On our last fishing day at Libby Camps In Maine’s North Woods we wanted to catch more landlocked salmon, so we planned a trip to an underwater stream southwest of the lodge. Our guides, Jeff LaBree and Pete Koch, set out early for the long drive over forest roads and we followed them in the lodge’s seaplane. The day was cool and overcast but the flight was beautiful with views of the Katahdin massif to the south and numerous lakes and streams in all directions.
We landed on a lake and taxied to a small cove next to a dam where Jeff and Pete were waiting. Once we were outfitted, Pete and guest Jerry Birchmore made our way to the ponds just below the dam while Jeff, Charlie and I hiked downstream. This creek is Jeff’s home water – he has a cabin on the lake – so he knows every spot where fish might hang out. I caught a small salmon on my first cast, which we all took as a great sign.
The creek itself is stunning and my favorite spot was a large pool beneath a series of waterfalls. The presentation was complex due to the multiple currents but we caught four or five fish and had shots from several others. Like the day before, we caught at least one fish at virtually every spot we stopped, and often caught and landed a few more. On this day the fish appeared to be shy of attachment and often slapped at the fly but would not take it. The biggest fish we saw was a huge brown trout that came out from behind a rock twice but just wouldn’t bite.
When we finally made it to the upper pools, we found Jerry just releasing a beautiful salmon that had eaten a Perdigon nymph. We swung streamers through the tanks directly below him and ended the session with three or four salmon and trout. The plane was due in a few minutes but I didn’t want to stop fishing so I devised a nifty plan that I pitched to Jeff.
Instead of Charlie and I getting on the plane, we sent Pete with Jerry. Then the rest of us jumped into Jeff’s vehicle known as the “Battle Wagon” so we could make one more stop before returning to the lodge. It meant trading a 25-minute flight for almost four hours of driving and hiking, but for me it was worth it for the chance to catch more fish and see a new stretch of water.
The logging roads that crisscross Maine’s North Woods range from manicured gravel to rutted nightmare, and we’ve seen plenty of both. Jeff masterfully managed to weave through the potholes, mud puddles and rocks that posed a constant hazard. Huge stacks of logs ready for removal lined the roads and at one point a young moose trotted out ahead of us onto the road before getting startled and disappearing into the undergrowth. We pulled down a cul-de-sac, parked and descended a steep path to the water.
A huge pool beneath a dam featured multiple seams created by five overflows and a foam-covered central whirlpool. I caught a nice brown trout right at the bottom of the trail and then we crossed the trail. Jeff had me drop my streamers into the eddy between the overflows, and I got a hit almost immediately. The feeling of a strong head shake let me know it was a big fish, which was confirmed when a very large brown trout swam out from under the raging current. I caught the fish right off the bank, after which the hook was pulled out and we watched the trophy swim away. There is groaning everywhere.
We went back over and I spent the next half hour casting long back casts into the confusing currents in the center of the pool and landing three more trout, but none to match the size of the escaped trout. Eventually Jeff had to pull me out of the water so we could get back to the lodge before dark. It had been a long and remarkable day, a fitting conclusion to our Libby’s adventure.
Click here to learn more about day one.
Click here to learn more about day two.