Wintertime on the Allagash
By Matt Laroche

A winter excursion to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) can be a truly rewarding experience. Ice fishermen and winter campers that visit the waterway will encounter sights and sounds that are unique to a wintertime trip.

I enjoy going out on the lake on a cold winter night to look at the stars Ė they are so much brighter away from the lights of civilization, it makes me wonder about what might be out there. The sound of the ice rumbling as it expands and moves is something you can only experience in the winter.

Bald eagles are a common sight along the waterway during the winter and summer. They cruise the lakes looking for chub that have been caught and thrown up on the ice to die. It is pretty exciting to have an eagle swoop down and grab a fish within a few yards of your ice fishing traps. Coyotes also travel the lakes during the winter looking for these same fish to eat. They are more often heard howling in the evening than seen during the day.

A nice warm fire on a cold winter day adds to the overall enjoyment of time spent out on the lake. You can boil water for a hot drink or roast a hot dog on a stick with an open fire. If the fishing is slow, tending the fire occupies your time. Cooking and warming fires are allowed in the fireplaces at authorized campsites or anywhere on the ice, below the high-water mark.

If you are a fisherman, the AWW has some of the best fishing for native brook trout, togue, and whitefish in the lower 48 states. It is so exciting to have the flag go up on your tip-up and when you look down the hole, you see the reel spinning wildly. It might just be the fish of a lifetime!

If you donít have a snowmobile, good fishing is within walking distance of the Chamberlain Bridge parking lot, the snowmobile trail at the Arm of Chamberlain, or the Ziegler snowmobile trail.

The AWW provides a plowed parking area and winter campground at Chamberlain Bridge. Drinking water and vault privies are provided at the parking lot. There are groomed snowmobile trails to Chamberlain and Round Pond/Telos Lakes. Camping fees are required for overnight stays in the waterway, payable at the ranger station.

Winter campers that desire to get away from other people, the noise of snowmobiles, and power augers should visit the smaller headwater lakes of the waterway, that are not open to ice fishing. There is very little use on Umsaskis and Long Lakes during the winter. If you want a remote wilderness winter camping trip, I suggest visiting one of these lakes.

Umsaskis and Long Lakes can be access by using the American Realty Road, about 60 miles due west of Ashland, Maine. Be careful, the Realty Road is a major logging road. Trucks have the Right-of-way and you should park your vehicle well off the travel surface of the road, you might need to shovel a parking spot for your car or truck. Most of the logging truck traffic takes place Monday through Thursday, there is much less traffic on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

If you would rather spend the night in a nice warm log cabin on the shore of Chamberlain Lake, contact Nugentís camps at: www.nugentscamps.com . Other sporting camps in the Allagash area are open during the winter- visit the Maine Sporting Camp Association website at: www.mainesportingcamps.com for a complete listing of area camps.

First time visitors should watch the winter segment of the AWW video series available at the YouTube link from the waterway homepage: www.maine.gov/allagash . If you still have questions after you have watched the video, give me a call at: 207-695-3721 x4.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is managed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestryís Bureau of Parks and Lands.

For information packet or general information on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, go to: www.maine.gov/allagash or call 207-941-4014; or write to the Bureau of Parks and Public Lands, 106 Hogan Road, Bangor, ME 04401.


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