Many readers like photos of big fish. Many of those same readers like to see photos of big deer. Or big bears.
And, being no fool, I try to provide that content whenever possible.
As I suspected, when we put the photos of Scott Hersey and his 4.8-pound brookie up on the Internet, traffic to our BDN Outdoors site started to sizzle. At last count, more than 3,200 folks had clicked on the Out There blog post dealing with that fish.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the “residents” of the iceshanty.com online community who helped fuel that traffic. The men and women who frequent iceshanty’s Maine forum are avid ice anglers, and they like nothing more than a good fish tale.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a tale to tell. I’d not had the chance to touch base with Hersey, or to hear his side of the story. All I had were Hamer’s photos and the barest of details.
Thankfully, Hersey himself sent a follow-up email on Friday morning with, as he called it, “the rest of the story on the nice brook trout at Moosehead last weekend.”
I’m certainly glad Hersey took the time to do that. It turns out that his 22-inch, 4.8-pound brookie was more than a big trout: It was a trout caught in a manner that added special significance.
Here’s what Hersey had to say:
“My grandfather, Ed Roullard, used to take me ice fishing when I was a kid back in the early
70s,” Hersey wrote. “He had an airplane and we would fly to lakes and ponds. It was always a great adventure.
“He had a small ‘Swedish spoon’ hand auger. He made a bracket to secure the auger to the ski supports on the plane. He also had this one special small trap that we always put in close to shore to catch trout. It was our special ‘big trout’ trap. We caught many great trout on that trap over the years. Both the trap and auger are very old and he told me he used them when he as a young man in the 30s.
“Well, Ed has longed passed but before he passed he gave me the auger and the trap,” Hersey continued. “You guessed it, I used the auger to drill the holes that day and the fish was caught
on the ‘big trout’ trap. I think this gives credence to fisherman’s superstitions.”
Hersey explained that over the years, there have been plenty of times that he hasn’t used his grandfather’s old equipment.
“I almost never use the hand auger anymore as it is small at only six inches,” he wrote. “Grampa always said that you can get a very big fish through that six-inch hole. And more to the point the hand auger has given way to the much easier gas power auger.
“But on this day I decided that the ice was not that thick and I would use the old hand auger. As for the trap, I set the trap early in the morning and then decided that I did not like where it was and moved it to the hole that eventually caught the fish! Coincidence … I think not. I think Grampa Ed was looking down on me that day.”
Hersey said he and fishing buddy Henry Gilbert were fishing in East Cove, near Mile Light, and could see Jamo’s Pizza in town from where they were stationed.
“We plan on mounting the fish and putting it on the wall in the camp we were fishing from,” Hersey wrote.
How’s the ice?
Earlier this week I asked readers for ice reports, and several of you were kind enough to provide updates from your favorite ponds.
Among those helpful readers was Scott Hersey. He said the ice in the east and west coves of Moosehead Lake is between six and 12 inches thick, but said there is open water around rocks and shorelines. He urged people to use caution.
Brian Pierce reported that Little Sebago Lake in Gray and Windham had four to five inches of ice in many spots, but plenty of open water was evident.
Joni Nickerson said that Center Pond in East Sangerville had ice ranging from six to 12 inches thick. Michael Gray reported that Hosmer Pond in Camden had a solid base of six inches, while Chickawaukie Pond in Rockland and Rockport was more typical of the larger coastal lakes: two to six inches of ice, and “very dicey.”
And from Jeanne Curran at the Maine Department of Conservation came this report: “Yes, we have ice on Lake St. George, and our youth ice fishing derby will take place on Jan. 15, as scheduled,” Curran wrote.
FYI: That derby will run from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Lake St. George State Park. All equipment, including bait, will be provided.
In addition, Curran passed along a report from the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, compiled by chief ranger Kevin Brown: “The first week of ice fishing was pretty quiet as use was down due to poor ice conditions and lack of snow,” Brown wrote. “By the end of the week conditions imporved with 8-12 inches of ice. Chamberlain has gotten three inches of snow which has provided excellent lake travel, but trails to the lakes are still in rough shape.”
A quick note: Brown’s report was filed before Thursday’s snowstorm, and snow conditions have likely improved a bit.
“The south end of Chamberlain Lake has several major pressure ridges that have forced the ice up in some places four feet high,” Brown wrote. “There is also a pressure ridge that crosses Chamberlain Lake just south of Lock Dam. Eagle Lake has good traveling conditions with one pressure ridge just north of Pilsbury Island.”
Finally, Curran urged those who are traveling on the state’s lakes to pay particular attention to navigational buoys that are left in the water year-round. Those buoys — the state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands maintains a total of 2,113 on 32 lakes and ponds — can pose a hazard during the winter.
“As the lakes freeze up, the buoys have a tendency to lean over to one side and become frozen into the lake at odd angles,” George Powell, the BPL’s Boating Facilities Division director, said in a press release. “Typically, a little snow cover will bury the buoys, and they are not seen and do not pose any threat to lake users. However, when we have winters where there is little or no snow, the buoys will often be sticking up out of the ice.”