When most anglers think about the Keene Valley and the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, they envision the famous fly and spin trout fishing on the renowned Ausable River.
I cannot argue with this river’s world-class reputation, but I just would like to remind readers of another excellent trout fishing resource just a few miles farther north on Route 73 — Lake Placid. My fishing partner, Steve Zuhurak of Schenectady, and I spent two days enjoying not only the excellent fishing in this lake, but also the excellent hospitality and ambiance of this little Olympic village.
The trip actually began last October, when the New York State Outdoor Writer’s Association held its annual conference there, and I met Sue Cameron, administrative assistant at the Lake Placid Regional tourism office.
My desire to fish this lake for the first time was fueled by its reputation for excellent lake trout fishing and large quantities of rod-bending rainbow trout. This little 2,170-acre lake has produced a once-state-record, 32-pound lake trout and continues to produce double-digit weight lakers. Sue and Kim Rielly, the director of communications for the tourism bureau, made all the guide and accommodation arrangements for us, and everything was ready when we got there. And they couldn’t have picked a better two days.
We arrived in Lake Placid about 1 p.m., stopped by the tourism office to say hello, were briefed on our our itinerary and then checked in at the Placid Inn. At 4 p.m., we met our guide, Zac Horrocks of Jones Outfitters Ltd., at the Lake Placid Marina. The sun was shining, and it was 92 degrees and very humid when we pulled into the marina parking lot. Fortunately, there was a slight breeze.
Zac, a lifetime resident of Lake Placid, was waiting for us when we arrived, and as we climbed aboard his 19-foot Pathfinder with a 115-horsepower, four-stroke Yamaha, I was surprised not to see any downriggers on his boat. My research prior to the trip revealed that this lake had an average depth of 50 feet and a maximum depth of just over 150 feet. Now, with the temperatures and bright sun we’d been having, I assumed the lakers would be deep and require using downriggers with six- to eight-pound lead cannon balls to get the bait/lures down to where the fish were holding.
As we motored out of the marina, I had a number of questions to ask our guide. Zac, by the way has 19 years of Lake Placid fishing experience, and he was just 22 years of age.
“Actually, dad wouldn’t let me fish alone until I was around 5 or so, and then a lot of my on-the-water time was with him,” he said.
As the day progressed, Steve and I became well aware of just how much knowledge of this lake this young man really had. It began with his decision to travel all the way to the north end of the lake because of the wind. On this day, the wind was coming from the northwest, and he said this pushes the warmer water down the lake allowing the colder to move water up in the water column, and when that happens the lakers move up, also. Surface temperature on this day was 69 degrees.
On the trip up the lake, I couldn’t help but admire the scenic setting of Lake Placid as we headed right for the base of Whiteface Mountain. We began fishing by trolling, one rod out each side of the boat, at speeds of 1.5-2 mph. The rods were seven-foot graphite with large Penn baitcasting reels spooled with dacron-coated, multi-colored lead core line to which he tied a 5-10-foot monofilament leader and four-inch rainbow colored spoon. The game plan was to troll a few hours at depths of 35-40 feet for lakers and cast several shore lines for rainbows. He said our prime time would be when the sun set and both the rainbow and the lakers moved up to feed.
We had several hits, but no hookups in that first hour of trolling, so Zac moved us down the lake to a section of shoreline where he thought we could find rainbows. Here, we switched to light tackle spinning rods and reels. I had only made a few casts when I saw one hammer my spoon twice without getting hooked. We estimated it was about three pounds. Shortly thereafter, I hooked up with a surprise bonus, a beautiful brook trout which Zac said was rare in Lake Placid. Steve also caught and released three rainbows in the 9-12-inch range before the action slowed.
Another move and we were back on the trolling rods, and Steve hooked up with our first lake trout, a pretty 18-inch fish. And minutes later, I had two hits but no hookup. It was almost 7 p.m. when we motored to a large rock-faced wall Zac said dropped into very deep water where the rainbows came to feed, and often, the lake trout followed to feed on them. In mid-April, Zac had a client who hooked up, landed and released a 14-pound, 34-inch lake trout in this same area.
After hooking up with and releasing a number of nice rainbows, Zac suggested I make a long cast and leave the bail open after the cast, let the smelt-colored spoon sink to the bottom, then slowly retrieve it. About the third time I did it, both Zac and I watched a big, heavy laker bump my spoon not once, but twice, and not get hooked. I would have loved to have touched that one. Could have been the same one they released in April.
It was almost dark when we tried one more spot and caught two more rainbows which ended what we both considered a great fishing day. We had probably caught and released 8-10 rainbows in the 8-12- inch class and one laker. And I had a great fish tale to tell about the one that got away. As we headed back, Steve and I made an arrangement to return next spring and fish with Zac again.
For information on Lake Placid, go to www.lakeplacid.com and/or for fishing, www.jonesoutfitters.com.
The 12th annual Ryan’s Produce/Make A Wish Kid’s Fishing Contest will by held Sunday, 9-11:30 a.m., at at Six Mile Waterworks.
This event is open to all youths 16 and under.
There will be a fishing clinic at 8:30 before the contest for those who need instruction. There will be prizes and raffles, with all proceeds going to the Make A Wish Foundation. You can register the morning of the contest or stop by Ryan’s Produce, 111 Railroad Ave., Albany.
Free angling day
The Department of Environmental Conservation will sponsor a family fishing day Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at Iroquois Lake in Schenectady’s Central Park.
Everyone is invited to learn more about the sport of fishing. No fishing license is required. Worms, loaner rods and instruction will be available for all participants, but supplies are limited, so bring your own if you have them.
For more information, call 402-8896.
As a reminder, the weekend of June 26-27 is designated as a Free Fishing weekend. Anyone can fish throughout the state without a fishing license.