Photographers chased New York Governor Andrew Cuomo across a ridge for almost an hour, attempting to catch his image as he trolled for trout in a rowboat about 100 feet below.
It was the backdrop of the state’s tallest mountains painted with the gold, red, and yellow of fall foliage at its peak that he wanted them to capture.
“I want people in New York City to know from a tourism point of view that there’s a northern New York,” Cuomo said, before grabbing a rod. “I want the publicity so people can see the asset and understand that it’s available.”
Cuomo went fishing in the Adirondack Mountains yesterday, bringing along cabinet members, local elected officials and the press for the wilderness jaunt to promote tourism. Boreas Ponds and Lodge, which Cuomo used as the setting, will be open to the public within five years for the first time in more than 100. It’s part of a $49.8 million deal Cuomo struck in August to buy 69,000 acres of former logging land, the largest single addition to the forest preserve in more than a century.
For the 54-year-old Democrat, who is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, the trip provided a diversion from the politics of Albany, where an ethics commission is investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Democratic Assemblyman Vito Lopez and a secret $103,000 payout to the victims approved by state officials. Last week, Cuomo’s administration delayed a decision on allowing hydraulic fracturing for natural gas to study its effects on health.
The view from Boreas is unique, and the land will provide a path to the high peaks from the south, said Connie Prickett, a spokeswoman for the Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack chapter, which is selling Boreas to New York. All other access points are from the north, she said.
“There is no reason that you need to leave New York state for vacation,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo, who grew up in the New York City borough of Queens, has rarely left the state since taking office in January 2011, choosing instead to spend his time off either in Long Island’s Hamptons or the Adirondacks, the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous U.S. The region covers 9,375 square miles, about the size of Vermont.
He guards his private life and stays out of the limelight while vacationing in Adirondack towns such as Lake Placid, home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, and nearby Saranac Lake. Often in tow are his three daughters and his girlfriend, Food Network host Sandra Lee.
During his North Country jaunts, Cuomo has been spotted skiing Whiteface Mountain, filling gas at a Mobil station and buying groceries.
The mountainous region provides him solitude. The lodge that served as the governor’s jumping-off point for his foray into the forest and nearby waters, is seven miles along a bumpy and winding dirt path from the nearest public road and about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Albany. There’s no mobile phone coverage.
On this trip, though, Cuomo allowed his guard to drop. He joked about his “state issued” fishing pole, and, asked about the success of his fishing trip, spread his arms broadly to exaggerate the size of the fish he caught, grinning widely.
He actually caught an 8-inch river trout, he said. He then explained the ins and outs of catch and release.
“Sometimes, depending on how the hook goes in, there’s just no way they’ll survive,” Cuomo said. He threw his back in.