By Dan Ladd
---- — Trout season has been open for almost a week now. Some anglers have given it a shot already while others are waiting for things to warm up. Either way, trout fishing is likely on the minds of many of us.
Something else that has been on my mind this Spring is my old friend Pat Sisti, an Adirondack trout fishing guide who passed away last October.
For most of the past decade, Pat made the seminar scene giving his “Adirondack Ponds 101” talk. I was fortunate enough to not only see Pat’s presentation numerous times, including what was likely his last, I also had the pleasure of fishing with him.
Over the years I took plenty of notes during our times together. Pat was a reliable source and was always ready with a good quote. To celebrate trout season I thought I’d summarize and share some of this correspondence directly from those notes. Enjoy.
Pond names: Rather than give up the names or the locations of the ponds he fishes, Pat renames them after his grandchildren and other loved ones. This habit keeps him from spilling the beans on his favorite fishing spots.
Hidden boats: “When I first get to a pond, actually I usually go ahead of time, I walk around the pond and look for a boat or a big white hump covered with snow (in winter). Anywhere that it’s level or flat, I just criss-cross back and forth. A lot of times they’ll take them back down the trail a little ways. You bring your oars with you. I take canoe paddles that have oarlocks on them. Oars are too long and can be heavy. Canoe paddles are 3 to 4 foot long and that’s what works for me.
“One thing I know is that some day I’m going to be out there and some guy is going to say ‘hey come in here, that’s my boat.’ Well it’s not his boat if it’s on state property, it’s public domain.” This is just Pat’s opinion. It’s everybody’s boat. (Note: the practice of leaving boats and other gear hidden in the Adirondack Forest Preserve is illegal and has been enforced more heavily in recent years).
Reclaimed ponds: Patrick likes to find ponds that have been reclaimed and then restocked. He then fishes them about three years afterwards. He also looks for new waters by looking at trout stocking lists provided by the state and other municipal hatcheries. “You know that you’re going to go in there and it’s brook trout,” he says. “The best pond to fish out of is one where it’s been two to three years since it’s been reclaimed. By then the trout have grown to their maximum size because they live three or four years. So by the third year they could be 16 to 24 inches. The third year is going to be the better year to fish it.”
Canoe trolling: “You go out about 30 to 40 feet from shore; depending on the depth of the pond, try to get into the 5-to-10-feet depth,” says Pat. “Pete Burns told me that every pond has a mountain near it somewhere and that the mountainside will have the deepest water. The other side will have a more gradual degradation to it.
“You circle the pond, trolling, and the first circle is very important to look for snags and old logs and such. Don’ t put any weight on, maybe just a spinner and a worm. (Adirondack Bacon). The second time you go a little deeper, maybe a light split-shot on to bring it down a little further because the trout could be a little deeper. You just keep doing that until you get into the fish.”
Rods: Patrick will have both a fly rod and a spin-casting rig on hand and will often troll with the two side by side. When the fish aren’t biting he’ll just keep experimenting.
Flies: On the subject of flies, Patrick says, “I just try everything but what I really like is the Woolly Bugger: black and green. An olive Woolly Bugger is always good, maybe on a No. 10 hook. But then again you never know what they’re going to hit on.”
Twilight: “Most of my good fishing is about an hour before sunset. One time at a pond (which has no name) it was 6:20 p.m. and getting near sunset. I was coming down into the shadow and all hell broke lose in the shade. I was busy! For one hour I had over 15 to 20 hits and brought in five brook trout all over 12 inches and very fat.”
Thanks for the tips old friend. May you rest in peace.
Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at www.adkhunter.com.