North Woods Honey Holes
By Jeff Labree
As a fishing guide I spend most of my time on rivers and streams. These are usually fast flowing with deep pools and productive runs. When I have a day or two to myself, I love going to a small beaver flowage or little brook.
Whether you are a fly caster or spinner and worm fisherman don’t overlook the small stuff. The north part of the state has seen a couple of good springs. High snow melt mixed with adequate rain has helped water conditions in most of these little trout factories. A good source of information about where to find a nice spot I’ve found is Ben’s Bait Shack up in Fort Kent. Ben Rioux has been known to crawl under the security fence down at the old Maine Yankee Nuclear plant in Wiscasset to get the biggest worms and crawlers you’ll ever see.
Of course, your hands get kind of tingly using them but I’ve witnessed the fish they have killed…I mean caught. Ben also sells scented soaps and hand lotions that help with the smell of some of his more mature bait. The extensive dirt roads inside the gates of The North Maine Woods abound with culverts and small wooden bridges that are mostly never fished. I know a couple of older gentlemen who head up there each year and drive to these little streams. They fish upstream and down on each and have a great time.
They’ve been going to the area for decades and know the roads better than most. If you would go on such an excursion plan on having a Gazetteer along. I would suggest it be an updated version. (Ben sells pre W11 survey maps). Keep in mind, we’re not after large rod-bending trout or high-leaping silver sided salmon. These smaller trout still possess the fighting spirit and beautiful colors of their bigger kin. You will quickly find yourself searching out tiny holding areas and shallow runs where a brookie can hide.
Let’s not forget the beaver dams and the flowages behind them. I keep a couple of canoes on some of these and spend fun-filled afternoons casting caddis imitations and ant patterns to eager trout. There have been times when a much larger trout will burst out of the water and surprise the heck out of me. The trout can have darker coloration in these honey holes due to the cedars and brush that line the shores. I don’t mind getting off the beaten path to find a place like this and will rarely see any signs of other people.
If you are fly fishing then I suggest a two or three weight 7 to 8 foot. rod. Floating line is all that you’ll need. If worm casting, I prefer a single blade gold spinner with no sinker or bobber. You won’t need to cast far. The beaver dams will continue to fish well as long as the water temps remain low. As the temps heat up trout will move to cooler locations. Try searching along the slow-moving flowages until you chance upon a spring or smaller inlet. The culverts and tiny brooks are drying up by mid-June (as a rule), and aren’t worth the inflated expense of a Ben’s glow-the-dark night crawler. Although I know of at least three culverts that hold trout during the entire summer.
In closing I hope your winter is frostbite free and you spend a little of your snowbound cabin-fevered time with an open gazetteer searching out a couple tantalizing spots to try this next spring.
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