Fresh air fun

4 mins read
Setting up at dawn on West Grand Lake for a day of ice fishing.

Many people choose to live in Maine for the access to great outdoor activities. In fact, there can be so much to do and enjoy in the outdoors that we can only do so much with the free time we are allotted. I have been asked to do some outdoor stories for the Daily Bulldog, and my plan is to highlight the adventures and people that make living in the Pine Tree State unique, interesting, and invigorating. I hope to do this by telling some of my own stories, sharing descriptive photos and interviewing people that may be of interest to readers of the DB. My goal is to take advantage of the season at hand and provide people with motivation to “get out” and experience all that the Maine outdoors has to offer.

Morning fog over Flagstaff lake hazes the view of the Bigelow Range.

Maine winters can be either long and boring, or fresh and invigorating, depending on, well, your attitude and approach towards them. Snowmobiling and ice fishing are two sports that can either stand alone or be used in conjunction with each other to make the experience better.

Snowmobiling in Maine is both popular and an economic boom to many Maine towns and regions, particularly Northern and Western Maine. A recent study by the University of Maine said snowmobiling generated $459 million in direct spending to the Maine economy and supported 2,279 jobs during the 2018/2019 season. People from away flock to Maine for the miles and miles of trails available and for the usually reliable snowpack. A network of snowmobile clubs maintains thousands of miles of trails to some of the most remote and scenic areas of Maine. While out of staters tend to use the well-known and popular ITS trails, Mainers in the know flock to the lesser known club trails and side trails to destinations like scenic views and remote lakes and rivers.

Scott Harmon handles a nice Landlocked Salmon before releasing it back into the cold waters of West Grand Lake.

Ice fishing is a great family sport, and whether you choose to target trout and salmon for sport and table fare, or perch, bass, pickerel and pike for guaranteed action, it can be a great way to get some fresh air and activity and enjoy the camaraderie of family and friends.

For the truly adventurous, combining snowmobiling and ice fishing to search out quality remote fishing opportunities can be high level excitement and create the experiences that make for lifetime memories. One such trip has become an annual adventure for me and my two buds Jim and Scott. We have been snowmobiling into West Grand Lake from Rt 6 in Topsfield, a 25-mile round trip, for about 20 years. The dynamics of this trip changed a couple years ago when Jim acquired a lot and built a camp near West Grand. We now have a destination to stay overnight. The fishing has been at times extraordinary and at times quite ordinary, but we always manage a few trout and salmon, and the adventure never fails to disappoint. I usually leave my home in New Sharon around 4 a.m., and we are fishing by mid-day. Sometimes our snowmobile, tote and dogsled train resemble the Beverly Hillbillies of Washington County, but we are never lacking for the essentials and gear to pull it off.

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