Maine

Time flies by and before you know it your kids are grown and gone. When you see the same thing happening to your grandchildren you better seize hold of the moments. So, I recently planned a vacation for me and my grandson Nate Dixon. Here he holds his biggest bass to date, a beautiful 19-inch smallmouth that gave him a spectacular battle and memories to last forever.

Maine is the northeastern-most U.S. state.

No one really seems to know how it received its name; it’s a bit of a mystery. Interestingly, historical data suggests the Vikings discovered Maine more than 1,000 years ago.

Maine’s also known as the vacation state. Perhaps, the Vikings realized that early on. The granite and spruce islands of Acadia are a national attraction and exceedingly beautiful. The Appalachian Trail, which begins in Georgia, ends at Mt. Katahdin. To those few of iron constitution and indomitable will who manage to complete that grueling torture it must be a welcome sight. Acadia National Park, Portland, Bar Harbor, Cadillac Mountain, Kennebunkport and Bangor are just some of the more popular tourist locations here.

Maine, the Pine Tree State, has 3,478 miles of coastline, more than California, and 3,166 off-shore islands. The state is also known for its many mysterious haunted inns and lighthouses. Maine has 67 lighthouses by the bye. Maine is still sparsely inhabited and through the state flows more than 32,000 miles of streams and rivers. Maine also has over 6,000 lakes and ponds, 2,000 of which have yet to be named.

Augusta is the capital for the state’s 1.3 million inhabitants, the White Pine the state tree and the cute little Black Capped Chickadee the state bird, Landlocked Salmon the state fish. Over 90% of the nation’s blueberries grow in Maine, most interesting. The majestic moose reigns as the state animal, naturally enough.

Maine was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state on March 15, 1820.

But, you ask, why all these facts about Maine? Excellent question.

NOW THAT COVID is on the decline and the tourism business reopening, never has the idea of going on vacation sounded better.

Hoping for a better future, many purchased campers, RV’s, ATV’s, boats and other recreational items during the pandemic. Now, to put them to use.

My grandson, Nate Dixon, is suddenly, unbelievably, 15 years old. In only three more years he’ll be off to college and who knows what else. The realization made me think that if I am going to spend some 1-on-1 time with him I’d better get on with it, immediately.

Since Nate lives in Rhode Island, it was easiest to drive there and pick a vacation spot closer to his home than mine. My eye roamed northward to Maine. As mentioned above, Maine is riddled with lakes and ponds. I called the fisheries people and asked for a biologist from the central region.

Jason returned my call and was very cooperative, more than happy to provide a list of lakes around Augusta, informing me which lakes were best for each species. But, he told me the fishing was excellent in all the lakes, I didn’t need to worry.

A little time on the internet enabled me to find a resort and, by the luckiest of chances, I was able to rent a location right on Lake Cobbosseecontee. It was the last cabin available, for the vacation boom had truly begun.

So, Nate and I headed north on Sunday, June 27, at 6 a.m. Everyone told us it wouldn’t be necessary to leave that early, but I have a profound respect for traffic snarls on Route 95 around Boston and was taking no chances. Nate slept, as teenagers do, through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and most of Maine. We pulled in to the lodge at 10 a.m. and unloaded. It was 91 degrees but the cabin had air conditioning.

Nate’s experience to this point was trout and sunfish with an occasional bass, his biggest 15 inches. I hoped this trip would change that, but not as much as he did.

Monday we hit the water at daylight, finding little on the rocky shoals, but then discovered a beautiful bay filled with green grass in five feet of water. We immediately began catching bass. Nate was thrilled with the 15 and 16-inchers we landed, but I could see he wanted a bigger tussle, that was why we came.

A SMALL point jutted out in front of us, several large rocks intersecting the beds of grass.

He fired the Rapala out and twitched it twice. The water just blew up as a big smallmouth hammered the lure and Nate set the hook. The smallmouth jumped three times in a row, at least two feet out of the water each leap, and then bored for the bottom.

Smallmouth are a tougher fish than largemouth and Nate had his hands full as the bass showed his muscle. He had it up to the canoe several times before I was able to net the 19-incher. His eyes shining, and with a big sigh of relief, he held up the beautiful bronze back with shaking hands, marveling at his biggest bass ever.

“Congratulations!” I shouted, reaching forward to shake his hand and slap his back.

To some, that bass may have just been a fish, but to Nate it was a dream come true, its beautiful leaps forever etched in his memory, the fish’s raw power always to be remembered.

We looked at each in perfect harmony, talking excitedly, replaying the battle, the bass we caught previously, how wonderful our trip already was so early in the week.

A poignant moment in a quiet bay, a young boy, his grandfather, times never to be forgotten.

 

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