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Salt Water Fishing

A salt water sports fisherman, to borrow author Kenneth Roberts' words; "has always with him the clean, salt tang of the sea, the roar of waves on the ledges, the fatalistic scrutiny of clownish seagulls and is never annoyed by mosquitoes, black flies, midges or horseflies." A description which should knock fresh water fishing into a cocked hat, but won't. Nevertheless, salt water fishing in the county can offer every member of the family some wonderful thrills whether you cast from a ledge or wharf or dangle a line from one of the charter boats that ply from Red Beach, Jonesport, Cutler or Eastport. The fish to be caught include flounder, sculpin, cod, pollock, smelt, mackerel, halibut, sea bass or "stripers" and tuna, although tuna are very rare. In fishing for flounders, we notice that the most successful fishermen use worms, either the garden or sand variety; this keeps the bait from being eaten by the sculpins.

The sport of fishing on the coast has been touched upon by Maine author Kenneth Roberts and we have excerpted his following comments from "Trending Into Maine" published by Doubleday and Company, Inc.

"Almost any fisherman would find schooling pollock an inflaming spectacle. They may be located, always, by the scores of gulls and tern that hover above them in a cloud, screaming with excitement. When a motorboat is driven toward such a cloud of gulls and allowed to coast silently beneath it, one who lies in the bow and peers straight down into the water sees countless thousands of the silvery, pointed four-inch minnows known in Maine as sand-eels, and beneath them a horde of rushing, pop-eyed pollock, their mouths wide open. When those beautiful big fish surge upward and out of water, the whole ocean seems to turn into a mass of glaring eyes and distended jaws. Around the boat the surface boils and foams; then, as suddenly as they appeared, they vanish; a few dark shapes dart panic stricken from the boat's shadow; the gulls fall silent and go winging off toward other distant birds that scream and swoop and hover.

"I have heard freshwater fishermen voice profound contempt for the pollock as a game fish; but I can't understand why. They say people don't eat them, but Izaak Walton considered the fish known to us as the black bass as one of the world's greatest game fish and it has struck me that few bass fishermen eat their fish. I couldn't, I admit, eat a barrel full of seven-pound pollock, but if I had the space I could split them and salt them, and make fish cakes out of them the following winter. If I didn't have the space, I could take them to the nearest fish market and sell its contents to the fish dealer for a matter of four or five cents a pound; so it's obvious that somebody eats pollock - which is more than can be said for tarpon.

"An even better game fish than a pollock is a mackerel; and if there is any better fighter, ounce for ounce, than that compact torpedo of silver and blue, I've never had it on the end of a line.

"Early in July, in our section of Maine, mackerel start schooling around the ledges about a mile off shore. They take almost anything in the line of an artificial fly, provided itís large and gaudy, but they seem to have a penchant for red ones, plain white ones and green-and-white ones. As the summer wears on, the mackerel schools move closer to shore, and disport themselves in the chop at the mouths of tide rivers. For some reason best known to themselves, they refuse to touch flies cast from shore or from breakwaters; but those who fish from boats can usually pick up from ten to forty fish ranging from two to three pounds apiece in a morningís or afternoonís fishing. A three pound mackerel fast to a three-and-a-half ounce split bamboo rod fights better than any grilse of the same weight, and frequently causes blase fishermen to burst into shrill whoops of admiration and pleasure.

"Less of a fighter, but finest of all Maine fish for eating purposes, is the mysterious sea bass or striped bass, which in 1935 returned to Maine tidal rivers for the first time in thirty or forty years. Where they had been in the meantime, nobody has ever found out. Whether they returned to Maine rivers to feed or to spawn, nobody could tell. Nobody knew definitely whether they struck at artificial lures because they were hungry, because they were angry, or because they were playful. Nobody had any idea what they did with themselves when they went out to sea each day on the dropping tide. Nobody knew why a certain sort of lure attracted them for a week or two, and then ceased to have any interest whatsoever for them.

"Why their tastes change so whimsically, we donít know. How long they remain constant to one lure, we donít know. When they last had a square meal, we donít know, nor do we know how long they go without food. All we know is that a baked or broiled sea bass is more delicate, more tender and more delicious than any other fish that swims in northern waters Ė better than halibut, sweeter than trout or salmon, more succulent than hounpout, cunners or bluefish. It even seems to me to be as good as Floridaís pompano or Great Lakes whitefish; and I know no higher praise."

You donít need a license to fish in salt water and youíll find youíre welcome just about anywhere you want to drop a line.

One excellent place to try your hand, meet some very friendly people and see some superb fishing village scenery is in the Jonesport-Beals area. There is a bridge to Beals Island and the lobstermen there will be glad to help you out. Donít be bashful.

Commercial Fishing

All along the coast of Washington County, where the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic Ocean lap on the rugged rock formations of picturesque harbors, stands evidence this region's heritage.

In the tiny coastal communities that dot the county, lobster traps, tools of the trade for the commercial fisherman for nearly as long as time, are piled almost as high as the house themselves.

For years the lobstermen have been plying the ocean search of the succulent Maine lobster.

The lobster may be leader but the commercial fishermen derive income from the crab, clam, quahogs, mussels and sea urchin. The popular cod, haddock, herring, pollock and flounder also add to the fishermen's take. And it doesn't stop the for income also comes from scallops, marine worms and sea moss.

A most recent development is aquaculture or fish farming -- a really big business that stretches all along the coast. You will spot from time to time clusters of floats as you look out into the bays and inlets - it's here that tens of thousands of salmon and trout are being raised.

Inland Sports Fishing

Washington County is one of the most beautiful parts of the state, yet strangely enough it is the most neglected, undeveloped and unsung. And because of this it is truly a Utopia for the sportsman, providing the best fishing and hunting by species and abundance to be found in all Maine. It is extremely doubtful that any other state can surpass it.

Situated in the far eastern part of the State it is rimmed by Canada's Province of New Brunswick on the east and by the Atlantic Ocean on the south. It sprawls over a wild, unspoiled area measuring 80 miles from north to south and 50 miles from east to west. It is a beautiful wilderness region of great pine, fir, spruce and hardwood forests, blueberry plains, the sea, and more clean wild lakes, ponds and streams than you can shake the proverbial stick at.

Fresh-water fishes to be found in great abundance include: brook trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, small mouth bass, chain pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, hornpout and sunfish. Those of the salt-water variety include: mackerel, cod, hake, haddock, halibut, smelt, striped bass, flounder, cunner, pollock, alewives, bluefin tuna and last but by no means least, the Atlantic Salmon. This barely touched downeast region is the only part of its original range in the United States where salmon salar, the Atlantic salmon, can still be found. It's the last frontier.

The salmon rivers include the Narraguagus, Dennys, Pleasant and Machias. All are easily reached and fished and are wide open to all; residents and non-residents, who hold a regular Maine fishing license. There is no leased water, no closed land and no special permits are required.

The Washington County region is very easy to get to by automobile and on very good roads. From the southern entrance to the state the fisherman and hunter takes the Interstate Highway to Bangor. At this point he has a choice of three highways into the county. He can go to Ellsworth and get onto Route 1, he can go to Brewer and take the "Airline," officially designated Route 9; or he can continue on Interstate Route 95, turn off at Howland, proceed to Lincoln and take Route 6 across the northern section of the county to Topsfield and Vanceboro.

On Route 1, 30 miles east of Ellsworth, is the town of Cherryfleld, headquarters for Atlantic salmon fishing on the Narraguagus River. Fine accommodations and guides are available if you want them.

From here over a hard-surfaced highway the fisherman can continue seeking the big silvered warriors in the rips and pools of the Dennys River at Dennysville, the Pleasant River at Columbia Falls, and the Machias River at Machias. Accommodations at all of these towns are excellent and good guides are always available.

Driving out of Dennysville on U.S. Route 1, the sportsman continues for about 50 miles to the town of Princeton. There the road spans a narrow section of a tremendous sprawl of water more than 20 miles long and in places more than five miles wide. The road divides this water almost in the middle.

It could be called by one name, it seems, but because of the many narrows connecting a series of bulges, it has several.

From west to east they are: Big Lake, Long Lake, Leweys Lake and Grand Falls Flowage, also known as Grand Falls Lake.

Here the angler who seeks slam-bang action with such-warm-water species as the small mouth bass, perch and chain pickerel, will find a paradise, and as on most down east waters, very little competition from other fishermen.

He'll find the fish in incredible numbers and of considerable size. There are no bag limits on perch and pickerel. Casting, trolling or dunking natural or artificial lures will do the trick, worms, live shiners, streamers, wobblers or what have you. You don't have to be fussy. The fish aren't.

Big Lake and the Flowage produce the best bass fishing. Taking up to a hundred bass a day on the cast fly, particularly during the spawning season in June, is not at all unusual. Big Lake is believed to be the best small mouth bass water on earth. You can't beat that! Excellent accommodations are found at sporting camps and housekeeping cabins in the Princeton area. Boats, too, and guides if you want them.

Four miles northward from Princeton on Route 1, a road turns left to a quaint little village known as Grand Lake Stream on the south shore near the outlet stream of West Grand Lake. Fishing there for landlocked salmon and lake trout, both running to good size, is excellent and throughout the season. There are several fine sporting camps and many top-flight guides.

Back on Route 1and five miles north of Princeton in the town of Waite, a road winds west for five more miles to West Musquash Lake. This large body of forest-rimmed water offers some of the very best salmon and trout fishing in the country. And excellent accommodations.

Heading north from Waite about 30 miles, the fisherman will come to the northern end of Washington County and more wonderful fishing for several species. The best of these waters are the very large East Grand Lake and Spednic Lake, closely linked together on the Canadian border. East Grand is heavily populated with large landlocked salmon, lake trout and white perch while Spednic offers salmon and never-to-be-forgotten bass fishing that is second only to that of Big Lake. Baskahegan Lake, another large water in the are a at Danforth is also a top-flight bass water. Trolling and casting with fly and spinning rods or dunking baits from anchored boats will take all four species.

Flowing out of Spednic Lake at Vanceboro is the St. Croix River which twists in ever-changing moods along the Maine-Canadian border for many miles all the way down to the city of Calais and the sea. It winds through deep forests and offers an excellent canoe trip and camping along with fabulous fishing on cast and troller lures, for trout, bass, pickerel and the ever-present yellow perch of unusual size.

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