As Tim Rowland and I paddled Little Clear Pond toward the St. Regis Pond carry in the early afternoon in mid-May, we noticed a group of anglers had gathered at the take-out.
Two men were loading large backpacks into what looked like a Radisson canoe, a popular fishing boat that is propelled with oars like a guideboat. Behind them, two other men were standing at the edge of the woods, holding cans of beer, catching a break.
The men looked slightly beat from hauling their large load of gear on the quarter-mile long carry. The group had spent the past few days camping at Fish Pond, a remote pond located several miles away. They had been fishing for brook trout, a commonly targeted fish in the St. Regis Canoe Area every spring. Not giving up too many details, they said they had caught a “few fish” on their trip.
After talking for a few minutes, Tim and I departed, heading down the carry toward St. Regis Pond, where we planned to spend some time fishing. After about 10 minutes, we reached the end of the carry. The air was still around us, but we could hear wind pushing through the white pines along the shoreline to the north. The wind sounded like a rushing river.
I placed the boat into the water along the worn-out dock in a boggy stream that leads into a southern bay of the relatively large pond, and we soon prepped our fishing gear. We had brought mid-weight poles, Lake Clear Wabblers and trout worms. Lake Clear Wobblers are spoons that are placed roughly a foot or two in front of the bait. The spoons are attractants to fish, who get hooked when they feed on the trailing live bait.
Paddling north, we soon found ourselves on the pond, gazing up at the white pines along the shoreline. The wind was blowing strong enough to keep the black flies away but was mellow enough to not be problematic as we headed north.
Paddling stern, I let Tim start fishing right away. This was his first time in the St. Regis Canoe Area, and he was working on a story for next spring about fishing in it.
Within a few minutes, Tim felt a tug on his line. He started reeling in the line, but was convinced he had hooked a branch or some other debris sitting along the bottom. As the end of his line got closer, it became apparent he had hooked a fish – a lake trout. That explained the lack of fight. I once heard an angler say that reeling in a lake trout was like pulling a boot through the water.
After admiring the fish, we quickly put it back in the water. But within a few minutes, Tim had another tug on the line. This time the fish was more aggressive and put more of a bend in his pole. As we got this one in the canoe, we noticed it had red spots. It was a splake, a cross between a brook trout and lake trout. As I tried to remove the fish from the net for Tim, I notice something else. This fish hadn’t been hooked. Instead Tim had somehow caught it by the tail, where the line was wrapped around the fish like a snare. We both had a few laughs and then continued down the shoreline, headed toward Green Pond, where we hoped to catch brook trout.
At Green Pond, we didn’t catch any brook trout, but we did get a show by a pair of loons. The birds were fishing about 100 feet from the put-in. They swam around us, diving under the water for roughly 10 seconds, then resurfacing 30 feet from where they started. I swiveled each time they rose, trying to get a photograph. Not wanting to crowd the birds – they got fairly close a few times – we continued through the western edge of the pond, hoping to catch another trout as we drifted along the shoreline.
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