Saturday, August 30, 2014

Did Samuel de Champlain get Hooked on Adirondack Fishing?      August, 2014
There have been some very famous expeditions into the Adirondacks. In colonial times it served as a trading route often used by various Indian tribes and Armies to secure those routes for their own advantage. Samuel de Champlain is credited with being the first European to explore this region of what is now New York state in 1609. The British Army marched through the region establishing forts throughout the upper Hudson, Lake George and Lake Champlain valleys to defend against the French in Canada. James Fenimore Cooper wrote of those harsh times in his famous novel Last of the Mohicans. 
Illustration by N.C. Wyeth

During the Revolutionary War, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys seized Fort Ticonderoga in the name of Continental Army and General Henry Knox engineered removal of most of the fort's cannon, hauling them over rugged terrain to the Dorchester Heights  overlooking Boston thereby driving General Howe's Redcoats out of Massachusetts for good.
Painting by Tom Lovell 

My own sojourns to the Adirondacks have also been full of adventure. It was at a lodge on Chazy Lake in Lyon Mt. where Brad Tolosky and I consumed our first six pack of beer, I was 14. In the summer of 1979, Barney Markunas and I set out from Boston after a friend's wedding with, in the words of Chuck Berry, "no particular place to go".  First we drove to Hanover NH to see what Dartmouth was all about. It was on that trip, based solely on the quantity of beer cans strewn across the lawn of the first frat house we saw, and the students passed out on the front porch of said frat house, that I decided I should get my MBA at Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School. While enjoying lunch at Peter Christian's Tavern we noted our proximity to the Adirondacks and  B's uncle's cabin in Lake Placid. Done. Off we went to Fort Ticonderoga and to stay in Uncle Norman's cabin. We invaded the Fort, drove up Whiteface Mountain in a cloud of Oldsmobile diesel smoke, took a wild boat ride through the Ausable Chasm and, in a moment of madness, took a ride down a mountainside in a rickety make shift toboggan in anticipation of the 1980 Winter Olympics.

By 2000, I had been to the Adirondacks 4-5 times and it seemed the perfect place to take my family and my new Ranger bass boat for a vacation. We rented the Colden Lodge in Saranac Lake Village and after that the family was hooked. A few years later we moved up the street to the Riverside Lodge which we have now rented seven times, most recently last week.

Since that first Colden Lodge vacation I have probably fished the equivalent of ten solid weeks of days on The Saranac chain of lakes- Lakes Flower, Oseetah, Lower Saranac, Kiwassa and Middle Saranac. Rain or shine, hot or cold, each morning so peaceful, with only the call of the Loon  breaking the silence. I have made thousands of casts and caught many fish. This year was no exception as I once again managed to catch a Saranac trifecta-
a respectatable Northern Pike, a nice Smallmouth Bass and a chunk of a Largemouth Bass.

As the sweatshirt indicates, all the fish were caught using St. Croix rods with Shimano reels. Much to my saltwater fishing son's chagrin, I fished light line mono. What can I say, I like the old school excitement of the fight despite the loss of a number of spinnerbaits to the teeth of the pike. Steve uses braid and fluorocarbon leader material to 25 pounds. Steve had two stellar moments this trip. The first, was a primary contributor to the family fish fry

The second was one of those classic fishing magazine moments. We were fishing an area that normally produces a bass or two per trip and using Terminator spinnerbaits, gold double willow leaf, with a natural perch colored skirt.  the afternoon had been slow. Steve  reached into my soft plastics bag and pulled out a chartreuse grub tail which he put on the spinnerbait to add a little extra attraction,  Bang bang bang he boated three consecutive largemouth. This picture speaks to the success of the technique-

Not to be outdone, Pete also had two personal best fish. He had never fished the hole at the base of the falls at the lock connecting Oseetah to Lower Saranac. It was there that Pete used a jointed Rapala perch to boat his personal best pike.

As usual, a variety of lures proved most productive

St. Croix Rods, Shimano Reels, Rapala crank baits, and Terminator Spinnerbaits.  This is the gear of choice for our Adirondack fishing.

No trip is complete without its share of buffoonery. Last year Christopher had the hot hand during afternoon trips to the bays around Honeymoon Island. This year was a different story......

Nevertheless Chris was handy on the net for his Dad and brother. He also served that all important role of manning the pliers when Dad suffered the all too frequent indignity of being hooked by an  errant set of  treble hooks........usually in some impossible for me to reach area of my clothing. In my defense, running the boat and the trolling motor and setting up all the rods for Pete and Chris, not to mention having at times 3-4 people fishing from the bass boat, presents a gauntlet of challenges through which to maneuver. Retrieving snags on rocks, in trees and from sunken stumps are just a few of the perils the Adirondack waterways present...... and yet, while waiting for Chris to rip the trebles out of my fishing pants or my T-shirt, I was left to ponder that age old question...... did Samuel de Champlain have to have any double treble hooked lures removed from his buckskin clad butt? 

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