Saturday, August 1, 2015

Green Sunfish and going for thirty again

Remember how I said I would not try to catch thirty fish species caught again this year, well, I
changed my mind.  I'm going to shoot for it again. I'm not sure if I will make it. To be completely honest, I haven't exactly been trying very hard. Between hiking and bird watching, I haven't put in the hours fishing that I normally do.

At the moment I have caught nineteen species this year. I still have half a dozen easy ones left (such as pumpkinseed sunfish, which I no doubt caught ice fishing but didn't mark down). If I get motivated I should have no problem getting to twenty seven or so. It's always those last few that are the toughest for me.

Make no mistake, I understand that catching thirty fish species in a year in some places is a piece of cake. I'm sure the coral reefs by the Florida keys could give up that many species in a day. Closer to home Lake Champlain is said to have one hundred fish species. But for me, living in southeastern MA, catching thirty species seems like a tough enough challenge. I got thirty two species last year, and if I got lucky with a couple of other species (blackfish, bowfin, eel, or a couple of others) thirty five would have been in striking distance.

Today I went off in pursuit of two of the more exotic smaller species; golden shiner and green
sunfish. I started off looking for the sunfish. I went to a spot that I was pretty sure they could be found. It took mere seconds to catch one. I spent about fifteen minutes fishing for them, catching at least ten. The rocks just past the shoreline was infested with them.

From there I drove to Roger Williams Park where I have caught golden shiners in the past. I knew to catch a golden shiner I'd have to weed out a lot of sunfish. Sure enough I was catching one sunfish after another but I never landed a golden shiner. I fished in ninety degree heat under an afternoon sun. I tried four spots in the park, but after ninety minutes I decided to go to an air conditioned movie.

So I went one for two today. After work tomorrow if it's not to hot, I'll probably try for white perch in Norton Reservoir. After that either I'll go for a jog (which I should do) or go see if I can land a brown bullhead.
Saw this guy while fishing for golden shiners
and wanted to see how my zoom worked on my new camera

Friday, July 31, 2015

52 With A View

Me on Jennings Peak last week. Jennings Peak is on the
"52 with a View" list as is the mountain behind me,Sandwich Dome
If you are an avid reader to this blog, you may have noticed that I have been trying to become a member of the 4000 footers club. There are 48 mountains in New Hampshire over four thousand feet. For the last ten years I have been trying to summit them all with my son. It has been tough to make the time to go to New Hampshire exclusively to hike. We obviously wanted to go on other vacations. Sometimes we'd plan a day and it would rain. now that DJ is an adult and has a job, it is almost impossible for us to get time off at the same time.

For that last reason, I hiked Tripyramid by myself three weeks ago. This week I was going to hike Kinsman, but rainy weather foiled that plan. Hiking Trtipyramid, I felt like I was betraying everything we had worked for. We have about ten hikes left to be in the club. However, the only chance either of us have of finishing all forty eight is to start doing them separately.

There are other challenges for New Englanders that have hiked all forty eight. There is a New England 4000 footer club that includes mountains in Maine and Vermont. There is a New England Hundred Highest. This is a tough one, because not all hundred have trails so there is some bushwacking involved. Also the Adirondacks have 46 mountains over 4000 feet.

To be honest none of these clubs interest me. I've told DJ before that once I'm done with the 4000
footers, I just want to hike for fun. If I feel like hiking Franconia Ridge once a year, I'm going to. It is a great hike with amazing views. I'm not going to worry that I'm wasting time not doing a mountain on some list.

Then just last week I found this list called "52 with a View" Some hikers put a list together back in 1990 for people that got bored hiking the same 4000 footers over and again. So they put a list together of fifty two mountains in New Hampshire UNDER 4000 feet that have views. To be honest, I have no idea how I had never heard of this list before. I read a lot of guide books and study maps. I check out hiking blogs, so how the phrase "52 with a View" escaped me for the last fifteen years amazes me. The best analogy I can give is; I listen to classic rock radio. Every day I hear the same songs. When they do the top 500 countdown its just the same songs I've listened to for years but in some order. However once a year or so I'll hear a song that I've never heard before. It will be great and it will blow me away ( the last song I can remember this happening with is "Never Been to Spain" by Three Dog Night) . That is the best way I can explain how I felt when I learned about this club.

Anyway, I got kind of excited when I found the list. To think that there are fifty two mountains with views that are already listed is awesome. No research needs to be done, just find the trailhead and go. I guess one requirement of joining the club, is you have to have hiked all the NH 4000 first AND the fifty two smaller mountains. So I have my work cut out for me, but I'm gonna go for it. It may take another two or three years before I become a member of the NH 4000 footers club, but after that I'm going after this club also. If for no other reason, I like hiking mountains with the reward of a view on top.

Post script: I didn't know it at the time, but I have hiked eleven of the fifty two so far.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Carping in the Heat

My "big boy" for the night
Yesterday was the first day of a really hot spell after what was already some pretty warm weather. I knew first thing in the morning where my friend Dave would be fishing that  evening. I might have known even before he did. When we get the hot summer weather, there is one place that the carp fishing is really good. It has been a semi tradition to fish at this spot when the thermometer spikes.

The catch... the carp are really small. Sometimes they are as small as eight to ten inches. Anything over four pounds is considered a good fish at this place. There probably isn't a fish over eight pounds.  Honestly, this is fine with me. The fish are very scrappy. We just want to catch fish and at this time of year, size does not matter.

He got to the spot first. However fishing wasn't that good, so we ended up fishing another spot just down the street. It was from the same river system, and the carp are the same small scrappy fish. We ended up having a very productive couple of hours. We ended up catching a total of six carp. We each got a really good one between 6-8 pounds. Those are trophy fish in this venue. So, considering how hot it was and the air was so dead, we were ecstatic to combine for six fish (  he caught the most). All in all it was a fun night. We will certainly be doing it again during this hot weather.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary

Knowing that it was going to be hot all week and that Monday would be the coolest day by far, I decided to go for a nature walk/hike instead of going fishing or to a movie. It seemed to make sense to be out enjoying the relatively cool weather and save the less energetic activities for a hot day that was surely coming (and is now here!)

I have been to Broadmoor before but it has been many years. I had forgotten how pretty it is. There are many types of landscapes from small mill ponds, frog ponds, white pine woods, open meadow and overgrown orchards. The sanctuary also borders the Charles River for a few hundred yards. It is a beautiful place. I challenge anyone to find a prettier place in Eastern Massachusetts that does not involve ocean views.

I started my hike pretty late because I thought it would take a lot less time to get there. I finally got out of my car at about 6:15. I walked for around two hours. I stopped a lot to look at animals, but I also walked at a quick pace. I guesstimate that I walked a total  of about 6 miles.

Leopard Frog
I did see quite a bit of cool wildlife. I saw a whole bunch of cedar waxwings. At first I saw a pair along the Charles, but then found a whole bunch in the overgrown orchard. In the field right near the parking lot, a bluebird family was feeding its young. One highlight of the night was a leopard frog. A frog may not sound like much of a highlight, but seeing a lot of frogs these days is becoming a rarity. I was happy to see my first leopard frog in quite some time.

 I saw four deer. The first two were does in a field near a frog pond. The other two were a little more special. I saw a mother with her month old fawn. The spotted little baby couldn't have been eighteen inches tall. They saw me near the orchard. The mother stared at me for ten seconds then they bounded across the field. There wasn't anything I could do not to scare them. I was actually going in the other direction when I saw them.

The admission to Broadmoor is five dollars for non-member adults. This seems a bit steep to me for a walk in the woods. However for a Mass Audubon member it is free, I apologize for my pics. I left my camera at home so I was resigned to use my phone. I would have loved to have had my zoom lens for
the leopard frog and deer.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Western White Mountain Pond Exploration

An island on Long Pond
I got a couple days off this week. I did what I do when I get two days off during the summer... I went to New Hampshire. On Wednesday after work I got to do a quick hike to Middle Sugarloaf Mountain. I went to bed thinking I'd hike the Kinsmans. However during the night it started to drizzle. I knew that when I woke up, the sky would be cloudy. There is no way I'm doing a ten mile hike up a big mountain without seeing the view. So I went to plan B.

Plan B was to explore some ponds in the western White Mountains. For my purpose, the western Whites consist of ponds west of I-93. I got up before 7 am and headed south. My first stop was a roadside pond off of North and South Road named Long Pond. The sky was still cloudy so if it rained I wanted to be in my kayak and not five miles from the car.

Long Pond is a long skinny pond. It is very pretty roadside pond. There is a large parking area, a boat ramp, and two handicapped accessible docks. There is a concrete dam that one can stand on. The pond is stocked with trout. However in my ninety minutes in my canoe I did not catch a fish. More surprisingly, I didn't even see a fish rise. I gave up knowing that I had other places to explore.

My next adventure was the Tunnel Brook Ponds. The trail through Tunnel Ravine is/was the trail I
One of the Tunnel Brook Ponds
Moosilauke in the background
most wanted to do in the White Mountains. The trailhead was only a few minutes from Long Pond on North and South Road. I packed my backpack and headed out under cloudy skies. It's only a couple of miles out to the first in a series of eight or nine beaver ponds. In a distance of about three quarters of a mile there is one small pond after another in the valley. To make the scenery even nicer, 4800 foot Mt. Moosilauke stands over them.

The first pond that you come to from the south is Mud Pond, which is the largest of the Tunnel Brook Ponds. From there, it is a chain of small lakes. I brought my small six foot fly rod on its maiden voyage. Wild brookies have been rumored to be in the ponds, but I hadn't heard of anything confirmed. Unfortunately, without waders it is tough to get to the ponds. The ones I explored have extensive grass covered mud for 20-30 feet from the ponds edge.

I did get to cast my fly line standing on two beaver dams. It was a precarious balancing act standing on logs and twigs with water rushing below me. However on one of the ponds I was rewarded with a fat eight inch brookie. It was my only fish, but I was happy to confirm the rumors. I did not get a picture since I didn't want to chance falling into the stream with my camera in my pocket.

I spent a couple hours at the ponds, but since I couldn't do much fishing I headed back to my car with plenty of time left in my day. I got out of the woods about 3:45. There is nothing quite like an early start to make the most of the day.

From the trailhead I had another short drive of only fifteen minutes to another roadside pond. This
Cliff over Oliverian Pond
one is named Oliverian Pond. This roadside gem has a huge cliff on Owl's Head shadowing it. I shoved off my kayak and paddled out a few yards. I decided to make a cast. To my surprise my rod bent almost immediately. I was even more surprised to reel in a rainbow. Almost all the lakes, ponds, and streams in the mountains have brook trout, wild or otherwise. I ended up catching seven more. This was easily the best fishing of the day for me.

The wind stopped and the water got flat calm about ninety minutes in. When this happened the fish stopped biting. I tried unsuccessfully for another forty five minutes or so before calling it quits. It was supper time and I wanted to make my meal by another roadside pond.
Surprise rainbow

I drove up Route 118 to Route 112 and went by Lost River. A few miles further west is Beaver Pond. This is another roadside pond. It is not stocked with trout. According to the guide book it has yellow perch and hornpout. I didn't fish at all but just enjoyed the scenery. I ate my Stove Top at the picnic table and looked at the cliffs. There were a couple kids fishing but it looked from a distance that they didn't get anything.

All in all I visited three roadside ponds and seven back country beaver ponds. The fishing was only okay, but the scenery was terrific. It was a satisfying day

Beaver Pond from my picnic table

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Noon Hill Summer Edition

Over the early part of the winter I hiked a bunch of locations near the Charles River in the Millis- Medway area. I very much enjoyed these hikes. The one problem was that in December everything is dormant. I knew that I wanted to get back to some of these locations after the heat of summer slowed down the fishing.

So last week DJ and I went to Noon Hill. This property is one owned by the Trustees of the Reservation. It is a hike I did in December before the thick snow came. DJ and I got to the parking area about 6:30. This gave us about two hours to hike. Him being in great shape and myself in okay shape, we easily did four or five miles and returned with a little time to spare before dark. This property has a nice hill with a view towards Gillette Stadium. That was our first priority.

From there we did kind of a big circle of the land following parts of three trails. Besides the hill, the other highlight is a trail around a pond. The pond is only a hundred feet from the parking area. For us it was the last part of our hike. Walking around the pond listening to bullfrogs croak was a nice way to end the hike.

On our drive home we came across some deer in a field. There was a six point buck eating at sunset.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Welch-Dickey Loop

After hiking Tripyramid I had about four hours of daylight left. Normally I would fish after supper.
However, most of the lakes that would have been a short drive are kind of weedy to fish from shore. I could have used my kayak, but it was breezy, and would have been blown all over the lake. So after supper I chose to do another hike.

I had hoped to hike Welch Dickey on the Thursday I went up, but it was raining, so I went fishing. I really wanted to hike these little mountains so I decided to hike them even though I was pretty tired from Tripyramid. There is a loop hike that goes over these two small mountains. Welch Mountain is 2605 feet while Dickey Mountain is a little higher at 2734. The loop is about 4.4 miles with 1600 feet of elevation gain. Direction can be found on your trail map or online.

You have to take Upper Mad River Road off of Route 49, then follow the signs, I arrived at the trailhead at 5:30 pm. The first thing I noticed is that the parking lot is huge. It easily holds over 100 cars. Arriving so late, there were only a dozen or so cars in the lot. Within 15 yards of the lot, the trail
Tripyramid from Dickey Mountain
You can make out the South Slide on the most right
forks. I took the right trail, choosing to go up Welch Mountain first.

 The main draw of these mountains is the open ledges. The views are amazing for relatively little effort. After 1,6 miles a hiker reaches the ledges. Some of them are steep and if you are scared of heights, you might be a little uncomfortable. However, with common sense (and in dry conditions) they are perfectly safe. One cool thing is, that on these ledges is the southern most stand of Jack Pine in New Hampshire.The views are really nice. I enjoyed looking at Tripyramid since I climbed it earlier in the day. As I mentioned, I did Welch Mountain first. There is a steep drop to the col in between the two mountains, then a steep climb up Dickey Mountain. I can't say the view was better from either mountain. All in all with the open ledges, big views and overall fun, I understand the popularity of this hike

Jack Pine
The hike took me exactly three hours. Knowing that dark was fast approaching, I didn't stay in any one place to long. When I stopped on the summits to get a drink, I'd only stay for five minutes or so. I got down at exactly eight thirty and it was getting dark, especially in the woods.