Fly fishing

Savor the sunrise over a pond in Baxter State Park

I attached a Gray Ghost streamer to the leader of my fly rod and counted the turns of the line in my head until I hit six, then secured the knot. Fog hovered over the mirrored lake. Mixed conifers lined the shore, and their tannins tinted the pond the color of tea.

I felt the energy of the water, inches below me, as Travis paddled our canoe along the shore of Kidney Pond. It was the same canoe you saw all over the lawns on the shores of Lake Maine – a dark green old town, faded from years in the sun.

June mornings were cold enough to need a jacket, and this morning was no exception. It was 4.30am and long days required an early alarm to catch the morning bite. We would take an afternoon nap, we had decided, planning to enjoy one of the few luxuries that a camping weekend afforded us.

“It kind of looks like the shape of a moose,” I said to Travis, nodding at a shadow across the creek. “But I didn’t see him move.”

The water flowed with every stroke of the paddle as Travis pulled us closer to the shadows. The shadow moved and a female moose emerged at the edge of the pond. She looked at us. I wondered if she had seen a canoe before.

When she turned to leave I put my hands around my mouth and did my best moose cry, a moan, nasal “waaaa”, and she turned and went back on the shore, obviously questioning its previous conclusion. After a few more seconds of watching, she slipped back into the forest.

A subtle splash brought me back to the morning goal. A fish had risen near the shore to our right. I watched the circular ripple, bigger and bigger but less defined, wanting the fish to reveal itself once more. I knew Travis had seen him; he stopped the forward movement of the canoe with a back paddle and I removed the line from my reel getting ready to cast.

I love fly fishing for native brook trout. It’s so pure and natural, like hearing a baby laugh or eating homemade bread with real butter. I threw my six weight line towards where the fish had risen. The line sank for a few seconds and I started to take it apart with short, quick pull-ups.


The sun’s rays lit up Katahdin, looming on the horizon. No one else at the campsite was awake yet; the pond was ours. Even mosquitoes and black flies were sleeping. It was quiet, but noisy with the birds – sounds you only notice when camping.

A beaver appeared in the bow, its deep brown eyes and bushy face leading us away. Then he slid silently under the water, without tail slamming.

A breeze picked up as the sun was overtaken by dark clouds. A lonely loon was frequently diving in the distance. Was he eating trout? His cry echoed, and it sounded particularly melancholy as the rain started to fall.

After a few more throws without snacking, I pulled my hood over my head and rolled up my line. I attached a pearl-headed yellow Wooly Bugger. I threw back and forth, leaving more line with each cast, before landing my fly and letting it sink. Fishermen are the ultra-optimists.

“One more cast.” “My lucky fly will do.” “This place here is the only one.” “Five more minutes.”

The dive joined us, and eventually the fish did too.

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