What a roller coaster ride.
For those who have not heard, the 5-pound, 6-ounce fish I caught in a remote Adirondack pond two weeks ago was determined to be a splake, and therefore ineligible for the state brook trout record.
Had it been certified, the fish would have shattered the previous record taken in 2006 by Jesse Yousey in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area by 7 ounces.
But, alas, it was not to be.
Since then, I've taken some good-natured ribbing from my long-time fishing buddies for not being able to distinguish the fish as a splake - which is a hybrid cross between a lake trout and a brookie.
Some even looked at the photo of the fish and immediately said, "Looks like a splake to me, John."
Certainly, anyone who fishes brookies here knows the chance of a splake being caught is always there, which is why the certification process is in place.
In my defense, though, there were a couple extenuating circumstances to this story. First, the fish came from a pond that had never before produced a splake, at least as far as the DEC knew.
No record of splake being stocked in the pond exists, and state officials were bewildered about how they got there.
Senior aquatics biologist Rich Preall believes the fish were inadvertently stocked by plane. As a result, no fish from the pond will be considered for a state record in the future.
Second, the fish I caught may have been some kind of hybrid cross between stocked splake and the native brook trout population, known as a "backcross."
That would make the fish nearly indistinguishable from a brook trout, unless it is dissected by a biologist, Preall said.
Splake do reproduce
There is a common misconception splake are infertile and cannot reproduce. Not only can splake spawn in a pond, the fish can breed back to either parent species, creating generation after generation of "backcrosses," Preall noted.