Monday, December 12, 2011

Uncle Sam - Our Maine Guide

I'm very fortunate to have had a Maine Guide hanging off one of the branches on  my family tree. And he was Sam Jalbert, my mother's uncle,  who guided in the Allagash (mostly the Allagash River and Round Pond vicinity) which is located in the NW quadrant of the State of Maine. (Map 62 Maine Gazetteer)

Growing up we never heard a lot about Uncle Sam but when his name was mentioned my father broke out in a huge grin and my mother, who probably had more insider information about Sam's colorful history, clearly went on High Alert, being raised up as a proper Franco-American Catholic girl, don't you know? Regardless of the inherent danger of family skeletons tumbling out of a closet in a large , embarrassing heap, my father, my mother and I went to the Jalbert Camp on Round Pond in the late 50's.

Getting there was no easy task.  From our home on the coast we traveled Northwest to the Jackman - Canadian border crossing. Then north, in Canada, for 100 miles to the St. Pamphile Quebec border checkpoint. Crossing back into Maine we had to drive southeasterly approximately 35 miles down the Blanchette / Maibec Road to the Allagash River pickup point where Uncle Sam and another person would meet us with canoes.

We unloaded our Ford Country Squire Station wagon (we got a new one every year as Dad was a Ford dealer), packed our gear and selves into the canoes and off we headed upstream on the Allagash to Windy Point and camp. The camps were actually owned by Uncle Sam's brother's Willard and Bob and his nephew Willard Jr. I don't believe Uncle Sam had any business  interest in them.

As I recall thru the fog of 50 years, the camp had a log cook house/lodge with a large wood fired cook stove , dining table, a hand pump for water,  a front porch (no such things as decks back then) overlooking the pond. There was a wooden dock and canoes.  For camp quests there were a couple of log cabins with bunk beds, maybe a small table and wood stove.   I also seem to remember a "treehouse" for food storage, not sure though.  Of course no electricity or inside plumbing or bathroom facilities.  One thing that does stand out clearly for me to this day was the wonderful smell of the lodge. Years of frying bacon, camp coffee,  pipe and cigarette smoke, the nature of The Allagash itself that permeated everything , and even the logs of the cabin themselves, all combined into a wonderful perfume that imprinted itself into me. Nothing like it....

My mother, who would normally have zero interest in going to any sportsman camp, was there of course to visit with Uncle Sam.  And that was part of my old man's motivation but he was there to fish and I was there to go with him. And fish we did!  Twice a day we would strike out in one of the canoes to explore the river, the pond, and the many brooks that laced the area. The trout were wild, frisky and plentiful. My father was absolutely over joyed and I was absolutely content to be with him to witness his prowess with a fly rod.

In the evening, after a marvelous camp supper, we would all gather at the table to describe the days action and where my mother and Uncle Sam would continue to reminisce about the "old days".  Fascinating stories about lumbering (which my Mom's family was deeply immersed in), our French heritage, and of course the old timers who had passed on.  My Dad would sit back , smoking his pipe and sipping on his whiskey, occasionally interjecting but knowing these couple of hours before bedtime were Mom's. And for me, the best  part of it all was that we would wake up to a fabulous breakfast and get to do it all over again.

I think I need to get back up there for one more go 'round with those trout and those memories......

Willard, Sam & Ned Jalbert

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Duck Dog

Here's my duck dog , tearin' into one...He's a very brave boy ..can't you tell?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Family of Aroostook County Loggers

I feel very fortunate that both the paternal and maternal sides of my heritage were solid Maine folk. 

The family on my father's side came to our shores nearly 100 years before the Revolution, settling near Marblehead  Massachusetts,fought in both the AR and the War of 1812 and then started to work their way north into what was at that time part of Massachusetts and of course now the State of Maine. My great,great,great,great grandfather farmed  600 acres of land not 15 miles from my home .And there my family stayed for nearly 150 years.

My mother's family were French Canadians from the grand province of New Brunswick Canada having settled there, generations before, from the Normandy region of France. My grandfather must have decided that the logging opportunity was better in Northern Maine than New Brunswick so he made his home in Island Falls where, being woodsman at heart, soon had his own logging crew and operation. As a kid visiting my grandparents we would occasionally have the chance to go out to the camp. I remember being fascinated with it all: the rough looking crew (some speaking French), the piles of logs, the teams of horses and most of all by the cookhouse with its huge wood cook stove , black cast iron cookware hanging from hooks, large cook pots and what seemed to me to be miles of dining tables. 

The old photo below shows a much earlier woods camp than the one that I visited in the mid and late 50's. My grandfather, Dennis, can be seen on the far right with his hand on the shoulder of one of his brothers and another brother standing on the roof.  There's something about this old photo of my grandfather and grand uncles and the others that seem to show a sense of  determination, resourcefulness, independence and daring that made this country great.  I wonder if these qualities are still important in today's "what have you done for me lately" lifestyle. But I digress.  I am very proud of my French, English and German heritage and I only wish that the old timers were still around so I could tell them so.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Puppy Stick Fight - Ray vs Boyd

As I have had nothing to blog about in the past month or so since my fishing has come to it's annual  late fall halt I  decided my computer was in need of some house cleaning, So I've been going thru the multitude of digital photos from the past summer or two that have been dumped onto the hard drive of my laptop. 

You may (or may not) know from past blog posts that our home has been blessed with a number of wonderful dogs. My wife is a Regional Manager for Guiding Eyes For The Blind so therefore we always have two or three exceptional dogs in our household. Dogs in training to be a guide, dogs who have retired from guiding and dogs who washed out of the program. Presently we have two dogs, Tessie , a little female yellow lab who is in training and Ray, my faithful companion, a large marshmellow tempered boy who was one of those washout pups. He just couldn't cope with the increased pressure of decision making so he ended up back home with us. And how wonderful it is to have him here...

Ray is in the photo below with Boyd , who we raised a couple of years ago. Boyd also didn't make it thru the program because of a physical condition. But he too is a fine dog now living with a loving family in New York state.  The photo was taken by my wife on one of our many boating trips two summers ago. It really captures how well the two boys played together and consequently how much enjoyment we get from watching them. I hope you enjoy it too...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Allagash

Here is link to my new post on "Readings On The Fly"....

The Allagash

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Does Angler Pressure Make Trout Eat Smaller Flies?

This is a link ...   Angling Pressure Mean Smaller Flies?   

Normally I don't do external links but I found this "article" in Field & Streams blog " Fly Talk "  very interesting and it makes me think that the argument has some merit. I think I'll give it try in  late  spring or early fall of 012'

Of course, it may just be the 4 glasses of Pinot Noir that has opened my mind to such a possibility...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Far Out, Man! East That Is

It was a stupendous Sunday, an absolutely beautiful late "summer" day, so the decision was made to hike West Quoddy Head. We were there because it was Rob's 50th birthday and we had spent the night before in his hometown of Calais feasting on mega lobsters and steamers. The next morning the pickings were done up for a picnic lunch of lobster rolls after our hike.

West Quoddy Head

The name "West" Quoddy is a bit confusing as it is the most eastern point of the contiguous 48 states. Technically there is a small island off Alaska that sticks out into the the border of the Eastern Hemisphere but I think it's nonsense. Clearly Alaska is west of us and it seems to me that the Alaskans want, both "ends" .  I guess soon they'll want the "middle" too.
 Start of the trail.

It doesn't take long at the start of the trail to be immediately impressed with the ruggedness of the coast. Just amazing boulders and bedrock butting heads with the Atlantic.

 A naturally occurring log thank you!
Caves and a beach..about as good as you hope for.
 A carpet of moss
 Hardscrabble life for the runty trees.
 Bountiful bunches of berries.
No room for missteps here.
 More of the beautiful Maine coast.
Ray picking his way on and around the beach boulders.

The "Light". The eastern most point in the U.S. mainland.

Everybody in our party got back to the lighthouse safe and twisted skinned knees, just hungry and ready for those lobster rolls..and what a spot to enjoy them to the fullest!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Starting a new blog

 As my fishing season inexorably winds down I've been thinking lately that I need to continue to blog thru the long off season. But with little or no fishing activity to report in the coming months the thought of keeping maine-matters viable was beginning to stress me out a bit. I mean how many times can you show pictures of boats, beer and babes? Well I guess you can never get your fill of babes but I'll leave that up to other bloggers.

So in the fertile recesses of my mind I have come up with:

my new weekly blogoshphere endeavor . 

Of course I have :

which I have more or less abandoned, but not on a permanent basis. 
Anyways..check them out if you have a notion to..

Monday, October 3, 2011

Baxter Brookies And More

Ledge Falls On Nesowadnehunk Stream

Baxter State Park often called the crown jewel of the Maine State Park system is a name well deserved.  It was originally seeded by ex-governor Percival  P. Baxter with his donation to The State of Maine of 6,000 acres, which included the heart and soul of the park, Mt. Katahdin.  Today the park totals 209,501 acres, 75% of which is a mangaged wildlife sanctuary.  Within it's borders the Maine State Park Service lists 44 ponds and lakes that support a brook trout population.  There are also numerous brooks and streams that do as well, some of which are true wild fish. It was those wild brookies that were the reason why I was heading north on 95  around 5AM on the 26th. 

Looking Upstream On The Nesowadnehunk 

To say that Baxter is a wilderness area is a major understatement. After the two hour ride to Millinocket and then the additional 15 miles to Togue Pond Gate and then another 20 miles up the park's Tote Road , a narrow gravel by-way  (per Gov Baxter's requirement) , I had arrived, or so I thought. I would attempt to hike into Nesowadnehunk Lake and fish the stream from the dam down. Good plan..not so good results..I just could not find the unmarked path that goes to the lake..Another time perhaps..Since I would only be at the park for the day and this searching was cutting into my fishing time, I headed back down the Tote Rd. with stop at Ledge Falls and some fishing for a while..move on..stop at Slide for a while..and a bunch of other wide spots in the road on my way to Kidney Pond Campground. Passed maybe..10 vehicles..

Kidney Pond Campground

Oh yeah..the fishing..It was a bit slow but I did manage two brookies from one pool. They were hovering under an over hang of debris that had washed down and accumulated in a large pile in a bend of the stream , next to a very large boulder.  Of course I had left my camera in the Jeep so I have no photographic proof. You'll just have to take my word on this. 

So that's it..only two trout but a wonderful day in the Maine woods. One of "those" days that will be filed away in the "What a great time" folder..Looking forward to April or May and another shot at the lake and some hiking into some of those trout filled, wilderness ponds.

Did someone ask what about moose? The only one I spotted was this one as I was going south on 95.

Friday, September 23, 2011

4th of July – Grand Lake Stream Style

This past July we made our second pilgrimage to West Grand Lake in Washington County Maine. We planned the timing of our trip so that we could be there for The Grand Lake Stream 4th of July parade. The year before, sitting around a beach fire, I had heard a lot about the parade from my extended families, the Bailey’s and the Vose’s and all thru the following winter and spring I was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to experience it for myself. Maybe even getting a look at the “World’s Largest” Tied Fly float.

Grand Lake Stream Marching Band

 After some early morning fishing on West Grand and a delicious campfire breakfast we all piled into two boats, Rob’s Pro Sport Avenger and the Lund Rebel Sport...( we are a “sporting” bunch) and headed down  to the public ramp area at the outlet to Grand Lake Stream. We did a tandem tie-up and walked into the village, alongside the canal ,opposite the Canal Side Cabins.  We settled at the front of The Pine Tree Store for a good vantage point to watch the parade. Not ever having attended before I can’t say if the turnout was average or better than average but, to me, there seemed like a very good crowd lining the route.

Prime Viewing At The Pine Tree Store 

GLS has maybe a couple of hundred year ‘round residents, The Pine Tree Store, a salmon fish hatchery, the Historical Society Museum, a Post Office, the highest density of Maine guides in the state and not a lot more, but that’s more than enough for me.  It also has of course the stream itself which happens to be one of the top fly fishing destinations in the country and West Grand Lake which is on my very short list of lakes that I’ll never get tired of returning to. ( Is this a dangling something?)

Maine Guide Extraordinaire and Veteran , Jack Perkins

The parade didn't disappoint as there were floats honoring past Maine Guides, the Grand Lake Stream marching band, veterans, a good amount of Grand Lake canoes, tractors, scouts, candy pelting us like hail, patriotic displays of the flag, fire engines, antique trucks and lots more. However no sign of the “World’s Largest” tied fly. Perhaps next year…

A Tribute Float

To me there is something very, very special about a small town parade such as this one at Grand Lake Stream and the annual Memorial Day parade in Searsmont, another small town which is near my home. These parades display patriotism, reverence, pride in community, fellowship, honesty, non-commercialism and a basic and heartfelt joy mixed in with a sense of innocence. It just doesn’t get any better. 

One Of Those Puffy-Headed GLS Guides

After the last fire truck and ambulance had filed by we headed down to the park where the parade entries were gathered on display and to catch a glimpse of cousin Kim dutifully flipping burgers and tending fries.  Not long afterward we strolled back to the public landing for the boat rides back to Hazelwood’s , lunch and another try at those wily salmon lurking in the cold, deep holes of West Grand Lake.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bassin' at Swan Lake - Large or Small ?

I took my grandson Dustin and his Dad, Gary out for a few hours fishing at a local lake near my hometown. The lake is Swan Lake in the town of  Swanville. It's about 1200 acres and has a decent population of togue, landlocks, and bass. Not one of my favorite spots but very handy with the potential of some decent fish.  We trolled for salmon almost the entire length concentrating on the two 85-90 foot deep holes but with no luck. The nature of trolling, most of the time not being high on a five year old's to do list, soon was supplanted by some bass fishing fun.

 We scooted up to the north end of the lake where there are a couple of rocky outcroppings. However one small problem..I had forgotten to re-charge the trolling motor battery. So while Dustin and Gary were casting a multitude of different lures, (and I mean multitude, about every 3rd cast) I was navigating around the boulders with the big motor trimmed up enough so that  the water intake could just keep the  motor cooled. 

Now the wind comes up , pushing us onto some barely submerged rocks. I trim the motor all the way up and shut it down as we ground out on a glacial pebble. Gary and I are scrambling for paddles and he is quickly retrieving his 47th choice of lures when it was hammered. 

Now be aware that I am not an avid bass-man so with some thoughtful discussion both Gary and I agreed that his " biggest bass ever " was a largemouth (very green in color with a horizontal black marking). We didn't know about the mouth to eye thing until later. 

Anyways..Those of you out there who actually know what your talking about? Some assistance please.... 

Oh yeah I managed to get us off the rock...Dustin released the bass and for the rest of the day..nothing more was caught..

Above is a small large ? that Gary caught about 10 minutes before the large large ?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jammin' The Wind

  This past weekend, the family (me, Pat and our guide dog to be Tessie, big Ray missed out on this one)  decided to spend a few hours checking out the Camden Windjammer Festival. So we headed down the backroad , Rt.52,  to  "quaint" Camden town. I must admit that even though we Belfast-ers have an inate disdain for the supposedly better than thou Camden attitude, I do very much enjoy my visits there, either by car or by boat. It really is a pretty town but best visited after the Labor Day holiday.

  After a good amount of snooping around the festival we strolled on to see if we could catch up with Barb Goos , a one time guide dog puppy raiser and who is also the Dockmaster at the Camden Yacht Club. Luckily she was at the dock preparing the shuttle to pick up some yachting types and bring them ashore and she graciously invited us out for an unexpected boat ride. It's always nice to get out on the harbor to view the boats with the Camden Hills in the background.

  Our visit with Barb and her release pup Olive done we headed back into town for a cup of clam chowda' with a homemade biscuit, crackers and a cold brew at Cappy's Chowder House.

 Here are a few photos of the goings on...

Harbor view 

Stern of the schooner Mary Day

 Camden town dock 

Bow and anchor of the Nathaniel Bowditch

Barb and the shuttle

The harbor and the Camden Hills


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rowing Regatta and National Boat Building Challenge Belfast

 My hometown of Belfast had another fine activity this past weekend..

The National Boat Building Challenge..

As the name states..the concept is simple:
" Teams of two build the same skiff design. They are graded on time of build, quality of workmanship, and speed on the water against each other. These are real boats and the competition is open to all, housing contractors, plumbing inspectors, paper-pushers, professional wooden boat builders, and general lay-abouts."

So I decided to check out the contest. Now I'm not sure if I missed most of the action or if there was a small turnout this year but I only saw 2 or 3 boats being built under the tent and no finished products. Perhaps they were undergoing sea trials and were displayed on Sunday ..

There was also a rowing regatta with a half dozen entries..The boats, or Cornish rowing gigs,  have a crew of 6 rowers and a coxswain and are roughly 30 feet long. There were also 2 gigs that had an all female crew. There were  2 teams from Belfast, 3 teams from Plymouth MA, a team from Gloucester MA and a team from Buzzard's Bay.  Call it home field advantage if you will, but the gig "Belle Fast" came in first , a full 20 seconds over a gig from Plymouth and the Belfast women's gig beat out the arch rival women's gig from Plymouth.

I've got to hand it to the organizers of this event and the other summer events in the "olde town" this summer..they sure have had Belfast buzzin'!

These gigs were pushing off from area that the old Boston / Eastern Steamboat Wharf was located..sadly the deteriorated, broken down pilings are all that remain.. .

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Working Waterfront

I normally don't post links to outside sites..but this is a very interesting , Maine related website..By the way, I'm far removed from fishing at the moment, here at the Motel 6 in Danvers.. I decided to tag along with my wife who had Guiding Eyes For The Blind business in Newton yesterday and today in Nashua and ..after Nashua on to Kent Ct/Patterson NY vicinity..but I am living the "sporting" life vicariously thru the wonderful blogs that I avidly follow..Anyways..if you have a second check out the website..Tight Lines to you all!

The Working Waterfront

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vinalhaven For The Day

Yesterday was a beautiful day so Pat and I, plus another couple that are close friends with, Martha and Glenn,  took advantage of it and got the 7AM ferry..The Governor Curtis..from Rockland bound for Vinalhaven. Vinalhaven is 12 miles off the mainland and one of those quintessential Maine destinations. The Gov. Curtis accommodates 16 cars and that is a tight fit. And if there are any 18 wheelers or dump is a premium. Since there was no way to get our car across and even less chance to get it back we hoofed it on board accompanied by Tessie. It was a great day to do some hiking anyway.
One of the older,smaller and less used ferries.
Leaving the ferry terminal in our wake
Rockland is still a working harbor
Coast Guard Station
The mile long Rockland breakwater and light and..a good spot for fishing!
Owl's Head Lighthouse
Some of the many islands on the way
Heading in the the village of Vinalhaven
The name says it all!
Wonder what the main source of income is?
Love the homemade sign!

Typical scenery
Pups like to fish too!
Dig the name of the lobsta' boat in the foreground
Tessie and some new friends watching the sailing regatta

What a great experience we all had ..highly recommended.