Grand Lake Stream

Dave McCullough

I was pleased to have Randy Spencer’s new book arrive this week.  We had placed the order in early January and finally it has been released. A BDN writer wrote a review of Wide and Deep and here are a few selected comments from his review.

“In his follow-up collection of essays, Wide and Deep (Tales and Recollections from a Master Maine Fishing Guide),  Spencer delivers a set of tales that will leave readers entertained, and leave his fellow outdoor writers saying, “Wow. Wish I’d written that.

At the center of those places is Grand Lake Stream, the tiny village where guides likely outnumber non-guides, and where his summer adventures begin.

Spencer lives near the stream, spends countless hours on nearby West Grand Lake, which feeds the stream, and ventures out onto many of the region’s productive bass-fiSpencer dives into the deep end with the book’s first essay, A Cry For Help, which recounts a tragic episode during which he tried to save a man who had been fishing in Grand Lake Stream.

Spencer also mines his own innate curiosity in this book as he leads the reader into the fascinating world of Passamaquoddy culture.

Burnham Tavern Docents Bring History to Life for the Downeast Lakes Land Trust

Things were looking decidedly old-fashioned as the Downeast Lakes Land Trust welcomed two period-clad docents from the Burnham Tavern Museum last Saturday afternoon. By candle light, Dr. Ruth and Robert Ahrens described the Battle of the Margaretta, the first naval battle of the American Revolution which occurred at Machias in 1775.

Dr. Ahrens has, for a number of years, shared the history of the battle with visitors from around the world.  Throughout those years she has patiently gathered “pieces of the puzzle” to explain why things played out as they did, and how issues and events in Machias mirrored those in the larger “theater” of the American Revolution.

“We can imagine a world without TVs and computers, but it is harder for us to think about how people lived in the late 1700s, with no indoor plumbing and no central heating. What they lacked in our modern conveniences, they mostly had to make up for in sheer hard labor. And yet, these people are us.” Dr. Ahrens asserted. “The men who took over the Unity, sailed the Falmouth Packet and eventually took the Margaretta were declared pirates by the British government. Thus you see before you today, the descendant of a pirate,” said Dr. Ahrens with a deep curtsy and smile.

Indeed a quick glance at the list of men involved included names familiar in the region now: Browns, Chandlers, Holmes, Spragues, Wheatons, Whitneys and Woodruffs.  This drew a few chuckles from the audience as they saw their own names. A sense of pride and the reflection; “We are still here, we are those people“ permeated the School Building in Grand Lake Stream, just two days walk from where these events took place nearly 240 years ago.

Dr. Ahrens shared an “up close and personal” look at the history created by people here in Washington County. She described back-up forces who forgot their ammunition, and the pregnant young woman who carried it through sixteen miles of forest to bring it to them. She explained how the people in Machias struggled to balance the needs of their hungry children with their greater ambitions for self-rule.  Dr. Ahrens’ storytelling made real and present the struggles and fateful decisions the citizens of Machias made to provide for their families and to secure their future. “Machias is a very special place.” reflected Dr. Ahrens as she concluded her presentation.

Thanks to Arron Smith from Smith’s General Store in Springfield for the update on the coyote hunt for 2014. A total of 53 coyotes have been harvested: twenty-nine males and twenty- four females. Smith’s General Store has tagged 41, Partridge Ridge Farm has tagged 3 and Two Rivers has tagged 9 from counts last reported.

Column readers have posed a variety of questions about the upcoming fishing season. Here are the questions and the answers. Thank you Warden Brad Richards for this information!

Do largemouth bass eat alewives?  Yes

Small mouth fishing bag limits? Most area lakes that are managed for smallmouth have the following regulation: All bass between 13 and 18 inches must be released alive at once. April 1 – June 30: daily bag limit on bass: 1 fish. July 1 – March 31: daily bag limit on bass: 2 fish.  There are a few exceptions, the Grand Falls Flowage is catch and release for smallmouth bass and then the St Croix River itself has the following regulations: •On bass: April 15 – June 30: 1 fish; July 1-September 30: 3 fish. 

Stability of landlocked salmon fishing in the West Grand and stream?  The success of the salmon population is highly dependent on stocking numbers.  West Grand is stocked with around 10,000 8-10 inch fish annually. The stream is usually stocked with 75-100 brood stock from the hatchery as well. Big Lake is stocked with 1700 salmon as it is not as intensely managed for salmon.  The stability is largely dependent on the health of the smelt population.  The smelts are the main food source of the salmon, so the health of the salmon directly depends on them.    

What to do with large mouth if we catch one?  Kill it!   Since the discovery of the Largemouth in the St. Croix watershed, it was decided that the Dept. was not going to manage the fish so there was an emergency measure put into the rules allowing no size or bag limit on largemouth bass.

Are large mouth (bass) really a threat and to what, smelts, salmon, perch, smallmouth bass? They are competing for food for all species.  They will also eat small perch, salmon, bass, and smelts.  They are an invasive fish that can out compete smallmouth on some watersheds.  They will outnumber smallmouths on the Grand falls Flowage as there is a lot more nesting habitat for largemouth there.  

Have a great week! (This morning it was 12 degrees)  Come on SPRING!!

Be sure and check out the many new pictures on Grand Lake Stream July 4th Festival on Facebook. Great to see all the sunny weather!

Your humble correspondent, Dave McCullough, 207-839-4205 or