Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Tech - Old Tech...What The Heck!

I guess (?) the time is right for me to make the take the move forward into the 21st century. 

One of my fishing strategies for the upcoming spring season is to do some exploring. To find some not often used water, perhaps off The Stud Mill Road in Hancock / Washington Counties or even north of Moosehead Lake. 

I dabbled in this a little last fall when in fact I did travel a portion of The Stud Mill armed only with my trusty Maine Gazetteer. But even though the lure of an unseen trout stream beckoned , I found myself not straying very far at all off the beaten path. You see I'm not real good at remembering the turns I make on logging roads and my fear of losing track of those turns and not being able to find my way out got the better of me. 

I have a basic understanding of using a compass, mainly on the foggy waters of Penobscot Bay, but no understanding of all using a GPS, except for the kind that is stuck to the inside of your car windshield. You know, the kind of GPS that talks to you in a reassuring and calm manner, counting down the distance to the next right or left turn. No, the kind of GPS that I'm going to try to learn is the handheld GPS with all it's squiggly lines, way points, flags, altitudes, contours, scrolling screens, buttons on all its sides and..bread crumb life line or, perhaps using a better term, my hope line. Like Hansel and Gretel I hope to be able to follow these electronic crumbs back to familiar ground.  In fact, I'm already well on my way to mastering it as I am now confident in my ability to turn it on and off.

As a back up of course I will be taking along some old compass. I guess if I can figure out in which direction The Atlantic Ocean lies, I can eventually reach it's rock bound shoreline rather than that of Lake Ontario.

I have a few months to get this new technology (at least to me) locked , or maybe semi-latched, into my command and control center. I have a feeling I'm going to need those months.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hemingway On Fishing and Brother Mike

"He was strong and heavy in Nick's hands and he had a pleasant smell and Nick saw how dark his back was and how brilliant his spots were colored and how bright the edges of his fins were. They were white on the edge with a black line behind and then there was the lovely golden sunset color of his belly."
...Written by Ernest Hemingway in "The Last Good Country", excerpted.

My mind wanders almost every day to the thoughts of my fishing days from the past and those of my fishing days in the future. And on this day of the 27th of December, during the beginning of a real coastal snowstorm, with the snow starting to line the branches of the fir tree just outside my window, those future days seem to be getting further and further away .

However my wife's brother Mike rescued me from my winter doldrums by gifting me this marvelous book for Christmas ,

"Hemingway On Fishing"
Edited by Nick Lyons and with a forward  by Jack Hemingway
Published by Scribner

As I work as an Ed Tech in the library of Mt. View High School, I recently discovered that my certification was very shortly about to expire. Searching frantically for the 3 credits needed to keep my job, I found an introductory course to literature. I'm QUITE positive that I would NOT have chosen this course if I had been on the ball and been searching for credits a year ago. And one of my WORST fears came true, Shakespeare was on the's been 40 plus years since I've read anything by The Bard. However to my pleasant surprise Hemingway was also one of our assignments. And one of our Hemingway choices was

"Big Two-Hearted River",

which is Hemingway's compilations of recollections, in the character of Nick,  of fishing for trout from Northern Michigan to Europe. 

I gobbled down Parts 1&2 in no time flat and quickly started to search for more Hemingway in our stacks. Of course much of Hemingway's writing has nothing to do with fishing but much of it does and this was what I was fishing for. 

And brother Mike came through for me and in a big way. 

Hemingway started fishing for trout early in life with bait and then with fly. Of course he is more known for his real love, fishing for big game tuna and marlin and the like. But trout fishing touches his writings frequently. And his love for it has touched me on this cold, snowy December morning.

Now, those early Spring, stream side days don't seem so far away at all. If you're like me and are day dreaming about an upcoming May evening, floating a dry fly on a moving current, this book will definitely help fill the winter's fly fishing void. 

Thank you brother Mike!

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Puppy Christmas..Finale

When outside the house there arose such a noise,
Perhaps it was company with fun puppy toys?
And to their surprise when they looked out the door,
Were Dovey and Kylee from Christmas before. 

Our two pups from ago were now Santa's fine pets,
Bringing toys and good cheer to our pups, you can bet!

They soon got to work while both Ray and Zed slept..

And then into Santa's sleigh they both leapt.

But I heard them exclaim as they flew out of sight,
"A Puppy Christmas to all and to all a good-night!"

(Photos by Pat Webber)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Puppy Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a puppy was stirring, as quiet as a mouse.
Their dishes were placed in the kitchen with care,
In hopes that Kris Kringle soon would be there.

(Photo by Pat Webber)

Our boys were snuggled on one of their beds,
While visions of Milk Bones danced in their heads.
Their stockings were hanging, up close to their nose,
With lights to make sure that Santa would know.

(To be continued..)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Final Act…Deer Hunting With Dad

Back on the stone wall…

It was really getting quite dusky now, time was not on our side. And my toes were starting to protest the cold. Dad however was still on point, showing absolutely no indications of discomfort or lack of concentration. But his eyes were definitely showing the look of impatience when he would more and more frequently turn his gaze away from the tree line and down toward his more and more fidgety son.

By now it was just too dark to continue hunting.
“Time to go home son.”

After ejecting the round from the chamber and removing the clip from the .308, it was safe to climb down from the rock wall. 

On the way back to the pickup I feebly told Dad that I really enjoyed going hunting with him, although I had no idea if he felt the same way.  I was really fishing, fishing for a reply in kind but none came.
Great I’m thinking. He knows I’m not ready for prime time and it’ll be a long time before he lets me come along again...if ever.

Even though it was a relatively short walk from the field to the pickup, by the time we got into the cab it was really quite dark. I guess I hadn’t realized how quickly the light was fading back there on the wall.  Disregarding that small factor, I remember feeling a fair amount of guilt for my responsibility of spoiling the hunt. It just had to have been my fault that no deer had been taken on this cold November afternoon but I sure as heck wasn’t going to say anything about it. I was just going to sit quietly for the ride home in the warm cab of that  old F-100. It wasn’t long before I was surrounded, and hopefully shielded by, a cloud of Prince Albert smoke, billowing from Dad’s pipe. Maybe if I was lucky I could just melt away into the smoke like a bell buoy fading from sight in a fog bank.

After a few minutes of silence Dad decided to break the ice and asked if I was disappointed that we didn’t “get our deer”.  

Of course I was, but just accompanying him was one of my childhood dreams come true. I really didn’t know what to say, afraid of telling him the truth, afraid of saying the wrong thing and not ever going hunting with him again. But not waiting for my answer he simply said, “next time.”

And there was a next time and more after that. Some of those times Dad would bag a deer, sometimes not. But on one of those next times, even I would get one, my first. It’s one of "those"childhood memories, the ones that sear themselves into a young person's mind. And along with that memory branded into my brain is the crystal clear image of the grin on my ol’ man’s face.

Thanks Dad…..

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hunting With Dad - Part 3 - Rats !!!!

Crossing The Rubicon...

My father kept his guns in a homemade gun cabinet that was located in the "den", which was really just a room that was over our small attached, barn. He had a homemade fly tying desk, a couch, an overstuffed chair, a record player and a small portable black & white TV, and this room was where he would tie his flies and clean his guns. But that was about it for him but to me though it was filled with wonders and I would spend many hours in there, doing homework, listening to records and imagining the day when I would be allowed to use one of his guns. In the cabinet there were shotguns of various guages as well as deer hunting rifles. Among these was his semi .308, a lever action .32 Special with a scope that Dad bought for my big brother Dennis and with which I fantasized using in the Old West with my pals Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. There was also an old octagon barreled .32 Special that was my grandfather's farm gun and which was used for deer hunting and also to dispatch old and broken down work horses, a bolt action .22 and then my "gun", a Red Ryder BB gun...
Don't get me wrong I loved that BB gun with it's leather tassel hanging from a ring and I got  into plenty of trouble with it in the years that I used it. wasn't the real thing and I really wanted the chance to throw some real lead at a real target.  
RATS !!!!
Back then there were several places that men would gather to talk over the important issues of the day and one of those special places was our city dump.  Every Saturday morning Dad and our next door neighbor Uncle Oscar would load up the pickup with our weekly accumulation of garbage and refuse and the three of us would go to the dump. I really looked forward to the dump run. There were all sorts of treasures , new ones every week, and Dad or Oscar would bring back home some of these to be added to our household necessities.  But the best reason to go was all of the wildlife that could be observed..seagulls, crows, dogs, hogs, and of course rats! They were everywhere under the piles and would scurry around if the trash was disturbed in any way.
And it was those little demons that were my first quarry. In a time honored tradition we would spend a few warm summer nights standing among the fragrant mounds of trash, headlights blazing, beholding a spectacle of Biblical proportion. In the high beams was a writhing, slithering, carpet of rats, their glowing, beady eyes glaring back at us for a split second before they turned tail and tried to return to the Netherworld from whence they came. But we were ready..locked and loaded and with itchy trigger fingers. Finally my chance had come to send some of these little devils back to Hades.
Of course Dad, not really wanting to take a chance with a crazed 9 year old whose eyes were glowing red with blood lust and with a fully loaded firearm, took a precaution.  Even though the 22 had a clip, he would only allow me one chambered round but that was good enough for me. I don't remember if I even aimed or just pointed and pulled the trigger but in the course of the evening I got my share of rats..maybe one or two. And driving home with my clothes and hair bathed in the perfume of burning paper, wood and rubber, I knew that I had crossed a rubicon...
Next..Final Act

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Deer Hunting With Dad - Part Two - The Wall

Part Two – The Wall
There was no sign of the late afternoon sun and the sky was an unbroken blanket of gray that seemed to meld with bare limbs of the skeletal trees.  This kind of gloomy November day was perfect for hunting but we would be short on time and Dad tried to waste as little of it as possible with a heavy dose of foot on the gas since picking me up after school.  Reaching the end of the dirt driveway we parked the pickup next to the old barn and quickly checked in with the owners, an old couple who were sitting in their kitchen, cozied up to the wood stove.
Getting back to the truck, Dad retrieved his semi-automatic .308, removing the the 5 round clip from a pocket in his old red and black plaid hunting coat and jammed it into the belly of the rifle.  After chambering a round, checking to make sure the safety was on and the gun secure, we hiked up the farm road that led to the fields.  Probably because it would get dark early Dad chose a spot for us to sit on a tumbled down stone wall that cut the big field in two.  In the old wall there were alders growing up through the lichen covered  stones , and even though the leaves were long gone, they offered enough cover for us to sit undetected.
It was dead silent with only a slight breeze but not overly cold. The conditions seemed perfect, at least to me but I wasn't about to offer my opinion!  Dad was dialed in, on high alert, and I didn’t dare to move, even to breathe.  This was a great spot, prime territory and Heaven forbid that I make any sound that might destroy this special moment that Dad was allowing me to share with him.  But what if I have to go pee?  When was the last time? Please God……
The slight breeze would occasionally gust up making one of the old apple trees creak or rustle the dead leaves lying on the ground.  And with each one of those sounds I was positive that a deer would emerge from the shadows.  Anticipating the same reaction from Dad, I looked up at him, nothing.  He was attentive but cool and collected and not easily fooled by false alarms.
Calm down I kept telling myself. The ol' man had everything under control.
 Next – Part Three – The Gun

Monday, November 5, 2012

Deer Hunting With Dad - Part 1 - Coming Of Age

Deer Hunting With Dad
Part One
Coming Of Age

“We’ll get our deer  today”, Dad said.  Even though I had no proof that this monumental  feat, at least in my 12 year old eyes would happen, but I knew it to be true.  Just the mere fact that the ol’ man said it, made it so.
Dad had picked me up in his yellow F-100 Ford pickup just after the dismissal bell had rung at the George Robertson School in Belfast where I attended seventh grade.  And we were heading out to Monroe, Dad’s favorite hunting grounds. A short drive from school, Monroe was where he was born and raised and he knew the territory well.  So we were heading up to the Robinson farm that had three lovely fields on top of a hill, surrounded by stonewalls and apple trees. And he had dragged out many a deer down from the hill. 
 I was new to this, the actual hunt.  But not new to the results.  I’d seen deer come home, lying in the bed of the F-100. Belly splayed open and tongue drooping out of the mouth, with it's white fur tinged with pink.  I’d run my hands over the thick, coarse coat and over each point of the rack
(mostly Dad wanted a buck but if hunting season ran short...)
and look for the bullet hole, made by the .308,  that brought down this magnificent beast.  Shortly It would be hanging by its hind legs from the rafters of our small barn. On display for a short time, waiting for the trip to the Bi-Rite Market and Bryon the butcher.
And now, finally, it was my turn to actually join him in the hunt. And participate in the long awaited rite of passage that adolescent boys of that day dreamed of.  I was on my way, bumping up the long gravel driveway to the farm with Dad, in the cab of that beat up pickup, enveloped in a cloud of Prince Albert pipe tobacco smoke.
It was heaven..

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Belfast's Old Man Of The Mtn..With Apologies To New Hampshire

Big Ray and I found ourselves taking a short hike this morning along the Little River Community Trail in our hometown of Belfast. A layer of the first real frost coating fallen leaves and pine quills awaited us on our path, making the footing just a bit slick. Well at least for me since I don't have A4PD, all 4 paw drive. 

The trail we used begins near the upper dam on the Perkins Road and ends up at the lower dam on Route 1 near Little River Cove. However we only went half way, just to the section of river that starts backing up into a reservoir, once used for Belfast's water supply.

The morning was quiet and the sky was bright. Being so close to the ocean, the changing leaves still have some changing to do but it was a lovely view just the same. 

Big Ray, who usually finds this spot particularly inviting for a swim, refused to partake in the activity this morning.  And instead kept staring at me in amazement that I had forgotten to bring along his treats.

 My apologies go out to my hiking companion.

On our way back we took a short off shoot trail that overlooks the river. As I came upon the overhang

 it struck me that it looked much like the Old Man Of The Mountain (now a pile of rubble), located in our sister state of New Hamshire.

Call me nuts but I definitely see a face

and I think that we Belfast should now make the claim to fame.

Looking back up river from beneath the old man's chin

I began to wonder about the implications of such a claim but soon dismissed my concerns.

Back to the road we came upon some contented and unfazed, grazing alpacas which are in fact our neighbors.

And soon we were home, with Ray headed immediately to his biscuit tin. I think I've been forgiven....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Moose Alert...

I spent a couple of days fishing at Baxter State Park and then on The Stud Mill Road in Hancock County this past weekend.

(More on the Baxter trip in my next post)

But as I traveling back toward Old Town , in the  distance I spotted something standing in the middle of the road.  At first I thought it might have been a man looking for some assistance but as I got closer here's what it was....

Of course I didn't have my Canon with the telephoto lens but just my waterproof Lumix that I use when fishing because my previous digital camera now sits at the bottom of Ruffingham meadow..

(More on that in another upcoming post.)

So as I got closer he got less interested in me and ambled back into the scrub brush.


Maybe I'll see him again next spring....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Isle Au Haut , the Island on High

The wind was whipping out of the NW as we crossed over from one island, Deer Isle, to our destination island. We were making the cruise on The Mail Boat out of Stonington and on our way to the town dock on Isle Au Haut.

 Isle Au Haut is actually part of Knox County but one would logically think, as you look at driving distances,  that it should be part of Hancock County. But as the crow flies or rather seagull flies, on a straight line from Rockland thru Vinalhaven ,it makes a little more sense, I guess...

We were soon saying goodbye to the shelter of Stonington harbor, with a boat loaded down with campers and their gear, members of The Island Institute and day trippers such as my party of four. And as we moved out of the lee of Crotch Island and it's granite quarry,
  the spray from the first wave came over the side of the boat where I was once sitting. Falling back on my vast experience of getting soaked by big waves, I had anticipated such an event and just moments before moved forward to the shelter of the wheelhouse.  Excusing my lack of chivalry by explaining that I had yet to pay for my ticket, leaving the nice young woman from the Institute to bare the cold water .

It was going to be a long 45 minute ride for the old timers sitting on the stern bench but this old tima' was going to stick to the wheelhouse..

However once we finally crossed over, and entered the thoroughfare between Isle Au Haut and Kimball Island ,  the cold Atlantic wind was blocked out and

the huddled masses soon enjoyed the effect of the mild September sun. And with the town dock behind us, we would soon be on our trek.

According to the 2000 census the island has a permanent population of around 79 or so but probably more now, by maybe another 50 with the post office reflecting the burden of that population.

We then walked down the main drag which would lead us to the ranger station (most of the island is part of Acadia National Park) for some hoped for information. Of course there was no one around but we did gather some intel and were off again toward Duck Harbor using the Duck Harbor Trail.

But first..unbeknownst to me, Isle Au Haut is apparently the home of a world famous chocolate shoppe, and web cafe, The Black Dinah. I of course had absolutely no knowledge of it's existence, since my experience with chocolate begins and ends with Hershey bars. But no matter as my fellow hikers were well aware of it and in no time we had arrived.

After our chocolate break, we found Duck Harbor Trail. 

The trail follows the island's coastline but a lot of it is in the island's woodlands with occasional portions actually traversing some of the island's "beaches".

Once at Duck Harbor it wasn't too long before our ride back showed up at the landing

and we were soon pounding past the Isle Au Haut Lighthouse on Robinson's Point , marking the entrance to the thoroughfare.

Once securely tied up to the town landing again we took on more passengers and managed a celebrity sighting...

Linda Greenlaw coming to the floats in a tender.

Again into the breech, but the wind was not quite as bad as the earlier crossing, with Stonington fast approaching.

After a quick bowl of clam chowda' to warm up, we bid Stonington adieu.

But we will return to the Island On High next year, for sure.

Friday, September 21, 2012

20th Annual L.L.Bean Hunting Expo

Sep 21 - Sep 23
20th Annual L.L.Bean Hunting Expo
 Learn new skills with free expert seminars and free lessons with our Outdoor Discovery School instructors. ( Including game cam tips from our own Rabid Outdoorsman)!

 New This Year - try out shotguns and bows before you buy - Dog training demos and fun kids' activities. FREE game cookout Saturday! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fly Fishing With Big Ray, My Big Marshmallow Pup

As the end of open water season for most streams and brooks is fast approaching Big Ray and I decided to take advantage of a very quiet and peaceful morning to do some fly fishing in one of my favorite streams here in Waldo County. 

For those of you who haven't been introduced to Ray, check out many of my older postings to maine-matters. Ray is our 9 year old yellow lab. He's is a ready, set, go sort of boy..boating, hiking or fishing..he travels light and free.

So with the Jeep duly packed with waders, ultra-light fly rod, fishing vest, camera and kibbles, we headed out Rt 3.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves on the bank of that placid stream. I was into my third cast and Ray was chest deep

and soon plowing through the water with 4-Paw Drive.

Fun to watch but not exactly in stealth mode as I'm sure any and all fish noticed.

Occasionally he would hop up on the bank and do some exploring,

but was ever watchful on where I was so as not to loose track of his steady supply of Milk Bones.
And it was on one of his explorations that I finally hooked up.  Hoping it was a wild brookie starting to show some fall colors, reality set in as I brought to net a...

10" pickerel. 

Ray upon noticing the action, immediately came over to investigate

and of course be rewarded with another snack.

So that was it. No brook trout on this trip, not that I really expected one as this stream is really a May / June type of place. But just the same it was a nice outing with my big marshmallow pup, with hopefully many more to come.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Belfast Harbor, A Pretty Nice Place To Be.

If you know anything about the history of Belfast, you know it wasn’t all that long ago that Belfast had a reputation as Schmaltzport, indicating the amount of chicken fat in our fair waters. Back then about the only boats in the harbor were the tugs and some pretty beat up and fat laden work boats.  Not so today as a few of my photos from that one evening testify.
(Didn’t get her name) from Hilo Hawaii 
The “Almost Perfect” out of Treasure Island Florida
The “Oasis” from Kodiak Alaska
Here’s a beauty from The British Virgin Islands 
Of course we wouldn’t be complete without one from Newport RI 
And the prize for farthest travels.. the “Hassebas” from Eemnes, The Netherlands
I understand the the presence of these boats from their many different Ports of Call would mean little to the harbors of Camden, or Bar Harbor, or Boothbay. But to my knowledge those esteemed yachting destinations haven’t been through the transformation that Belfast has seen.
We’ve got some catching up to do but we’re on our way. Right now though, Belfast is a pretty nice place to be.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Ballad of Fly Rod Crosby .. Rangeley Maine

I found this video on the internet this morning. Normally I post only my original video  but I found this extremely entertaining and hope you do as well…

The Fly Rod Crosby Trail is a new heritage trail in Western Maine celebrating the life and Times of Maine’s first registered Guide: Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby. The trail will stretch approximately 45 miles from Strong where she is buried, through Phillips where she lived and Rangeley where she guided and finally end up at the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Oquossoc. This video was created to help promote the new trail. The cast and crew are all volunteers and the music was written by The Sandy River Ramblers, a local Maine Bluegrass band.
Thanks to MoldyChum…

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Flying Fish

I was after the elusive and rare "Flying Fish" of Lake St. George this morning..

Unfortunately skunked again....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Swan Lake Bassin' With My Grandson

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful, a gorgeous day to get out and about with my grandson Dustin and his dad.
It's been a while since the three of us have gotten out to go smallmouth fishing, which is Dustin's fish of choice, plenty of action to keep a six year old's attention span. 

The water of Swan Lake was absolutely perfect as we left the boat launch with a slight mist hanging on before the morning sun would burn it off..

Heading up lake we passed the state park with it's empty beach , this is a wonderful spot to take a kid swimming, highly recommended..

After a liberal slathering of sun screen..

Dustin got in his first cast just up shore from the state park..

 Carefully moving in and out and around the shoreline rocks, per Dustin's instructions,  we came across a small "deck" as he called it, actually a tiny wooden float. He made THE call, "There's going to be a smallmouth under that deck Grandpa.." and instantly , as his rubber worm splashed down, it came out from under..

Having shown us how it was done, Dustin was stoked to reeling them in fast and furious, but it was not to be.
More navigation orders ensued and we moved on to the rock pile that last summer yielded a "monster" bass for Gary..

However , although Gary did catch one..

it would hardly be classified a monster.

The most unusual catch of the day, and one I have never seen before, happened as we were trolling over another rock pile which were somewhat deeper than the first. Dustin decided that the orange colored wobbler would do the trick and would get down to the rocks in good shape, which it did as he predicted.  It wasn't long before he shouted out that he had a bite.  What he caught was amazing , I have never seen it happen before...

a freshwater clam.
What were the chances of that?

Our fishing trip had to be cut short because of a birthday party that Dustin was attending.  On our way back to the launch, with the late morning sun shining in full force, we had a chance to reflect on our bassin' trip and how really precious times like this are.

Now if I can only get him to tie into one of those landlocked salmon that are lurking in the deep holes of the lake.

I'm working on it.....