Rick Shults, 51, and his daughter, Rachel, 19, also were at Montauk State Park on this balmy afternoon. But Shults carried a camera with a 400-millimeter lens, rather than a fishing pole. “I got some good eagle shots this morning,” he said.
The family lives near the park and likes to visit to photograph the wildlife, especially the otters that live in the spring-fed waters of Montauk Lake.
“There are three up there this year, last year there were eight,” said Rick Shults.
“They’ll sit up on the logs and pose for you,” said his daughter.
Wildlife watching is a popular sport at the three trout parks in winter. Bald eagles are common at each park, as they visit during the cold months to take advantage of the abundant supply of fish. Montauk has a resident pair that has nested in the park for nearly a decade, producing 11 chicks in the last four years.
A wildlife check list this afternoon included not only bald eagles, but also osprey, great blue-herons, a belted kingfisher, pileated woodpeckers and their smaller cousins, turkey vultures, black vultures, plenty of deer and a flock of turkey that created a roadblock as it crossed from river to woods.
“The wildlife is a big plus,” said Bost, the Montauk naturalist. “Animal tracks outnumber people tracks, easily. And the animals are a lot more laid back in winter.”
The Maledys enjoyed both sports, they watched the wildlife show as they fished the stream.
“We saw an eagle swooping down to grab a fish over the rearing ponds,” said Cindy Maledy. “That’s the first time we’ve seen that.”
The Maledys fished until the golden glow of sunset hit the tops of the trees in the river valley. No one was counting, but Charles Maledy landed two trout, among many hits and near-misses, and his wife brought in seven. All were returned to the water to fight another time.
“Summer’s for eating fish,” Charles Maledy said. “Winter’s for catching fish.”
For more information, visit mostateparks.com.
WATCH ME – Winter wildlife watching at Montauk State Park includes the otters that live in Montauk Lake. Rick Shults