2023 Campout #4 - Montauk State Park & More!
Updated: 3 days ago
When the leaves on the trees are starting to change, that can only mean one thing... it's time for the annual Montauk State Park trout fishing trip! Like last year, I would be looking to continue on the success of previous years by hoping to hit the lofty goal of 10 trout in 5 days!
As it always has been, the weather was once again unpredictable. We would start with sun and warm temperatures, see some rain, then see some really cold temperatures, and more rain. Beyond all shadows of a doubt, this is definitely my favorite camping weather to say the least! This year, learning from the previous years, I took off the day of departure to give myself ample time to load gear and hit the road. My efforts would pay off as we would arrive well before dark and with plenty of time to set things up at our own pace. After setting up camp, getting a fire going, and relaxing around camp, it would be time to crash knowing full well an early morning would be greeting us the next day and with it, the hunt for more trout!
The first day at the stream proved a success with two trout landed! As there weren't many other fisherman along the stream, fishing pressure was light but still, that I was only able to catch two, it just goes to show how much I still have to learn about trout fishing.
On top of my two trout, my wife also caught her first two trout EVER which was absolutely amazing! All those years of watching me must have been a good reminder of what NOT to do to catch trout.
Despite my morning success, I had my reservations about the coming days as this would be the last of the "light" fishing pressure days as the weekenders would be rolling in throughout the day and would be there tomorrow morning, rubbing elbows with me and casting everywhere I wanted to be. But that's just how it goes most of the time. You do have to be respectful as everyone has as much of a right to be there at the stream as you do. That means giving others their space to fish and they should do the same.
Once the fishing died down, we would head back to camp and relax the rest of the day stirring around the park as we saw fit. The day would be capped by another nice warm fire. Although it was chilly, the real cold was yet to arrive.
The next morning would, predictably, bring another early start to the day and we would find ourselves down by the stream once again. This time, the weekenders had arrived and now it was survival of the fittest.
Unfortunately for about 90% of the people standing at the stream that morning, myself included, we were not the fittest for catching fish. Unlike previous experiences where there are still people cleaning out the stream of fish, this morning was a total bust for everyone at the stream as the most fish any single fisherman caught that morning was two trout at best and not many even had one trout on their stringer.
I'd like to say that, "after the fishing died down", but how can you say that when it never took off... Regardless, as a consolation to the poor morning, we headed to the lodge for breakfast, something I was not even aware they did in the 20 something years I have been coming to Montauk.
After breakfast at the lodge, we would head back to camp once more and just kick back and relax. It was also a special occasion today as there was expected to be an annular solar eclipse. It would only be a partial eclipse in this area of the world but, wouldn't you know it, it was also cloudy too. Still, if you timed it right, you could catch a glimpse of the eclipse between the clouds which, conveniently, also acted as a solar filter if you didn't have the eclipse glasses with you (I did).
For the rest of the day, we would explore the park and enjoy the last of the warmer weather as a cold front would move through bringing with it chances for rain overnight and into the next day. Then we would be tested for sure. We would also head into town for dinner just to spare us having to cook in the rain and cold.
Sure as I'm sitting here, the next morning was cold and rainy, imagine that. The trout definitely didn't mind and so I tried not to mind either. Taking the opportunity to fish in the rain landed me one more trout, my largest of the trip so far! But, as you might imagine, that was all I pulled from the stream that morning - even with the lighter fishing pressure of the morning due to the weekenders starting to roll out.
After the fishing, again, died down, we would head back to camp to kick back, relax, and warm up by the fire. We would also make a run for more firewood as the load I had brought from home was nearing its end. As cold as this morning was, the cloud cover in place helped prop the temperatures up but the next morning would not be as fortunate.
Taking a walk to the lodge again, we would cross paths with a family of deer attempting to lay low while foraging in the woods. They were even nice enough to let me take a picture of a few of them before they bolted off deeper into the woods.
Overnight would bring quite a calamity as, I assume, a gang of raccoons would form a raiding party and move from one campsite to the next taking and tossing whatever they could. I only assumed it was a gang of raccoons because my very heavy when empty and quite heavy when loaded Yeti cooler had been tipped over in the middle of the night. There were definitely raccoon prints all over the cooler but they were unsuccessful at getting in, surprisingly. It is a bear rated cooler but raccoons have smaller paws than bears and tend to be able to open things like coolers much more easily but whatever the reason for them not being able to get it, I'm glad for that! We could have been robbed of five trout had they gotten in... That would have been very discouraging to say the least!
After a quick cleanup, it was time to head to the stream on the coldest morning of the trip so far. Despite there being no other fisherman at the stream due to it being Monday morning, the trip to the stream brought only a few strikes but no fish. That was disappointing but we would still have one more day to try!
While watching the fish not bite our lures, we were able to watch some deer down at the stream gathering whatever they could for food to stay warm. Always nice to see a little nature!
Back at camp, we would decide on taking showers while the temperatures were warmer in the afternoon. To my surprise, nature would show up in an unexpected way as the sink I was attempting to use dropped a rather sizable spider out of the faucet... What a surprise that was to the both of us! Unfortunately, the spider did not make it out alive.
The final morning of the trip would be a cold one yet again but this time... there was something in the air... that something, was success! It wouldn't be my success however but my wife's! She would manage to land the largest trout of our group for the whole trip!
Weighing in at just over 1½ pounds, the largest fish of the week!
After checking the fish at the offical scale, just for fun, we headed back to camp for breakfast and began the process or breaking down camp for the next leg of the journey. It was at this time we would have another few encounters with nature. First, the harmless one, was a gentle walking stick bug that showed up on the tent! I always enjoy seeing a walking stick bug as they are one of my favorites though I'm not sure why. The second was the less harmless encounter of a yellow jacket bee finding its way up my untucked shirt where it got trapped and stung me twice. Ouch. Great thing to have happen just before a 2.5 hour drive... It had been a while since I had been stung so it was good to know that I wasn't suddenly allergic and that it hurts just as bad, or more, than I remembered. Since it was such a long time ago when I had last been stung, let's just say I knew it hurt but couldn't recall just how bad. Memory has been refreshed! Anyway, with camp packed up and the trailer loaded, it was time to roll out!
Montauk, see you next year!
Part two of this travel extravaganza would take us west to Branson, MO.
Come back to read more about it as this story is updated!
Span of 10 days; Approximately 832.2 miles; Approximately 51.511 gallons of gas used; Approximate average MPG 16.35; Approximately $160.74 spent on gas.