Sports

I love fishing brooks and streams (except with bears)

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My love for fishing brooks and streams started when I was a kid catching small trout in a tiny brook in the woods up the hill behind my house in Winthrop.

After we purchased our camp on Nesowadnehunk Lake on the edge of Baxter Park, I started fishing Nesowadnehunk Stream – and eventually fished the entire 23 miles of the stream to where it flows into the west branch of the Penobscot River. There are pools full of brook trout the entire length of that stream.

In some of my favorite pools, I could catch 50 nice brookies and it was not unusual for me to catch 100 in one outing. I also had lots of encounters with wildlife including a family of otters that snarled at me and chased me right out of the stream.

I also had a favorite brook in Baxter Park. Initially I could get to the spot where I liked to start fishing the brook by driving in a side road to a spot where the park had a few cabins that they rented. Eventually they took out the cabins and put up lean toos. Later they took out the lean toos and closed that area to camping. And they gated the road so you couldn’t drive in anymore.

It was a mile and a half walk to get to my starting point in the brook and I complained to the Baxter Park manager. But it didn’t take long for me to discover that all the anglers I used to see in that section of the brook were no longer fishing there. I guess they just didn’t want to walk a mile and a half. So I apologized to the park manager.

Amazingly, for all the rest of the years that I fished that section of the brook, I never saw another angler. There were lots of pools full of brook trout and in about a mile and a half, there was a huge boulder in the stream with a deep pool, and I caught some really big brookies there.

In the fall I could also catch salmon in that brook because they came up the brook out of Mattagamon Lake to spawn.

I also had many encounters with wild animals along the brook. One day as I was hiking down the brook, off to my right in the bushes I heard screeching and moaning. It was really awful. I decided a bear must be killing a moose.

The animals moved away from me in the bushes, still screeching and moaning, and around the corner where I could not see them, they crossed the brook and started up through the woods in my direction.

As the screeching and moaning got closer to me, I decided to retreat. So I headed back up the brook and went back to camp.

When we got home from camp, I went into the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and told a wildlife biologist my story. He said, “George, you did the right thing. That was mating bears.” Yikes!

Smith stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of his favorite columns “A Life Lived Outdoors” in 2014. In 2014 Smith won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state’s bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published his book “Maine Sporting Camps” and Islandport Press published he and his wife’s travel book “Take It From ME” about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.

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