Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Forum Experience

Northern Pike:  One controversial fish
Frigging River Mud was right with #2 over at his website- Click here after reading my post...

I had originally planned to do a well thought essay on the northern pike and its place in the great state of Maine.  After reading a variety of published articles casting a slew of opinions that ranged from the illegality and devastating effects to opportunity for landing a massive fish to a proactive approach to manage this fish, I felt compelled to take this topic straight to the core with local input.  What I discovered in short order was something more alluring and echoed from others who do a fair amount of searching, thinking, posting, and communicating:  all that glitters is not gold...

Most recently, I signed up for and found myself shooting through the newest posts providing interesting banter about ice quality, last ditch fishing efforts, and how one dared to merge the previous two.  A place for fishermen, Maine fishermen, those who like me love photography, video, and greater insight.  My only failure was timing, I had stumbled on this website as the ice was relenting to an early spring.

Of course one introduces themselves and I figured to have a little fun, hence my first post:  Is the ice safe out there???  Upon clicking the thread, I quickly established my joke and offered a little bit about myself.  Several responses later with some welcomes, look forward to next year, and "you're a bit late" provided a sense of decent, dedicated, ice anglers.  In addition, I offered up my website if anybody would want to view my website and check out any of my recent videos.

My next thread seems like I fell into a table saw, or at least I ran into the wrong part of town.  I asked the membership about their input towards the northern pike in the central part of the state, one member graciously provided a link and another put up "uh oh" post as if I had started a feeding frenzy.  That I did with several posters, none of whom had welcomed me on the first post, with a mockery level snark attack immediately upon my inquiry.  I simply chose to go to bed, the hornets nest was buzzing.

This morning, the thread was missing so I went back to my history and clicked Northern Pike.  This is what I got:

The topic or board you are looking for appears to be either missing or off limits to you.

Amazing... Granted I should have taken the time to fathom and peruse the board using the search tool button, but rather than a few diehard anglers generating a meaningful discussion I discovered the harsh reality around these forums.  There are more bad apples than one would think, but I'm staying on for I know already who I'd like to converse with and who I could give two damns about.  

What this partly my fault, absolutely... You post a controversial topic for your second thread and expect to reap the rewards... I should have known better.


The benefits of Maine Ice Shanty will be great and I look forward to building some new relationships with other fishermen in the state.  As for the others, I am sorry that you are hanging around the school yard after school hours...

Have a great day,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's been that long... 8 years ago at West Grand...

Recently, I caught up with my best bud Jab who had decided to scan some old photos and put them on a big social networking site.  One particular photo brought back a few memories and some good stories.  For that I'll do my best go back to this day and put up a few scanned photos from my archives.

My one salmon weighing in against three of Jab's nice lakers for the day, the largest weighed in over 5 pounds.

This particular photo was from Hardwood Island where the fishing wasn't particularly fast via tip up, but Jab discovered the power of jigging a Swedish Pimple.  He was striking so many lake trout that he threatened to punch me if I even suggested he hand my rod over.  Finally he needed to eat and the scent of a wood fired steak forced him to submit.  It would be at this point I ran fast, grabbed the rod, and managed to jig up of all things a landlocked salmon.  Shortly thereafter, I received a short list of cursory words and idle threats to life and limb.

Just before pick up, he asked for a photo in order to 1) make me look bad and 2) share with friends and family.  I'll say that on that day, Jab was the man.

From my best recollection, the time was February back in 2004 at West Grand Lake.  This three night-four day fishing extravaganza included seven people all staying at the Canalside Cabins in Grand Lake Stream: Jab, Tim, Uncle Dennis, Scott, Donnie, and myself.

Salmon action at the Sisters
The three places we fished in no particular order were Dyer Point, Hardwood Island, and Norway Point.  Dyer Point produced several lake trout and a whitefish while Norway Point was a salmon hot spot that put two beauties on the ice for me in 35 minutes.  I opted to pull the traps and visit Justin Tapley and Butch Hanson over at a camp just around the point.

Some highlights of the trip were Jab's trailer roll over, my sliced boot by avenue of Jiffy Ice Auger, Donnie's hot dog cookout with some friends who helped him get out of a pressure ridge, my new Yamaha Big Bear, and Jab's jigging, hook shaking, arm dropping, tail grabbing seven pound lake trout out of the icy hole.  The memories certainly have returned, and I credit the photo that Jab opted to put on the social big book.

Donnie's Dyer Point whitefish
Tim's nice Dyer Point laker

One through the ice

Surrounding the timing of this trip were some monumental factors:  our first baby Lauren Marie was expected in May, I had just built a new lobster boat, Jab had a major surgery just weeks before and was also engaged, and the Red Sox had yet to win the world series.  Looking back on this trip certainly makes me think back on the adventures we shared, and the new ones we intend to forge under different circumstances.

Have a great day,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Friday, March 23, 2012

Endgame... Bass Attack!!!

2012 Beddington Lake Ice Fishing Derby Lunker

Note:  At the time of this post, we have seen record high temperatures that have played in the high 70's with some nearby spots hitting 80 degrees, there now exists no quality ice near my homestead but I certainly can look back at my ice fishing season as a great success.  And for those who care, all bass were put back for future fishermen to enjoy.

For one week of my life, my text messaging exceeded that of my wife.  There had been an invite to attend one last ditch effort at Beddington Lake to get out ice fishing with my good friend Littlefield and best man Mahoney.  This required that I contact my people who needed to contact their people who in turn might know if there may be enough ice to tread without the possibility of drowning.  The best report I could gather was Seavey Lake with around 8 inches of gray ice.  This water was ENE of Beddington Lake, but our other nearest waterway Schoodic Lake had reached critical mass.

If Beddington had ice, we would fish there in a pickerel derby for our last trip there yielded more toothy bastards than I'd like to admit.  Bass were also a part of the derby with the potential to propel the fortunate angler above the level of shame and upon a pedestal of excellence amongst common anglers.  Once the boys got to the lake Saturday afternoon, they would brief me on the ice report which would then determine where I would be fishing.

The exceptionally warm weather certainly hindered our hopes and dreams with constant temperatures around 50 degrees including the occasional storm system.  My thoughts towards Beddington soured with each day, so bad I contacted a fellow Maine guide to inquire the ice status 2.5 hours north at East Grand Lake.  If there were no ice at Beddington, Ryan and I would venture before daylight towards Aroostook County in pursuit of a massive lake trout. 

Around three o'clock Saturday afternoon the results were in... 12-14 inches of decent ice with open water across the lake...

Another text message went out to Geel confirming our departure at 6 a.m.   While I laid out the details of the morning, the gentlemen opted to drive west to watch the UMaine hockey team lose an automatic bid attempt.  So while they stayed out half the night, I went to bed excited about one foot of ice and a forecast that promised 60 plus degrees Fahrenheit.

Geel was all ready when I turned into his driveway.  Little gear would be needed; just traps, one auger, bait, and food.  Two stops and a one hour drive put us at Littlefield's camp.  Mahoney had asked me to wake them up, but we all know how I roll.  We slid around the camp, down the bank, and onto the beach without detection.  As we surveyed the playing field, gear lay across the ice, pulled out from the day before without fear of being frozen in or confiscated by outdoor criminals.  I smiled for they had left the cove untouched opting for the point, so we started drilling left slightly turning into shallow water.  My research, planning, and system would put us onto late pickerel and bass.  The only thing needed was time, some strikes, and then depth sounding.  Today wasn't a day to screw around, I intended to be the man and to be the man you must fish like the man.

Mahoney was the first man to panic as he stumbled down the bank and begun setting up his traps.  Before he got his third hole tended, Geel and I were already set just under the ice prepared for our first strike.  No depths would be altered until a blip came on our radar screen.  Then it began.  A pickerel for Geel, then a two pound bass for Elmer who had followed Mahoney down from the camp.  This bass certainly had me fired up, but now the zone had been determined along with the depths.  Lines were set, a few extra holes drilled, some traps moved, and before we knew all heck broke loose.  The following video highlights some of the action, in my excitement I had neglected to charge my video camera from the last taping. 

The morning proved quite sufficient in terms of flags and fish, primarily bass.  Most bronzebacks found themselves between 1.5 and 4 pounds while the pickerel seemed to have been shut out of the fun.  Nevertheless, the weather proved above and beyond magical as the temperatures found the mid-60's.  Elmer and I opted to finish out the day in shorts, to add a little fun to the day I sported sandals.  On any account, here's the results of the 2012 Beddington Lake Ice Fishing Derby.

Elmer:  2 lb. bass, 1 pickerel, & 1 perch
Littlefield:  2 pickerel including the lunker toothy bastard
Nate:  1 pickerel
Vern:  slept in
Geel:  5 bass (largest 3 lbs.) and 3 pickerel
Mahoney:  5 bass (largest 3 lbs 3 oz), 2 pickerel, and 2 yellow perch
Duckman:  4 bass including the lunker (3 pounds 8 oz), 1 pickerel, and 1 yellow perch

28 fish were caught during the day and we conceded at 2:30 p.m. only to be talking about next year's derby.  For the run I've had these past few weeks, I can't wait uhhhh.... I mean look forward to next year on the ice.

Next up, spring trout and bass.

Take care,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

The crew on the point

Ryan and I chose the cove

Nice Bronzeback 3 pounds 3 ounces

Chain Pickerel with a 5 inch shiner

Mahoney with a nice bass

Another one for the best man

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Game, set, and match... Ice Fishing 2012 is a wrap...

Later on this week, I'll post on the ice fishing season endgame...  But you know how I roll, here's the trailer.  See you in a few days. 

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Northern Pike Experience: Part Three

Front:  Uncle Kim, Steve  Back:  Travis, Ryan, Tony

6 plus northern pike
I realize this post finds itself with awkward timing, especially after following the previous post but timing always seems to be the ever present challenge.  As the ice continues to erode, I suspect this will be the last ice fishing post and gears must shift upon the next outdoor affiliation.  For that, let's wrap up the story.

The derby became just another day with some nice pike.  The ticket had an update number to call and with mine holding almost seven pounds, I figured it would be worth a shout.  A very pleasant guy commented on the day in the best way I can remember, "We've got a ten, a nine, and I just got a call that a seventeen is on its way".  Translation, there existed no need to quit early and register my fish so we kept fishing.  With little success, we threw in the towel around four.  A return in the morning made the decision a bit more bearable.

Our next day consisted of moderate action and Ryan garnered the champ pushing a decent ten pounds.  A stiff breeze could not deter our efforts and the camaraderie culminated into one memorable day.  Eventually the wear and tear of all things associated with a vacation began to break down the willingness to continue.  Within minutes, the gear was gathered and the ice train made way for the landing.

I'm most fortunate to have an experience that brings in new personnel into a traditional endeavor that can produce something as memorable as a nice northern pike.  Next year when I'm on my way, you can rest assured that Ryan will be riding shotgun telling me how he's going to catch a twenty at daylight.  That's how I roll... with those who roll...

Have a great day,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Ryan's ten pound northern pike

Uncle Kim trying to say he caught it

Monday, March 12, 2012

The 2012 West Grand Experience

I really don't know how it happened, but the last four weeks found three weekend ice fishing trips.  The first took us to Pleasant Pond in Island Falls, while the second became an adventure to central Maine in pursuit of a northern pike on North Pond.  Out of nowhere a third voyage surfaced with an invite from Uncle Kim, the esteemed and self-appointed mayor of Grand Lake Stream and Township 27.  West Grand Lake, a regular mainstay and frequented lake, had been scratched of the list of hard water Febauchery™ fishing.  It once again found itself in the ice fishing cross hairs...

March did however prove to enter like a lion as a storm threatened to ruin any plans.  Hardly deterred, Ryan and I hit the road armed with the essential amenities of chaos that included three snowmobiles.  Why three, why not?  Two newbies would be joining us on this opportunity and West Grand would be their first, that in itself is remarkable for they would be chasing salmon and lake trout on one of Maine premier lakes.  Joe and Peter followed as we chirped and chatted on the radios the entire two hour trip...

Peter's first fish- landlocked salmon
The forecast was quite blunt... a load of rain Saturday with temperatures in the 40's and a beautiful day on Sunday with temperatures in the 40's.  Rather than simply choose common sense, we broke out of the landing and onto the ice facing light snow.  The question would be, when does it turn over?

In short time we found the answer, but our efforts towards a nice landlocked salmon or hefty laker would not be compromised.  Within a few flags, hit baits, and no luck, we finally hit pay dirt with Peter's first ever fish.

After two hours of rain winning at the expense of our demise, a vote determined our return to the mayor's house for the night.  The state basketball game would also be on the docket; all of us graduated from Jonesport-Beals and none of us intended to miss the game.  Our hastily scheduled trip forced our truancy, so our support left us accepting the next best thing as the Royals dominated Forest Hills for the 10th state title in just over four decades.

The next morning bore greater promise as the clouds whispered east while the wind turned westerly.  Our chosen location offered success from past years, however more salmon than lake trout were to be expected.  Ryan and Peter took off one way drilling holes with the ferocity of a lion while Joe and I quietly moved south of our base camp.  It had been years since I fished this flat next to the submerged point, but I knew that I didn't want to be near Ryan or Peter.  For that, I promised Joe a fish before all were set and potentially one before the two of us were in.

Joe's first ever lake trout
Sure enough, after ten drilled holes and setting up five ice fishing tip ups it happened.  The fourth flag rose behind us and the reel was churning.  Joe had the honor of this fish for he was new to this game and for him to catch a fish greatly superseded my own satisfaction.  My goal for him to catch a fish or two, maybe three if things looked up.

I have been video taping the bulk of the catches this year, but in no way was the camera set up and Joe only has a photo to remember this decent trout.

After that first flag, everything else relished in perfection.  A flag here, a salmon there, two in two minutes, and the fish were on!  Even Ryan, witnessing this act of impressiveness, opted to chase the gravy and brought two ice traps over.  It would be fair to suggest that we were dealing with a flag and usually a fish every 20 minutes for the entire morning.  Never had I seen salmon fishing like this, and I've been part of some serious stories.  Ryan and I understood the magnitude of this feat, I'm not sure if our partners realized the comparative excellence witnessed on the ice.  I suppose they'll understand when they find themselves on a day without a flag.

I'll let the video below show the bulk of our success.  Within my three weekends of ice fishing, enough great memories were created to share down the road.  Great friends, great fishing, and great times already leave memories only to make me itch for next year.  One more potential trip is in the works, but time, temperature, and the spring thaw may change that.  We will see and until next time, take care.

The Downeast Duckhunter

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Coleman 10-Cup Portable Propane Coffeemaker with Stainless Steel Carafe- Review and Field Test

During the one year anniversary celebration over at the Outdoor Blogger Network, I was fortunate to be drawn to review a portable propane powered coffeemaker by Coleman.  To honor my end of the exchange, I have created a field test out ice fishing to augment the gear review.

Size and structure:
This coffee maker isn't light weighing in at 9.5 pounds, but it is important to mention this is a 10 cup capacity device.  Coupled with the carry case, I found that I could pack cream, sugar, coffee, spoons, and other amenities with ease.  This was convenient out on the ice and made for fast packing.  For anyone who purchases this, do get the case.  This coffee maker would in my opinion seem very well suited for the remote camp or family camping trip, not exactly right for the back packer or minimalist when it comes to hunting or fishing.

I put this Coleman propane coffee maker to work on an absolutely insane day, gusty with a variety of mixed precipitation out on a lake seven miles from the landing.  Set up was very easy as the coffee maker utilized a one pound propane cylinder and the InstaStart™ auto ignition button to get the coffee brewing immediately as the PerfectFlow regulator streamed a consistent amount of fuel (up to 4500 BTU's).  The entire unit worked to specs as the coffee maker pulled the lake water through the filter basket of ground coffee down to the stainless steel carafe.  Within twenty minutes, my ice fishing crew was drinking steaming hot coffee.  In terms of general performance based on the field trial, the Coleman propane coffee maker operated without a hitch on one cold, breezy, and wet day.

Overall impression:  At first the size of this coffee maker took me back, but when considered for the appropriate circumstances this product will be fine.  I did like the directions on the side as with any Coleman, for I had neglected to read the owners manual and found that there is a process to follow in order to ensure maximum operation.  Without a doubt, this coffee maker delivered enough coffee for my ice fishing crew and was a cinch to clean up.  The elements did not affect the burner and the auto ignition was instant.  For any trip for a longer stay or for places like your camp, this product will certainly prove useful.  However, don't expect to be mobile with this product as it isn't that type of product.

Here's the field test on West Grand Lake in eastern Maine...

I received the Coleman Propane Coffee Maker at no cost through the Outdoor Blogger Network in exchange for a gear review.  In no way am I financially or contractually bound to either of the before mentioned parties.  I thank both Coleman and the Outdoor Blogger Network for the opportunity.

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