Archive for April 18th, 2012

First Fish!

How big is fishing in Maine?  Let’s just say that there is no such thing as teaching someone to fish, because babies in Maine are born with rods and reels in their little hands.  Ask a Mainer how to fish and they look at you like you’re crazy.  It’s the equivalent of asking someone, “How do you breathe?”

I once hired a woman to help me paint my shed.  As we worked together from the early morning until the afternoon, she told me she wanted to take a break to call and check on her 13-year-old son, who she had left home alone.  She wanted to make sure he was keeping busy and staying out of  trouble.

“Ayuh!  Whaddayuh mean ya bored?  Dahnitall, go get some dinnah for us, willya?”

Translation:  “Grab your fishing pole and go down to the water and start fishing so we can have something good to eat tonight.”

So last year we bit the bullet and shelled out the $64 for a non-resident annual fishing license.  Since it was so expensive, we bought only one, in my husband’s name.  The game wardens are quite strict around here about checking licenses, and the fines are quite high (in the hundreds of dollars) if you are caught fishing without a license, so I didn’t try fishing myself.  But I might as well have, since I did just about everything else.

It turns out that my husband gets really grossed out by putting a worm on a hook.  So clearly if we wanted to catch a fish, I would have to handle the bait part of it.  It didn’t seem fair that my husband would get all the glory if he actually caught a fish.  Alas, after several mosquito-ridden and fishless attempts, we closed out the 2011 season with nary a bite.  (We did get a few nibbles but the fish managed to eat the worms off the hook without getting caught).

So this year, we once again shelled out the $64, only this time I registered the fishing license in my own name.  I figured if I was going to do the nasty job of threading the worm on the hook, I could at least get some enjoyment out of possibly catching a fish, too.  Besides, my husband’s hours are much less flexible than mine, and I have more opportunities to go fishing than he does.   That said, I really have no idea what I’m doing:  I don’t know if the weight of my fishing line is correct, if the type of hook I’m using is good, or if the bait I’m using is the right kind.  But what the heck:  the weather has been beautiful, the water smooth as glass, and it’s a good excuse to go kayaking.

First I went online to the Maine Dept. of Fisheries and to see if they’d stocked any nearby lakes or ponds.  The website said that on April 5, they put 400 10-inch brook trout into Keewaydin Lake, which is only 6 miles from my house.  So at least the odds were good.

Keewaydin Lake is home to many types of fish, including bass, togue, trout, pickerel and land-locked salmon. Truthfully, even if I did catch a fish I wouldn’t be able to tell you what type I caught.   As long as it had fins and scales,  I would worry about that part later.

I went to our local mom-and-pop store and asked which type of bait I should buy from the choices in his refrigerated section:  trout worms, dillies, or night crawlers.

“Well, that depends . . . what type of fish are you trying to catch?” asked the storekeeper.

“Anything that bites!” I replied.  “Though I have a feeling that the only fish I’m going to be eating tonight will be from a can.  But I heard that they stocked the lake with brook trout, so I guess I’ll try for those.  Although I’ve heard trout are wily and hard to catch,” I added.

“Nah, those are stocked trout,” the storekeeper replied.  “They are used to being fed by people.  They are raised in tanks.  That means they’ll swim at the perimeter of the lake, so stay close to the shoreline and you’ll do fine.”

With a vision of 400 trout swimming over to my kayak begging to be caught, I bought trout worms.

My husband and I set out on the lake in our respective kayaks.  Along with an artificial lure that I bought at WalMart for $.40, I threaded the squirming worm onto the hook , while my husband looked away, visibly sickened.  We slowly paddled about but the fish weren’t biting.  I headed for a sheltered cove, figuring the fish would find comfort there (don’t ask me why I thought this warm and fuzzy thought – –  I was thinking like a nurturing mom, which is ridiculous because I was out to kill for my dinner).  My instincts proved correct!  Within moments my pole began to arc and the line grew taut.  I had a pretty decent-sized fish on the line!  I reeled it in and yelled to my husband to grab the fish and put it in his boat.

“What do you mean, put him in my boat?,” he cried.  “Put him in your boat!  I don’t want a fish flapping around by my feet!”

Unfortunately we both realized why fishermen carry nets.  We had no way to grab the writhing fish from the end of the line and put him into the (I mean, my) boat.  The fishing pole was too long for me to reach the fish, so it would be up to my husband to unhook him.

Alas!  Rather than grab the fish, my husband attempted to hold him via the fishing line.  Sadly for me but happily for the fish, it quickly escaped back into the water.  (Although I’m beginning to suspect my husband was fearful of the prospect of killing it and cleaning it.)

Truly this was “the one that got away.”

Tomorrow, if the weather holds, I’m going to try again.

And this time, I’m going alone.