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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.

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Autumn Canoe Camping in the Adirondacks

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My friend Ron and I had a great trip in early October to the St. Regis area of the Adirondacks. We hit the autumn colors at peak, portaged to hidden ponds, caught brook trout for dinner, had a crayfish boil, lounged in our hammocks and just enjoyed the incredible beauty and peacefulness the wilderness area offers.

 

It’s wonderful to return to an area you’ve been before but have a completely new experience based on hitting a few side ponds, staying at different campsites and going in the “off” season. We could have counted the people we saw and heard on one hand.  The video sums up the trip nicely and shows a mix of it all including some bushcrafty skills mixed with modern gear.

Smoking Lake Trout in the Little Chief

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After my first few visits to New Jersey’s Round Valley Recreation Area I came home with an empty creel.  Finally, a friend helped show me the skills and we were able to set a few hooks in Lake Trout. The fish were biting around 80 to 90 feet deep on a mix of jigs and baitfish.  Turned out their stomachs were mostly full with scuds and the scud clouds could even be seen on the fish finder.

 

 

After the catch, I put some of the trout into The Little Chief Smoker with a pan or two of alder wood chips and it came out awesome! Both plain and marinated in a mix of soy sauce, sugar, garlic power and chili powder.

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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