Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rangeley Photoshoot Photographs

Below are a few of my favorite photos from my recent photoshoot with Burgess Media and the Maine Department of Tourism (MDOT) in Rangeley, Maine. The MDOT is planning to organize an entire new campaign to promote tourism and small business in the state of Maine. Part of the campaign involves linking with native experts passionate (or even Rabid!) about the state of Maine and making them Maine Insiders. These people will be photographed, videoed and even write about their various adventures in Maine, in an attempt to encourage others to visit our amazing state!

My time on the project was comprised of an entire two and a half days being photographed kayaking, canoeing, flying in sea-planes, ATV riding, fly fishing, hunting and even touring the Maine heritage museum in Oquossoc, Maine . . . I also had to complete two hour long interviews! All of the pictures and video will eventually be boiled down into about 30 seconds of video! LOL!

All in all a great experience and the folks from both organizations were fantastic! Thanks again to all the fine folks in both organizations for providing me with such a unique experience! 

I was also fortunate to be joined by a very talented Brittany named "Brookie" (short for Brook Trout) for my session pretending to hunt partridge and woodcock. Good times had by all! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Maine is a Great Wilderness

The immensity of Maine’s wilderness is hard for most to comprehend, with a total area of 33,215 square miles, the state it nearly as large as the other five New England states combined. In fact, Maine’s largest county, Aroostook alone is comprised of 6,453 square miles, covering an area greater than the combined size of Connecticut and Rhode Island. In addition, Maine contains 32,000 miles of rivers and streams, equal to more than the combined length of the Mississippi, Amazon, Yangtze and Nile rivers.

Despite Maine’s impressive size, it ranks as the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi with only 1.2 million residents. This mix of low population density and tens of thousands of miles of explorable wilderness and waters, make Maine an outdoorsman’s paradise.

Maine is a vast, isolated and empty, and this is precisely what is enjoyed by a large number of its 1.2 million inhabitants. To the uninitiated, the woods may seem course and lonely but Maine’s wild lands are in fact not empty and instead possess a wild unbridled energy difficult to explain.

Novice, intermediate or expert outdoorsman, no matter how adventurous you are, Maine’s woods and waters are able to accommodate. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall and yes even during the infamous “mud season”, Mainer’s enjoy a huge selection of outdoor sports including: canoeing, kayaking, backpacking hiking, flyfishing, hunting, skiing, snowshoeing, ATV riding, snowmobiling, ice fishing . . . just to name a few! No matter your outdoor passion or the season, there exists an exciting bucket list experience for every skill level.

Maine contains a subtle beauty whispered gently to you by the wind in the white pines and the waves lapping at a deserted beach, it will only be understood by those able to slow down and truly listen. One can draw power and healing from these whispers and explorers have come here for centuries to revitalize their souls.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What it Means to Be a Registered Maine Guide

I am occasionally asked what it means to be a Registered Maine Guide and quite honestly, I often find the answer difficult to effectively express. Becoming a Registered Maine Guide is like being inducted into a family of like minded outdoors men and women, all sharing a bond and common passion for Maine’s woods and waters. With both Grandfathers, Father, Uncle and a Cousin all Registered Maine guides, for me becoming a guide was about being able to carry on the proud heritage and traditions, perhaps someday even inspiring my own children to become Maine guides.

 A career steeped in custom and ritual, being a Maine guide means doing your small part to ensure that the guiding traditions, ideals and oral history are forever preserved. This directive of course is no easy task, for as society has changed, so has the Maine guide also found it necessary to evolve or else risk certain extinction. This becomes a conundrum of sorts between the “old” guides and the “new” guides, as they both independently struggle to decide how to best preserve traditional guiding practices, in the face of a society no longer fully embracing these same principles? At its heart, the issue equates to simply adapting to ensure the survival of the Registered Maine Guide. This skirmish line is were we see a divide between the old wool wearing guides and the new guides sporting Gore-Tex.

HISTORICAL SIDE NOTE: It is my understanding that this same dividing line occurred when the REALLY old guides began watching the “young whipper snappers” no longer paddling their Grand Lake canoes but instead using fancy outboards. In other words, change is inevitable and must be embraced rather than ignored. A guide may change his mode of transport, a cell phone may replace a VHF radio, a GPS may be used for navigation and Gore-Tex may even replace wool but under all of the clothing and technology, it is the heart and soul of the Maine Guide that really matters. It is their innate knowledge and love of Maine’s wild places, gregarious nature and Yankee ingenuity that makes them uniquely iconic.

There are of course many young guides who are adapting and many old timers who are not. Eventually, it will be society who will ultimately will chisel a new breed of guide out of Maine’s course granite and it will be this modern, new-fangled and perhaps even contemporary Registered Maine Guide that will lead an entirely new generation of our society in its exploration of Maine’s wild lands and waters.

We as guides need to set aside our difference, we must learn to embrace and nurture young guides, especially those individuals where guiding is not their livelihood or primary source of income. “Full timers” will often chastise these individuals as not being “real” guides and it is this particular level of arrogance that really gets up my dander. Is it justifiable to belittle the half time teacher just because they don’t teach a full day? Does the half time teacher not have a passion for teaching and a love for their students? When did time become an indicator that someone is more or less valuable then another human being in his or her efforts in a particular career or cause? I may not have the time to guide more then a few “sports” every year but those are the moments I most cherish, for in those times I have a chance to show people Maine’s subtle intrinsic beauty and for me that is what guiding is all about.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to Choose the Perfect Waders for Fly Fishing

Trying to find that perfect set of fly fishing waders can make you almost as confused as a hungry baby at a topless bar. However, don’t let the immense selection of options, sizes and shapes scare you . . . and yes, I am now talking about waders . . . please try to keep up.

A few simple suggestions can help you to effectively navigate this wading jungle and find a pair of waders that will be a perfect fit for what you are looking to do.

The first question most “waders” will tackle is height. Basically do you purchase thigh high boots, waist or chest waders? For most people chest waders are not going to be needed, as you will rarely wade that far out into a river . . .if you are “petite” than you are definitely not going to wade out chest deep into a river and doing so could potentially be VERY dangerous. Chest waders can quite honestly make you take chances in the water that you would not normally take with waist height waders or hip boots.

My personal fly-fishing waders come up to my chest BUT I also use mine for duck hunting. When placing duck decoys, the water is not moving and the chest high areas of the swamp are easy to safely navigate. Plus, with the added height provided by chest waders, you are less likely to overflow your waders on a cold November morning.

 I would caution you to not buy hip boots as they will limit where you can go. If you have a pair of wader pants you will be able to go just about everywhere AND not have to worry about continually looking down to make sure you don’t go over the boot tops! The waist highs will also allow you to enter deeper water more confidently and keep you from getting your butt muddy and wet from sliding down stream banks.

Here is the style of wader that I am talking about: LL Bean Waders they provide nice coverage and with the Emerger II boots the total is only $218.00. Not bad of an investment for a piece of equipment that with care will likely last you many, many seasons.

Last thing to remember is insulation. I have multiple fleece and polypro pants (NO COTTON) of various thicknesses that I layer depending on how cold the water temperatures are going to be. I find this much more effective than buying a pair of heavy neoprene waders and then sweating to death in them on a hot summer day. I suggest buying something like the LL Bean Fleece Wading Pants to wear under your waders when water temps are low, like at the beginning and end of the fishing season.

Ok, well this is how we Mainahs do thangs BUT make sure this system makes sense for your neck of the woods! I hope this helps, take care and stay in touch! Good luck fly fishing!

Special thanks goes out to Kim Gibson at for helping me create this post. She had originally contacted me requesting information on how to select the perfect pair of waders for fly fishing and by elaborating on that initial conversation . . . BLAMO . . . instant blog post! Glad you are enjoying your waders Kim and many thanks for the pictures! Take care!
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