

Beginning in 1989, the state began stocking heritage strains of brook trout, which are unique to New York. Heritage strains like Horn Lake, Windfall, Little Tupper and Nate Pond tend to reproduce better in Adirondack waters.

They also grow bigger and live longer. A hatchery fish usually lives only about three years and grow to a few pounds. Adirondack strains live four to five years and grow as big as four pounds or more.

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