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Back from the ponds

Notes from the North Woods

It is difficult to capture the allure of a small stream, wild brook trout and complete solitude.

It is difficult to capture the allure of a small stream, wild brook trout and complete solitude. Photo by Joe Hackett.

Although the stream’s channel has been severely reduced by ever encroaching alder beds, it’s flow has sprouted a productive trout fishery in recent years, and the sinous channel has been altered by a long series of multitiered pools.

These new pools are a naturally occurring phenomena. They are the result of a beaver’s never-ending quest for fresh food and new dams. Tireless workers, the beavers have ravaged the alders in order to construct new dams, and in the process, they have created ideal habitat for brook trout. Fortunately, they’ve also cleared lanes that are just wide enough to pass a canoe, and barely long enough to permit a cast.

After launching my canoe, I quickly managed to make my way downstream to the location of a series of recently constructed beaver dams. The main dam was formed in three tiers, and the waters cascading over them provided natural oxygenation. The cold water was rich in oxygen, and insect life. Alder spiders dangled from the tree branches, and mayfly shucks littered the banks.

The pool at the base of the dam was barely four feet deep, and it was hardly three times as wide. It was about 20 feet long, and full of fish with nowhere else to go.

In an hour’s time, I had caught and released dozens of small brookies. Some were barely the length of a finger, and not one of them topped a foot. But there is something to be said for the old adage, “If you want more, desire less.” Maybe it can be found in the special charm of spending a desolate day casting a small fly to small brook trout on a small, quiet stream. There were no trophy trout to be had, no long carries, and nobody to share in the excitement.

But there were speckled jewels that proved to be eager for the fly, and I spent the afternoon catching them by skittering a dry fly across the surface. Like finned missiles, they would explode out of the dam’s deep waters to attack my offerings on almost every cast.

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

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