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Ice is Nice

April 5, 2010

– Easter weekend is in the books, and with it my first weekend of fly fishing. While my trip home did not go exactly as planned (like it ever does!) I can pull some positive points from the mountains of failure that men of lesser stature might focus on.

Almost on cue, the Fish and Saint John rivers rose almost two feet literally while I was driving north on Friday afternoon. The rivers and lakes of the north Maine Woods decided this would be a good weekend to break apart, flooding the Saint John with ice and making conditions dangerous throughout the region. The Fish River continues to rise even as I write this, spoiling any chances of a successful outing until the waters AT LEAST clears up a bit. Cross your fingers!

Friday evening saw a reunion of great minds, as I got together with most of the fellas from “Team Chaos” to throw back a few adult beverages in celebration of another successful week in the trenches. Good buddy Jon Morin turned 21 on Thursday (an event I regrettably missed) so he chose to turn in early that evening, an understandable and wise decision for the young stallion. Nevertheless, it was great to be able to catch up with the crew after about a month away from home. Good friends are hard to find these days, and I’m extremely fortunate to have my fair share.

Running the Fish River in April-Loaded with LLBean Fly Rods-Dodging ice and fighting the current. It's a Mainer thing.

Saturday morning I arose with the sun and headed over to Doris’s Cafe with my father for the best home cooked breakfast in town. After some Spring cleaning and a quick trip to the shop to drop off our outboard motor for a tune up, I shifted my focus to fishing-Finally!

The sky was a clear blue and the wind was but a whisper on what seemed like a beautiful summer day. 75 degrees on Easter weekend is certainly a pleasant surprise, and I wasn’t about to spend the day indoors. I gathered the essentials and rode off into town to meet up with Mr. grand-master Muskie himself, Derplo. After a little flip-flopping because we’re idiots we decided to chance the running ice on the Saint John to make a quick run up into the lower Fish River. We were going Muskie Fishing!

When we arrived at the boat landing we discovered that the rising waters had receded during the evening, leaving three strategically placed ice chunks in front of the boat landing. Not to be outdone, Derplo dug a chain out and put his Chevy to work, quickly clearing a space just large enough to squeeze his square stern Scott Canoe. The boat landing located on the Saint John is a stones throw from the mouth of the Fish River, so it would be a short run through ice laden waters before we reached “the safe zone.” Luckily, the Fish was pushing some serious water and the current actually worked to our advantage, pushing most of the ice on the Saint John away from the shore and clearing us a path just large enough to more safely navigate the mine field.

Derplo's Chevy doing some heavy lifting! The ice running on the Saint John River.

Derplo navigating the lower fish river, Ice running on the Saint John in the background.

After a quick trip we finally wet our lines for the first time all season. My weapon of choice? The new L.L.Bean Silver Ghost 10wt fly rod and a #4 Shearwater reel. What a beauty! Loaded with an intermediate sink Airflo 40+ fly line, I was ready for action and shaking with excitement as I made my first cast. In no time at all I was launching some serious line and strategically placing Simon Graham’s Muskie flies in fishy looking pockets and dead water pools. My testing is nowhere near complete, but first impressions of this setup were extremely exciting and much more favorable than I could have ever expected.

LLBean Ultimate Muskie Setup: 10wt Silver Ghost-#4 Shearwater Reel-Airflo 40+ 10wt intermediate sink distance line.

Gardner fishing, Derplo obviously pumped to be on the water!

Derplo and I ran the Fish River all the way up to my house, picking up another Muskie guru on the way, Mr. Eric Gardner. The three of us threw dozens of different patterns (flies in my case, gear for the other slubs) but the “chocolate milk” looking river yielded no strikes to speak of. The rushing water provided a few nervous thrills, but it was safety first on this season-opening expedition. We took turns swapping stories and soaking up the sun for almost three hours before finally securing the vessel and cruising back to port. While I was disappointed that no fish were landed, I was quickly reminded that even in prime conditions Muskie fishing can be a real b*tch. If anything at least I can be excited that I was able to cast away the early season cobwebs and get my feet wet with a more powerful Muskie setup. There is one thing for sure – It aint’ your momma’s trout rod!

Round 2-Next weekend!

Tight Lines,


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeremiah permalink
    April 6, 2010 6:39 pm

    Should be fishing in Montana 🙂 Rainbows are moving in the tribs to spawn here and are stacked up in the pools, making for some fast fishing.
    Looks like you guys had a good time anyway. I’m anxious to see some muskie pics this spring. Muskie on a fly rod…….the ultimate challenge!
    Keep them below the falls though!

  2. April 6, 2010 4:17 am

    Great post again Ben…just wish I could write about a fishing trip or two….but still the sea is 35mm thick with ice.Uuuuugh! when will it end this winter?

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