0704 Duck Hole
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Here is my story of my trip into Duck Hole:

I drove to the Corey's trailhead Friday morning - left home at 2, and only saw 2 cars the whole way there.  Many deer, but just 2 cars.  That is definitely the time of day to drive this route.

The GPS map and the track profile are at last year's trip.

I started hiking about 7 and got to Duck Hole just after 11, and the GPS showed 11 miles, 3:54 moving time.  It was really hot.  The first thing I did was to take off my pack and boots, put on running shoes, and go into the water.  I washed all my clothes and myself and had a nice swim.  There was no one else there.  I laid my watch on the picnic table, and when I came out of the water, the watch registered 107 F.  I hung the watch in the shade of the lean-to and it dropped to 91.

On the hike in, I met two young fellows coming down from the Seward Chain, heading for the beach and fireworks, and I passed a couple heading up to Seymour for the day.  That was it.  No one else on the trail.  All the lean-tos were empty.  A nice Independence Day walk.

There were absolutely no bugs.  No deer flies, no horse flies, no black flies, no house flies, and no mosquitoes.  I couldn't believe it.  And although it was really hot, there was very little humidity.  It had to be perfect walking weather.

When I got to Duck Hole,  I settled into the lean-to after a light lunch and read the log book in lean-to 1.  I found my entry from last October.  In many recent entries, people wrote about the wonderful fishing there.  One guy had left one of those folding canvas camp chairs there, and I kept falling asleep while sitting in it reading the logs.

After a little while I decided that since I had stayed in the older lean to in October, I would stay in the newer one this time.  So I moved all my stuff, and the chair, up to lean to 2.  It had no picnic table, but it is newer, and has more room.  Up there, I took a nap.  Then I sat in the chair and read the log book.  more people writing about the great fishing, and an assistant ranger made entries each time he visited on patrol.  He exhorts people to write to DEC to ask them to rebuild the bridge, and he mentioned that the lake is stocked every year with trout by helicopter.  This was news to me.  My only experience with fish at this lake was watching other people be unsuccessful.  Bob, Brooks a few years ago, and the fellows in the other lean to last October, all had no success.

I decided that since people were having luck, and since the bugs were all out over the water, and since there was a fishing pole in lean to 1, I would try my hand at it.  I also happened to have my fishing license in my pack with my guiding license, just in case.  And then I realized where all the bugs were - they were over the water.  They were all out over the water, and man, the fish were jumping.

Well, first I fished from the shore near lean to 2.  I had no bait, but I tied some dog hair I found in lean-to 1 to the hook.  I caught a few 6-8 inch trout, but I threw them back in.  I waded out to the little island, and I caught a 14 incher.  It had to weigh 4 pounds, so I gutted that one, and figured it would do for dinner.  I fished a little more there, and I caught quite a few, but I didn't have a creel to take them back to camp with, so I let them all go.

I decided to cross over using the new trail below the dam, on the rocks, and try fishing from that side.  Over there, I fished about 45 minutes, and I caught 4 more keepers, one of them 20", the other 3 16-18".  I didn't know what the limit was, so I decided since I had more than I could eat, that I would stop fishing.  Just in case the ranger came by.  How would the headlines look, "Licensed Guide arrested on Independence Day Fishing Illegally"?  Besides, I didn't have a net, and some of the fish I was catching on the line were too big to land without one. 

I cleaned my other 4 fish and tied the 3 biggest to a piece of paracord, and submerged them under a rock below the dam.  I wanted to try to keep them cool and prevent any varmint from stealing them.  I fried up the other two fish on the grill in the fireplace for supper, and man were they good.

There are no longer any rodents in the lean-tos here at Duck Hole, thanks to some snakes.  According to the log books, the snake lives in the hole in the deacon's bench in lean-to 1.  I didn't see it there, but I did see a pretty big snake (over 1" in diameter, and black) on the trail sunning itself when I walked between lean-tos.  Also, I saw a snake in the fireplace at lean-to 2.  And I remember the critters eating a hole in my food bag at lean-to 2, in Nike Douglass's bag hung under the bridge, and the mice crawling all over us at lean-to 2 when we stayed there a couple years ago.  But I didn't see a mouse, a chipmunk or a squirrel this year.  And nothing bothered my food bag either, even when it was on the floor in the lean-to.

Well, after dinner, I decided to put up my bag in the grassy area near lean-to 2.  I rolled up the entire rain fly so it was just the no-see-um netting between me and the universe.  There was a little breeze, and during the night it dropped to 61.  I only got up once, about 2, and it was a clear night.  So many stars.  And lots of fireflies.  Some of them looked like shooting stars as they lit up and flew across the sky.  Maybe some of them were shooting stars.  In any case, they were my fireworks this year.

I didn't stay awake very long.  When I got up at 2 there was beginning to be a little dew, so I unrolled the lower portion of the fly, leaving a clear view of the sky above my waist.  Again, I was asleep in about 1.29 minutes, so the view didn't matter too much.  I got up about 5, and it was cloudy but full light.

I decided that since my knee began throbbing about halfway in yesterday that mountain climbing and bushwhacking was probably not a good idea.  And since I can't have any solid food Sunday, I probably should not have to hike that far.  I decided that I would pack out and get my fish into the cooler, and get them home to either freeze or grill before they spoil.

It sprinkled for a few minutes while I cooked a leisurely coffee and oatmeal breakfast and sat in the chair in the lean-to.  I packed up and was on the trail by 9, and got to the car by 1, drove home and was home by 6.  There was lots of traffic, as tourist season is officially open.  The beaches at Long Lake and Blue Mountain Lake were loaded.

Although it was abbreviated, it was a good trip.  Lots of huge fish, no bugs, nearly perfect.  There were lots of ruffed grouse on this trip.  Several places on the way and the way out, a grouse would charge me, and then I'd see its chicks.  They look like little turkeys, and fan their tail and puff out their neck feathers and charge at you.  Then they walk away and have a kind of chirp/moan.  There ware a family of them near lean-to 2 when I moved up there.  I also saw a family of them near the pair of lean-tos on the way out, after which I saw another snake move out of my way.  I wonder if the snakes eat the chicks?

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