Thursday, March 28, 2024

Go fishing (on April 1)!

A man presents at a meeting before a group of people

Fishing season begins

As the annual trout fishing season begins on April 1, state fisheries managers are seeking public input into a plan that could shape the trout seasons of the future. After a pair of well-attended information sessions on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s emerging new ponded brook trout plan, the agency scheduled a third one to be held virtually on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Register here.

I went to the one in Warrensburg, where a team of fisheries managers and biologists outlined the plan and answered questions from a crowd full of anglers. They covered a lot of interesting topics – including plans to stock heritage strains more broadly – and detailed a planned increase of waters where baitfish will be restricted.

Use of baitfish is allowed across the park, outside the numerous special restrictions. The fisheries managers want to flip that, prohibiting baitfish parkwide while allowing it on a few larger lakes.

Baitfish would be prohibited on all lakes and ponds less than 50 acres, while allowed on around 140 larger lakes that are stocked with other species, serve as popular ice fishing spots and are close to major roads. The baitfish prohibition would undergo a formal regulatory process if pursued by DEC.

The team also emphasized the rarity of the Adirondacks’ lake-dwelling brook trout populations, which in the lower 48 states only persist in New York and Maine.

“It’s damn important, so we need a good plan to make sure we take care of it,” said Steve Hurst, chief of the DEC bureau of fisheries.

Read more here.

Man points to whiskey fungus on a house

Greg Furness using a laser pointer showing black fungus on his house in Moriah that he says has only developed in the last 18 months. He has lived in this house since the mid 1980s, three-quarters of a mile from where the WhistlePig Whiskey facility is now located and expanding. Photo by Eric Teed.

Whiskey fungus update

Policy reporter Gwen Craig had an update out of Moriah this week on the spread of whiskey fungus emanating from a barrel-aging facility owned by WhistlePig Whiskey.

DEC has directed WhistlePig to provide plans that mitigate “the effects of its operations on neighboring properties” by April 20, Craig reports.

The fungus was identified as far away as 1,379 yards from the facility, further than was previously documented, according to test results. Residents are concerned the problem will increase as WhistlePig moves forward with a planned expansion of its storage site, which is underway.

Read more here. 

Photo at top: DEC bureau of fisheries director Steve Hurst addresses a room full of anglers in Warrensburg earlier this month. Photo by Zachary Matson.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

7 Responses

  1. I inquired on your last fishing pre-season post as to whether there has been any updated information on the status of the native brook trout strain discovered re-establishing itself in Lake Colden several years ago. No one responded. I’ve searched on-line & found absolutely no further information provided anywhere since the initial reports. Has anyone heard anything? Health limitations prohibit me from safely getting back up there (on the ground) to see for myself. I could probably, with the right support team around me, get in there, but I’m not at all confident that I’d have the strength, once there, on my own two feet to get out. Finding brook trout in Colden was in my younger (& far healthier) years a dream that I ardently chased. I’d love to hear any information anyone might have on the current status of a re-established native strain brook trout population in that lake. Thank you.

    • Zachary D Matson says:

      Sorry, Richard. To answer your question: yes. Brook trout have started to re-colonize Lake Colden. Scientists suspect that they repopulated the lake from feeder streams after it recovered sufficiently from acidity. I wrote about some of that background here:

      From the article:
      As the chemistry at Colden showed signs of recovery from acidification, Snyder started to suspect the lake could again sustain brook trout. Then, during a sampling trip in 2019, he looked off the bridge that crosses Cold Brook behind the caretaker’s cabin and noticed a small fingerling trout navigating the current.

      “He’s standing there and all of a sudden I hear, ‘That’s a brook trout!’” Capone recalled.

      An angler had also reached out to DEC about spotting trout at Lake Colden, and a DEC survey that fall found three age classes of trout widespread in the lake. Snyder said a convincing theory holds that some trout had survived up Cold Brook until Colden recovered, and they returned to repopulate the high-elevation impoundment. The brook’s water is clear enough to count the cobbles, and a small trout this September quivered as it faced upstream in the same spot as Snyder’s earlier find.

      • I just read your article Zachary, thank you. I recognize some of the folks in those photos. Dan Capone (sitting on hood in 1st one) and I went to high school together (he was a couple years ahead of me) & worked together for a couple years at Meadowbrook. He claimed my class ring one night in an ill-advised bet on my part in a Meadowbrook poker game. Long story short, when playing poker, never take advice from Jack Daniels. The Sue in the pic also looks remarkably like a Sue that worked on the DEC trail crew while I was in Colden. I remember that research group trailer out back behind the DEC building in Ray Brook. They had some kind of plastic pig statue out front as a mascot. Some of us on the trail crew took it for hostage one day and held it for ransom for a case of beer. The plot backfired though. When the research crew delivered our demanded ransom, we later discovered they had filled every beer bottle with soapy dishwater. I remember the Llamas too. Some sort of pack loading experiment, as I recall. People said they spit a lot, but I never worked with them. Your article & pics brought back many great memories. Thank you.

    • Bill Keller says:

      I tried to add the website but my comment would not post. Here is the title of the survey. “Lake Colden Fisheries and Chemistry Survey (2019)”. The entire PDF is on the DEC website.

  2. Bill Keller says:

    On 9/16/2019 three 150-ft Swedish
    experimental gill nets, a 30-ft minnow net
    and a minnow trap were set in Lake
    Colden. In a separate survey (#519088),
    the tributary, Cold Brook, was also
    surveyed with a backpack electrofishing
    unit. A total of 19 brook trout were
    collected in Lake Colden averaging 12.0
    inches in length and 0.77 lbs. Not only
    are brook trout present here but they
    appear to have established a selfsustaining population. Natural reproduction of brook trout was noted in 1932 and is consistent with the
    high silica values that Lake Colden exhibits. Silica can be a signature of groundwater inputs and brook
    trout are obligatory groundwater spawners. A total of 15 brook trout were aged using scale analysis and
    growth appears to be reasonable and the trout were in good condition

    • Thank you, Bill. I just read that study. Quite fascinating to me, and very exciting! I shall forever remember the images of stringers full of trout depicted on old polaroids from guide led fishing expeditions into Colden that Brownie (Colden Caretaker) showed me in the late ’70’s. I caught brook trout in Livingston Pond while working out of Colden in the early 1980’s. I fished both Colden & Avalanche Lake quite diligently during that same time period, but never caught anything. Also caught a lot of nice trout in the streams & beaver ponds down below, Marcy Dam around South Meadows. I remember the Avalanche Lake stocking effort that took place in ’84. I managed to get back up there with my son in 2011. We caught brook trout in Marcy Dam Pond & the stream flows just above, that was just a few short days before Hurricane Irene washed everything out. when Colden’s trout population was 1st rediscovered, friends & family from all over who knew of my fishing forays were contacting me to tell me about it. The Livingston Pond theory proposed in the study is the one I’ve myself always thought most likely, though there could have always been a residual population, or some could have bled over from the failed Avalanche stocking effort, or maybe a bit of all 3 theories converged. I just checked the 2024 NYSDEC regs & didn’t see any special restrictions on fishing those waters other than a baitfish prohibition. I found that interesting, though I’ve never been back up there since, & most likely won’t. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has caught trout up there since the study. Thank you for responding.

      • Bill Keller says:

        Your welcome. I stopped hiking the high peaks in the 1980s, too many people, too much garbage and human feces on the ground next to streams. Could never wrap my head around that. Looking at the usage numbers it sounds worse than ever people wise. Hopefully today’s users cleaned up their act. Never fished Colden or Avalanche lakes during that time. Fond memories of all the hiking and camping and I think I’ll leave it at that.

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