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The angling doldrums of August

Notes from the North Woods

— The fishing season has swiftly drifted into the doldrums of August, as hot, muggy weather and passing low pressure systems have combined with soaring water temperatures, low water conditions and diminished oxygen levels to put fish down.

Surface temperatures on most area lakes now hover in the mid to high 70 degree range, and while some of the local rivers and streams are considerably cooler, the diminished dissolved oxygen content has combined with extremely low water levels to make fish slow to take, and weak on the fight.

The bright sun puts fish down, and it also provides a huge advantage to winged predators such as heron, osprey and eagles.

While fish may still be on the prowl for food, it is up to the angler to present offerings at the proper feeding level during the appropriate time of day. Successful anglers have been presenting offerings at depths of 20-30 feet and greater to take advantage of the cooler, oxygenated conditions.

For flyfishermen, terrestrials remain the fly of choice as trout are keying in on ‘hoppers and other patterns such as flying ants, beetles and foam spiders.

On the lakes and ponds, both bass and trout have only been responsive for limited time frames, with small windows of opportunity available during the early morning hours and again from dusk and into the evening’s darkness.

Popping for bass along the shoreline of an Adirondack lake in the pitch-black darkness is an exciting endeavor. I prefer to troll a popper about 25-30 feet behind the boat. After popping or chugging such offerings as a hula popper or a floating mouse, I listen for the splash of a strike. More often than not, the fish are hooked as they strike on a slowly trolled line.

On recent trips along the Raquette River and the Saranac, we took smallmouth bass quite regularly at the base of falls and rapids. We also took bluegills, river shad and an occasional pike. I’ve given up on most of the trout streams due to the low water and warm temperatures. Fishing for trout in the rivers at this time of year puts too much stress on their systems, which makes it difficult to safely release them.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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