Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Game Camera Captures Bait Site Visitors

A collection of game camera photographs depicting some of the various winter visitors to my coyote bait site.

Sharp Eyes Will See a Coyote Sneaking By
Crows and Squirrels Dine Together
Cold Weather Coon in Search of a Snack
Very Inquisitive Gray Squirrel

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Saw a Fox Out Fishing

Old Red Checks Out a Discarded Pike Skeleton at a Bait Site
There used to be an old joke my English teacher would tell us to provide assistance in using proper writing style. It went something like this:

Frank: I saw a fox out fishing the other day.
Bud: Cool, did he catch anything.

It had something to do with putting the indirect object “fox” in between the direct object “I” and the verb “Fishing”. A better way to write the sentence would obviously have been, “I was fishing yesterday and saw a fox.” Man, that just gave me a serious headache. Anyway, when I saw this game camera picture the other day this memory was the first thing that popped into my head. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Appointments at Maine IFW

AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock on Monday appointed three people to leadership roles within the state agency – Deputy Commissioner, Colonel of the Maine Warden Service, and Director of Public Information and Education..

“The leadership team of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is fortunate to have these dedicated and competent individuals on board,” according to Commissioner Woodcock. “I’m confident that these three individuals will have a positive impact on our continued efforts to accomplish the mission of preserving, protecting and enhancing Maine’s fish and wildlife resources. I am honored to make these appointments.”

Andrea Erskine of Sidney, an MDIF&W employee for more than 25 years, is named deputy commissioner. For more than 20 years, Ms. Erskine served as assistant to the commissioner, playing a key role in the administration by providing input on policies and procedures, serving as regulations officer and legislative liaison, attending public hearings and work sessions, and working closely with the staff at the Office of the Governor. Prior to this post, she was licensing department supervisor. Ms. Erskine is a hospice volunteer as well as a volunteer at Embrace Your Grace, an adaptive dance project for challenged youth. She is one of eight children in a family that spent a lot of time fishing and camping in the outdoors. She is married with two adult children.

“I look forward to using all of the skills I’ve learned in my youth and my time at Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to continue providing great service to the citizens of Maine, as well as the employees in the Department who do exceptional work,” Ms. Erskine said.

Col. Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service is reappointed to the position. Col. Wilkinson recently served as Acting Commissioner from January to early March. He first was appointed Colonel in March 2008. Col. Wilkinson began his career with the Maine Warden Service in 1992 as a deputy game warden, and has served as game warden, investigator, sergeant, captain and acting major. Throughout his career Col. Wilkinson has worked closely with other key law enforcement agencies such as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, Maine State Police, and county and municipal agencies.

In 2006 and 2010, Col. Wilkinson received the William Twarog Award – Manager of the Year, a department honor given for exemplary service in the protection of Maine’s fish and wildlife resources. Col. Wilkinson is a board member of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Trustees, state boating law administrator with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, president of the North East Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association, and president of the International Association of Natural Resource Crime Stoppers. He is married with two children.

Edie Smith is appointed as director of the division of information and education. Ms. Smith is owner and president of Maine Directions, Inc., a political and public relations consulting firm that specializes in the management of political campaigns, legislative monitoring and lobbying. Ms. Smith is a native of Winthrop, Maine where she still lives today. Since her graduation from Bowdoin College in 1981, Ms. Smith has spent 30 years working statewide on political campaigns, referendum initiatives, grassroots organizing and State House advocacy.

In 2004, she managed the campaign to defeat the anti-bear hunting referendum question, and has worked with the Maine Professional Guides Association, Small Woodlots Owners Association of Maine, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Maine Forest Products Council and other outdoor recreation groups. For six years, she served as executive director of Eaton Peabody Consulting Group. Ms. Smith helped found two grassroots organizations focused on landowner and outdoor use issues: the Coalition to Preserve and Grow Northern Maine and the Natural Resources Network.

Ms. Smith has volunteered with Dirigo Girls State for more than 20 years and currently is its volunteer director of education. She is the mother of two adult children.

Monday, March 21, 2011

From Trophy Winning Pike to the Dinner Table

“If it looks good eat it”, is the popular catch phrase of Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channels Bizarre Foods. As I watch him weekly scoff down a plethora of unusual food choices, I often ponder how he would feel about eating a Northern Pike. Most likely, he would marvel at its delicious, flaky white meat and jubilantly describe its complex textures and lack of fishy taste when battered and deep-fried to golden perfection. Then of course, he would suck out the fish’s eyeballs and chew them up with gusto and I would hurl and that would be the end of the show. I imagine it would be quite an interesting episode.

Back to reality and the job of processing my personal best and tourney placing Northern Pike for the dinner table. This ordeal started with the extraction of a very large (17.70 lb) frozen pike from my chest freezer and it taking a 5-hour soak in my bathtub (yes, my wife is a very understanding woman). I debated using the hot tub but was concerned the excessive amounts of slim dripping off the beast might clog the intake jets (did I mention my wife was understanding?).

After a through defrost and de-sliming, I hauled the fish and a large number of cutting utensils out onto the deck and started in on the chore of filleting. Using a heavy hunting knife, I made several initial cuts to slice through the thick skin and allow the more delicate fillet knife to do its job unfettered. The processing took about 15 minutes and there were a lot more bones then I remember from completing this task on a similar sized fish a few years ago. In the end, the fish yielded 8 full cups of pure white meat sure to be enjoyed in the weeks to come.

One Side Complete onto the Next
Pike Rendered to Guts, Bone and Skin
Edible Bits Remain . . . YES even the HEAD!

Next three different ways to cook Pike . . .

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Website Failure

UPDATE: After much wining and groveling, I was informed by a fellow blogger I had a grace period to renew my URL and that I should be able to quite easily re-secure www.themaineoutdoorsman.com. As I looked into this it turned out to be true and I was able to repurchase my old site and redirect www.themaineoutdoorsman.blogspot.com. Now, both URLs will direct you to my blog! One bad point is that I inadvertently deleted my old feedburner account to www.themaineoutdoorsman.com and reinstituted one at www.themaineoutdoorsman.blogspot.com. IF you were signed up for the old feedburner account please adjust your feed readers appropriately. If anyone know of a fix for this that I am missing like re-starting the old feed please tell me how and I would be happy to start up the old feed as well.
If you are reading this I am extremely happy you managed to find me. I apologize to my followers and anyone who was linked to my previous web address at www.themaineoutdoorsman.com for the confusion and would like to offer an explanation. At approximately 9:00 AM on Saturday, I lost my previous URL to my own stupidity. Not realizing that my purchase of the site URL was about to expire, I forgot to pay the fee to the hosting company and lost my rights to use that address. Within a matter of an hour another individual purchased my previous URL and I lost it. To say I was upset would be an understatement, as I feel that over the past several years I had established myself at themaineoutdoorsman.com. I certainly don’t blame the person who now owns the URL, as it was completely my fault.

I feel it will take a long time to reestablish myself at www.themaineoutdoorsman.blogspot.com and I ask that everyone please update their websites, blogs and bookmarks to reflect this change. I enjoy blogging as a hobby and value all of the comments and friendships I have been fortunate to make within my readership and the blogosphere as a whole. I realize it is not the end of the world but the whole situation has me deeply saddened and I am sorry if my mess up has caused anyone issue.

I started this endeavor as way to strengthen my writing and encourage me to write more. Having you reading my posts and commenting that they were enjoyed, made you laugh or that you found the information helpful is something I have thoroughly enjoy over the past several years. I give a lot of credit to each and everyone of my readers, as without you I would likely lack the devotion it takes to maintain the blog.

Thank you for reading and lending me your ear,

Steve (AKA The Rabid Outdoorsman)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Anyone Else Wishing for Spring?

You know it has been a long cold, snow filled winter season, when you see a poster like this and your mind swings to sweet thoughts of warmer weather, spring mud season, DEET and you simply can't wait to start swatting at the swarming hordes of blackflies and mosquitoes. Ahhhh, only a few more months!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Salmon of West Grand Lake

A bitter cold start to the morning delayed us very little, as we began our preparations to head up lake to Pineo Point chasing salmon and togue (lake trout). As we prepared to off load ATVs, snow sleds and gear at the town landing, a frozen break cable on DuckMan’s Big Bear had it stuck in the back of his truck. Despite multiple curses and attempts to unfreeze with a propane heater, we finally gave up the ghost and headed up lake a machine short. As my Grizzly 550 struggled to haul a full dog sled through the deep and frozen snow, I contemplated that perhaps a higher power had forced us to leave the ATV for a very good reason. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the mercury reached 35 F, the lake surface turned to mush and this divine intervention was proven when upon our late afternoon departure the Grizzly bogged down and had to be pushed out three separate times before we finally had to unhook the dog sled and rig it to one of the snow machines. Free of its shackles, it was finally able to ride above the slush and make it back to the landing.

Show me a map of West Grand Lake and it would be difficult for me to indicate a spot where I have fished and not caught many fine salmon and togue. Through the years, we have fished Whitney Cove, the Throughfare, Hardwood Island, Oxbrook, Pineo Point and many others. I am confident that when the fish are biting, anyone with a basic sense of direction and a good depth map can find success here with minimal effort. Need additional assistance drop me an e-mail and I will be happy to offer specifics on the spots mentioned above.

Pineo Point is part of a sheltered cove, just north of Hardwood Island. On days when the arctic winds are howling, this location is typically filled with scores of diehard ice fishermen, using the leeward shore for shelter. Small fire rings line the banks, were many have fished here before. Have no fear that this place is fished out and understand that even if you do not encounter fish on a particular day, there is a good chance that another day will be completely different. On our trip, it was reported that two days previously Pineo had been fished with little result, other than a few jigged white fish and a short salmon. Our arrival, however, on a rapidly dropping barometer, yielded a day full of salmon catching excitement for everyone. It just goes to show you how quickly your luck can sometimes change.

The resident Grand Lake Stream experts regularly fish for salmon on very lightweight tackle. What I mean to say is that they employ 6 lb fluorocarbon leaders, number 10 J hooks and either no or BB size split shot. With this set-up, I noted they never broke a line and rarely missed a strike. Our crew of individuals, averaged 8 to 10 lb fluorocarbon leaders, number 6 J or circle hooks and pea size sinkers on all lines. While we all enjoyed “good” fishing, I feel as though at the end of the day, fish totals were slightly in favor of the Grand Lakers.

One exception to our line and rigging rule was the Duckman, who rigged all of his lines with 550 lb parachute cord. It was his belief this degree of strength was necessary, so that he could yank fish free of the confines of the ice hole, keeping them from being devoured by hungry piranhas silently waiting below to attack any fish he might be lucky enough to catch. (Yes, he forgot to bring his medication . . . again.) This is not a fish catching technique that I endorse and please, please, please do not attempt to try this at home. Unfortunately, what this photo does not depict is this fish actually hitting him in the side of the head and rendering him unconscious for the remainder of the afternoon.

All in all everyone ended with enough salmon to fill our spring time smokers and a memory of a day on the ice with family and friends that rivaled the best I can remember. Though the ride back to the landing across the mush and slush will be long remembered, it was a small price to pay for such an unforgettable day.

*I also have TOPLESS trip pictures of Mr. President (please don't ask why) that I am willing to barter access to for a very fair price. Please try and control yourself ladies, there is only so much of the Duckman to go around! HEHEHE!

Next: Big Lake Mixed Bag

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Brown Trout of Upper Lead Mountain Pond

My ice fishing trip to Meddybemps was quickly ended when upon leaving Alligator Lake, I received a phone call from Mom indicating that husband Leonard (AKA Lenny the purple faced champagne chugger) had taken a bad fall on the ice in the driveway and had severely dislocated his shoulder. Plans to fish would have to be canceled. Arriving at Ma’s on Day 3, I was relieved to have a day to reorganize/repack gear and avoid the day’s high winds and teen temperatures.

Day 4 had me traveling back across Route 9 - The Airline to join Dad on Upper Lead Mt. Pond (GAZ Map 24 A-5) to enjoy another cold and windy day trying out our luck at catching Brown Trout. At around 8:00 AM I received a call to verify that my brother (just off a night shift) would soon join us. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together!

Temperature and wind on the barren pond surface had me drilling and setting all of my traps while wearing my full face ATV helmet. The extra weight tugged at my neck muscles but was still amendable compared to braving the icy blasts. Despite the struggle, by 10:00 AM 15 tip-ups littered the surface of Upper Lead Mt. Pond and Bro, Dad and I were sitting comfortably in a heated ice shack frying onions and red hotdogs, playing cribbage and waiting patiently for a flag to POP!

A full day of ice fishing and we ended with one flag to show for our monumental efforts and not a single fish landed. At 3:00 PM I started picking up traps, so I could get bait (rainbow smelts) in Princeton and have plenty of time to meet Tony AKA Duckman at my Grandfathers before heading to Grand Lake Stream. The plan was for Bro and Dad to hook up with us the following evening to hit the hard waters of West Grand Lake on Thursday. A call from my brother at around 5:30 PM indicated Dad had badly pinched a nerve in his back and was headed to the emergency room. After getting Dad to hospital Bro would not be spending the night alone at his camp on Upper Lead and would rather instead be joining us at Gramps before heading on to West Grand with us that evening. Taking a quick count, I noted that the injuries and the drama were mounting and I began to wonder how the remainder of the week would progress . . .

Next: The Salmon of West Grand Lake

Sunday, March 13, 2011

LD 910 – An Act to Allow Sunday Hunting for Landowners

This bill allows the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to authorize private landowners to hunt on Sunday on their own land if they own 20 or more acres and the land is open to hunting by the public. A landowner must register with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The department shall adopt rules to implement a Sunday hunting permit system. The fee for a Sunday hunting permit may not exceed $25.

For More Information:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Alligator Brook Trout

16.25 in Brook Trout
Alligator Lake has always been one of those waters I was tempted to fish. Having drove by it many time during partridge hunting, it seemed to call out as a great opportunity to score an impressive brook trout. This fact seemed evident, by the numerous plastic worm containers littering the small boat launch. So, when Matt Whitegiver of “Eagle Mountain Guide Service” and his friend Brian expressed an interest in trying out this isolated spot a few weeks previous, it was game on!

Compared to a majority of the southern and central Maine lakes and ponds, Alligator Lake is remote. While not uncommon to see individuals fishing here, care should be taken to make very sure you have an “escape” plan should an accident occur or a vehicle become stuck or not start. Access to Alligator Lake is possible via several different logging roads, the most direct access being a 5-mile stretch of the 29-00-0 road branching off Route 9 - The Airline. (For more information see Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 24 A-4 and 34 E-4) The drive in is done on what can best be described as “the kind of road where a man could make a good living collecting beer cans” so use extreme caution during all seasons. Additionally, logging truck will pay you VERY little mind and barrel along these narrow thoroughfares at sphincter tightening speeds. In the winter, things get a little bit dicier as logging operations “typically” keep roads plowed and steep hillsides sanded BUT this can’t be depended upon. If you get stuck, help could be a long time finding you so plan accordingly.

Matt and Brian
Once you navigate all the hills, twists and turns you will see the lake and a small parking lot on your left hand side. Staring out across the lake from the landing, you will quickly see it is a good size lake. Depending on your mode of transport (ATV, snowmobile, foot) and degree of determination will help you quickly decide where you want to fish. On our trip, we planned to fish only about 500 yards from the landing (on the lake southern shore) so walking was the simplest solution.

Rainbow smelts in the 3 inch range seem to be the ticket here, though I would be tempted to try worms. In total, three fish for the day, including a small yellow perch, chub and an impressive 16.25-inch brook trout. Several other flags were sprung with no fish.

Pat's Deer
As luck would have it, two fishing neighbors arriving later in the morning turned out to be old Kappa Delta Phi fraternity brothers from UMMachias. Pat Smallidge whom I had last seen at his camp in November to gaze upon his impressive 6 pointer and Gary Quimby an accomplished woodcock hunter. Seeing them both here in practically the middle of nowhere reminded me what a small world it really is!

Fish On!
Fishing almost till dusk, I was actually relieved when my two comrades decided to call it a day and head back tot eh comfort of the truck. Two days of low temps and high winds had me debating my decision to fish Bear Cove on Meddybemps Lake the following day but I was up for the challenge as long promises of a heated ice shack and fried deer steaks were fulfilled. Fate, however, would end up canceling these plans . . .

Next: The Brown Trout of Upper Lead Mountain Pond

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Trophy Pike Of North Pond

17.69 lb Northern Pike
It was an ambitious schedule from the very beginning, an enterprising task consisting of a grand total of 7 days ice fishing, all within a time frame of 8 days. At the trips conclusion, the truck registered a total of close to 600 miles, the ATV 10 miles and the old legs an untold number of footfalls in the pursuit of fish. Along the path, many people joined in on this adventure, including family and friends, each adding their own special variety and spice to the excitement and thrill of the chase. While it had been a difficult endeavor, the hardest tasks are those most treasured and I will certainly long cherish the new friendships and memories derived from over a week of fish near caught and trophies hard sought. Over the next couple weeks, I plan to provide a run down of this mini-adventure, the places I visited, equipment used and fish that were caught . . . enjoy!

12.6 lb Northern Pike
Day 1 – Northern Pike Tournament - North Pond - BEEP, BEEP, BEEP wailed my alarm as I frantically stretched forth a haphazardly directed arm in an attempt to extinguish its annoyance. Along its reckless path, my hand managed to knock off the nightstand a poorly positioned glass of water and it shattered on the floor in a million razor sharp shards. A litany of curses spewed forth that probably are still hanging somewhere in space over central Maine. I contemplated the thought that this was probably not the optimal way to start an adventure into the wilds, debated resetting my alarm and sleeping another 4-5 hours.

Fighting back sleep, ever so slowly my eyelids pried themselves open and I stared in disbelief at the glowing red numerals, which continued to read 4:00 AM, despite my valiant attempts at squinting, “Yup” I concluded, time to get up.

At 4:30 AM an old Kappa Delta Phi fraternity brother joined me and we loaded our gear and were off to chase monster pike in the Belgrade lakes chain on North Pond. By the end of this day two pike were harvested. The first (12 lb 6oz) at 9:36 AM and mine at 10:15 AM weighing 17.69 lbs. That fish ended up as a third place finisher in the derby and filled my pocket with $200! The winning PIKE in the derby were 19.8 lbs, 17.8 lbs and 17.69 lbs.

To provide a little support for those planning to fish pike through the ice here is my (very) rough sketch of my pike catching outfit. Remember it isn’t about having the latest, greatest and most expensive tip-up on the ice. It is instead all about having good line, rigging and hooks matched to the species you plan to pursue.

Northern Pike Ice Fishing Rig
Belgrade Draggin Masters Annual Ice Fishing Derby Winners!
Next: The Brook Trout of Alligator Lake

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday Hunting Regulations By State

Anyone Else See Something Wrong With This Picture?
For more information please see:

Please see the following links for more on Sunday hunting from Foggy Mountain Meanderings: Part 1 and Part 2 
Also, here is one of my of my responses to a conversation evolving at: http://www.asmainegoes.com/content/statewide-ban-all-tree-harvesting-sunday?page=1

Mr. K,

SWOAM is bottom line simply afraid of change. I understand this viewpoint as I have seen it many times; change is a difficult process and even a bit scary for some individuals and organizations. Opening Sunday hunting has been so hyped by some groups of “traditionalists” that it is now viewed as a cataclysmic event that will ruin the Maine woods. This stance couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s think about this for a minute . . . how many states currently allow Sunday hunting? What do their game populations look like? What do their posted lands look like? New Hampshire is a great example, boasting a healthy deer and fowl population with lots of public and private land open to hunting. Further, 80% of hunters hunt partridge and deer during October and November. Currently, a majority of this hunting occurs one day a week (Saturday). Ever been in the woods during hunting season on a weekday? How many hunters did you see? Close to none I’m going to bet. Providing hunting on Sunday will mean most hunters would potentially enjoy another 8 days OUT OF THE ENTIRE CALENDAR YEAR! If you were from out of state, and had a choice to hunt one day in Maine or 2 days in New Hampshire on your one weekend a year hunting adventure, where would you go? Hunters are leaving our sport in droves, the art of hunting is dying and the “traditionalists” are killing it. We need to think differently and progressively as a united front of outdoorsmen if we ever hope to have the sport of hunting survive.

Sardines Are Best Served Cold
“Thankful” . . . you speak like I have no appreciation for the state or the people who help to manage its’ woods and waters. I take offense to this suggestion sir; I love this state and its’ people. I only reserve my disgruntled and ornery nature for those who oppose Sunday hunting. I also have no qualms about taking a poke, arguing against or attempting to coerce anyone who goes against my other ‘sinister’ viewpoints, like those who don’t like canned sardines, drive Chevys or sport mustaches; it is after all the American way. SWOAM took a “poke” at sporting lodges, Maine guides, hunters and anyone associated with or profiting from the market generated by my hunting brethren, when they opposed Sunday hunting. So, poke, poke, poke and shame on you if you can’t take a joke, joke, joke.

Lastly, I want to thank you for your reply to my story. The fact that anyone of your caliber, as a former SWOAM board member, would even read something off my “low rent” blog is truly an honor. If I had simply written a piece about Sunday hunting and cried incessantly about how I didn’t like it, blah, blah, blah would anyone have read it? Would it have generated this level of discussion? Would anyone have cared? Doubtful. In today’s society of shock and awe, sometimes you have to write outside of the box to get an appreciable level of response.

Ok, I am jumping off the soapbox! Next . . .

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