Posted by: philipfontana | July 31, 2013

Gone Fishin’

Gone Fishin’


$108 per fish vs. $35 per fish!


     Excuse us for living, but we’ve been lake fishing going back a modest 38 years compared to some “lifers.” Our three sons grew up learning to fish as I learned along the way. And wife Geri also became quite good at fishing as well. From our local lake club to many Lake George vacations and places in PA & NJ, we were “hooked”…forgive me that…couldn’t resist! –Bass fishing for the most part. We tried some deep sea fishing from New Jersey to Delaware & as far as Bermuda, but always we came back to our favorite, relaxed lake fishing. We were not looking to fish the Great Lakes or fly in & get dropped into the Alaskan or Canadian wilderness! Casual fisherman, I would call us. We were not looking to catch huge fish as much as have fun fishing. And we practiced “catch & release” even before it was the environmentally sound thing to do.

By retirement, fellow workers sent me off with best wishes, you know, to “catch the big one.” I already had that familiar plaque, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.” They outfitted me with both waders and hip boots to try my hand at trout fishing. – – Nothing sophisticated like fly fishing….just my simple rod and spinning reel. Since then, I have been trout fishing for seven years with encouraging success with some beautiful 15” rainbow and brown trout. Yet there is something that turns me off about the New Jersey Department of Fish & Wildlife stocking the streams with 600,000 trout each trout season for 7 weeks, April to May. In many streams you can witness the guys from the State hatchery throwing in these beauties before your very eyes by the net full, some as large as 18”. It seems to me almost a childish game.

And so I started to explore the internet for fishing in the northeast. – – My only requirements; a cabin on a lake, good fishing, and a boat with a motor. Now that does not sound like a tall order, but try it…not easy!


     This particular cabin, Trout Lake, Edwards, New York, is so typical of lake houses there. These converted, expanded summer cabins look so unassuming from the exterior. Yet, you enter into spacious, comfortable living space.


          The Grand Room has no less than two living room-type gathering areas, two dining areas, & kitchen counter seating, all in one grand expanse.


     The kitchen area with chef side & stool side just cries out, “It’s Happy Hour somewhere!”

     After many hours & sessions Googling around from Maine to New Hampshire and Vermont over a period of years, we wound up in New York State! It’s called Trout Lake, Edwards, New York, a 350 mile trip one way from home. It’s way north of Syracuse, to give you an idea, 20 miles to the largest city of Canton, about an hour from the St, Lawrence River and Canada. – – a beautiful lake just west of Adirondack National Park with a smaller New York State park bordering on the east bank of the Lake.


     This particular cabin is set in a cove with a spectacular view including two small rock islands to be missed by your motor boat!!! The cove opens to a mile long lake.


     The house, center photo hidden by trees, as viewed from the boat with a lavish, well-appointed screened gazebo, adjacent to two boat docks.

     We made two such trips to Trout Lake in 2009 and another in 2011. The bass fishing was tremendous! (To the best of my knowledge, no one ever sees a trout on Trout Lake!) Our best year we caught 23 bass during the course of one week and all a good size of 12” and better. Geri topped off with a 15” bass and I beat my old 16” record with a 17” bass. But our son, Peter, who drove up for 2 days, caught the record for our stay with 18” and whopper 20” bass.


     Number 2 son, Peter, with the best catch of the trip, a 20″ bass, in the day or two he joined us there.


     The 9.9HP motor & Boston Whaler never failed us. We did learn to “batten down the hatches” & tie up all ropes, especially the one that got caught around the motor prop!!!

     Ah, but the issue is “what price victory”? The cabin was fabulous, bordering on luxurious in the world of fishing! The boat and 9.9HP motor great! But the rental was $2500/week (and by now at least $3,000). And, the 700 mile road trip is certainly a consideration. So I started thinking, there’s got to be a more practical way. What price are these fish costing? At $2,500 a week, not to mention license, bait, meals, etc., divided by 23 fish, comes to $108.69 per fish! And we’re playing “catch & release”? You think we would be savoring them like caviar!

Back to Googling around! This year for 2013, I’m embarrassed to say, we found a lake 20 miles from home in New Jersey! It’s a private residential lake community, Lake Shawnee, address Wharton, New Jersey, but think more Jefferson, NJ, for the surrounding location. The fishing was suppose to be “good,” a very relative term. I want size, inches! – – How big? And the fish natural to the lake (that means no stocking!) were listed as bass, pickerel, perch, and crappies, etc. The only bummer, the boat had no motor! – – Only battery powered motors allowed. But the lake was doable by rowing or you could bring your own battery motor.


     This cuddly cabin with dock & swimming is located in the larger Jefferson area of Wharton, New Jersey, western Morris County, just before Sussex County.


     The comfortable living room offers a hide-a-bed sofa across from the hearth, in addition to a master bedroom & an additional bedroom with bunk beds & fold-away. To the right, pictured is a screened in porch with a double-seat swing chair!


     The kitchen is like the Captain’s Galley, accessed by a curving narrow stairway going downstairs. Double doors open to a patio with table, BBQ grille, hot tub, & stairway to the lake & boat dock. You can take the boat to one of three beaches just 50 yards away.

     It sounded like a good gamble to me! – – Plus, a cute little cabin with all the amenities from screened porch to hot tub to BBQ grill, kayak, paddle boat, only $175/night off season, $275/night summers, and $1600/week summers. We opted for a 2 night pre-season May experimental fishing trip for only $350!


     How many wives would sacrifice their birthday for fishing with their husband? Before Geri’s birthday cake for two back in the cabin here, we went to a Happy Birthday dinner at the J Towne Tavern on Route 15, a Lake Hopatcong address.


     The Lake view from the cabin property & yard. This is just our end of the Lake which must be four & more times the size of the view here.

     The fishing turned out to be fantastic, right here in our little own New Jersey, to my great surprise!!! With 2 nights we only had one day to fish and the weather was cloudy, water choppy, threatening rain and still cool for bass catching. Putting in only 4 hours of morning fishing, Geri and I caught 10 fish; 8 pickerel, 14” and up with Geri’s prize catch at 17”, and 2 bass, Geri’s 15” and mine tying my 17” record. (My dream, just a 22” bass, still eludes me!)


     Our first experience catching pickerel. They give you quite a fight & watch out for those razor sharp teeth! Geri caught the prize length pickerel for the trip with this 17 incher!


     And this 17″ bass tied Phil’s record for his largest bass also caught at Trout Lake. Geri caught a 15″ bass here at Lake Shawnee tying her best bass ever also caught at Trout Lake.

     And, “what price victory”? Nice little cabin, impeccably done up. The boat with oars was fine to get around! – – Surprising! I would be the first to complain. But the fish were right off the dock! – – And for only $350 for our 2 night experiment! Granted, the 20 miles from home location is embarrassing, but it was convenient and time efficient! Now here is “the catch,” I mean the clincher; at $350 for 2 nights, divided by 10 fish, you get $35.00 per fish! Case closed! We will go next year and stay longer!

(I used to say it’s cheaper to go to a fish market than go fishing! But when is the last time you priced fresh fish? – – Not cheap! A fish market would be much cheaper than a fish from Trout Lake. But a fish from Lake Shawnee might be a toss up by the pound!)

Excuse us for fishing, but we think when all is said and done, weighing all the equities (and the fish!), the comparison and decision regarding fishing trips in the near future are a “no brainer,” as they say. Maybe cabin ambiance & greener pastures may move us on. But for now, you decide! – – $108 per fish vs. $35 per fish. “Waitress, I’ll have the $35.00 fish, please.” Maybe we should eat one from Lake Shawnee!

     Comments: Please!




  1. When figuring the cost of the fish, don’t forget the salary of the cook! Oh wait…

    • John, Good one! Never thought of that!!! Geri agrees!!! No clams in this one! Thanks! Phil

  2. Phil,

    I so enjoyed reading this. The scenery of these places is gorgeous. Looks like your wife enjoys this as much as you do. What could be better?! Your “Excuse Us For Living” is so entertaining. Keep up the great work 🙂

    Marti (Sender) Guinta

  3. Marti, So VERY WONDERFUL a comment! I could not ask for anything more! –And coming from you even more valued! We love the beauty of lake country & the solitude. Geri is a real partner in all we do. Thanks for the encouragement re “Excuse Us…” Phil

  4. Hey Phil & Geri-
    Wonderful pictures! Looks like all of you were having fun…
    When I was a kid, my mom and dad drove us 5 kids up 500 miles into Canada and we did primitive camping. We had a row boat and we would go out into the lake and fish for hours- what fun.
    So to heck with the cost- you were creating fab memories… ( the NJ place sounds a lot easier to get to- haha)

  5. Marg, Thanks as always. We think about how you are doing often & ask Erin.
    That Michigan upbringing sure provided fond memories! 500 miles into Canada boating & fishing & camping!!!
    Right, this fishing thing is not cost driven but practicality/miles driven & time spent. But that New York State cabin is “fab”!!!
    Good to hear from you! James Andrew & “Mom & Dad” make James’ first trip to Grandma & Grandpa Fontana’s place this Saturday for lunch! Thrilled! Phil

  6. While fishing is not my thing, I enjoyed some good laughs about your fishing expeditions and the high cost of a good fish dinner. As for me and my house, we’ll make our way to a good seafood restaurant and let them deal with scaling, cleaning and cooking…oh yeah, and the dishes afterwards. 🙂

    • Viv, Thanks, Viv! Always appreciate knowing you read one of these posts. I don’t even mean to be funny…..I better watch out on that one! I agree 100% re looking for a nice seafood dinner & going to a restaurant!!! Going fishing & a nice fish dinner have nothing to do with each other!!!!!!!!!!!! This was a fun post for me…had to get it out of my system!!!! Thanks again!!! Phil

  7. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

    • Russel Ray, Thanks for exploring “Excuse Us” today! I’ll have to keep an eye on Russel Ray Photos! Phil

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    • Damian!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for reading, “Gone Finshin’ ” !!! My blog & amount of work: The first year 2012 I posted once a week. THAT WAS A LOT OF WORK. Last year 2013 I switched to one per month! Much better. It is important to be consistent for your readers so they know when to expect the next post. And then how much time your spend on each post depends on the kind of blog you have. Is it dedicated to a certain topic? Or is it posting poems you write? My website is about anything I want to write about, so it often takes some research on-line, in books, magazines, & newspapers. One post takes 4-6 hours to write. Good to add photos! Find them Googling on-line. I promote my posts by sending an email to all 145 people in my email address book (in two emails because my server will not sent all 145 at once). I also put it on Facebook & Twitter. Also on Twitter I look at my topic & send out Tweets to different hashtags (#), Example: The fishing post I sent to #fishing, #fisherman, #bassfishing, etc. Finally, create a URL ( like mine is for $10.99/year on & use WordPress to create a website for $12.00 or so a year. And you’re in business! Good luck. Let me know how you do on my About section at the top photo….leave a message! Phil

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  18. Ahh, looks like heaven, Philip. I’m not much into fishing, like you guys, but can remember going fishin’ and crabbing with my grandpop on the Eastern Shore in Virginia. I remember the sounds of the seagulls and the water lapping against the boat and smell of the salt water. It was peaceful and with that can identify your love of it.

    So, with those sentiments, thought I’d send you this little tune I included in a story I posted a couple of years ago called “Peace – Gone Fishin?'”. Enjoy!

  19. Pat, Now if this isn’t the best comment from anyone on any posy of mine!!! First my great appreciation for your memories of fishing with your grandpop in VA. And then this GREAT recording from your post, “Peace- Gone Fishin?” by Bing & Louis!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How I love them & this song by them! Many, Many thanks to you! Phil

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  24. Looks great Phil! 🙂
    I will definitely check this out some more.
    Thank you!
    Hugz & Love ❤

    • Patty, There is no end to searches re cabins & lakes in the USA & Canada!!!!!!!!!!! But hard to find a cabin with a boat & motor as I wanted!!!!!!!!!! Phil

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