Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Good Day's Fishin at Katahdin Lodge

That is one very happy David R. Crews there holding up a stringer of sixteen Brook Trout caught in Hale Pond, on a good day in Moro Plantation, Maine, by Martha and Finley Clarke, Wayne and Barbara Birmingham and David (myself).

Hale Pond is a mile back into the woods behind Katahdin Lodge. There was a barely drivable dirt road going back to it, from the Lodge. The pond is a mile and a quarter long, maybe a half mile or so across. A mile and a quarter long stretch of fresh, cold water seems too large to be called a pond, but in Maine, a pond is spring fed and has an outlet, a lake has an inlet and an outlet.

Wayne, Barbara, Finley, Marty and I had spent the better part of a very nice spring day puttering around Hale Pond in Katahdin Lodge's 16 foot, aluminum fishing boat.

There was a Loon fishing for its dinner on Hale Pond the same time we were fishing for ours. We would be anchored tight and fishing, but not catching, when we'd spot the Loon making a dive. I suppose you could say what we did next was rude. We'd crank up the outboard motor and go cast our lines where the Loon had just dived down and come back up from with something fishy looking to eat in its mouth. As we headed our motorboat in the direction of the Loon, as soon as we got anywhere near where it was, the big fishin' birdie flew off to another fishing spot on the pond. Humm. Looking back on that, I also suppose you could say that the Loon knew all the good spots, so why not share that info with us humans. The Loon trick worked every time. We humans caught a few trout where the had just dived for some itself.

Wait a minute!

I can't remember who had said to go fish in the Loon's spots. We hit on about a half dozen of them. Maybe it was my Uncle Finley. If that's true, then it was his bad karma from that what caused my fish hook to catch the skin of his right temple. And not my youthful clumsiness.

Uh huh. It wasn't my fought at all!

Five good sized adults in a 16 foot fishing boat is stretching your water safety luck, anyways. We were just about at maximum capacity for the boat. It was crowded.

I was casting my rod. I had it held straight back behind me, horizontal with the surface of the pond. I thought that if the hook and sinker were near anyone, they'd say so quick. I thought I had a clear casting space, but Fin was slightly into that space. I made a mighty hard cast, and the rod jerked tight and froze in mid air, about a foot into the sweeping arch of the cast. It felt like the hook had caught on the outside edge of the little boat's gunwale--directly behind me. The boat was so crowded, that I did not bother trying to maneuver around to see where the hook was attached. So I lowered the rod backwards back down some, figuring that this would unhook it from the gunwale, then I moved the tip of the rod backwards a half a foot or so, to make sure that I was clear of the entire boat this time. And I gave it a mighty heave ho and away you go. But it jerked tight, hard and fast and froze in mid air again.

Somebody said something. I turned around and what do I see, the curved shank of the barbed hook grabbing a tight hold onto the soft, 'tented out' flesh of Finley's temple, and the barbed point sticking back out of his temple.

He was hooked good and proper like.

Surprisingly! Ol' Finley K. made nary a sound.

I started to try to take the hook out, but they all said let Wayne do it. That made sense to me. Wayne was a top-notch Registered Maine Guide. He got it out easy enough, no serious damage was done to the side of my uncle's head, and we kept on fishing.

I guess you could say I hooked the big one that day. And it was the one that didn't get away.

We had ridden back there to Hale Pond in the Lodge's Land Rover, so we could tow the boat with us. Hale Pond was our favorite hiking destination, so vehicle traffic was discouraged by never making one little improvement to the rough road to it. The road was on Lodge property.

Fin decided to leave the boat there till bear hunting season kicked off on June 1, 1969. He didn't mind if any of the locals used his boat without asking, but he did not want anybody to screw up or swipe his little outboard motor. He told me to hide the motor. So I stashed it over behind some trees and in some underbrush, stepped back towards the beached boat, and saw that it was not easy to spot the hidden outboard from there.

As we loaded our happy selves into the Land Rover, we were all practically singing songs of joy.

It was a stupendous way to spend a day.

We got about 30 yards up the road, and there was that darned outboard motor showing plain as could be over in the woods. I had stashed it well enough from anyone who was commandeering the boat for awhile, but not from anyone traveling down the road there. My Aunt Marty thought that was hilarious, and Fin and the Birminghams did too.

It was embarrassing.

I had only been living in Maine for five months, and I was raised in suburbia. I had a lot to learn yet.

I heard about that one (that outboard motor stashing screw up of mine) now and then for the rest of my time at the Lodge. Hooking my uncle wasn't what they told everyone about as much as where I hid that motor. But that's how it is when you are the youngest employee in any business.

It was a fun, bouncy ride all the way back to the Lodge.

We were all in top spirits.

Right as we started into cleaning and cooking the fish, in the Lodge's kitchen, Ol' Grayden, or was it Irving, Bates came driving into the dooryard for an evening's visit. He stopped by at the Lodge now and then to play Cribbage and tell us all some mighty tall and entertaining tales. That seventy-or-eighty-some-year-old Bates feller could keep me enthralled for hours with his stories about hunting, fishing, woodsman's adventures, family life and small town gossip as lived and loved up in that part of God's Country. And the addition of one more person made it a perfect match for the number and size of hungry human bellies to the number and size of dee' delicious, fresh fish.


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