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Old 07-16-2017, 05:53 PM   #1
beartooth91
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Fishing Report: "Skinny" and "Big" Ponds - Saturday, 7-15-17

Brook Trout pond fishing in mid-July? Probably not the best idea, but, stillwater trout fly fishing is my first love. I've been looking at maps for potential spring-fed pond candidates in the park. The idea was maybe to find a couple of ponds which stay cool enough for summer fly fishing. I recently ran across some info indicating "Skinny" Pond, in the north central Adirondacks, is one of those.

So, I made a quick trip up from PA, staying in Albany, Friday night. On the drive up from Albany, I was strongly tempted to stop and try a couple of ponds off RT 73 which I'd read about, but, decided to stick to my plan. Despite an early morning rise, I didn't get to "Big" Pond until 9:30 am. Weather upon arrival was cloudy with occasional, very light showers.

I spent about 20 minutes talking with an older gentlemen who was heading home. He'd arrived at 7 am and had caught several nice heritage Brook Trout which he showed me. These appeared to all be in the 12-16 inch range. He'd also indicated he'd taken 18 and 20 inch trout, from the pond, in the last couple of weeks. A glance in his canoe showed two spinning rods, both with Wabbler set ups. One had the traditional copper/silver blade; the other looked to be the blue/red/white variety.

I hoisted my pack and float tube and started the hike to "Skinny" Pond. The trail was unexpectedly slow going in spots. Just after the lean-to on "Big" Pond; there was a large tree across the trail which forced me to crawl under it. The trail undulates up and down and, as I found out, is quite slippery after rainfall (the exposed tree roots). Eventually, I arrived at "Skinny" Pond in the midst of a downpour and spent quite a bit of time talking with two more guys who had portaged a canoe in. The older one has been fishing these ponds for 30 years and indicated I'd have problems catching trout on flies. Finally, I continued on, stopping at a lean-to at the upper end of the pond.

Noting no surface activity and because the pond is shallow, I rigged up with an intermediate line and two flies - a sz10 Little Brook Trout streamer on a dropper - and a black/red micro-leech about 18 inches below it on the point. I trolled back and forth - and across - the pond's upper end for a few hours with not even a hit. The other two gentlemen left after about 1-1/2 hours, also with no success. At about 2:15 pm, I got out, packed up and headed for the lower pond, figuring I'd try an hour or two's worth of fishing on the way out.

At "Big" Pond, I ended up putting in at the lean-to near the outlet bay. Due to my lack of success at the upper pond and because I knew this pond to be deeper, I changed over to a Type 2 sinking line with a sz10 Grey Ghost on the dropper and a sz10 Denny's Stillwater Nymph as the point fly. I spent a couple of hours trolling the water beyond the lean-to. There is small, stunted tree point jutting out from the opposite shore line where the pond narrows into the outlet bay. There is a long, narrow, shallow shoal associated with this point. I had several strikes as I trolled just off the west edge of the shoal. Most were soft - as if the fish were perhaps inhaling one of the flies - but one was hard enough to jolt me to life. I was so startled that I did not strike. I also had several snags which told me I was getting near the bottom. Sometime after or about 5 pm, I noticed a couple of very big, light colored mayflies coming off the water. There were only a few, but their size made me notice. I eased out of the water around 5:45 pm and made the final walk out.

Arriving at my car; there were 2 other vehicles which were pulling in. It was 6:10 pm. I talked with one of the occupants - a young man who fishes the pond several times a week and has been doing so for a few years. Again, he fishes with big Wabblers and always pulls out lots of nice fish. He indicated fly fishing is not very productive on the pond save for late evening and then "only on top", though he did mention the Grey Ghost is a good choice on this water. He also indicated the pond fishes well through the summer.

I've been fly fishing (exclusively) for 30 years and have been specializing in stillwater trout fishing for the last 10 years. 7 of those 10 years have been out in the northern Rockies. The last 3 years have been lakes/ponds in the upper Midwest and now, the Northeast. Despite many trips; I've had very limited success on pond/lake Brookies. Most of the time, I get skunked. As a data point, in NE Minnesota, I use to routinely fish two Rainbow Trout lakes to keep from getting skunked on a fishing trip! One of these is a drive-to, special regulation, trophy trout lake (Thompson Lake). There were several trips where I'd fish a Brookie lake, in the morning, get skunked; fish Thompson in the afternoon and usually average at least 2 fish per hour. There's usually surface feeding throughout the day and I was never skunked there. So, I'm not quite the amateur with stillwater trout (unless its Brook Trout).

I'll confess I've had some thoughts about picking up a ultralight spinning rod and some Wabblers. I never thought I'd hear myself say that.

Last edited by beartooth91; 07-16-2017 at 05:55 PM.. Reason: grammar
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Old 07-16-2017, 08:04 PM   #2
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If the pond is shallow, or even if it's not, try not trolling. In a float tube you're passing directly over the fish you're targeting which is twice as important in sensitive conditions such as summer fishing
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:30 AM   #3
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too much fishing pressure?
sounds like a busy place
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Old 07-17-2017, 10:06 AM   #4
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beartooth,
So what did you learn from this trip?

I'll offer my non-expert $0.02 for what its worth.
-If I were to go back to that place some time in the next couple weeks, I would spend the majority of my time with a hex nymph in the water. Too bad you saw those right when leaving
-I understand what you're trying to do with the streamers and the droppers but that tactic is better suited for ponds with smelt and its also best in the early spring.
-You spoke with several people who have years of experience on those ponds, they may have been BSing you but more likely they are right about the difficulty of flyfishing there. Some ponds are difficult to flyfish.
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Old 07-17-2017, 07:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creekwader View Post
beartooth,
So what did you learn from this trip?
I've been trying to figure that out since Saturday evening....... I've had a very difficult time with lake Brookies, but, the idea is to make some progress.

-
Quote:
I understand what you're trying to do with the streamers and the droppers but that tactic is better suited for ponds with smelt and its also best in the early spring.
In essence, the idea was to duplicate - with fly fishing tackle - the Wabbler rig, ie. a streamer as the first fly and either a micro leech or San Juan Worm on the point. I keep thinking, "if they can be caught with a Wabbler, they can be caught on fly tackle:.
Quote:
-You spoke with several people who have years of experience on those ponds, they may have been BSing you but more likely they are right about the difficulty of flyfishing there. Some ponds are difficult to flyfish.
So, both of these ponds are well known. (On the lower one, I saw no Brown Trout in the departing fisherman's bag.)
The older guy I met on the upper pond indicated, despite the abundance of fish, that "it's fickle".
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Old 07-18-2017, 06:03 PM   #6
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Back to the question:"What did you learn?" You learned a lot and some of what you learned was helpful. Your next questions should revolve around what other information would be helpful? Your primary question has to be: How do brook trout behave under these conditions?

Your 7:00AM friend taught you one thing: the fish will be out and feeding at some point on most days.They will probably make their feeding forays when temperature and light levels are most to their liking. They may not be out and about for long. They may sit somewhere comfortable the rest of the day.

Where might that be? What was the water surface temperature? How deep is the thermocline? Are there any local temperature variations that could concentrate fish? BTW, I stop fishing when the surface temperature reaches 68 because that's the safe limit for releasing brookies. If you're keeping fish, no matter.

I think your strategy of putting a small fly behind a streamer was a good one. My guess is that your flies were 10 feet over their heads and they couldn't be bothered to come up for a look.

Another strategy that you could try (although it's about as exciting as watching paint dry) is to drop a couple of chironomids off an indicator. Suspend them 18" off the bottom.

Or you could wait for Autumn to concentrate the fish in shallow water...
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Old 07-18-2017, 06:56 PM   #7
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Another insightful post (I'm being serious.)
Quote:
Back to the question:"What did you learn?" You learned a lot and some of what you learned was helpful. Your next questions should revolve around what other information would be helpful? Your primary question has to be: How do brook trout behave under these conditions?

Your 7:00AM friend taught you one thing: the fish will be out and feeding at some point on most days. They will probably make their feeding forays when temperature and light levels are most to their liking. They may not be out and about for long. They may sit somewhere comfortable the rest of the day.
One reason I decided to go, on Saturday, was because the forecast indicated cloudy with a chance of showers.....ie. lower than normal light conditions. Another observation is that the '"7:00 am friend" got there at 7 am and was leaving by 9:30. Observation #2 was that other fisherman were arriving at 6 pm, for the evening bite.
Two years ago, after a frustrating stillwater Brook Trout trip to Michigan's U.P. I had a brief conversation with Denny Rickards. I remember a few sentences from that conversation, "Brook Trout are very hard to catch in lakes. They do not make themselves available to anglers. They like to feed late in the evening and early in the morning. Along with Browns, they are some of the most difficult fish to catch in a lake."
For me, that presents some big obstacles: I live in PA, 6-7 hours from the Adirondacks. For a quick weekend trip, I have to take the time I can get. Arriving for the evening bite is one thing.....making a 2 mile hike out after dark is another.
All of the above said, I corresponded with a Michigan Fisheries Biologist who routinely fishes for lake Brookies. He told me this, "Cloudy days are best, but, they can be caught on sunny days, too."

Quote:
Where might that be? What was the water surface temperature? How deep is the thermocline? Are there any local temperature variations that could concentrate fish? BTW, I stop fishing when the surface temperature reaches 68 because that's the safe limit for releasing brookies. If you're keeping fish, no matter.
I rarely keep fish. If I do, its camped at a high country lake out west and only 1 or 2 for a meal. I do like their taste, but, mostly I practice C&R. Also, I was looking for a pond or two which stay cold through the summer....looking for ponds with bigger outlets/no inlets indicating they are spring fed.

Quote:
I think your strategy of putting a small fly behind a streamer was a good one. My guess is that your flies were 10 feet over their heads and they couldn't be bothered to come up for a look.
The idea was to duplicate the Wabbler set up. Generally, with an Intermediate line I can get down to 6 ft.....which was fine for the upper pond and I had several snags.
On the lower pond, I used a Type 2 full sink which can get down to at least 12 ft. Again, I had several snags and on a certain pond near Indian Lake, several weeks ago, I was hooking bottom with a 40 second count.
I am entertaining the thought of a Type 3 HD sinker........

Quote:
Another strategy that you could try (although it's about as exciting as watching paint dry) is to drop a couple of chironomids off an indicator. Suspend them 18" off the bottom.
This is my favored tactic. I first started fishing these in 2011. Its an absolute killer for Rainbows and Cutts, particularly for finicky fish. At Thompson Lake (near Grand Marais, MN), I've had stellar days and would often switch the bottom chironomid for a micro leech. (My standard chironomid pupa patterns are the Black Sally and Gunmetal Chromie.) I gave up on this technique for east-of-the-Mississippi Brookies as I have never caught or hooked an Eastern Brook Trout with......."the Bung" method.......despite Phil Rowley catching them this way up at Fortress Lake.

Quote:
Or you could wait for Autumn to concentrate the fish in shallow water...
I really hope I don't have to settle for that......
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Old 07-18-2017, 11:45 PM   #8
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I have no fly fishing info to offer but I have fished those ponds with very mild success on wabblers. Usually in the spring. Planned on going there very early this spring but due to there being about 5 other boats out there opted for another pond that was close. But required a little more effort. Fishing off the drop that you were by the lean to is the only place I caught anything. There are some decent fish in the lower pond. The upper skinny shallow pond has only smaller fish. Unfortunately the fish in those ponds can definitely be quite finicky. Those ponds get hit quite hard due to the easy access and close population. Have talked with others on location trolling flies on a couple of different trips and they said they caught nothing. No hits.
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Old 07-19-2017, 01:37 PM   #9
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Brook trout aren't unlike many other species of fish. Some days the fishing is spectacular, some days are good to fair, and others are slow or just flat-out stink. The constant, however, is the nice scenery, which I tend to enjoy way more when the fish action is slow.
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by St.Regis View Post
Brook trout aren't unlike many other species of fish. Some days the fishing is spectacular, some days are good to fair, and others are slow or just flat-out stink. The constant, however, is the nice scenery, which I tend to enjoy way more when the fish action is slow.
Don't forget the peace and quite, hearing nothing but nature.
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:24 AM   #11
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I was at "Big Pond" the other day. Decided to drown a worm behind a number 1 gold wobbler. Caught and quickly released two lip hooked fish. The third, a nice 14" beauty, also lip hooked was bleeding internally quite a bit. I couldn't figure that out. Rather than let it die in the water, I kept it. The first trout I have kept in years.When I cleaned it I found a hook and worm in its damaged stomach (I imagine from one of the other three boats fishing). But to the point....the stomach was filled with midge pupa/larva. I have also caught fish there on nymphs and leech/ bugger patterns behind a wobbler. But never on strictly fly patterns like streamers and nymphs.

As VT suggested a suspended midge pupa might work at the correct depth. Maybe in the fall when the water temps are friendlier. It really is too warm right now.
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Old 07-21-2017, 05:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
I was at "Big Pond" the other day. Decided to drown a worm behind a number 1 gold wobbler. Caught and quickly released two lip hooked fish. The third, a nice 14" beauty, also lip hooked was bleeding internally quite a bit. I couldn't figure that out. Rather than let it die in the water, I kept it. The first trout I have kept in years.When I cleaned it I found a hook and worm in its damaged stomach (I imagine from one of the other three boats fishing). But to the point....the stomach was filled with midge pupa/larva.
Fascinating! May I ask about what time of day you caught that fish and what colors were the midge pupa/larva?

Quote:
As VT suggested a suspended midge pupa might work at the correct depth.
That is actually my absolute favorite tactic in fly fishing. I usually suspend two under an indicator, each with different colors. Or sometimes I swap the bottom one for a balanced micro-leech. Have never been successful with that tactic on Brookies. But data is data and what you found in that fish's stomach suggests I should try it again.
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Old 07-22-2017, 07:53 AM   #13
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Mid day, dark olive/ dark grey
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Old 07-22-2017, 10:11 PM   #14
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Bluequill must've connected...
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