Like a blink of an eye the 2015 summer lip ripping session has come and almost gone. A solid year of bass, trout, beers, and bonfires. Lets take a few minutes to highlight some of our favorite moments.
(Also 2 ice fishing pictures that never made it into the mix yet, and, not to brag, are my first 1 of each fish caught!)
Starting out we turn to Maryland for the shad run. Accompanied by my good MKFF buddies Mark and Dave, we truly made an impact on the fishing scene; The river and the bars.
The following weekend was also spent in Maryland, while we prepared the family boat for the upcoming warm weather sailing season. Dave and I set-up behind the boat with some hot dogs on the lines and sat and waited. Here are the results.
Maryland out of the way we can focus on some close to home fishing!!
We head to Lake Hopatcong with some fun hybrid striper fun with my buddy Mark and his son Mark. Here’s our outcome!
And onto some local fishing with a local pond and beautiful Paulinskill river!
Now let’s head to some deeper water with an unexpected, typically cold temperature, guest! Off the tip on Montauk we took our friends boat out a little bit in search of Stripers! Unfortunately, we came up shore but we got a few surprises instead!
Now, the finale, those two new fish promises! Introducing for the first time ever by this blog, and this angler in particular….
So, this concludes a quick update of the ventures and fish caught by the MKFF crew. Hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as we had catching them! Come on back soon for some more updates, pictures, and good times!!
Some upcoming blogs will cover the Pulaski Salmon run in October and another awesome trip to Sanibel Island!
If there ever was a better time to invest in a snowmobile, the winter of 2014-2015 was that time! The current cooling weather pattern which settled in on us around summer/fall of 2013 has continued in its full glory allowing for copious amounts of winter sports! In my life, Ice Fishing started as and has always been a hobby for winter with little or no usable snow. This winter has featured continuous snowfall; therefore I do not believe I have even gone out ice fishing on a single occasion, excepting for Ice Fish and Chips!
As a quick update on ice fishing in the winter of 2015, Zach Boynton has caught a few Northern Pike, his girlfriend caught a large Brown Trout and Chris Woodhead purchased a gasoline auger. That has been the extent of my ice fishing discussion this year.
This blog is a comprehensive overview of all the winter fun had by the Moose Knuckle Fly Fishing Rod, Gun and Snowmobile club. There should be an upcoming final Ice Fishing blog on these pages shortly. For your fishing entertainment I have tucked in a picture of Mark’s massive Chain Pickerel caught through the ice as any blog is not complete without at least one fish pic.
New Jersey suffered back to back hurricanes, Irene in 2011and Sandy in 2012, combined these storms did extensive ecological damage on the forests and streams of northwest New Jersey. The winter of 2012/ 2013 was snowless and 2013/ 2014 the blow downs made it near impossible to navigate a snowmobile in the forests. In 2014 we enjoyed a white Thanksgiving, at that moment I resolved to get back into snowmobiling for 2015. Call the return to snowmobiling a New Year’s Resolution!
The first step for the resurgence of snowmobiling at the MKFF proving grounds was driven by a January 23rd snowstorm, also my 31st birthday! We woke up to a fresh clean blanket of snow across all of the fields at the Lazy K Ranch and the MKFF Proving Grounds. I had been working on clearing trails before this storm, after the storm it became a little more difficult, however, not too difficult that the New Holland Workmaster and my Stihl Chainsaw could not blaze through the mess.
Brenton, dad and I used to maintain a hare scramble track through the woodlot on Old Barn Acres (MKFF Proving Grounds). The track winds a challenging course through the limestone outcroppings, swamps, ledges and forests common in our area of Frelinghuysen Township. Over the years the track has evolved and several features were added but the general principle of a strenuous trail through rugged and wooded terrain remains.
The trail, henceforth referred to as SnoMax, with its tight features lends itself well to vintage and smaller sleds, the type of machine where you have to lean in and become part of the chassis to make it go and dowhat you want it to. A vintage sled takes skill to ride, which is what we like! SnoMax features one small table top, a rhythm section, one ditch jump, a ledge climb and countless hairpin turns mixed with dodgy high speed straightaways.
This summer, the SnoMax will be expanded with the help of heavy equipment, the features enhanced, the brush cleared wider and various other improvements will be made. With these augmentations and the help of a cooling climate in 2015/2016 the MKFF RAGSC will host a vintage snowmobile timed hare scramble.
Tug Hill is home to a very active snow sports community. Sometimes, it is refreshing to leave my home state where everyone but me curses the winter and go somewhere that the season is embraced with a passion. Depending on the snowmobile club in the area, there are 24-7 grooming operations on major trails. The gas stations pump ethanol free gasoline for snowmobiles and a restaurant or bar will not survive without access to the snowmobile trail network.
The Edge Hotel
Nick initially approached me about a 2015 snowmobile adventure back over Thanksgiving weekend when we received our first snowfall of winter 2014/2015. At that time I was anticipating a return to “normal” New Jersey winters which do not amount to much snow, only mud. I was also anticipating getting the Lazy K Ranch lodge construction project kicked off early, the January 23rd snow event quickly dampened those expectations. With the lodge on hold, Nick informed me that he had found accommodations that meet the needs of snowmobilers. He showed me some pictures and we booked at The Edge Hotel in Lyons Falls, New York.
Driving into The Edge’s parking you will understand that this is a place built for snowmobilers by snowmobilers and managed by people who ride snowmobiles. The hotel is coupled with a bar called Boondock’s, there are vintage snowmobiles and SUVs decorating the roof! The bar crowd is lively and arrives largely by snowmobile, in fact; the trail goes right through the parking lot. The hotel has a snowmobile loading ramp set for three sizes of pick-up trucks, I consider this a new must have for any new lodge construction. The rooms are modern, clean and comfortable while the main lobby is decorated as an Adirondack style lodge. The staff is friendly and breakfast is free in the morning, allowing you to get on the trail quickly!
No, Winter Sports!, story is complete without the breakdown or adventures of being lost. You could own a brand new sled or be driving something from the 1980s, it does not matter, they are machines designed to operate at peak performance, you ride them and they breakdown! The 1997 Yamaha Ovation, which I have run continuously since the late 1990’s was functioning perfect all year. However, about ten miles into the town of Brantingham, NY, a horrible noise started to erupt from inside the engine compartment. A screeching, bearing disintegrating howl poured out from under the cowling.
No sooner had the howl started; it calmed down for a minute after I shut off the sled and restarted. Maybe the belt was cold? Nope! As I piloted across the soft snow at about thirty miles per hour all of the sudden, an extreme howl and loss of significant engine power. I quickly pulled to the sled and shut down; this ride just became a recovery operation.
Two hours passed, with Nick and Rob’s help, the Ovation was in the back of my GMC, I rented a sled at the Flat Rock Inn and we planned a ride for rest of the day. The four hour tour which took almost eight hours, in the dark….we will save that story for another day.
The Montague Inn
The Montague Inn located in Lowville, NY is the site that recorded a snowfall total in the United States, 77 inches in a 24 hour period from a single storm. In addition, the New York State Seasonal Snowfall record of 466.9 inches in the winter of 1976/1977 was set in this very town. A localized architectural feature is second floor entry ways for people’s homes. It goes without say that this place is an excellent snowmobiling bar and restaurant. Heavy snows, friendly people and a business that is OPEN to snowmobilers, day or night. Walk right in and there is a huge helmet rack for your gear. Saddle up at the bar; enjoy a delicious local brew and one of the many reasonably priced daily specials.
White To Brown
This brings us to the end of this tale of a white and wondrous winter. As I type my closing thoughts, I am staring out the window at a brown nightmare, 45 degrees and mud everywhere, not yet warm enough for daffodils. The mud season has commenced, so has maple sugar season. Trout fishing is a mere 23 days out, to pass the time we will be working on boiling down maple sap to make maple syrup.
Old man winter blew in strong at the twilight of 2013, four days of consecutive ice storms. Creeping into 2014 he laid a deep freeze over the land through the “polar vortex.” Be that as it may, we are now in a period of 50-degree days though some ice remains. As with all things, you have to make hay while the sun is shining.
The MKFF crew had a few opportunities to get out on the hard water before the January thaw. Of course we took every chance we had to dangle a piece of bait into the icy abyss. I’ll run the December through January highlights below.
New Years Eve fell midweek this year, essentially terminating all plans for a four-day weekend. We salvaged what we could and went up to Brant Lake, NY to drill some holes into the ice. The good news was that the ice had grown to a thickness allowing us to be safely out on it. Three days of fishing various locations on the lake, we were unable to hook into a single fish. Talk about disappointment! Additionally, we moved over to Loon Lake for a few hours on our way home, despite two hits, again we emerged without a fish. Even through a brutal skunking, any trip to Brant Lake is a great time!
During the warmer days preceding the polar vortex we finally experienced predator action. The pickerel came out to play and we were more than happy to oblige them. Customarily, I like to rig a heavy mono set up for pickerel, 15lb test at least; the interesting thing about early season in this instance is that they were leader shy. The pickerel were taking the Perch rigs I had out, let me tell you, 6lb Fluorocarbon and a toothy Pickerel result in a challenging fight. In the end, we missed two and landed two, all of the lines broke on final push through the ice.
Jigging for Perch
Perch provide incredible entertainment when you are hanging out on the hard water. They tend to travel in schools, once you key in on their behavior, a skilled ice angler will be able to land at least a few of them. Always useful is a fish finder, sounder or underwater camera, these tools enhance your understanding of the chilly world below the surface of the ice. In addition, you will avoid wasting time jigging holes where no fish are. Jigging imitates a dying baitfish, all jigs work by lowering the jig to the bottom of the lake, raising it six inches or so and allowing the jig to flutter powerless to the initial vertical position. This process is continued repeatedly while slowly changing the vertical zone you are targeting. Without a fish finder, I was able to land two Perch and missed several. Dave also nabbed one on a tip up.
Dave loves to eat Crappie, this is a fact, whenever we go to the undisclosed location in Sussex County with a Crappie overpopulation problem; he eats for at least a week. Pressing on, by mid January 2014 we have experienced some warm days and severe ice melt conditions. For example, I went for a run in shorts and a t-shirt last Sunday. That very same day, Dave was ice fishing! Despite the ice being four inches thick, the holes he drilled expanded to the size of garbage can lids. Ice fishing rigs are a foot in length at best; this is where Dave truly shines, innovation, he used sticks to prop across the holes creating a wooden platform with which to support a tip up. A normal human would have given up, not Dave! Using a small shiner on a medium to small hook supported right of the bottom at dusk; Dave successfully pulled in four Crappie, him and his girlfriend will have a delightful meal soon!
Mark, a few other friends and myself are headed out to meet up with Brenton in Utah for my 30th at the end of this week. I am looking forward to some snowboarding and maybe a little Trout fishing. When we return, we are hoping for a little more ice fishing. After that it will be two months to Trout season; the preparations and fly tying will begin. Stay tuned!