If you take time off from work weeks in advance in order to go on an annual fishing trip, it’s hard to back down when the weatherman says it’s going to be wet. Forecasts of heavy rain and strong wind last Saturday and Sunday left me considering my options for this weekend: either sit at home indoors or camping out in the rugged Maine wilderness.
Saturday morning my girlfriend Kim and I arrived at the shores of Lower Wilson Pond in Greenville. (DeLorme Map 41, D-3). Surprisingly close to the south-end of Moosehead Lake, this spot is easy to access and provides a great opportunity for anglers statewide to fish for their favorite cold-water species.
The rain picked up slightly as we loaded the boat with all our gear and readied ourselves to push off from land. At this point the wind was steady, but mild enough so that I was eager to get onto the water before it became any worse. The campsite wasn’t much more than a mile away, but we’d have to face the elements head-on in order to get there. Though it was a soggy trip, we made it just in time to pitch the tent and hang a tarp above the cooking/lounging area before the heavy rain and crippling winds arrived. Eventually, it got even worse, so Kimmy and I decided that we’d better use the rest of my tarps in order to construct a weather-proof fort.
We never managed to go fishing that day, as we realized dry clothes were in short supply and a trek in the boat would claim the last of them. We made due with cribbage and cocktails for the rest of the evening and simply made the most of it.
Sleeping-in wasn’t laziness on our part that next morning, but more a method of survival, as Kimmy and I listened to the rain that pounded against our tent and the gusts of wind that ripped through our campsite. Eventually, the two of us crawled out in order to face the weather. Assuming the weather wasn’t about to become any better, I made an executive decision to go fishing while we still had a fighting chance.
The wind was hard to steer against, but Kimmy and I fished with an optimistic four lines to increase our chances at landing a fish. It didn’t take long for Kimmy to snag onto a 13-inch salmon with her new purple Rapala lure that we had purchased the previous morning. She had to not only reel the energetic fish in, but keep a sea-gull from claiming it, which hovered over the surface of the water behind the boat, looking for an opportunity to snag the fish. Though I was excited to be finally into the fish, the wind became increasingly difficult to navigate without tangling lines, so we retreated back to our shoreline refuge.
It continued to rain steadily that day, though there was an hour-long period when it ceased to pour, which afforded Kimmy and I the luxury of hanging up some of our wet clothes to “dry” in the calm breeze. At one point, a hummingbird ventured into the center of our campsite and took particular interest in Kimmy’s shoes which were on a rack up-side down in order to dry. The bottom of her shoes displayed six fluorescent pink dots the size of quarters, and the hummingbird studied them thoroughly before buzzing on. As we sat underneath the tarps on land, I could hear my boat rocking on the shoreline, surely one sad skiff.
As the day wore on and there were no breaks in the weather, Kimmy and I ventured out to find a few fallen cedars which I figured would be our best shot at finding decent firewood. After locating a couple, I cut them with a saw and freed them from their entanglement. Later we would have the luxury of a small fire to dry our clothes and bring some warmth back into our bones.
That night, I awoke to what seemed like a hurricane going on outside of our tent. The tarp that was strung up overhead was really being put to the test, as the wind yanked it back and forth violently and fluttered loose edges so loudly that it was hard to fall back asleep. To be caught inside of a tent during a storm is quite an experience, and one you’ll not likely forget.
The wind continued into the morning, but the dark clouds slowly faded, carrying the dreary rain away with them. Kimmy and I put up a clothesline and hung our sleeping bags and damp clothes to dry. Though the wind was stronger than it had been all weekend, the two of us didn’t want to waste Memorial Day morning on the shore, so we loaded up the boat and went out for a quick fish before breakfast. I steered over to the spot where Kimmy had caught her salmon the day before, and within the first couple passes, I got an intense strike on my lead line, which was two and a half colors deep with a gold-plated Mooselook Wobbler at the end. After setting the hook and playing the fish for a few long minutes, I was finally able get it within sight behind the back of the boat.
The swimming figure of a large fish loomed underneath the surface. Thinking that it might be a giant brook trout, I asked Kimmy to hand me the net. After scooping up the fish I pulled it into the boat and then pulled the net away to reveal what I had caught. A vast amount of yellow spot radiated from the surface of the fish’s skin, but no red ones, and a deeply forked tail whipped back and forth in my hands: a lake trout! It wasn’t the biggest togue I had ever caught, but it was a challenge to reel in and a pleasure to release back into the water. Maybe I’ll catch the fish again one day after it has had the chance to put on a few pounds.
Back at camp, Kimmy and I finally made preparations to leave the campsite. The wind had picked back up, raising anxiety about the choppy ride back. We decided to take the tent and tarps down, as well as pack the rest of our gear in the boat so that we were ready to ship-off immediately if we noticed the weather calming down. When we noticed there weren’t as many white-caps showing on the lake, the two of us hopped in the boat and made our trek back to the boat launch.
There were times when the cold and wet wasn’t fun, but all-in-all we had a great time; after all, we effectively managed to do things we are both passionate for-spending time in the Maine woods and fishing its magnificent waterways. If any readers out there are contemplating future camping destinations, I would say that Lower Wilson Pond is worth a shot, especially due to its accessibility and diverse angling opportunities.
Before I sign-off I’d like to offer a special “thank you” to all of the brave people who serve, or have served, this country of ours.