It’s time to start up the augers, line and fine tune the traps, and of course, make sure the Coleman Stove is working – because we are going to eat some really good food out on the ice this year! I’m looking forward to opening up the camp on Snow Pond this Friday and gearing up for our annual Colby College ice fishing extravaganza this coming weekend. We are going to fish Snow Pond the first day and perhaps Great Pond on Sunday. Last nights full moon brought sub zero temperatures (as expected) and the lakes in the Belgrades are locked in pretty good. Here in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, the lakes and ponds are just starting to lock in. I think it’s going to take another week or so before the bigger lakes are safe to fish. This year in addition to fishing Eagle Lake, Bubble Pond and Jordan Pond, I’m going to explore Long Pond. I just love exploring new territory!
During the last month I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the Belgrades chasing fish and turkeys. It’s a been amazing to say the least. While we’ve moved to Bar Harbor (a.k.a. Acadia National Park), I’m still making many treks down to “home base” to guide fishermen. We still have our fishing cottage on Snow Pond and are still working with all the lodging operations there too: Whisperwood Lodge for American Plan, 4-Season Cottages for do-it-yourself meals, etc, etc. Such a lovely place to visit and fish!
Right now the smallmouth are on their beds, which is always fun and yesterday I guided Cobbossee and found largemouth on beds. It’s a bit early for that, but we’ll take it. We also have had great luck with northern pike and trout/salmon. Really can’t complain about the fishing at all – it’s been terrific.
Many thanks to everyone who has sent in e-mails about our big move. It’s exciting, but Belgrade will always be home to me. Although, I am slowly falling in love with Acadia National Park and the surrounding areas. There’s a lot of water to explore here and I trust that I’ll be ready to guide the area by next spring. I just need some time to figure it all out!!!
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Ice Fishing & Winter Fun!
We are gearing up for this year’s ice fishing season and I can’t wait. As you may know, our family moved to Bar Harbor this past Fall, and I’ve been having fun exploring the new area and learning as much as I can about the surrounding lands. It is beautiful here on Mount Desert Island, and Acadia National Park is truly amazing. But I’ve found another playground just off the island! There is so much land and woods and waters to explore within a half- hour drive of my home. It’s difficult to pick a desintation to explore because they all look so good.
So for this winter, we’ll be running our usual Ice Fishing trips in the Belgrade Lakes region. I’ll open our cottage on Messalonskee Lake (which is for sale by the way) in January and will keep it open into March.
We still have a few openings for rentals and/or guide services, especially for weekdays in February.
We also work closely with my good friends at Belgrade 4-Season Cottages and we have my in-laws Belgrade Stream Cottage for rent this winter too. So lodging shouldn’t be a problem, however setting your dates early is recommended.
It’s Hard to Say Goodbye
Saying goodbye to both the “Summertime in the Belgrades” and guiding/living here for 20 years is very difficult, but change is good for a human and this is going to be a huge change! While I’m looking forward to exploring the Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park area with my family and experiencing all its beauty, leaving such a wonderful place as the Belgrades is not easy. How do you say goodbye to your home? There’s so much to cherish here: the people, the lakes, the fishing, the hunting, the hiking … it’s a dreamland … its home. Personally I’ll miss the people most. When you do what I do, you make lifelong friends; people you care about even if you only see them once or twice a year. Guides find themselves looking forward to seeing their “sports” when they visit for vacation, and I’m going to miss all my friends very, very much.
Rather than being sad and melancholy, I’d rather say goodbye with a smile on my face and keep the memories that will forever be burned into my mental CD. The best part has been watching youngsters grow up from year to year and seeing them go from “duffer” fishermen to expert casters and fish catching machines! So many examples but one that really sticks into my mind is Andrew Volkers who comes up and stays at Whisperwood Lodge with his dad Russ. These guys are icons at Whisperwood and I’m privileged to be their friend. The first time Andrew and I fished together he was only 13 and just learning modern fishing methods. Now he’s a grown man and out-fishes just about everyone with precision casting and a knack for catching the big one. Fishing is in his blood and it’s been a joy watching him develop into an expert! We got to fish this past week for largemouth and some northern pike. The bite was really good, and he actually caught big largemouth, smallmouth, northern pike and pickerel all in the same day. That’s what the Belgrades offer to anglers, a smorgasbord of fish and a chance at a trophy around every turn. We caught some fish on live bait and some on spinner baits and swim baits too. Russ caught a big largemouth on a 6 inch Senko rigged Texas Style. During the heat of the summer, larger baits seem to work better for big fish. The largemouth don’t want to expend energy unless there’s a meal worth eating – you know the old saying … big bait = big fish.
A few years ago my friend and fellow Belgrader Dr. George Spann was retiring as President of Thomas College (my alma mater). George and I are friends and can talk candidly about any topic. When he was giving his goodbye speech at TC, just before they dedicated a building to him and his wife, George said goodbye but didn’t say thank you to any specific people. There were just too many to thank and the fear of leaving someone out is horrifying. I couldn’t agree more, so in my last article, I leave my friends with this personal thought:
Thank you all so much for making my time in Belgrades so special and memorable. The Belgrade Lakes are an amazing place that can change a person, make them understand how extraordinary their surroundings are. Loons, fish, deer and eagles are only part of the scene. Watching the pollen blow off the pines in the springtime or the lupine bloom in the fields is only part of the beauty. Thunderstorms rolling across the lake or two-foot blizzards are only part of the power. What I will never forget are the people who make the Lakes Region tick. You are the true beauty and I thank you so very much for all the memories. Please, everyone, take care of our lakes. They are so precious and special. I wish you all tight lines, big smiles and everlasting memories. Good Luck this week.
There is something special about fishing with true friends; real people that you know, love and trust. As I realize that my time here in the Belgrades is slowly coming to an end (we are moving away this fall), I realize how much I cherish my friends here and the fishing opportunities in the area. Suddenly I enjoy every eagle, every osprey, and every fish much more. Sunsets are clearer and more vibrant and the smell of the water gets sweeter each day. Well, this past week I had the privilege to fish with a real friend and a legend in the area – someone who I’ve come to know and thank my luck stars to have met. If it wasn’t for the beauty of the Belgrades and the love of fishing, our paths would never have crossed. It may sound corny, but the luxury of my job is to meet some wonderful people from all over the world and Dick Dempster is certainly at the top of the list.
Perhaps the title of this article should read: “Fishing Creates Friendship” or better yet, “Fishing Friends Fish Forever”. Either way, my friend and his son-in-law Gentry went fishing last week. It was a full moon that brought a cold front and a breezy day, so I was concerned the bite would be off. Well those excuses came true because the fish were being stinkers, but we managed to find a few smallies and some pike on the deep edges of weed beds. We caught the fish on live bait and tube jigs, and we were happy to get the bites we got. After about an hour we decided to move into some back waters where there was current and lots of structure. It was technical fishing and the casting target was really small, but we managed to get the right casts into the right areas and caught some big fish. Sometimes it’s better to catch a few big fish rather than catch a bunch of smaller ones.
Boat position is key when fishing technical waters, and we managed to position just right in front a fallen tree. After the boat was set up, my friend Dempster told me that he thought the fish would be on the leeward side of a fallen tree. I positioned the boat and chucked a shiner into the spot he had called. It wasn’t more than 10 seconds and he landed a HUGE largemouth. High Fives and the clicking of cameras followed, but the best part was a few seconds of silence when we all realized how special the moment was. Three friends brought together by the love of fishing had just shared in the sweet success of the catch. A few minutes later the big female was released and we all went back to fishing. Silence ensued for a while, but the memory of that fish, and that moment will be burned in my mental CD for the rest of my life.
Good luck this week!