A Spring Fishing Tradition
By Matt Laroche

My brother, Mark and I have taken an early June fishing trip together for 39 consecutive years. This year will be the 40th anniversary of our first fishing trip to the Northwoods of Maine.

The year was 1975, and I had just finished my first year at the University of Maine. An opportunity became available for four students in the College of Agricultural Resource Economics to intern with North Maine Woods (NM Woods). Interviews were held, and they ended up hiring five students for the summer and fall. John Dean and I were assigned to Allagash Checkpoint in the Town of Allagash.

Mark and I grew-up fishing around our home town of Lisbon Falls, Maine. We would ride our bicycles all around town fishing the various brooks that flowed into the Androsgoggin River. If one of us happened to catch a twelve--inch brook trout, that was considered a whopper.

There I was, working at a checkpoint on the riverbank of the famed Allagash River! Mark ended up bringing me up to Allagash after I had a minor setback with appendicitis. He stayed up for a few days and we fished the river. The first trout we caught out of the river were at a place called “Eliza Hole.” We caught two nice fat twelve- inch brookies out of that hole on our first few casts. We were hooked after that, and were happy with catching anything that was legal at that stage of our fishing development!

I saw right away that the rangers on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) had a better job than we did with NM Woods. They got to spend their time on the river instead of at a checkpoint.

Because of my summer experience, I applied for a job on the waterway the next summer and was hired as an Assistant Ranger. I have been with the Bureau of Parks and Lands ever since.

Mark ended up coming up to the Northwoods for spring fishing every year following that first summer. We have fished some of the best brook trout, salmon, and togue waters in the State of Maine. Places like: Chamberlain, Telos, Webster, Munsungan, Churchill, Eagle, Umsaskis, and Allagash Lakes. The Allagash River below Churchill Dam and the West Branch of the Penobscot have been a couple of my personal favorite spots over the years.

We have had some great fishing over the last 40 years and made memories that will last a lifetime. On one particular adventure, my youngest brother Joe was with us, we hiked into Clifford Pond, near Rainbow Lake. There was an old trail to the pond at that time, but it was not well marked. I caught a nice 18- inch brookie within the first hour of fishing but that was the only fish any of us caught.

I always like to stay until dark, figuring there will be a flurry of fish activity at dusk. We ended up staying too long and lost the trail between Clifford Pond and the West Branch. My brothers were pretty mad at me for not heeding their advice to leave a half an hour earlier than we did!

We did have flashlights, and knew that if we headed down hill we would be going in right general direction. After an hour of wandering around in the woods, I made the announcement that I thought we should build a fire and spend the night right where we were. Mark said, are you “##!*$# crazy,” so we stumbled around in the woods until we found Horserace Brook. I knew that the brook emptied into the West Branch of the Penobscot.

We followed the brook down towards the river and eventually heard vehicle traffic on the Golden Road. You can imagine what it was like, slogging in and next to an alder chocked brook in the middle of the night with two brothers cursing me for having to stay just a little longer at the pond. As a stroke of luck, I left the brook to see if it was better going away from the book and came upon the trail.

Once we hit the trail, everyone’s disposition improved. We were at the truck in few minutes and on our way to my camp at Chesuncook. When we got to camp, my wife Ruth had a pot of baked beans and fresh biscuits made for us. We dug into that meal like a pack of ravenous wolves.

I have to admit that sleeping in a nice soft bed next to my sweetheart with a full belly was a lot better than sleeping in the woods on an empty stomach without so much as a blanket to keep warm.

Every once in a while that adventure comes up in discussion, never in an edifying way. It is a memory, never to be forgotten! I did give my brother Mark the trout as a peace offering when he left for home the next day. ******

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway and West Branch of the Penobscot are both managed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands.

For an information packet or general information on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway or Penobscot River Corridor, go to: www.maine.gov/allagashwildernesswaterway or call 207-941-4014; email heidi.j.johnson@maine.gov or write to the Bureau of Parks and Public Lands, 106 Hogan Road, Bangor, ME 04401.

The AWW is managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

PHOTO CAPTION: My brother Mark with some fine trout.

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