Opening of Bass Season

This weekend marks the opening of Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass Season in New York.

So I went Trout fishing.

I am fortunate to live on a lake, so heading out fishing is very easy. Loon Lake has predominantly Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, and Northern Pike. The lake gets very little pressure.

My kids take their kids out fishing, toss in a worm, and catch many pitch. The older grandkids cast lures for Bass. When I go with them, I spend my time trying not to get hooked.

I am also fortunate in that I have a beautiful Trout Stream, five minutes from camp— the North Branch of the Saranac Lake. Actually, the outlet of Loon Lake frowns down to Mud Pond; The North Branch frowns out of Mud Pond.

I tend to go out fishing just about every day. Yesterday, I caught a nice Brown Trout. Today, I caught a Brook Trout. At the same spot on the North Branch, just past

Brown Trout
Brook Trout

Memorial Day at Loon Lake

The last couple of years, someone out here at my end of the lake has played Taps on a bugle or trumpet, at 3 PM on Memorial Day. Last year, I heard it while on top of a small hill overlooking the lake. Today, I was at camp, sitting on the porch (having just returned from said hill).

What an awesome tribute. Very moving. Thank you.

Spring/Summer at Loon Lake

Look’s like our five days of Spring may be over.

Last weekend, the Trillium were just starting to bloom, and the bulbs Paula planted at camp last year had started to push they way up through the soil.

This weekend, the Trillium are in full bloom, as are the bulbs along our stone steps. In fact, with several 85 degree days, the season for the spring flowers may be short indeed, this year.

It seemed like Spring took a long time arriving this year, and then hurried its way out.

Last year, I had some success Trout fishing early in the season, both here at camp and downstate (outside of Albany). Not so this year. Did not hook any fish downstate until early May. And finally had some success on the North Branch of the Saranac earlier this week.

With this hot weather, the bugs are out in force. Hopefully we will get a cold night soon. They don’t really keep me from doing what I want to do outdoors, but it is harder on the dogs.

Here’s the first Trout of the year, along with the new flowers along our steps.

First Trout 2022
First Year Bloom

Shoulder season at Loon Lake

The snow is gone. Some bugs are out, but not biting. Quite windy today. Going to defer launching the jonboat. The dock is in, though (thanks, Tom).

Paula and I went up Crusher, a/k/a the bump. Still seeing snow over on Whiteface. The Purple Trillium are out, and quite beautiful. The Painted Trillium have yet to blossom; they tend to lag behind the Red just a bit.

The bulbs Paula planted at camp last Fall are beginning to bloom. Always interesting the first year to see what comes up, and where. With the heat we are expecting this upcoming week, it may be a quick season.

There is an active logging operation down at the end of Mensink, past Blue Spruce, on the old NYSEG lands. A gentleman from Maine bought the land last Fall. The logs are being stockpiled, as the Town Roads are posted with Spring weight limits. I imagine they will start being trucked out in the very near future.

Seeing more activity around the lake, including some of our Canadian neighbors. Been quite some time; welcome back!

Heading back outside to enjoy this great day.

End of Winter at Loon Lake?

What a week.

Eight to ten inches of heavy, wet snow. Birch tree branches snapping off . Snow weighing down branches across the roads. No commercial power for 18 – 20 hours.

But….the ice is completely off Loon Lake. Just starting to see shoots from the daffodils Paula planted last Fall. And just made arrangements to pick up the Whaler from Fogarty’s.

Significant pick up in activity around the lake. Some folks returning after Winter, others just checking on their camps after the storm.

The snow is mostly gone in the woods this weekend. Hard frost last night, and the streams are running high from the snow melt. Made my first sunrise hike up Crusher Mt. of the new season, this morning. Made me miss Porter. I could see him, though, running through the woods, scrambling on the rocks, chasing squirrels.

Yesterday was Earth Day. I hope to make my annual Spring sweep of the garbage on Rt. 26 from our Point down to the Loon Lake Mountain Trailhead. Tomorrow is a training day to volunteer as a 46er Trailhead Steward. Will be hard to sit inside all day, but well worth it.

Looking at getting another canoe. Number 6. A little Kevlar/carbon fiber canoe, designed for poking around ponds. Very stable. Would use it as a platform for duck hunting and fishing.

Just booked two waterfowl trips for next Fall, up on the St. Lawrence. I get much satisfaction out of anticipating things, so I always seem to be planning ahead.

April at Loon Lake

Spring wants to start, but Winter won’t let go.

There is still snow in the woods, and ice on Loon Lake. Our road onto the Point is in good shape, with only a couple of soft spots.

There are a few spots of open water on the lake— mostly around springs, stream inlets, and docks at camps with bubblers. I did see a pair of Mallards on a patch of open water, and heard a goose honking, nearby. Down the road at Grass Pond, there is a good deal of open water. Deer, rabbits, squirrels and turkeys are all on the move. We had a new inch of snow overnight Friday, and the animal tracks were everywhere on Saturday.

Working on several indoor projects at camp. The weather is nice enough to set up the saw outside, under the early April Sun.

We fired up the outdoor pizza oven yesterday. For the first time this year, I was able to sit for a bit and look at the fire. it has been so cold the last few months that I have had to keep splitting wood for the oven, to keep myself warm. A nice change.

I feel like I am just waiting for the snow to melt, and the ice to go out. Could be waiting several more weeks…..

2022 Friends and Family Chowderfest

Prior to the pandemic, Paula and I looked forward to the Saratoga Chowderfest, held the first Saturday in February each year. You would walk through Saratoga, sampling various chowders at $1 per small cup. We would end up at Jacob and Anthony’s having a drink, sitting next to their outside fire pit.

The Chowderfest was not held in 2021. So we did our own, for our family and friends. It was a hit.

Sunday was our second annual Friends and Family Chowderfest. Last year’s was our first full family gathering since the start of the pandemic, so this is a special event for us. Paula made mugs and aprons for all participants. The winner gets a gold ladle that is passed on to each year’s winner.

I was in the lead to win with my Manhattan Crab and Sausage Chowder (my own recipe). But I got disqualified even though I had the most votes. My chowder got 25 votes, but when Paula tabulated the results, she noted that there were only 11 people voting, that my ballot were filled out with a red pen (nobody else had access to a red pen) and had clearly been copied on a laser printer (which is in my office).

We also had Michigans, and corned beef Reuben sliders. One of the chowders was a corned beef and cabbage chowder. Paula also made pretzels with beer cheese dip, corn bread, and Irish soda bread.

Late Winter Storm at Loon Lake

Woke up this morning to 3 inches of new snow. We have a Winter Storm Warning for 6 to 9 inches through 1 AM Sunday. This always happen when I start to pull together my Trout fishing equipment in anticipation of April 1st.

Will delay firing up the pizza oven until Sunday— better than cooking in a blizzard. We did something different last night— Paula made a shrimp, scallop, chicken and rice Paella— in the inside fireplace. It was just awesome.

Fireplace Paella

This snow is welcome— a couple of grandkids showed up last night and want to go sledding. The sledding hill was bare yesterday, even the icy base was mostly gone. They should do fine (once they get up…) with the new cover and additional snow we are expecting.

This is the hardest time of the year for me at Loon Lake. I am ready for the snow to be gone, followed by the ice on the lake. Can’t rush Mother Nature.

Snow!!!

Friday’s storm dumped 6 to 10 inches of snow on us, up here at Loon Lake. It snowed steadily throughout the day. Spent most of it watching it snow, next to the fire. I had to snowblow a path for the dogs to use when they went outside.

Unfortunately, below the snow, we have about 2 inches of solid, glare ice. Everywhere. Prior the storm, the ice had melted a bit, and then refroze, creating a skating rink like effect.

So be careful. Micro spikes or stabilicers are essential. Edges on your skis, and crampons on your snowshoes.

While snow blowing down a slight grade yesterday, the blower began to just slide downhill, faster than the wheels were spinning (letting up on the auger created a snow brake).

The snowmobile clubs are encouraging folks to stay off the trails, until they can be groomed. There are areas where the thaw created flooding and open water still exists. The new snow over ice creates a dangerous situation. I recall a few years ago, coming down our road onto the Point under similar conditions, with the sled just spinning in circles.

I took a spill late Thursday night, falling backward, slamming the back of my head on the ice. Mild concussion. But doing fine, now.

All that being said, we have family arriving today to enjoy this wonderful Winter weekend. I will fire up the outdoor pizza oven later, and hope to take a walk in the woods this morning, if I get clearance from Paula.

Enjoy!

Grouse Hunting

I love Grouse Hunting. The long season starts in Late September, and closes the end of February. It is an excuse for me to get out in the woods and walk, almost every day. It gets me into areas of the woods around Loon Lake that are not frequently travelled.

Grouse are elusive and smart. They may roost in a tree, hide in a bush or downed tree, and burrow under the snow. More often than not, your hear the grouse as they fly off as you approach. Occasionally, you see the grouse as they fly away from you. For me, I might get a possible shot at a grouse about every fourth bird that I see. They are shot on the wing, which means you need to anticipate where the bird will be.

Early season hunting is difficult, as the leaves on the trees and ground mask the grouse and announce your presence. Grouse would rather run than fly. November is tough, as you share the woods with big game hunters, who don’t appreciate your walking through the woods where they have been sitting silently for hours.

I like late season hunting the best. Snow covers the ground, and you see all the tracks of the animals and birds traveling through the woods. The woods are wide open. Most times, I am wearing snowshoes, unless I am traversing a well packed logging road or trail.

The late season is also something I have always done solo, given snow depth. I lost my hunting dog this past Fall, which took the joy out of hunting for me. He died a day after our first grouse hunt of the season. I miss him terribly.

The thing about snowshoes is— it is hard to get lost. So I tend to push further into the deep woods, exploring new areas. It is also a good workout, so most trips are, at most, only a couple of hours.

I ventured into a new area this past weekend. Over successive days, I built and extended my snowshoe track. Yesterday, I flushed four grouse. The first I heard fly from a roost. The second blasted up from under the snow, startling me, as I watched it fly off. The last two emerged from under a downed tree and flew. I shot one, and did not even try for the second, saving one for seed.

There still is a week left to grouse season, but it is over for me. I will leave the birds in peace, and thank them for getting me out in the woods, and for lessening the pain of the loss of my best hunting companion.

So we will have grouse for dinner tomorrow, prepared like Chicken Marsala.