Record brook trout taken on Raquette

"In other words, the harder you work at something, the luckier you get," Yacovella said. "Sure, there is luck involved, but the more prepared you are the better your chance of success."

From that perspective, Yacovella is a student of the brookie. From the conditions of the day to line weight and color, Yacovella left little to chance. He chose to fish June 7 "because there was a slight ripple and it was overcast," and because "the black flies were at their worst."

On smaller ponds, Yacovella runs the age-old favorite of a Lake Clear Wabbler and a worm. On larger water, like Raquette, he prefers a minnow imitation. He runs 6-pound test to a three-way swivel, with a pencil-lead sinker pulling it down and a 48-inch, 4-pound leader to a floating Rapala.

"I feel that keeps the lure tracking straight and gives it the most realistic action," he said.

Because Yacovella runs such a light leader, he constantly checks for frays and changes them often. He prefers steelhead rods of 9-feet or longer with a fast-action tip, to ensure the fish is fighting the pole and not the reel or line - and relies on back reeling big fish instead of his drag.

Finally, Yacovella studies thermoclines, and intentionally weighted his Rapala that day to run at 24 feet - above the lakers and below the smallmouths.

It was a combination the big brookie found irresistible.

Ironically, when the brookie was being certified by Dave Erway, the fisheries biologist in the Department of Environmental Conservation's Utica office, a three-inch minnow was found in the fish's gullet.

"I told my buddies I intentionally matched the hatch," Yacovella said with another quick laugh.

To be certified for a state record, a brook trout must be dissected by a state biologist like Erway who counts its pyloric caeca - or the finger-like projections in the small intestines. Brookies have between 20-55, splake between 65-90 and lakers between 95-200.

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