As I sit here contemplating my upcoming trip to Iceland, I started scanning photos of our June 2022 trip to the Wheaton Lodge in Maine. For the last 5 years we have journeyed 2 hours north of Bangor to Forest City, Maine to hammer the smallies.
Sitting on the banks of Grand Lake, 24 miles long, the lodge that was built almost a 100 years ago does it “the Maine way” with small cabins, wood stoves, guides who still wear the tall leather lace up boots, fishing from handmade 24-foot canoes. All of this combined to offer a glimpse of how fishing in Maine was at the turn of the century.
Glacier carved lake of crystal-clear water bathing huge granite boulder peeping above the surface challenges the navigational skills of the most seasoned guides. Lakes are measured in miles thousands of acres with endless uninhabited shorelines. Another boat besides your Wheaton Lodge guest is rare.
Now to the fishing. Expect 20-50 landed fish per day. For the top water angler, paradise. Pretty much anything on top works. Foam poppers are a favorite on 5-7 wt. 15 lb. leader. I always bring a vintage bamboo. Got to do it the “old” way. But even though these guys are bass they like a subtle presentation. Let it sit, no stripping like for a largemouth.
There are streams and rivers near that offer brook trout and landlocked salmon. The St. Croix has pickerel, sunfish, as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass. Save the largemouth and perch for shoreline fish chowder at lunch. The guides love to show off their culinary skills between war stories. No cold sandwiches and chips. Steaks, pork chops, and lobster boil always with potatoes and onions, fried or boiled, your call, kick lunch time in the lake up a few notches.
I feel humbled, honored, and blessed to be able to experience this rare treat. I’ll keep coming back at ice out every June.
Thomas R. Dempsey
Certified Casting Instructor and founder of Gulf Coast Fly Fishing School, Mobile, Alabama