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Catching Land Locked Salmon in New Jersey

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Got hooked into some Land-locked Salmon recently. They’d been stocked in the past few years in just a few deep lakes providing an exciting opportunity.  They were hitting on a sinking Rapalla trolled slowly behind the canoe as well as baitfish hooked through the nose with a #6 bait hook, casted out and allowed to swim freely.

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Putnum Pond & Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area – Spring Trout Fishing and Backpacking

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There are so many places to visit that often making a decision on a destination can be the hardest part of a trip. This time the chosen route was to the justly popular Putnum Pond and Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.

Our first night we found ourselves at the Grizzle Ocean lean-to. Despite having plans to put some more miles on and hike further along the trail, we decided to stay put when we found the accommodations to our liking. After noticing some fish carcasses at the waters edge it became clear someone had success and so I snapped my fishing gear together and began casting. While I didn’t have luck yet on the fish, I did come across a patch of wild cranberries while stepping out to the edge looking for solid footing on which to take a cast. The cranberries went right into the Foraging Pouch with hopes that it would be added to a trout for the nights meal.

We made camp and began to settle in and later went back out for the magic hour in hopes of hooking into a brook trout. Ken saved the day with a licorice flavored egg that was weighted to the bottom of the pond not more than 15 feet out from shore. It caught a good size trout and allowed us to add some calories beyond our dehydrated meals.  I had mostly brought spinners as they had worked well from a canoe on previous trips.  Turns out many of the ol’timers use worms aka “Adirondack bacon” and even dip them in garlic scent before weighting them to the bottom of the ponds.

Back at camp, we added the cranberries to the trout and some spice and wrapped it in some heavy duty tinfoil before placing on the coals. It was delicious. Maybe the best trout I’ve had period. Although hunger is the best spice and also meeting a trip goal on the first night made it all the better. It was followed up with some Chaga Tea collected on the trail and venison tenderloin carried in for the first nights dinner.

After a long drive and hike with fully packed gear it was time to hang the bear bag and get some sleep.

We woke around 8am for breakfast and coffee and a few more casts before we hit the trail toward Pharaoh Lake.

We arrived about 2pm at a lean-to after two scout leaders who had settled in. They had taken a different hike than the scout troop which was climbing the nearby peak of Pharaoh Mountain with some challenging vertical gains of very tight topo lines. They graciously shared the space with us as Ken and Scott slept in the lean-to and Ron and myself setup our hammock rigs.

Lucky for them they were camping with bushcrafters and we had wood processed and a big fire going in no time to dry and warm us all up. After the heavy rains in the last few days, it took some scouting to find proper dead, down and dry materials that wouldn’t need to be babied all evening.

This crew has been great to camp with..everything from fire to food to water purification just happen with minimal communication necessary. I feel lucky to find a few friends who are as into these adventures as I am.

Off to enjoy some sleep after a fun long day and I think we all slept well minus some snoring and bodily sounds and smells going on in the lean-to.  Glad I had my hammock and the sounds of loons to lull me to sleep.

We hit the trail and hiked along some beautiful creeks and classic Adirondack scenery. All the camping sites and lean-to’s provided excellent accommodations with beautiful views, water and fishing opportunities.

We ended up hiking for most the day and finally made camp at Little Rock Pond.  With some other groups out and about some of the sites were taken limiting our choices but this worked well with our plan to have a shorter hike out on Sunday knowing we all had 4+ hour travel time to get home.

Little Rock was a beautiful spot full of the sounds of spring peepers, barred owls and bitterns. Scott hooked into a trout big enough for supper and so Ron cooked it in a pot with butter cooking it to perfection.

The trip came together wonderfully with some excellent camping, hiking, fishing, scenery and friends.

Now it’s time to pick the next destination and find a free weekend.

Adirondack Lean-to Camping and IceFishing

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“The core of mans spirit comes from new experiences” – Into the Wild

 

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It took a 5 hour drive after work to reach the point of entry into the beautiful Adirondacks before pulling sled a mile or so over land and ice to the planned shelter spot and beacon of lantern light left out at the edge of the water by a friend. The trip was designed originally as a canvas hot tent outing but due to the heavy rains and warmer temps we ended up staying at a nearby location in a lean-to and never took the tent out of the bag. The lean-to made for an easy base camp and was situated 100 or so yards from the waters edge. We woke before the sun and drilled holes through the approximately 10 inches of ice and placed tip-ups according to plans made after reviewing the state water depth maps and considering the fickle habits of our target species.

We caught many Lakers but to be a keeper they needed to hit the 21″ regulation. They bit on jigged lures baited with spikes (aka maggots) as well as tip-ups at varying depth baited with live shiners and later baited with smelt when they were caught. It took till sunset to reel in a keeper the first day and although it wouldn’t have been necessary it was a moment of satisfaction to know that the planning, patience and perseverance before and during the trip paid off handsomely. That fish would make the first dinner for the 4 of us along with an onion, oyster mushrooms found in camp and some black trumpet and chanterelles pulled from the freezer. A cup of foraged wintergreen leaves made a tea that was added to the first nights feast.

It rained all that evening and when we woke, the mist rising off the lake added to the beauty of the Adirondack landscape and kept providing new scenery throughout the day. We fished hard another day catching more Lakers and Smelt as well as small mouth bass but no Brook trout would be had on this outing.  Later in the afternoon a big storm blew in and took the tip-ups with line and bait and blew them down the ice. We scrambled to gather our belongings and take shelter in the comfort of the lean-to. The storm made water collection easy off the corner of a tarp we rigged as both an extended roof and to cover the face of the lean-to at night in order to block the winds.

That second night we fried and ate many of the smelt caught earlier in the day and enjoyed them as appetizers. The main course consisted of venison, wild rice, pierogies and other goodies like Pillsbury wrapped hot-dogs. All of it helped to fuel and warm our bodies after a wet day and during a blustery stormy night. As we got settled in, the temperature began to drop, reaching 20f, the rain turned to snow, winds picked up and when we woke the forest floor was covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

We slept in past sunrise and tidied up making sure to leave the place better then we found it and left behind a pile of split firewood for the next campers in Adirondack tradition. With packed sleds and a final sip of coffee we were off across the ice, using a spud to check for stability and safety and then up the trail to the vehicles for a long ride home.

Winter Hot Tenting in the Adirondacks at Good Luck Lake

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I’ve been reading a lot about winter trekking and hot tenting this past year and finally had an opportunity to get out for a few nights to a place called Good Luck Lake.  We did some ice fishing, snowshoeing, star gazing, a lot of fire wood processing and plenty of camp cookery.  Now I’m back to day dreaming about the next one and hopefully will find the right place to hot tent and pull some trout through the ice!

 

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We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks—anywhere that we may be placed—with the necessity always present of being on time and up to our work; of providing for the dependent ones; of keeping up, catching up, or getting left. “Alas for the life-long battle, whose bravest slogan is bread.”I am talking … to those of the world’s workers who go, or would like to go, every summer to the woods. And to these I would say, don’t rough it; make it as smooth, as restful and pleasurable as you can.” – Nessmuk -Woodcraft & Camping 

Fishing Derbies – Hooked on Fishing!

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It’s a special opportunity to help kids catch their first fish. Fishing may seem like an easy task to those who fish often but for those who haven’t ever before a little help goes a very long way. Creating a successful first experience is key to creating a nature connection that lasts a lifetime.

Some Quick Tips for Newbies:

  1. Learn to Tie a Clinch Knot – you don’t want to lose your first fish because you made a sloppy knot.
  2. Use around a size 8 or 10 fishing hook – small hooks catch small and big fish! Too many kids try for the biggest fish in the pond with some wacky lure they found.
  3. Keep it Simple – Start with worms.

This summer we teamed up with NJ Fish and Wildlife’s Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs program and had a great experience.

Spring Trout & Wild Edible Outing

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Had a great weekend camping for the opener of trout season in NJ.  It’s become tradition to catch some rainbows and make a meal with some mixed wild edibles including wintergeen, wintercress, watercress, chickweed, dandelion, leeks, trout lily and partridge berry.  Hope you enjoy the video!

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it.” -Nessmuk

Trout Fishing on the Flatbrook

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Fishing on the Flatbrook is where you can often find my girlfriend Natalia and I in the Spring and Fall.  NJ Fish and Wildlife stocks select rivers, lakes and ponds with brown, rainbow and brook trout.  Fees from fishing licences make this possible and some fish may manage to survive late into the season allowing year-round trout fishing opportunities while many others lets be honest are there specifically for catch and keep not catch and release.  We enjoy roasting trout over a campfire opened up with a stick or pan fried.  I keep some seasoning in my tackle box just for this reason or reach out for some wood sorel for a little wild edible trail nibble flavoring.

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