The last native brook trout of the Adirondacks

Last weekend, I attended the annual Adirondack Sportsmans Dinner in Schroon Lake. The event has become an annual rite of spring as it offers the opportunity to visit with a group of old friends and other like-minded outdoorsmen and women and to share stories of the past year's adventures. As always, it was a wonderful event with a great turnout.

I usually offer a seminar and visit with other presenters to gather information on topics ranging from Flies For The Dog Days of Summer with Paul Tremblay or Hunting With a Primitive Flintlock Rifle with Gary Hodgson.

Other topics of interest included seminars on Deep Woods Deer and Bear Hunting with Bill Kozel, Survival with Marty Simons and A Hunter's Year in the Adirondack by author Dan Ladd from Fort Ann. Nationally recognized whitetail expert, Charles Alsheimer, offered a keynote address on a year in the life of whitetails. The photographs were amazing and the information extraordinary.

My session centered on brook trout, or salvelinus fontinalis, which were designated the official New York state fish in 1975. Known as brookies, speckles and square tails, similar to black bear, whitetail deer and loons, brook trout are considered an iconic species of the Adirondacks. Brook trout inhabit cold, clean waters and they are considered the 'canary of the coal mine' when it comes to water quality.

At one time, brook trout could be found in over 95 percent of the Adirondack lakes, streams, rivers and ponds. Sadly, due to changes in water quality, acid deposition and the introduction of non-native and competitive species, there remain fewer than 10 "heritage" strains of brook trout currently inhabiting traditional Adirondack waters. These are the last remaining remnants of a once widespread native population.

However, the nine remaining heritage strains of brook trout are significant. Heritage populations are wild strains of brook trout that maintain the original genetic characteristics of a specific lake population.

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