Secluded waterways offer sportsmen’s paradise
Outdoorsmen in general tend to develop a habit of hunting certain areas and fishing specific waterways. What with the fairly rigid time constraints of work and family life, most of these cast and blast haunts tend to be fairly close to home. With so many Aroostook sportsmen using this quick outing to a nearby location theory, pressure on the urban edges and rural outskirt fishing destinations endure fairly heavy attention.
Over the last decade I’ve put on a more concentrated effort visiting and exploring secluded lakes and remote ponds throughout the North Maine woods. My reward has been some generally good fishing, and occasionally great fly fishing that angling fantasies and lifelong winter memories are made of. On top of the fishing, the solitude of a picturesque forest shrouded lake, nature’s soothing sounds and an abundance of wildlife never ceases to enthrall me.
My goal this spring was a visit to Second Musquacook Lake, a togue and brook trout reservoir over 50 miles into the woods beyond Ashland. It’s a long slow drive over rough, washboard logging roads sprinkled with sharp rocks and shale treacherous to truck and boat trailer tires. My long canoe trailer loaded with a sturdy 21-foot Scott slows drive time even more. On my last visit to the Musquacook lakes five years ago we experienced two flats on the truck and one on the trailer during the round trip.
Several of my regular fishing partners were only coolly receptive to my idea, not showing much enthusiasm for the long, bumpy ride to the second of five sister Musquacooks. A couple came right out and said that while the adventure of a new angling locale was tempting, they just didn’t want to spend extra time when they could catch fish closer to home. Mitch Wheeler and his brother Marty, of Bridgewater, were all for exploring a new fishing hole so we made plans for a mid-May outing.
As is often the case, Mother Nature holds no respect for our plans. Our fishing trip had to be postponed and rescheduled three times due to heavy rain, excessive winds, and a thunder and lightning storm with high winds on the third try. Finally, during the first week of June we managed to find a day that fit all our schedules and a tolerable weather report. Disregarding dawn temperatures in the high 30s, our trio of traveling anglers hooked up the canoe trailer and headed into the North Woods.
A quartet of Canada geese heralded our arrival at the small, rocky beach serving as a launch ramp, and with loud honking they paddled toward the opposite shoreline. It turned out that those birds, a flock of mallards and a moose feeding along the shoreline were our only company all day. It was cloudy, a mild wind stirred the water’s surface yielding a perfect trolling chop and the air temperature hovered around 60 while the lake water was at 58 degrees; perfect fishing conditions, solitude and wildlife, life was good.
The outboard motor was a bit finicky after a long winter, wheezing, gulping, gasping and dying out a couple of times before loosening up and purring along. Marty enjoyed the first strike on a gold Mooselook wobbler, boating and releasing a feisty 14-inch brookie during the first 10 minutes. Despite marking many fish on our fishfinder, the bites were sporadic during our three-hour morning, with nine strikes and five trout caught and released prior to a lunch break.
The mosquitoes, black flies, and horse flies were not bashful about biting however, but what shoreline lunch would be perfect without the aroma of OFF or Uncle Ben’s? A mild mist from an overcast sky welcomed us back on the lake about 1:30 and we trolled steadily until the mist got heavier and turned to light rain at 4:30. Our trio had changed lures regularly, tried streamer flies, altered boat speed and explored all corners of the lake but action remained mediocre. Seven fish reached the net from a dozen strikes, good, but not great; and then rising wind and heavier rain sent us packing.
We all agreed that the outing was well worth the long, bumpy drive but not just because we caught a few fish, it was the many wildlife sightings and photo opportunities that increased the enjoyment. We saw several rabbits and partridge, flocks of ducks and geese, two deer, and six moose; four in the road and two in the lake. A bald eagle was sighted and a large osprey posed at the top of a fir tree for pictures, and we stopped for a turtle larger than a hubcap that was crossing the road near a stream.
Fishing trips aren’t all about the catching, and this one offered a little bit of everything. I’d recommend any of the five Musquacook lakes to anglers seeking an out of the way sojourn. Other deep woods liquid gems that offer some solitude, wildlife and fun fishing include Upper and Lower Hudson, Pleasant Lake, Clear Lake, Island Pond or Spider Lake. If there’s one commodity Aroostook County has no lack of its lakes and ponds, all you need is the time and desire to explore these forest fishing holes. Break that close to home habit and hit the deep woods road to adventure this summer.