Skunked Again: Johnson Pond brookies

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Fishing is fun, but it isn’t always easy. Often, you can travel a mile down the road to your favorite trout hole just off the beaten path; other times, planning and commitment comes in to play.

Fishing the Allagash Wilderness certainly fits in to the latter category. The trip up north can be a hassle with the whole process of getting time off from work, attempting to make the significant other understand, and packing up the truck (with an extra t-shirt and some sunscreen). But it’s well worth it. Then, the only thing that keeps you from the beautiful green outdoors is a quick stop at Hannafords to pick up some meats and beverages.

I went up to the Allagash July 10th to stay at Johnson Pond (DeLorme M55, D-3) as well as to search nearby water bodies for blue-back trout. We tried our chances at Wadleigh Pond for these mysterious creatures, but found it hard leave Johnson when we saw what was in store for us.

There were six of us in all, two crews of three eager fishermen in each boat. The fish never even saw it coming. Jared, Tucker, and I pushed off in our boat at the crack of dawn-ish Friday morning. Probably about 10 a.m. After the first 15 minutes, however, Jared gave what can only be described as the fisherman’s “O” face, as he exclaimed “Oh!” corresponding to both strikes on his lure. He eventually pulled up an 18″ brookie. The fact that Jared was able to get a bite in-between prime fishing times was encouraging to the rest of us. He had been fishing the top few feet of water with a Rapala, so my brother and I reeled in our leadlines until only a couple of colors stretched behind the boat.

Jared, with the best catch of the day. (all photos by Sam Hill)

Jared, a long-time friend of both Tucker and I, originally wanted to come up North to fish Johnson Pond in order to have another chance at a toag he lost a couple years back while jigging. As a result, this Johnson Pond adventure included a multitude of angling strategies. Not only did we troll every inch of shore from different depths out, but every time the pond grew calm and the waves diminished, we attempted jigging our polished lures along the bottom of deep-holes. The jigging was fruitless, but it was an awesome sight to see the pond go still and turn in to a perfect mirror. The trolling, however, led us to some nice trout.

We went in happy that first day as the sun started to shrink behind the enormous pines of the Allagash Wilderness that rose up all around us. Jared steered the bow of his boat towards a dinner we needed to cook and a fire that required rekindling. Our fish count wasn’t bad. Jared caught an additional nice trout and Tucker must have brought six nice brookies in to the boat. I hauled in only one that first day, a speckled brook trout no more than 11″. Not a lunker, but it was a good fight and the skunk I had going was now off. The other boat also proved to do well for itself. Sean brought up a nice 16″ brookie and quickly put it next to Jared’s on the Coleman grill.

The Allagash trip has become an annual tradition that brings a handful of guys together to enjoy the spoils one can find there. First, there is the endless fishing. When fishing is truly one of your passions, few things are more rewarding then being able to sit back in a boat seat with a rod in your hands and a cooler at your feet. Second, there is the relaxation. I feel that the senses can never fully rest with the hustle-bustle of traffic, hundreds of people, and infinite amounts of electronics and noises. The clamor of everyday life can be overwhelming. I imagine it’s good to remove yourself from time to time. In the Allagash, sometimes even the birds stop singing in order to take a look around. Now that’s silence: when only the wind can be heard rustling the branches. The third and perhaps most important part of the trip, however, is what can be coined as the get-away period. Certain things in life can get pretty demanding and stressful. Jobs for example. If one can get the time off and everything goes smoothly, a trip to the Allagash can make for a very healthy break.

Nick with two of Maine’s favorite delicacies.

If anyone plans on taking a peek at the Allagash Wilderness soon (and you certainly should!), I would not recommend the Johnson Pond campsite due to its present state and condition. Your money can be better spent on another campsite. Perhaps by next year the campground on Johnson Pond will be tended on and cleaned up. A large storm has laid waste to some of the old-growth on the island, and the giant dead trees lay scattered about like pick-up sticks. Paths like the one from the boat to the campsite are almost completely obstructed.

Although the dry branches found on these trees worked well as firewood, don’t expect there to be much left. The outhouse is also in sketchy condition. And when I say outhouse, I mean an unsheltered box thrown in the middle of some thickets. There is no perceivable path to it, and each of us there had our own theory going about how to get to it. I made a path through the thickets, Maine deer-hunting style. As if the tremendous storm was trying to be funny, a tree almost a foot and a half in diameter rested on top of the box with broken branches everywhere. It’s not every day you have to bring a saw to the bathroom.

The trees strewn all across the place can only be of so much inconvenience; they become easy to work around after a while. Besides, if you’re out fishing most of the day, who cares about the interior design of the site on shore? Although this might not be the best spot for a family trip or romantic get-away, it proved to be a great campsite for the six of us. It’s not about how many roots you sleep on that night; it’s about how many fish you’ll catch the next morning! Since we all caught fish we were proud of (my biggest was a fat 16″ brookie caught the second day) we left pleased with the spot we had decided on. After all, location, location, Location! Happy fishin’

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