Perfect Timing

Sometimes Nature has ways to astonish us, and it always amazes me how timing is everything in Nature’s world.

For example, take Tony’s and my latest trip to Moosehead Lake this past week. When we made our way near the lake it was obvious that the area was a week or two behind us in the full arrival of spring. The trees were just showing a shade of green, no leafing out yet. There were no signs of our tasty treat, the fiddlehead fern, and only hints of the smelt spawning run. Thankfully for us, that was going to change overnight.

We knew that the smelt were starting to enter the rivers because we could see those that depend on them were arriving too. They included cormorants, gulls (including a Bonaparte’s gull), kingfishers, mergansers (including hooded and common), loons, and the king of the airways, a pair of eagles.

Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers

We were always in the presence of loons, and almost always under the watchful eyes of the soon to be nesting pair of eagles. We even got to watch a robbery. A loon had caught a trout so big that it was having great difficulty trying to swallow it. Repeatedly it would take its catch sub surface and try to swallow it, but it just couldn’t quite get it down. The eagles were watching carefully from their nesting tree. Then one of them took to the air and repeatedly dove at the loon. After several attempts and much screaming by the loon, the eagle won out. The loon, fearing for its life, finally dove without the trout, and the eagle quickly scooped it up and carried it to its mate. The eagle, by the way, was being harassed himself this whole time by gulls and ravens.

Robbery: Parts 1 and 2

Robbery: Parts 1 and 2

Robbery: Part 3

Robbery: Part 3

Everything revolves around the arrival of the smelt, including our quarry, landlocked salmon, lake trout (called “togue” in Maine), and brook trout. Millions of these 3 to 6″ fish run, mostly at night, up the rivers to lay their sticky eggs on the river bottom. At about the exact same time, that wonderful time between Mud Season and Black Fly Season, the tasty fiddleheads begin to sprout.

21-Inch Togue

21-Inch Togue

Last year, with an early ice out and little rain, we totally missed it. This year was going to be different. The opposite situation was in place: too much water. The smelt can deal with that. We needed to adjust, and we did.

We had good success fishing, catching more than a dozen salmon (releasing all but one), two togue, and several brook trout.

16-Inch Brook Trout

16-Inch Brook Trout

The smelt were working their way up the river more each night, and the predators were hot on their heels, tails actually. One of the lakers (togue), had 34 smelt in its stomach.

The other wildlife in the area was coming to life too. We saw four moose, five deer, and 19 snowshoe hare in just one evening ride back to our cottage.

Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe Hare

The cottage, by the way, was at Gray Ghost Camps in Rockwood. They are owned and operated by a great young couple, Amy and Steve Lane, who are more than halfway through rehabbing all of the cottages. I think the camps have been there since the thirties.

We were very happy to score a few pounds of fiddleheads on our way home. The warm temperatures of Thursday and Friday along with the rain on Saturday brought them bursting out along the stream beds.

Fiddleheads Sign

Fiddleheads Sign

These conditions don’t last long, but if you hit it right it is an incredible experience that I enjoyed with my father and several of my best friends for more than 40 years. In more recent years, Tony and I have shared it with my grandsons, but with their busy school and careers, they were unable to make it this year. I am grateful that Tony has been able to share this with me since he was about 8 years old.

We wouldn’t miss it for the world.

WLAGS

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Lodge Rating: Gray Ghost Camps 2014

We here at WLAGS want to give you what we deem an honest evaluation of lodges, camps, and other places we have been. Today, we’re giving you our opinion of Gray Ghost Camps, and sharing some of our photos of our stay there.

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Gray Ghost Ratings 2014

Cabin #6: Grizzly King

 

Location: 10

Service: 10

Check-out time (10:00): 8

 

* Cabin overall: 9

Water pressure: 9

Water temperature: 10

Beds: 9

Brand New Beds

Brand New Beds

Cabin location: 9

Cabin view: 10

Cabin temperature: 9

Cabin structure: 7

A Rustic Cabin

A Rustic Cabin

Boating facilities: 10

 

The View of the Docks From Our Cabin

The View of the Docks From Our Cabin

Fishing potential: 10

Fishing access: 10

Debbie’s New Fly Rod

We set out to our favorite fly fishing only (FFO) pond on Friday morning. No need to get up early as the weather and the moon were about perfect.

Our Favorite Fly Fishing Only Pond

Our Favorite Fly Fishing Only Pond

This particular pond has always fished best on cold, wet days with a wind anywhere between east and north. It was perfect with the wind out of the northeast at between 2 and 5 mph.

Debbie was using her brand new Fenwick fly rod for the first time—a 9’ 5-weight. She had the first hit not five minutes into our day, followed by several short strikes as we made our way down “Tiger Alley,” so named for the stretch where we catch many of our tiger trout, a hybrid cross between a male brook trout and a female brown trout.

Rainbow

Rainbow

As we reached Eagle Rock (you can guess why we call it that), there were dimpling trout everywhere, no doubt feeding on emerging nymphs. I was into four fish very quickly. Debbie was undeterred and was soon into a big fish. She fought it for several minutes, and just as it was coming into view, the fly pulled out. Now she was deterred! She buckled down and proceeded to kick the trout’s and my butt nine ways to Sunday.

We were sharing the trout with several other fishermen, namely an eagle, three osprey, a great blue heron, a merganser, and three loons. All seemed to be doing as well as Debbie.

As we headed for the launch, we were about even at 13 fish apiece. Two older gentlemen were putting in, so at Debbie’s suggestion we stayed out of there way and fished out front of the boat launch until they were done.

Well, in the next 30 minutes (because she didn’t want to leave) she proceeded to catch six more, including the biggest fish of the day—a fat 16” rainbow, to my one.

Debbie's 16" Rainbow

Debbie’s 16″ Rainbow

It was the perfect end to a perfect day, and a great way to break in a new fly rod.

Selfie

Selfie

PS: All of the fish were taken on either my Grampy’s Copper Flash fly or my Village Pond Special fly, which this time I tied with rust brown and copper crystal flash.

Grampy's Copper Flash (What's Left of It)

Grampy’s Copper Flash (What’s Left of It)

WLAGS