Another Springtime Revisited

One of the delights of owning Sportsmen’s Camp is getting to see Spring all over again after we arrive here. And it has been a glorious Spring indeed, with the sprouting of bulbs I planted last year and all my old friends from previous years emerging from their winter’s hibernation to greet me for yet another delightful summer. Aside from my daylilies, roses and tree peonies I am ever amazed at the fractal beauty of the unfurling of the massive fronds of my ever burgeoning collection of interrupted and ostrich ferns. My planting of the tiny bulbs of Siberian Squill were already up with welcoming blooms. I have also sprouted and planted last year’s crop of daylilies that I hybridized! I can’t wait to see the results of my biological artistry in the next few years!

But enough of the boring stuff that means so much to me. The Spring has moved quickly and the trees are almost fully in leaf as I write this. The lilacs are in full bloom. We’ve been fishing only a couple times as the black flies have been ascendant! The last time we went fishing was a couple days ago – on Margueratt. We came home with a nice stringer of eating sized fish and paid dearly in blood to the black flies at the landing. The water temperature on Firth is around 70F and the water levels (due to a dearth of beaver dams) is at summer high water level. The early weather this Spring could be called generally cold but it has shaped up in recent weeks. Some more news is that the dragon hatch began in earnest on the 12th and even today as I walked on the beach I collected and moved about a dozen hatching dragon flies. So the days of the blackfly are numbered with low double digits if not single digits. And all not too soon for me as the dragon flies also have a passel of mosquitoes to work on as well. We have also had some much appreciated visitors that helped (read this as did the bulk of the work) deconstructing the old left dock – Mike and Bill as well as the Cubby (a local celebrity). The logs for the new dock were conveyed to the lake for assembly yesterday and I hope to begin that tomorrow. But we have been pretty busy.

That brings me to the next subject – as you all know we lost perhaps the most beloved dog of all time – Baxter. It was quite a blow to us – but still let us not underestimate the massive blow it was to his brother Mr. Bart. As we were dealing with our grief it came to us starkly how affected Bart was too. He moped, ate little, didn’t run or chase birds with any elan and was generally bereft of his usual joi de vive! So Janet knowing the only antidote was a rough heavy dose of “puppy”! Not just any puppy but a Tibetan Terror puppy. Janet located and retrieved said puppy and Bart was in for some heavy duty puppy therapy. I recognized that Bart would not brook any puppy near his mommy for long periods of time initially so I took the little terror in-hand immediately when he arrived at camp. The Terror of the North’s name is Kevin. He immediately became attached to his dad and learned his name in about an hour. He presently stays close to dad and comes when he is called very well. He loves his morning walk with Bart and the last three days the walk has been without Bart having to upbraid the little devil for rudeness with any snarls at all! Bart is also joyfully running and loving being chased. Kevin can just about keep up with speedster Bart when he is cruising but becomes very frustrated when Bart decides to turn on the afterburners and pulls away from him at full bore. I had forgotten the yelping squeals that frustrated puppies make when they can’t keep up – LOL. I tell Bart that he better enjoy this interlude as the time may come that Kevin can keep up and still have extra gas in the tank so to speak. Bart discounts all talk as poppycock!

Kevin is a very smart and a quick study! – spoken like a new parent. His one major problem is his predominance of black making him a massive target for blackflies! He is also handicapped by unusual cuteness – and thus is spoiled rotten by your truly. He initially was afraid of everything and loathe to even go up a step – that didn’t last much more than a day! Now he runs roughshod all over the house and no where is safe from his marauding. It is a joy to behold. He was also somewhat reticent of the water and the lake. That has taken him a little more time to familiarize himself with. But when he was down at the lake during a windy day (relatively free of black flies) he became concerned when dad waded out into the lake to position the logs for the new dock. Low and behold he was jumping into the lake and swimming out to the log right next to me! Since then he has taken to actually swimming in the lake whenever I am away from shore! He is yet a little “iffy” about wading into the lake for a drink on his own or even approaching the lake if its wavy. He has a ways to go to know everything he needs to know but as I said earlier he is extremely smart and a quick study. Janet taught him to sit if he wanted a morsel in about 3 mins.

So there you have it life is good here at camp and Kevin is running me ragged. That is the nature of training every new pup though – one must be tireless and consistent in the first few months then he knows what is expected and has most of the skills necessary to navigate the pitfalls of everyday camp life.

A note of caution for all guests coming to camp this year – Kevin is still not conversant with proper navigation around vehicles. So I will be extremely careful with him when the possibility of a person driving around the camp occurs. As a special favor to me and Kevin go very slowly and be vigilant for Kevin. I am training him as fast as I can – but as any new parent I am over cautious as well as over protective. Think of me as 1.5 ton mother grizzly with a cub – you’ll be pretty close to the mark.

I leave you all with a sampling of Kevin pictures from his manifold adventures here at camp.


Kevin using his patented “king Cobra” move before a strafing run.


Right along with dad on the beach.


Most recent winner of the Tibetan Terror lottery with mother and brother.


Proud dad watching his son haul the dock logs to shore. Please note what all the most stylish terrors are wearing this black fly season.


Bart advising his younger brother as to the niceties of proper boat fishing etiquette.


Its tough work running a Camp when your just a puppy!


It’s The Omnibus Blog!

So I am writing a blog to wrap up our time here in the States in preparation for translation to the boreal forest.

Fishing, fishing, fishing – First day of trout season was fun even if the fish were not really cooperating. I only caught three trout and a good group of chubs. LOL I was hampered by having to fish during a constant gab fest! That is to say I was fishing with Pat. You see Pat never talks to the person he is “fishing with” – he endeavors to engage every other fisherman that has the poor sense to cross his path. LOL Questions, questions, questions – mostly number questions that Pat has no intention of remembering or caring what the answer may be. I think if Pats eyesight gets worse I’ll pose mannequins along the stream with sound sensors that blurt out random numbers. It would go like this, “How long have you been fishing today?” – 4. “Catch many fish?” – 5. “You see many caught?” 12. LOL You sorta get the picture. Actually it was great fun but we only got to interrogate the other fishermen for a couple hours as it started thundering and we thought that discretion was the better part of valor and moseyed on home to cocktails with Janet and Carol on the porch. It was a great afternoon capped with steaks on the grill. I am making fun of Pat but I heartily recommend fishing with Pat anytime – you’ll have a great time! But steer clear of “the Blonde Tornado” if she is fishing with him. She demands that all efforts are intended to improve HER fishing experience. I think that Janet should lend her the “It’s All About ME” shirt. And she insists that each of her fish be measured so she can brag. I don’t know how Pat every took off his clothes in front of her….. “Hey there Pat – hmmmm, where’s the Tape Measure????”

I got to fish alone the second day and caught several – keeping I think 3 for our friend Jim. But all the trout I caught were nabbed in the riffles and chutes so they put up very good fights.

The second fishing fun was at The Little Nirvana of Duda’s cabin in Kellettville on the Tionesta in the Majestic Allegheny Mountains. We watched a Pens game as we supped at Cougar Bob’s after arriving. The Materdee was so kind as to seat us with a view of the TV as well as a view of the Moose! The next day it rained but we took some time and I fished about and hour on Queen and caught a nice little native and two riffle sniffing stockers – they all fought like crazy and hit like a ton of bricks.


It also cleared and The Earth Mother lounged on the glider with Moon and Stars Bart.


The rest of our crew soon showed up to multiply the hijinks. Low and behold an Oh Shit game broke out after a few drinks! And Sled and I talked about the state using medical stats to divine epidemiological truth way into the night. Saturday dawns and even Pat and Carol put in an appearance for some Saturday fishing on Salmon Creek.


I don’t think there were many strangers fishing so Pat didn’t get much conversation in. Sloucho and Buss did very well at the confluence of Salmon and the Branch catching at least 4 or 5 each. Pat and I ranging elsewhere were not as successful – I turned 2 nice ones over on the Branch but no bloody cigar.


I can tell you that Sloucho was smoking a cigar! It was still great fun! Laughing and yucking it up with each trout. After the successful time at the stream we adjourned to the cabin for Happy Hours!


The aluminum coffee pot on the table was a stand in for a pitcher – a pitcher containing excellent gin and tonic!  It has quinine yaknow, so we were all proof from malaria transmitting mosquitos. Hey it pays to be prepared for hatches! It may be hard to see but there is a celebrity at the table as well…..


Vaunted baiter of eagles and lynxes… the one the only Chanel!

After supper we booted off to The Fwying Wubblewu for the next Pens game and were delighted with the outcome and were shocked and dismayed when we were flashed by a big pecker over by the ice machine as we left the bar!!!


After the good news of the Pens game regardless of our big pecker experience we decided to adjourn back to the cabin for our nightly self flagellation of oh shit games. I drank enough that I am not sure if the philistines kept me from winning a game or not! But I do know that it was a gas and Mr. Beefeater was again a pivotal player! My stomach ached the next day from laughing!!!

But all good things come to an end and our merry band of drunken fishermen broke up like clock work again on Sunday. What a delightful time was had by all.

Now for unknown and unrelated rider to the Omnibus Blog – Political Action!

Wherein Intrepid souls and scientific political activists converged on Washington DC to overthrow the Government. LOL yeah right! Yet we made our will known by marching in a torrential downpour. My favorite picture of the day was the first one – we arrived early morn and with the rain much of the crowd (numbering more than the Inauguration!) were holding off for a break in the rain.


There it is – the beast looming from the mist! We’re gonna need a bigger crowd! So we marched on to the meeting point at the Washington Monument.


Here’s Bob with his sign as the obelisk pierces the rainy sky.  And march we did with out regard for our personal health and welfare! Up Constitution to the Capital building and our date with destiny!


My sign uses chemistry nomenclature to say “Trump/GOP is in equilibrium with their Lies”  and “Science yields Truth!” But I should present a shot of the other side of Chiara’s cool sign. That’s Andrew in the fore ground.


The March was great but I can see why people don’t do it very often —– but that seems to be changing as bizarre behavior grabs normally low key scientists to ACTION!!!!! I think that this will get bigger and bigger. The march was a fulfillment of civic duty but the time spent with Paolo and Mary and the rest of the clan was the greatest fun and they are the absolute best hosts on earth! Thanks again to our political activist facilitators!

On a sad note as most everyone knows from facebook etc. we’ve lost one of our greatest friends – nay – family members. Baxter. He was buried with more love and abject sorrow by me on the family property than I will be accorded at my demise. He is now resting in the spot he enjoyed sitting surveying his domain and keeping it safe from evil squirrels. Its been very tough for us. But I keep telling myself that three days spent with him far outweighs the sorrow I feel. Besides I am getting on now, crying only a couple times a day.

The next blog will be from Camp! And I am sure everyone is looking forward to a fun and fabulous summer at Sportsmen’s Camp! I know I am!

The One…

That got away!

My sister – Joan – and I have a running joke that we have no family photographs, we have pictures of family members with fish!

That being said it becomes obvious that fish and fishing appears to be a central element in my family’s history. Jeesh who would have guessed it? I gave up a promising career as an environmental chemistry consultant to actually be happy and able to reside and fish in the most wonderful place on earth. But I digress – that must be a first! Yeah right!

So here’s the scam – as my old friend Frances X. Russel used to say (and probably still does). One of the many things that I enjoy in the winter aside having fun with friends and socializing as well as vegging when its obviously too cold to go outside ice fishing on A frozen Lake Nippissing, playing pool late night on Friday or fishing for trout and playing cards with college friends near Tionesta in the majestic Allegheny mountains, as well as going to aquarium fish auctions with my great friend Ernie. The problem with the fish auctions is that they generally aren’t held in the dead of winter. The auctions are a main source of income for thousands of local aquarium clubs all over north America and they distribute rare fish and used equipment to many many hobbyists at fire sale rates. If people don’t show up due to poor driving conditions then no one benefits. Thus the auctions are clustered in the fall and spring. Summer is right out for me as I am elsewhere.

I’ve just gotten back from an excellent aquarium fish auction sponsored by the Loraine Ohio club. It was a beautiful day and there were a lot of interesting fish and equipment on the block. In my short (~45 odd years) career as an aquarist I have successfully bred several species of fish and propagated many rare plants and distributed them through the hobby. But one of my favorite species has eluded me over the years — Rivulus xiphidius. It has recently been reclassified as Laimosemion xiphius. This is a rare and gorgeous jewel of the killifish clan and is note-worthy in its touchy nature and fastidious demands for pristine water. So Ernie and I journeyed today to the auction and lo and behold the “white whale” presented itself in the form of a pair of gorgeous young xiphidiuses! It was love at first sight! But as with so many unrequited loves it was not to be. I stumbled and stubbed my toe on my ultimate basal nature of selfish need tempered by Anglo-Saxon self denial and thriftiness – I wouldn’t pay more than 15$ for a pair of fish ! What an idiot! LOL Cest La Vie – I guess Ahab has a few more years yet to pursue his quarry.

As an aside I heartily recommend anyone that is interested in keeping interesting aquarium denizens to investigate the dates for your local aquarium society auctions and check them out – you’ll be surprised at the interesting people and how welcoming and happy they will be to pass vast knowledge on to anyone with the penchant to know.

Springtime its not just…

In January yaknow!

But the calendar informs me that springtime arrived on the 20th. But the actual springtime just arrived for me this week. I heard the spring peepers last night! What a joyous sound to gladden the heart! But the other harbingers that I have observed are important too. On the way to work I saw a flock of Common Golden Eyes on Swan Lake resting before they pushed north the next day. (probably just a stop off before they worked their way to Firth Lake) Yesterday evening with the slight drizzle the yard smelled of night crawlers and as the sun was about to rise today (I was up letting Bart out!) I heard the unmistakable song of the white throated sparrow, AKA the Canada bird. It brought a tear to my eye, the warbling reminder that in just a short time we’d be back in the welcoming bosom of the great boreal north. Another thing that I noticed wasn’t spring related — I was going to the drive through ATM at the bank and I noticed that the gravel covering the parking lot islands and surrounding the shrubs was precisely the same as the gravel on the driveway in front of the lodge at camp! In this land of gray limestone and buff sandstone it was stunningly beautiful. There were no cars behind me so I stopped and rolled down the window and enjoyed the sight of a little bit of “home” here in Pennsylvania. Here’s another pretty quirky thing that put me mentally in a boat on Kapiskong Lake up the grassy catching tens of beautiful pike. This is what triggered that …. in the morning I was cleaning out my nose with a napkin. I removed the voluminous remnants of the night’s dried boogers and took my first good unencumbered breath of the day. Low and behold – the unmistakable sweet smell of pike slime! LOL Don’t cringe – its not as bad as the daily news from the Trump/Putin administration!

These things get me thinking about all the things I need to get done at camp this year. One of the biggies is the construction of a new left dock. I was thinking that I may hit Art Walker up to come to camp for a working week – he has offered. What the HELL! He’s retired yaknow. I would also like to get the trebuchet settled and throwing again too. But there are so many more important matters – such as replacing the water heater in the lodge as well as putting concrete floors in cabin number 9 and a litany of things far too numerous for me to attempt to list here. I would have to refer to my lists back on my table in the lodge. Along with these less fun items on a list another list runs in parallel. The list of lakes to try to visit and fish this year. So many opportunities to revisit old friends and make new ones or just explore. Invariably the list is barely scratched once I am presented with the reality of what needs to get done and the limited amount of my time – but that doesn’t alter the fact that it is so much fun to think about.

So dear reader I invite you to daydream about the coming summer and all the fun things you will be doing at camp this year as well as all the new lakes and places you wish to visit. So much fun to be had!


I still have much on my plate here though with first day of trout season, the weekend at Duda’s Kellettville cabin as well as the tropical fish auctions on the weekends with my friend Ernie, weekly pool nights at Josh’s and getting the yard whipped into shape and……(there it goes again the “to do” list encroaching on the fun list – stop that!)

I’m Back

Yes dear reader after a brief hiatus I am back. The hiatus was initially propagated due to my old computer getting so slow that writing a post was like swimming in loon-shit! A reference to the muck in the great boreal swamps. Then the fan died on the computer – so I tore it apart and fixed the fan – some pesky dust bunnies has made a home in the miniature squirrel cage! Imagine that! So the computer was fixed and I only had to blow into the air intake to occasionally start the fan. But the computer was still slow. So Janet got me a new laptop (this one) and I basically avoided using it all summer trying several different virus removers etc. – but nothing worked very well. And the computer was only 6 years old!!!! LOL

Thus I am now on the new puter.

Much has transpired during the hiatus but I will skip most of that to report on my last foray to the great boreal (sane) north. I finally went ice fishing on Lake Nipissing with some great friends. We caught several fish and had a great time in the ice condo and fishing on the ice.  We were warm and cozy drinking beer and playing cards as the wind howled at -3 degrees and about 60kph! The snow was swirling and drifting around the ice condo to about a depth of two and a half feet! During the day the snow was so kicked up that you couldn’t discern any difference from sky-horizon-lake-or snow that you’re standing on! If you turned away from the ice condo you existed on a perfect sphere of whiteness! It was a very cool effect – unnerving yet still exhilarating. The sun then set with great color through the ice crystals and night fell. The wind died and the suspended divided ice particles from the previously howling wind fell to the ground reflecting the lights from the metropolis of North Bay. A fabulous effect which was nearly impossible to photograph with its full luminous nuances. Fabulous!

As I said we caught several fish and almost none that were of a keeping size. But we caught a good range of species pickerel (walleye), yellow perch, freshwater burbot or lingcod and the topper for me was a splendid spotted mud puppy! But all told the weekend was a resounding success! I’ll present some pictures for your perusal.


I forgot to mention that we took in an Ice Sculpture Exhibition at Bridge North. It featured polar bear riding for the kids!


There was also beaver petting! What a great idea! Jeesh these Canadians have such great ideas!


Here I am checking to see if an ice sculpture is cold as a witch’s teat!


This was a really cool (cold too) back lit wolf! But enough buffoonery on to the pics of the ice fishing.


Treking about 2 miles out onto the lake to the ice condo – note the island on the right! Cool stuff!


Here’s our humble little ice hut LOL. Note the gas grill and beer cooler right next to the door below the picture window.


A gorgeous sunset on a frozen lake Nipissing!


Wow even Spiderman ice fishes!!!


Here we are warm and cozy in our condo drinking and fishing through the floor!


Here’s a fine little pickerel caught on my trusty Iron Man fishing rod! I couldn’ find a Spiderman one!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Here’s one of my favorite pictures – Bill took it without a flash through the picture window of the remainder of our crew having a beer before playing cards. Bill was out in the howling cold wind.

So there was a little taste of the weekend – a delightful weekend.



A Day on Firth…


We took a day off and spent it tooling around Firth and catching fish. It was slightly overcast with water temps in the low to mid 60’s F with a coming cool front and south easterly breezes. The fishing wasn’t as fast as we would have liked but we caught some fine fish and had a delightful day. Of course the Evil Janeeto from the Planet Janetron was the first to strike! With a fine bass at our first stop on the “little shoal” right off of Camp.



She set the hook, the little beastie jumped then she got slack line and thought that he had thrown the hook! But after some furious reeling he was confirmed as online. But after the fish was fought and landed the Evil one exclaimed that it wasn’t a very good fight and she was expecting more! So after a few impromptu renditions of Peggy Lee’s Is That All There Is?? And a few more fruitless casts we moved to the shallow side of the weed bed bay.

On my third cast I hooked into a nice beast right at the terminus of the cast. He jumped and fought like a champ but in light of the Evil One’s earlier comment about un-met expectations…



There I am yawning and sooo bloody bored!



There he is in the boat about 18 – 19″ – just an estimate I got him back into the lake quickly. Fun fish! In the meantime Joan was plugging along and catching bass and pike but as she always catches so many fish we seldom take pictures of her fish its just too too commonplace! Then the beast hit! It was to allow Joan to garner the points for the three specie trophy for the day as well as getting her…



the first perch of the season! What a fight – what a beauty!!!!

They were talking about having fish again for supper but I didn’t feel like filleting and cooking fish again so let them all go. We supped on juicy jumbo hotdogs, coleslaw and fries instead!

Now for the much awaited and anticipated yearly report on the reserves and inventory at the Fabulous Sportsmen’s Camp Single Malt Scotch Library!

At present we have 21 different varieties of Scotch and a Canadian pretender (quite nice actually) and a very special treat of a mystery scotch that was procured for the Library from overseas a tremendous expense!!! It is a wee dram and is at cask strength and is reputed to be amongst the finest of complex delightful scotches!



The “wee dram” is in the silver flask seated on a sheet of the finest parchment!

So Here It is ….


Aberfeldy 12yo highland 50% full

Ardbeg 10yo islay 15%

Auchentoshan 12yo lowland 75%

Balvenie 14yo speyside 70%

Bowmore 10yo islay 40%

Bowmore 12yo islay  50%

Dunbeahgan (single cask reserve noless!) 8yo skye 40%

Dalwhinnie 15yo highland 80%

Edradore 10yo highland 40%

Highland Park 18yo Orkney 20%

Glen Kinchie 12yo edinburg 75%

Laphroaig 10yo islay 30%

Glen Livet 12 yo (distillers reserve) islay 80%

Glen Livet 12yo islay 50%

Glen Livet 12yo islay 50%

Macallan (Alex a Scotsman that knows states it’s – “the Queen of scotches!”) 12yo speyside 25%

McClellands 10yo speyside 80%

Glen Morangie 10yo highland 40%

Glen Rothes 10yo speyside 80%

Scapa 16yo Orkney 10%

Scapa 16yo Orkney 90%

Talisker 10yo skye 75%

The Mysterious rare Wee Dram cask strength 12yo speyside

Plus The Canadian pretender:

Glen Breton 10yo cape Breton 50%

Ok – that is our inventory at the Library –

The Ardbeg is getting low and it is a perennial favorite. Highland Park is low and is my favorite. Laphroaig is also getting skinny and always is a staple of any scotch tasting as the deep end of the spectrum – the sledge hammer of scotches. The last one on the endangered list is the McClellands.

In the last Blog I mentioned the new addition to cabin number 5 to whet Jim Baxter’s curiosity and now I’ll submit another additional mystery to whet Good Phil’z curiosity about a mysterious new addition to the game room in the store. Hmmm what could it be??



Here we go again!

Yes, here we go again! Another summer in paradise! bringing things online – the power, the water and getting all the new fun things ready for the coming summer. So much new stuff. Too many things to mention yet. The treb has been refurbished but I still have to find time to restock the weight basket to bring it online yet there are more pressing things – like the general utilities. I also have downloaded a few pictures for eye candy etc.

So we drove through the night and arrived rested and raring to go – yeah right! The ground was still frozen and the house was as cold as a witches tit! But no complaints here we were once again in the bosom of the boreal north! The first thing we did was begin the important task of thawing the ice under the back porch to facilitate  the water getting to the lodge and upper camp. The trees were skeletal and snow was evident wherever it had sloughed off of a roof. But we do our best!



Our nefarious plans were successful – the water came through to the upper camp. It only took several bottles of Alexander Keith’s to get the ground thawed! Unfortunately our local supplier hadn’t planned for our arrival. So we had to go with a second choice.

But things are moving quickly as I write the Pens are playing for the Stanley Cup and there is much noise emanating from the living room!! I don’t yet know the outcome of the game but as I type the screaming lets me know of the state of the game and scores. The blackflies are out and extremely friendly and the small sneaky bastard mosquitoes are here too. Yet we have had some beautiful days and the lake temps are rising and we are seeing non-lake dragon flies gorging themselves. We have one guess already from Murph on the greatest holiday of the north – the dragon-fly hatch! June 12th! Janet (the Evil on from the Planet Janetron) says it will be June 2nd! Of course she has onsite information. Given the “current conditions” as they say in weatherman parlance I think it will be early. Unfortunately we won’t get to see the Bugmasters this year and we miss them greatly as this looks like it would be another year where they would have a great time.  We’ve already had a great pizza night treating our newest guests (the Duane Dan and Jeremy crew)  to the delights of wood fired pizza.

But I digress the leaves are out now and we are being treated to the first blossom of the dandelions and the fervent crush of the humming birds. I will leave you with a couple pictures of the camp in all its decrepitude and the beautiful yellow blush prior to The Evil one mowing them down.





As a teaser to Jim Baxter we have made a major addition to the niceties of Cabin number 5. But to allow the expectations to build I will not let the cat out of the bag what it is.