Vacationing in Maine
Attention Gerry Gamel
Gerry, I have been contemplating for sometime the act of closing my book of memories to the Mason County News and today have made the decision that at the age of 98 I no longer have the will or the energy to continue my weekly columns. Therefore the attached article will be the last I will send.
I want to thank you for publishing my writings for the past three years and I hope they were enjoyed by more than the seven people who were thoughtful and kind enough to tell me so by using my e-mail address.
Going all the way to Maine is one hell of a long trip just to go fishing. Of course I tell my wife that it is about time for us to visit her sister, who just happens to live on the shoreline of one of the prettiest little lakes I have ever seen.
The name of the lake is Nicatous, an Indian name pronounced Nick-uh-tawous, and is the headwater of the Pasadumkaeg River (pronounced Pass-a-dum-keg). To me the lake is a thing of beauty. Nestled deep within a forest some 14 miles from civilization it is more than 10 miles long and contains 15 or more islands. This area was once open to the sea for it now contains salmon which were land locked into these waters when the lake was formed.
Each island as well as the shoreline of the lake is bordered with large stones which looks as if they had been placed there by the children of a gigantic race of people who may have lived there eons ago. (I say this because of the fact that as a child I bordered my play fortresses and roadways with stones of all descriptions.)
In late 1870’s the lake islands belonged to the government and in those days people were allowed to buy an island (this practice has been abandoned). Several of the larger islands have been family owned for over 100 years however most of them are too small to live on but each is a thing of beauty when viewed from a distance.
Scattered along the foot of the lake are homes owned by the well to do from Massachusetts and other nearby states. Utility owned electric power has not yet reached this lake, therefore private homes and sporting camps located along the shore desiring electricity must provide their own generating equipment.
On my first visits during the early 1970’s we caught our bait (minnows) just below the dam which lets overflow water into the Pasadumkaeg River. By throwing canned dog food into the water hundreds of minnows would converge in that area and all we had to do was dip a net into the water and catch all of the bait we needed.
I learned that the natives of Maine had developed a method of attaching a minnow to a hook that made it next to impossible for a bass to get off without getting caught. I also learned that one had to give a bass time to fondle the bait and turn it over in it’s mouth before attempting to jerk the line and set the hook.
My instructor kept telling me to be patient and not jerk the line as soon as I my cork went under and I felt a tug. “You can’t hoss them in as you do in Texas” he explained, “give the bass time to swallow the hook.”
I tried to follow his advice but being accustomed to Texas ways I would start “hossing” it in too soon and as a result the bass would hold on to the bait until it reached the boat then it would spit the bait out at me as if to say “take that you damned Texan.”
I also learned that fishing in Maine was exactly the same as in Texas in that there were days when the fish would bite and days when they would not. I have been in boats with equipment that let you see all of the fish underneath the boat and one could drop his bait right into the middle of a school of fish and they would pay no attention.
On other days it seemed that they (here I am referring to a fish they called white perch) would bite your finger if you stuck it into the water. When you run into a school of these rascals and they are biting.....it is fun, fun,fun.
Just as soon as your bait hits the water you have a fish.I have been out in a boat by myself on one of those days and I’ll swear to you that I have caught fish on a unbaited hook hanging over the edge of the boat while I was removing a fish from my other line.
Casting with artificial bait was great sport especially when running into a bunch of pickerel hanging out in shallow coves. Looking into that clear water and seeing nothing but moss hanging to the bottom of the lake I soon found that they hid out in the moss and as soon as that bait came by they would attack it with great fervor.
Most of my time was spent in fishing for white perch and pickerel for I decided that the bass were smarter than I and it was too slow and too much trouble to troll for the land locked salmon.
Winters on this area is intensely cold and the lake freezes over to a depth that allows traffic for ice fishermen and provides ten miles of unobstructed snow for snowmobile activities.
During the summer months Cranberries, red raspberries and strawberries are in abundance in certain areas and blueberries are plentiful on an island called “Blueberry Island.” Thus berry picking too adds it’s appeal to this lake as a vacation spot.
Aside from the fishing and berry picking the atmosphere from being deep in the woods and the odors emanating from the forest primeval tend to promote an exhilarating feeling within one’s soul, a feeling that makes one wonder....wonder why the hell am I living in Texas when all of this is up here in Maine.
Footnote: Then I look at some of their wintertime pictures with snow up to the rooftops and I understand.