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Wacky week in the local wilderness and beyond

June 22, 2011
By JOE HACKETT, News Outdoors Columnist
Although the region has recently been graced with a spat of sunny, fair-weather days, the summer season didn’t officially arrive until Tuesday, June 21.

However, it has been another interesting week in the local woods and on the far-flung waters. Following another weekend full of adventures, I don’t know which was more dense: the omnipresent clouds of mosquitoes or the season’s lush, overfoliated foliage. 

After fly fishing with cork poppers on the opening day of bass season, I decided to revisit some old haunts, hollows and holes that are located along a local backwoods brook.

As I stumbled and tumbled along the stream, I found the thick ground cover of tall ferns, grasses, tangles of logs and tag alders to be nearly impenetrable.

I returned home from the journey scratched, scarred and bug bitten. I couldn’t escape feeling that I was probably as dense as the foliage for having ventured out there in the first place.

However, while bass were largely unreceptive to my angling efforts, brook trout appeared enthralled. Along the upper reaches of the stream, which cascades through a series of deep gorges, I caught wild little brook trout in pool after pool.

Rarely did a specimen measure farther than the span of my hand, and most of them bore the parr bars of a young trout.

However, it was comforting to know wild trout still exist, far removed from the highway in a place a ways back of beyond.

In the lower reaches of the same little stream, which meanders through a low-lying swamp of tag alders and tall grass, I floated a canoe and skittered dry flies across the still, black waters.

I was regularly rewarded for my efforts with larger trout as colorful as their finely jeweled kin, ensconced high in the mountains above.

At the base of a beaver dam, I took eight trout in succession on consecutive casts. I may well have fared better if I had not lost my fly on a back cast.

It was getting late, the sun was setting and the bugs were settling. Soon a better sense of discretion took hold of me and I beat a hasty retreat for home. I returned bedraggled but unbeaten, possessed with an unquenchable desire to repeat the day-long effort.

And I expect to do so, soon if I can. However, it may have to wait until I replace the two or three pints of blood that were donated to the effort.

Strange, wild and true

In March of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a news release to officially remove the eastern cougar from the list of endangered species. The agency declared the eastern cougar extinct.

The document indicated scientists had concluded that the last verified eastern cougar in the wild was likely killed in Maine in 1936.

Although numerous sightings were reported throughout the northeast in the years since that time, there had never been a positive identification. No scat, no DNA, no fur, no photos. Zip, zilch, nada. No kitty!

However, in a most timely and ironic twist of fate, a mountain lion was recently hit and killed by an SUV in the early morning hours of June 11, on an parkway near Milford, Conn., about 40 miles east of Greenwich.

According to Connecticut state police reports, the animal was found dead at the scene. The driver was uninjured.

A Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokesman confirmed the animal was a 140-pound male mountain lion. The cat was removed to a DEP facility for further examination.

Flying bear kills 2, injures 1

The Ottawa News reports a man and a woman were killed in a freak accident June 7 in Quebec, not far from Ottawa.

Police reports indicate a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, struck a black bear near Luskville, Quebec. The initial impact sent the animal flying through the air and caused it to slam into a second vehicle that was traveling in the opposite direction.

The 300-pound bear crashed through the windshield, striking a 25-year-old Ottawa woman and a 40-year-old man from Gatineau, Quebec, then smashed through and out the back windshield. They were both killed on impact.

Another passenger suffered minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital. Two people in the first vehicle were unharmed. The bear died.

Sailing sturgeon breaks leg

According to reports in the Gainseville (Fla.) Sun, 25-year-old Tina Fletcher of Cross City, Fla. recently suffered a serious injury in what appears to be the worst sturgeon accident so far this year on the Suwannee River.

“She was riding on a 16-foot-long Freedom Craft air prop airboat when the fish jumped and hit her leg,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Karen Parker.

Witnesses told FWC officers that the fish appeared to weigh between 60 and 75 pounds and slid back into the water following the collision. No one else reported any injuries in connection with the collision.

According to FWC records, this is the fifth report this year of a human injured by a jumping sturgeon. There were no reports of sturgeon-related injuries on the Suwannee River last year, Parker said.

Roadkill stew

According to Northwestern University’s Medill Reports, roadkill stew may soon be on local menus, as local legislators attempt to help clean up Illinois’ roads during the recession.

Both the Illinois House and Senate have passed a bill allowing the removal of roadkill, free of charge.

“The bill awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature, would clear the way for fur-bearing mammals to legally be taken from roadways in season by people with the proper license or permit,” according to Medhill Reports. The bill passed in the House 98-16 in March and passed the Senate last week 56-0 vote. 

The bill is geared toward the rural areas of the state because of the large number of dead animals on roadways. It is intended to clarify the current law regarding the legality of roadkill pickup in Illinois.

Road-killed deer may only be claimed by Illinois residents who are not delinquent in child support payments and do not have their wildlife privileges suspended in any state.

Article Photos

Photo by Joe Hackett
Wild trout still survive in the headwaters of many small Adirondack mountain streams, hidden safely in the deeper pools for protection. Predators, such as otter, mink, kingfisher and man rarely venture to such extremes in search of a meal, especially when larger and more plentiful fish populations exist in the lower and more easily accessible reaches of the watershed.



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