Outdoor Tales

The Trout, the whole Trout, and nothing but the Trout. So help me Cod. Cant you just picture me standing on the shore of some remote pond right hand over my heart. Left hand clutching my seven-foot Orvis, reciting that passage. Me either. I actually stole the saying from an old t-shirt that hangs in my closet. I was going to go with the one that says shut up and fish, but was afraid my significant other would think it was aimed at her. Nope. Ill be saving that for a different column. (Just kidding honey.) Here we are two weeks into trout season and I havent even unpacked my trout rigs. Thats right. Unpacked. Ive spent the past, uhmmmm, six months or so embroiled in a house purchase and move. The next time I consider such masochistic behavior, please, someone staple my eyelids shut. My loyal followers have probably noticed the dirth of columns in the past months. I know, you appreciated the intermission. Well, good or bad, I am back in the saddle. Or, should I say, back in my overstuffed reclining office chair. And the timing couldnt be better as trout season is upon us. My good buddy Steve Piatt over at New York Outdoor News used to theorize that there wasnt enough time in a week for both golf and fishing. Well, Im out to prove him wrong. Mix in the spring gobbler season and I should have plenty of future fodder for this column (and I use the term very loosely.) Would you like lime with that? Last year at this time I spoke about the fact that while brook trout are still present in slightly over 400 Adirondack waters (public and private), natural reproduction is occurring in less than 40 of those ponds. In the Saranac Lake Wild Forest, for example, the water surface area that supports brook trout has dwindled from 97 percent (pre-1900) to less than 1 percent today. Sadly, influences like acid rain and the introduction of warm-water predator and competitive species like bass, yellow perch, bluegill and northern pike have nearly wiped out native brookies. In response, the DEC has established a number of aggressive programs to ensure the long-term viability of brook trout in the Adirondacks. The most obvious, of course, are stocking programs. Ninety percent of trout ponds are dependent on stocking to maintain their fisheries. Others are based on turning back the clock reclaiming ponds to the time when they once supported thriving, self-sustaining populations of wild brookies. While that is a tall order, successes and failures have both occured. One practice involves placing lime no not the type you squeeze into your Corona on the back porch at sunset but the white-colored chemical compound that can reduce acidity in ponds. I noticed a release from the state about the opening of trout season mentioned Peaked Mountain Lake, located in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area, was limed in February 2008. Senior aquatic biologist Leo Demong said that liming can allow trout to live in pH critical ponds in which they may not otherwise survive. But, he said, liming does not promote food sources in a pond, or increase fertility or productivity. Pulverized limestone raises the pH and therefore allows fish to survive where they cannot otherwise, but it does not really add to the fertility, Demong said. Many acidified ponds contain a rather diverse insect fauna despite acidity levels below what most fish can tolerate. My feeling is that in pH critical ponds, trout can survive or not, and liming the lake will allow survival, but not promote food resources materially. Demong also said liming is seen as a band-aid to the devestating effects of acid rain and must be repeated at regular intervals to be effective. That is the reason why the number of ponds limed each year is quite small. Region 6 tends to lime 1-3 waters per year while Region 5 has about 15 waters in its current active program, Demong said. We generally treat one or two per year, he said. John Gereau is managing editor at Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly.

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