Fall Fishing the Belgrades
By Malcolm Charles
Master Maine Guide

I want to commend the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on the fine fall fishing that we enjoy here in the Belgrade Lakes Region (BLR) of Central Maine.

In late September, I received a telephone from Dan Haude of Ohio inquiring whether or not I could guide him fishing for a couple of days in October. After discussing what the Belgrade Lakes had to offer for accommodations and the possibilities of enjoying good luck at catching either or both of large Brown Trout and Northern Pike, we agreed to meet on Tuesday afternoon, October 2, 2001, at the Four Seasons Cottages located on Great Pond in the BLR where Dan had made a reservation for an overnight stay.

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The first afternoon was spent in search of schools of baitfish and the larger fish that I knew would be following them into the shallower waters. We saw fish on the depth finder and watched as schools of smaller fish would be driven to the surface by what we believed to be the Browns or Pike.

On Wednesday Morning, we boarded my Tracker ProDeep Vl6 Boat at 7:30 am and then cruised into the areas that had held numerous fish and much baitfish the night before. To my disappointment, we found nothing. After checking several locations, we came onto both baitfish and larger fish in water about 45 feet deep. Despite the efforts of Dan, who worked relentlessly casting, jigging and trolling, we were without a strike. By noon, the wind had picked up to the point where I was forced to use the trolling motor to slow our drift in order to keep us over the fish for Dan to work the lures, jigs and plugs. Again, to no avail, the fish that we sought refused each offering. As the time approached at the end of the day for me to return Dan to his vehicle for his drive to Bangor to meet up with his family, who were flying into Maine to visit the Mount Desert area, we agreed to try one last cove that we had seen fish in on the fish finder the day before.

As I kept the trolling motor running in an attempt to slow our drift, Dan, began to cast a diving plug. On the second cast, he saw a large fish follow his offering back to the boat. Casting back to the same area, he hooked onto a Brown Trout that slowly gave in and was eased to the boat. After removing the hook and releasing the Trout, Dan continued to cast, one of the times experiencing four trout following the lure back into our range of view. Needless to say, this was all we needed to decide on continuing to cast and Dan was rewarded with three more Brown Trout, the largest weighing in at 4.5 pounds and shaped like a football. This made four trout caught in a half hour.

As fast as the action was, it stopped! My belief was that something had scared the Trout off and on a later cast; my suspicions were realized as a strike cut the line on Dan's reel. On immediately tying on a wire leader and another of the lures, we made another pass over the area.This time the stillness was disturbed by the shriek of the drag on his reel. Carefully working the fish nearer the boat, we realized that this was one that we wanted a picture of. As the Pike began to tire, I made one attempt to net it, stopping as we both realized that it was too big for my net. Continuing to gain and then loose line, Dan worked the fish closer to the boat where he was able to reach over and grab the "lunker." After photographing and weighing the "old girl", she was eased back into the water and gently revived before swimming away, hopefully to spawn next spring. This fish weighed 25 pounds and if she is caught next spring full of spawn, may exceed the State record.

As a guide, I miss the Landlocked Salmon and trophy Trout that the Belgrade Lakes Region used to produce, but I also recognize that we have to change as nature does and now market our outstanding fishery of Northern Pike, Brown Trout and Splake, as well as our excellent Bass fisheries.

Malcolm Charles lives in Rome, Maine where he and his wife Evelyn operate a pheasant hunting preserve called Pointer's Run.

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