Outdoor News

July 2017
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

Late summer offers many options in the Maine outdoors. It is also a time to prepare for the coming season. What's available to us now, coupled with the anticipation of what follows in the fall, will keep us very busy if we're to be part of it.

The July Hex hatch is a fading memory. Dog days of August lull us into lazy reverie. We lounge on the porch, waiting until evening to go out on the lake for a bucketful of perch, or to fish past sunset for smallmouth bass. Tomorrow, maybe a daybreak troll for salmon and togue. Sure. There’s plenty of fishing left. But it’s not too early to sight in a deer rifle or spend some time on the skeet range to get the cobwebs out of our shooting skills.

The anticipation of fall is tinged with a growing sense of urgency. The first August night that you need another blanket snaps you to attention. You drew a moose permit this year? Have you started scouting where you'll hunt? Are you hunting bears? Is your bait supply rounded up? Are your stands in order? Still going to practice with the bow, before deer season, like you promised yourself last year?

When the September rains come, brookies and landlocks that have sulked in deep water will show up in feeder streams as they migrate to spawn. Then, like their fall spawning colors, they'll be gone. There are fall hatches of small olive mayflies to anticipate, and the woodcock often arrive when the autumn trout fishing is at its peak. How about a New England "Cast 'n Blast" with a partridge hunt in the morning and rising trout in the afternoon?.

You didn't fix that leak in your waders yet? Better get to it. The water's gonna get cold again! Time to oil the guns, maybe tie a few flies, too. But don't take out the hunting vest yet. The dog will go nuts!

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: Maine’s Legendary Maine Guide for 2017, Don Helstrom, speaks to the Maine Professional Guide’s Association during its spring meeting in Brewer. Sharing the spotlight with Helstrom is Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock ( left) and U.S. Senator Angus King (right)

Club News

If your club or outdoor organization has news or photos that warrant publication in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, send them to: Club News, NWSJ, P.O. Box 195, W. Enfield, ME 04493, or e-mail news to: info@sportingjournal.com

Maine - Hiker Rescued

An injured Appalachian Trail hiker has been rescued from a mountain east of Greenville. At about noon today, the Maine Warden Service was dispatched to a call involving a male teenager with a broken leg. Injured was Johan Cordoba, 16, from Montreal, Canada. Cordoba was located between Third and Fourth Mountains on the Appalachian Trail in T7 R9 NWP Township. This area is approximately 15 miles east of Greenville.

Cordoba was hiking with a group of ten others to include two camp counselors with Camp Tekakwitha out of Leeds, Maine. The group was midway through their 18-day hike of Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness. Cordoba was on a downhill portion of the trail when he lost footing and fell. Several game wardens from the Greenville area contacted the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) for assistance. Together, the group responded to a trail near Third Mountain to get onto the Appalachian Trail.

After Cordoba received wilderness first aid treatment, a carry out was performed by game wardens and AMC members to a helicopter landing area near Third Mountain. A Maine Forest Service helicopter was dispatched from Old Town to short haul Cordoba to an awaiting ambulance. Cordoba was transported to C.A. Dean Hospital in Greenville for medical evaluation and treatment.

Maine-Don Helstrom, Jr. Named Legendary Maine Guide
(Pictured Above)

Don Helstrom, Jr. of Medway was honored with this year’s Wiggie Robinson Legendary Maine Guide Award by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at the annual Maine Professional Guides Association Banquet in April.. “ I have known Don for 20 years and this award is a good choice,” commented Deputy Commissioner, Tim Peabody.

Don has been a registered Maine Guide for 56 years and has had a leadership role in the Maine Professional Guides Association since its inception in 1979. Over the years, Don has guided thousands of clients in the Maine woods on a wide variety of adventures. Don has stressed safety to all his hunters, has promoted youth hunting for years, and always is a strong supporter of Maine’s outdoor heritage. Don grew up in the Millinocket area and has shared the passion for the outdoors that Wiggie Robinson embodied.

Don is the ninth recipient of this award that is named in honor of Wiggie Robinson, a master Maine Guide who was an integral part of the Maine guides board and longtime supporter of IFW. In order to be eligible for the Wiggie Robinson Legendary Guide Award, nominees must have actively been guiding 10 of the last 20 years, be a law abiding citizen, volunteer for community service, and be active on boards or committees that promote the importance of Maine’s outdoor resources.

George Perry of Orono, Maine nominated Don for this award and felt that Don was deserving of this award as he has devoted his adult life to promoting outdoor activities in Maine along with his expertise and guidance in the outdoors.

Maine - Wardens Locate Missing Woman

Game warden K9 team locates missing 84-year-old Alna woman. At approximately 6:00 p.m., June 27, the Maine Warden Service received a call from Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department requesting assistance with locating Helen Smith from Alna. Smith is believed to have Dementia and was overdue for her insulin for Diabetes. She was last seen at her residence on Rabbit Path Road at about 1:00 PM yesterday.

Thunderstorms and periods of heavy rain were moving through the area. Smith was thought to be wearing only a t-shirt and capris pants. As luck would have it, several members of the Maine Warden Service K9 Team were conducting night training when the call came in. Within an hour, four game warden K9 teams arrived on scene to assist with locating Smith. The K9 teams developed a search plan where Game Warden Dave Chabot attempted a track with his black lab, K9 Ruby. The three remaining teams began air scent deployments in areas across from Smith’s residence.

Within 30 minutes and just prior to dark, Game Warden Dave Chabot and K9 Ruby completed a successful track of Smith and located her approximately four tenths of a mile in the woods behind her residence. K9 Ruby tracked Smith for nearly a mile, looping through the woods prior to locating her. Helen Smith was cold and wet from the rain but otherwise in good health. She was walked out of the woods and transported by a Maine Warden Service side-by-side ATV back to her residence where she was evaluated by medical personnel.

Maine - Wardens Recover Bodies

The Maine Warden Service Dive Team recovered the body of Mark Chambers from Square Lake in early July.. The eleven-day recovery effort came to a close at 5:50 PM when divers located Chambers body using side scan sonar. Chambers was recovered in 48 feet of water about one half mile south of where Eric Sherwood’s body was recovered on June 23. A total of 1400 acres were searched in an area one mile wide and 2.5 miles long.

Chambers was the last person missing from a party of four fishermen who had capsized in a 12-foot boat back on June 13. Those men were Charles Guimond, 23, from Fort Fairfield, who drifted to shore on Square Lake and was found alive at daybreak on June 14 by Warden Service Pilot Gary Dumond. Later that afternoon, Pilot Dumond spotted the body of Martin Chambers, 56, also from Fort Fairfield. Eric Sherwood, 43, from Fort Fairfield was recovered on June 23.

Maine - IFW Saves Arctic Charr

After Arctic charr became perilously close to disappearing from one of the last remaining ponds in Maine, actions by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have restored the charr population in Big Reed Pond in northern Piscataquis county. This was confirmed last week by IFW fisheries biologists who documented wild, naturally-reproducing Arctic charr at Big Reed Pond.

“Arctic charr are unique to Maine in the continental United States. The efforts of IFW fisheries staff and their partners have crafted a success story we all are proud of,” said IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock.

Arctic charr are found in only 14 waters in Maine. They prefer deep, cold lakes that lie at high elevation and have few other competing species. An illegal introduction of rainbow smelt at Big Reed Pond upset that delicate balance and threatened the charr population. While native to the state, smelt are invasive to many waters where they do not occur naturally and if illegally introduced can wreak havoc on the natural ecosystem.

“At Big Reed, shortly after smelt were illegally introduced, the charr population reached a critically low level,” said Frank Frost, the IFW fisheries biologist who oversaw the Big Reed charr restoration project.

Knowing extraordinary measures were needed to protect the charr, beginning in 2007, IFW fisheries biologists began an intensive effort to capture some of the remaining live charr. For the next four years, biologists used nets to capture and transfer 14 charr from Big Reed Pond to the Mountain Springs Trout Farm in Frenchville, Maine. These fourteen charr became the breeding stock utilized to restore the unique genetic population of charr to Big Reed Pond.

However, before Big Reed could be restocked with native charr fingerlings, the smelt had to be removed.

IFW staff, along with a group of partners, reclaimed the pond with rotenone in October 2010, eliminating the competing smelt population. Rotenone is a plant-based product that affects the ability of fish to use oxygen in the water and it breaks down rapidly. Reclamation is a long-time fishery management practice employed around the country that is used sparingly in Maine, and only in waters that meet specific criteria. Maine IFW uses this tool to restore native brook trout and charr populations, and to eradicate invasive threats. The Department places a priority on the conservation and protection of native and wild fisheries.

Arctic Charr, bred from the remaining 14 charr that were transferred to Mountain Springs Trout Farm, were first stocked in Big Reed starting in June 2011 and continued through June 2013. Last week, IFW biologists confirmed that charr are indeed spawning, identifying three different age classes through the magnified examination of captured charr fish scales, which confirmed three successful spawning seasons in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

“The natural reproduction of young charr within Big Reed itself, with no reliance on hatchery-born fish, bodes well for the long-term survival of this unique Maine resource,” said Frost.

Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife partnered with The Nature Conservancy, The Bradford Camps, Mountain Springs Trout Farm, and The University of Maine to complete the project. The Presque Isle High School Aquaculture Facility and the Maine Army Aviation Support facility in Bangor provided significant volunteer assistance. The Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund provided financial support in three separate grants to help support the hatchery efforts. US Fish and Wildlife Service Sportfish Restoration Funds were critical to this restoration project, as well as most other freshwater fisheries management and conservation efforts by the MDIFW.

“This project had an amazing array of partners. Without the support of each of them, successful restoration of charr at Big Reed would not have been possible,” said Frost.

Big Reed Pond has a surface area of 90 acres, maximum water depth of 53 feet, and mean depth of 21 feet, making it one of the shallowest and smallest Arctic charr waters in Maine. Big Reed Pond is located in northern Piscataquis County, about three miles north of the Pinkham Road. The Pond is surrounded by property owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) much of which has never been harvested for timber products and is classified by TNC as an ecological forest reserve. Nearly the entire watershed of Big Reed Pond lies within this property that totals 4,583 acres. Access to the Pond is either by floatplane or a hiking trail in excess of 1 mile.

Arctic charr are closely related to Maine’s well-known brook trout and lake trout. Maine’s charr are members of a geographically isolated group that occur in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick as well as the Northeast U.S. There are 325 populations in this so-called Acadian group of Arctic charr and together they are recognized as a distinct sub species Salvelinus alpinus oquassa. Fourteen populations reside in Maine.

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