Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 36

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Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 36

Now we’ve had our third “January Thaw,” which pretty well whipped out the cross-country ski trails and put some of the snowmobile trails down to dirt again, after being so nice all week. The snow we got last weekend was some of the slipperiest snow; I both walked and skied on it. It was just like glass under foot and on skis, but the rain on Saturday put an end to that. We have a new coating today of some wetter stuff that won’t glide under the skies very well. The temperature is going back up again tomorrow and then back in the single digits in a couple nights.

This has driven several new birds to my feeders. A large flock of Purple Finch and Goldfinch have taken over the thistle seed feeders, when the Blue Jays let them. The most Purple Finch I’ve counted is 24, and over 40 Goldfinch. Down on the dam on my pond, the ravens have come in a force of 16, and have some competition with the two Bald Eagles that visit nearly every day, as my trail camera records them. 

I hope they stick around for the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 14-17, 2020. You can count the birds at your feeders or take a walk in the woods and count the birds you see there. You can report these birds you see online at BirdCount.org.

Camp Santanoni, in Newcomb, is having two more Visitor Weekends this winter, the 7th Annual. They already had one in January and the next two are President’s Day Holiday Weekend, 2/15-17, and in March 14-15. The round trip into the Great Camp is 9.8 miles either on snowshoes or skis, much faster on skis for sure. Some of the building will be open to the public, and the Artist’s Studio will be heated and have some warm refreshments, coffee, tea or hot chocolate; bring your own cup. Parking is at the Gate Camp and snowshoes will be available there from ESF. 

I got out on the hard ice of Raquette Lake for the 20th Annual Mike Norris Fishing Contest last Saturday. The weathermen were predicting rain, but that didn’t start until about 1pm, and then it was on and off until quitting time at 3pm. I was fishing with Tom Beckingham, his son, Wayne, and Wayne’s daughter, Lauren, in the bay where Lake Eldon enters the lake. We got out there before a beautiful, red sunrise greeted us between 6:30 and 7am. As I was photographing the sunrise, I heard a Bald Eagle call, and with its white head and tail, flew right behind me in the dark morning sky. “Red sun in the morning, sailors take warning,” so we put in our tip-ups and jigged for some smelt in Tom’s ice shanty. There was a cold wind blowing out of the southeast, but the temperature was right at freezing, so it wasn’t too bad. I got in all my tip-ups bare-handed and only caught a rock bass before I had them all in. Then I caught a short lake trout, which I put back, and a few small perch. Wayne caught a smallmouth bass in the shanty, along with a few smelt, and then a nice perch. While Lauren was taking the perch to be weighed in, Wayne got a nice legal laker, so when she returned, she went right back in with the laker to be weighed in. Perch kept flagging our tip-ups, so I got out the jig rod and caught a couple nice perch, which Lauren took in for weighing. Then I caught a nice two-pound smallmouth bass, which I put back. Wayne got another nice laker, bigger than the first one, which went in for weighing; that one got third place.  Lauren then got a legal laker, which she took in for weighing. We kept all these lakers in a bucket of water and were all released to grow bigger for next year’s contest. The rain had started by this time, but it wasn’t steady, and we had the shanty to hide out in. We put back five more short lakers, that were just about legal, around 20 inches long. We picked up just before three and I got another nice perch, which I weighed in went we went to shore. None of my perch won any prizes, but they are sure going to taste good. I had the eggs from them for supper last night. It was a great day on the hard ice once again. 

Keep those birds fed and watch out for bears, but that’s another story. See ya.

IMG 1096
Bald Eagle on the dam

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Ravens on the dam


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  • Carol Morrison 01/02/2020 9:48am (5 months ago)

    Thanx, Gary, Really enjoy your news and stories! Crazy weather in ADKs- not too surprising! Same in FL this winter Always look forward to getting back to O.F. in the Spring ( Still home!). Best to you and Karen
    Happy winter fishing! C and D

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