As a Maine Guide, and a native Mainer, I learned long ago that you don’t just give away good fishing spots. I also know there are about a billion Mud Ponds in the state of Maine. So when someone asks me where the fish are biting I always say they’re biting at “Mud Pond.”
This is a story about a remote hike, paddle, portage, fishing, and bushwhacking trip that was nothing short of miserable, and also glorious.
My son Tyler is the real writer. He has an adventure blog at: www.livindeliberately.com I’m sure he got his writing talent from his mother, it’s a lot better than mine. He’s a grown man with a real job in Vermont. Like me he’d rather wander the ridges and mountain tops than be inside. Also like me he has responsibilities and has made commitments that he must honor.
He came home for the Memorial Day Weekend. I sensed that he was a little worn out from the grind that is life and I knew I was. I hatched the idea that we’d have an epic adventure to a remote trout pond far from the reaches of man. I didn’t account for the blackflies and mosquitos… My bad.
It started off with a two and a half mile hike to the stashed canoe on “Mud Lake.” She was right where we left her this winter. Nobody was going to take her, she was well guarded by at least 10 million black flies. After I inhaled my yearly intake of fly based protein we were in the water paddling like we could hear banjos in an effort to leave the cloud of insects behind us. We succeeded with the help of a strong headwind. Normally when one paddles a headwind is a curse. Not today! It was a blessing, the mosquito Air Force returned to their home base. I think they were able to radio ahead though.
After a mile paddle we hit the pull out point. The portage was about a 1/2 a mile up hill. “Portage” for those that don’t know, is a fancy word for carrying your canoe upside down on your shoulders while you nearly suffocate yourself with your head inside. Suffocation would have been a welcome relief from the massive amounts of blackflies that poured into the upturned canoe. The buzzing inside the canoe was only matched by the loud thuds amplified by the metal canoe when the trail turned to avoid a tree but we kept going straight to impact said tree. Every once in a while we would set the canoe down, drink some water with black flies mixed in, and make inaccurate guesses as to how far away “Mud Pond” was.
We finally made it. Being at a higher elevation we got an intermittent breeze. When it blew we were given a break from the flies. We got geared up to fish, ate our ham sandwiches almost free of flies, and slipped the canoe into the remote “Mud Pond.” I sure hoped it would be filled with native, never been touched by man, brook trout.
It was about noon, and I was tossing a sinking golden stone, my son was throwing a floating Royal Coachman. On his first cast, and on almost every other cast, he caught a fish. I quickly dug out my dry fly box in search of a Royal Coachman, I didn’t have any. I tied on an Adams, it turned out the fish liked those too! If I had to guess we caught over 100 brookies in an hour and a half. If we left a fly dangling in the water at the side of the canoe while we measured a fish, or just took a break, a brookie would come up and take it. It was nothing short of amazing. All the fish were in that frying pan perfect 8-10 inch range. I know there were bigger fish to be had we just couldn’t get to them. I couldn’t tell you if there were any blackflies around. I was too busy to notice.
I made the decision to leave the canoe there and hike back to the truck over the ridge. We stashed the canoe on the eastern shore of “Mud Pond,” headed out with our limit, and our blackfly friends providing us an escort. I had hunted the area before and thought I could hit an old logging road that would make walking easier. I did, but it took me awhile to find it. Fun fact; bugs can’t bite if you are scraping your skin off with brush for a mile. At one point Tyler broke out in hysterical laughter. He said, “this is the most fun I’ve had being miserable in a while.” I had to agree. I finally hit the tote road and we cruised the last mile and a half to the truck. The blackflies came too.
We made it back to camp for Happy Hour. After cleaning the fish we bored his mother with stories of the miserable fun we had. We left the next day. Tyler went back to Vermont, I went back to work. I texted him from my office, I’m sure he was in his. I said, “man I wish I was fishing that pond again.” He said, “that was seriously awesome.” Neither one of us mentioned the blackflies. Trips like that, doing something completely outside of what most will do for a few minutes of living in the moment are worth the effort. The outcome is more than a sack full of clean fish, it’s also a clean soul… and some bug bites.