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Claybrook Mountain Lodge
June, 2017

June is the month of transformation from spring to summer. The fiddleheads we were picking earlier become a jungle of lush green ferns so thick you can’t see the ground underneath. Turtles crawl onto land and search for a warm gravel bank to lay their eggs. Brook Trout arrive in the pools of Sandy Stream, spotted Whitetail fawns appear in our field, and of course black flies time their arrival with the first rush of summer tourists.

The black flies were more intense in June than usual. I was glad we had the screening up on the lodge porch. Having spent a life outdoors during many black fly seasons, they are a minor nuisance to me when they swarm and bite. I hardly notice them except when they are at their worst but for some reason I have become sensitive to the bites after the fact. A day or two after being bitten some of the bites itch as if I had poison ivy rash. Ticks are back with a vengeance and my experience with them is similar to black fly bites. If I remove a tick that has become attached, the bite becomes a huge irritation a couple of days later. Fortunately, the number of tick and black fly bites we sustained early in June declined substantially in the last half.

I took Anna and her two boys, Levi and Chas, fishing on Sandy Stream in mid-June. I had been checking the stream every morning to see if the first rush of trout were present and the day before I found a pool with some larger than average trout eager to bite. Not only were the black flies biting, the first deer flies attacked us also. The ferns we had to walk through were tall enough that the boys had difficulty following and “Papa” had to carry them both to the pool. There was a beautiful sand bar that was a lot more attractive than the idea of catching a fish. When the first cast didn’t produce a strike, the boys lost interest and began to run around knocking down “bamboo” and playing in the sand. The fish had moved to a shady place above the original pool so it took us a few minutes to find them. I couldn’t get Levi to cast his new Spider Man rod and reel, so I tossed a worm myself and let it sink. Before long I noticed line being pulled out so I gave him the rod and urged him to reel it in. The look on his face when he felt the “sacred tug” was priceless. He landed a beautiful brook trout after a battle that included a lot of splashing and slipping of the drag. Once or twice the fish swam where he could clearly see it and that caused even more excitement. I told him he could take it home for his Dad for dinner, but he announced that he would eat it himself. Poor Chas didn’t get a chance to fish. After we cleaned the fish we noticed that both boys were covered in red welts from fly bites so we scooped them up and headed for the road. I hope the excitement will be what they remember.

Pat has a birthday in June, and some friends who were renting a cabin at Pierce Pond invited her for dinner and cocktails. I was responsible for getting her there, and I decided it was a chance for me to go fishing. Kate and Peter arrived that day with Peter’s niece, Sylvia, and her seven-year-old daughter, Natalie. We all got into the van and headed to “the pond” in late afternoon. We delivered Pat to the “Williams Camp”; one of the most spectacular places on the pond and the rest of us went off to fish. Kate, Natalie and I were in the Grandlaker, and we towed a canoe with Sylvia and Peter. Natalie told us that she had never caught a fish even though her father was a salt water fisherman in Florida. She was excited and impatient as a seven-year-old should be, with so many questions I couldn’t keep up with answers. She asked me to take her to the best places immediately, and since the fly she had on didn’t catch anything right away, shouldn’t we change it for a better one. After about 45 minutes of that she said she was tired of holding the rod and handed it to Kate. Of course, as soon as Kate had a rod in each hand, a big fish struck. Kate gave me the other rod, got Natalie in her lap and the fight was on. It was a beautiful trout on a floating line and fought so hard that Natalie got too tired to keep the rod up. Kate held the rod steady when Natalie needed to rest and finally we got it into the net. Natalie was so excited to land her first fish and on the way back she caught another smaller trout that she released. By that time, she was a confident, veteran fisherman.

Two of our longtime favorite guests came for a weekend, and we fished Pierce Pond for a couple of afternoons and evenings, hoping for a mayfly hatch. I have enjoyed adventures with Bob Westphal and Regan Wilmuth for more than 30 years of fishing and hunting, and I couldn’t ask for better partners. On the second evening, we tried a few places with no luck and worked our way to a favorite spot in Lower Pond. There was a little activity, and the surface of the pond became still and smooth for a few minutes. During that spell both men got a good fish on dry flies. The guide didn’t pull the anchor quickly enough and Regan lost his salmon but Bob caught and released a beautiful brook trout. All over the mirror surface fish began to rise with most of them out of reach. We started to move toward them when a breeze rippled the surface. All the action ended as quickly as it had begun, and suddenly a big west wind whipped up. We decided to go back across the lake to get into a lee shore. Over Pierce Pond Mountain came a slow moving ominous black cloud with wind increasing steadily. Whitecaps were breaking onto us and we all got quite wet, so I pulled into the shelter of an island to wait it out. The big cloud got bigger and darker with an occasional flash of lightning. After watching it for a while we decided to make a run to the safe shore before it got any closer. It was a wild ride and we were soaked but made it safely. That was the end of our fishing and certainly an evening we won’t forget.

I have added a new business at Claybrook Lodge called Drummond’s Local Lumber. I bought a new Wood Mizer sawmill this spring and have done just enough sawing to realize that there is a lot to learn. It is something I have wanted for a long time and I am not getting any younger. My plan is to do some custom sawing with trees from my woodlot and try to have a supply of softwood dimension lumber and boards on hand. In addition, I will look for unusual species and shapes. I already have a small stack of Butternut that is the probably the last left alive in our area. I will be sawing Sugar Maple, Cherry, Ash, Yellow and White Birch and Cedar also. If anyone out there is interested in some of that, send us an e-mail.

                                        “Gang Warily”,
                                             Pat and Greg

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