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High water levels extending whitewater season

July 1, 2013
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

Rain, rain and more rain. It's been the most consistent storyline of the past week and quite possibly, the entire month.

Most local rivers continue to flow with water levels that are several feet above normal.

For some, the high water offers extended opportunites. Whitewater enthusiasts continue to enjoy their paddling season on the Permanent Rapids near Franklin Falls.

Article Photos

Photo by Howard Jennings
Whitetail deer seem to have replaced turtles as the most visible animals in the field over the last week.

However, that section isn't the only whitewater run that's been steadily available for the past two months. In fact, most of the usual spring whitewater runs remain open to paddlers, including lower reaches of the Saranac River, the AuSable, the Boquet, the Raquette and even the Silver Stair Case section of the St. Regis.

In the High Peaks, most trails are still deep in mud and the crooks, brooks, creeks, streams, seeps and wallows continue to flow.

There are still steady streams of water coming off the cliffs of Pitchoff and Cascade mountains in Cascade Pass, but they aren't the only falls roaring off the mountains. There's also Cascade Falls, Hidden Falls, Roaring Brook Falls, Clifford Falls, US Falls, Roaring Brook Falls and a thousand others. It appears the incessant rains will keep them flowing well into the month of July.

The "big water" has certainly affected the fishing, as most local rivers remain too high and roily for most angling techniques, short of a heavy sinker with a big gob of worm.

The fabled West Branch of the AuSable features treacherous footing for all but the bravest of waders. The fast and muddy waters certainly don't help matters much. Even if trout can see the fly, they'd have to swim fast as hell to catch it.

Until water levels begin to diminish, the best angling opportunities will continue to be found on the local lakes and ponds, where the water is still cold, the oxygen levels remain high and the bass, pike, lakers and brookies continue to grow fat and lazy.

Last weekend, I enjoyed a wonderful day of fishing on the Saranacs with local guide George Earle and his boys, Johnny and Gus.

Johnny caught his first bass on the trip, but at the ripe old age of 6, he'd have to be considered a late bloomer by Adirondack standards.

Fortunately, the boys will grow up with Lake Colby in their backyard, and I'm certain that won't be the last bass to fall for his cast.

Although the usual hot spots near the Upper and Lower Locks were out of contention due to the high water, we found plenty of active bass near the shoals, as well as in the depths and along the shorelines.

With the opportunity for anyone to enjoy two full days of free fishing this weekend, I expect the waters may be crowded. However, with more than 7,500 lakes and ponds, and more than 30,000 miles of streams, brooks and rivers, it's not difficult to find a fishing hole of your own.

It should be a great weekend to get out with the kids, and a grandparent. It is New York's Free Fishing Weekend and nobody will need a license, which means you can spend more money on bait.

Over the past few weeks, the most apparent wildlife in the woods and on the waters was a reptile. It often seemed turtles were around every bend, busy laying their eggs.

But in the past week, whitetail deer seem to have replaced turtles as the most commonly visible wild critter.

I've swerved to miss them on the highways, and I witnessed them in my own driveway. They've also been discovered in the tall grass, and found hidden in the low ferns.

And the funniest of all was a big-eared doe that seemed to mug for the camera when she was found feeding in tall, swale grass along a small creek.



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