Monday, June 13, 2016

Brook Trout Ponds -Little Joe and Buckhorn

06/11/2016 Brook Trout Ponds -Little Joe and Buckhorn My buddy Dan had a list of brook trout ponds in which he wanted to try his luck None of these ponds had marked trails. We set out on Saturday and made camp at one of the car-camping sites along the Sacandaga River. Nice site except for the trash pile 100 feet away, mostly used diapers. We pre-made our lunch and packed it into day packs and headed out first to Cod Pond. This body of water had a trail and was only a mile or so in. Others had reported it was a nice pond to paddle including its outlet. The pond was pretty, the campsite was ok. We decided to save the day paddle for another time and go check out one of the trout ponds in the area. First we decided to have half our lunch and consult the map to determine the route to our next destination. There is no official trail to this pond, but like many in the Adirondacks there was a fisherman’s path. We followed the path and soon found the pond and a decent campsite. Loaded up the canoe and headed into the water. Immediately saw lots of life in the pond, newts hanging out just below the surface, and a few brookie fingerlings. Dan had a cleo on his line, I had a mepps #2 aglia. Dan got the first hit on a cast close to the shore near the campsite and landed a 12” brookie. It wasn’t long after when I had the first bump on my lure. A bump with no set, meant I had to check whether the hook needed to be sharpened, it did. A few more casts, one into deeper water and I landed my first brookie, another 12”. We paddled around the pond, dropping a line into every tempting spot. Found another campsite and had our second lunch, by his time it was late afternoon. We fished some more and kept only 5 trout between the two of us, the smallest of which was 10”. Dan switched lures around a few times trying out different rigs. He even trolled a bit with a lake clear wobbler and worm, an Adirondack classic set up. He landed one of the nicer trout on this rig. While removing the hook he noted the fish had a newt in its mouth. Must have been on a feeding frenzy. Neither of us knew that brook trout ate newts. I should note the sky was overcast and we had some fog on the lake. The air was misty at times, not enough to get us wet but we had on rain gear just in case. Great fishing weather. We packed up and headed back to camp.

At camp, Dan cleaned the fish and then himself by swimming in the river while I readied dinner. Today was our friend George’s 50th birthday. For the occasion we brought in a few beers, the brand George always brings on trips. We popped them open and toasted to George; then proceeded to drink his beer. We ate dinner close to 7pm. We ate overlooking the river. Our western view included a feeder stream on the other side with a downed birch tree providing color contrast. No pictures except for in my mind. As the sky darkened, we headed to our tent and hammock. Warm and cozy all night. Wind kicked up a bit, but we both slept soundly.

I awoke first and sat by the river for a bit, then put some water on so we could have coffee as soon as Dan emerged. He is in charge of coffee since he uses real stuff. If it was just me, I would have had instant. My hammock was all packed up before Dan finally exited his tent. He made us coffee, and we sipped it while overlooking the river and maps. Simultaneously, we planned our day’s bushwhack and our two-week summer trip to the Quetico wilderness. The destination for today would be a series of ponds in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness. Reports of brook trout prompted Dan to put his on his list. We would first need to find a place to cross the river. There was a trail marked on the map near the county line brook on the other side of the Sacandaga. We found a pull off and took a side trail to the river’s edge. We forded the stream and headed up the edge of the brook. We soon found the trail, well-trodden but unmarked and a campsite. We followed this trail for a while until we found a spot to take a bearing to head off trail. It was late morning by the time we headed out, and this would not be an easy bushwhack. We figured this trail would ease it a little, but the elevation changes would be significant no matter what direction we headed. Our bearing took us up hill a bit and after about a mile, we hit the outlet of the pond. We would then follow this outlet up gaining significant elevation. For most of it, we climbed right up the stream. This was a long cascade of small falls, channels and open faces. The water had worn the rock down enough, that even these “sliding rocks” with about a 30 degree grade we had good traction. A few climbs up some difficult sections. And then it leveled out for a bit. Here the water was joined by 3 feeders which didn’t show on the map. We followed the one with the most current which proved to be a mistake. We realized we were heading in the wrong direction and instead of heading back down, and then going up, we corrected by following the contour around the hill until the first pond came into view. Away from the stream there was much witchobble and spruce to deal with, so it was slow going whether we were in the stream bed, or parallel to it. We made it to the first pond a little past 1pm. The next, and larger would be a little farther. We pushed through the spruce here and made our way to our goal. The outlet of this pond had a natural rock dam which gently eases into the pond itself. It was pretty, surrounded by hills on all sides except for the outlet gorge. We sat on the flat rock and ate lunch while talking about the adventure so far. This spot was on Dan’s list and he didn’t think he would get here anytime soon. We were both glad to finally reach it, though it was work. We definitely earned this one. Split up, we circumnavigated the pond meeting at a little used campsite on the far side. We were hoping to find a boat to do some fishing. No boat was to be found, except for 2 inflatable rafts. One of which was torn to shreds near the campsite. The other was stored on the other side of the pond in a sealed bucket complete with paddles. It would be too small for the two of us, but we inflated it anyway to see if was seaworthy. Dan used it to fish in the middle, while I shore fished. Nothing for me, but Dan landed another 12” brookie. As it was getting close to 4pm, we needed to head out. Consulting the maps, we could find no other real option besides the way we came in, except for perhaps a slightly different bearing from the outlet stream to shave a little distance.

Down the stream we went, much easier but still a work out climbing down rocks and ensuring we didn’t slip down the sheets of rock. The woods off to the side weren’t any easier. When the stream turned, we took a bearing and pretty much went straight to our approach trail. By this time my left knee was starting to get sore. We made it back to the river and crossed it pretty much the same way as we did on the way in. From pond to car it was exactly two hours. It was now 6:20pm and we had a few hours drive to get home. I am certain to be sore tomorrow or the next day, but it was worth it.

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