New record brook trout is also sign of acid rain recovery

Rick Beauchamp of Mayfield, Fulton County, is the new holder of the state record for brook trout after catching a 6-pound, 22.5-inch fish on May 16.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced the news Thursday.

Beauchamp reeled in the record-breaking fish while fishing in Silver Lake in the town of Benson, southern Hamilton County, in the Adirondacks’ Silver Lake Wilderness. He caught it using a Lake Clear Wabbler and a worm, the same bait William Altman of Athol used to catch the previous record brookie – 5 pounds, 14 ounces, 21 inches – in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness in Hamilton County on May 5 of last year.

Beauchamp’s trout weighed in at slightly just more than 6 pounds, surpassing the previous state record by 2 ounces.

The DEC pointed out the brook trout is not only a success for Beauchamp; it also reflects the ongoing recovery of Adirondack lakes from the effects of acid rain. Until a few years ago, Silver Lake was too acidified to support a trout population.

The lake was determined to be fishless in 1969, the DEC said. In 1976 it had a pH of 5.0, which is too acidic for brook trout to thrive. After water chemistry samples indicated the pH of lake had risen to almost 6.0, DEC began an experimental stocking program for brook trout in 2002. Currently, DEC stocks Windfall strain native brook trout in Silver Lake, and brook trout are the only fish species known to be present there.

Beauchamp submitted details of his winning catch as part of DEC’s Angler Achievement Awards Program, through which anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and a distinctive lapel pin commemorating their achievement. The three categories that make up the program are Catch & Release, Annual Award and State Record. Information about the program, including past winners and a downloadable application form, can be found on the DEC website at or by contacting the DEC Bureau of Fisheries at 518-402-8891 or Program details and an official entry form can also be found in DEC’s current Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide.

“Through Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative, DEC is promoting and expanding access for anglers,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a prepared statement. “I’d like to congratulate Mr. Beauchamp on this new record catch and encourage all New Yorkers to continue to utilize the great natural resources and fishing opportunities the state has to offer.”