Frenchman Bay with Island Charter Fishing

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Research on where to surf fish on the Mount Desert Island, Maine coast lead us to the conclusion that it was not worth it. Though you can catch some Atlantic Mackerel from the shore, the seasonal Stripers had skipped the area this year.

So instead, we decided to go out with the experts at Island Fishing Charters and take to Frenchman Bay via charter boat. It was highly affordable at only around 45$ per adult, with everything included– lines, poles, reels, rigs, the whole nine. The only part I found odd was that we did not use any bait. Instead, our hooks looked tied up similar to a fly.

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It was a cold, misty morning, so we were sure to pack a couple of ponchos and our warmest clothing. Sadly, Brook couldn’t come with us on this adventure. The boat took us out to various spots along the bay for us to drop our lines into. Some were active, some weren’t.

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First catch was a Pollock, which is a Cod family fish. We had a bucket to keep our catches in and so long as the fish was longer than the mouth of the bucket, they were keepers.

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The one exception to that was the Atlantic Cod. These fish around these waters remained protected, and had to be released upon catch.

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The scenery was absolutely beautiful on this trip. Above, those are a bunch of seals and their pups lounging around on Egg Rock Island. We saw some swimming around in the water as well. We were also lucky enough to have a group of porpoise decide to swim and dive along with our boat. If that wasn’t enough of a nature trip, a bald eagle sat atop an evergreen tree, took flight and swooped down to snatch a fish from the water with its talons. That’s not something you get to see every day!

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The last type of fish we caught was the Atlantic Mackerel. Really neat looking creatures, with their elaborate pattern on their back. They did not chirp like the mackerel we had caught in Korea with Chagui-do Bay Charter Fishing though!

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The views and the nature were amazing, and the staff was extremely helpful. Since the sea floor in this area is incredibly rocky and rugged, we did experience quite a few catastrophic snags that tore the entire rig away. The staff had ready made rigs to tie onto your pole in a few seconds, which was really convenient, that way we could continue fishing as much as possible. When this pleasant experience was at its end, we headed home with dinner.

IMG_20170818_192348_038We decided to keep only two Pollock and two Mackerel. The staff on the charter boat offered to clean the fish for us, and they used the same simple methods as seen in our How to Clean a Fish in Three Steps guide.

At that point, Dan the camp-chef took over and using simply butter, salt, pepper, and a pan, created a delicious flaky dish of both fish. We paired it with a classic Korean dish known as “budaejiggae” or “Army Stew” that includes salt, garlic, pepper paste, soy sauce, sugar, water, kimchi, beans, onions, and an array of different ingredients such as spam, vienna sausage, tofu,  noodles, rice and whatever veggies you want.

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The fishing trip was a lot of fun, and we got to see some beautiful parts of nature. I would certainly recommend this charter to anyone looking to go coastal fishing in Mount Desert Island or Bar Harbor. It put dinner on the table, that’s for sure.

Georges Pond

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We had a week of leave to spare, and went up to “Down East” Maine in order to visit and fish near Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. We struck gold and ended up staying at a Lakefront House in Franklin, Maine which had the beautiful Georges Pond right in its backyard. The pond was known for its Smallmouth Bass, which we had never fished before, but we were excited to delve into something new.

Dan and I have been experimenting in hard plastic lures as of late, and with the overcast we faced in the first few days, we gave topwaters a try.  As soon as we arrived that night, we hopped on a canoe and threw some lures in.

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As usual, Dan had some luck from the get-go and caught both a smallie and a LMB using his favorite tiger striped top water. I was trying to jig, and ended up with nothing. Part of it was technique, part of is was that we didn’t have an anchor and I was busy rowing us around all over the place while Dan fished. I called it quits for the night and went to bed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dan was determined to grab that late night lunker, inspired by tall tales of monster fish and straw-ber-ritas.

The next morning, I saw something strange. Dan’s entire outfit from the night before as you see above — the shirt, pants, socks, hate and even his underwear, were all strewn across the outdoor deck. Upon confrontation, Dan, cheeks glowing with chagrin, offered a harrowing confession. Apparently, in a partially drunk stupor, he tried to take out the canoe himself, in the dark, after I’d retired. Instead of a big fish, he got a big black bruise. When he stepped into the canoe, his footing was off, throwing the boat off balance, and he completely fell in the water near the dock, the canoe flipping upside down beside him.  Gave me a good laugh but also I was like WHAT THE HELL DUDE because that was a really dangerous thing to do.

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The next morning, back at it and again, Dan’s hauling in some great fish using a spinner bait. This time, we attached the 3# anchor from our rubber raft to the canoe so we could stay in one place. The wind was no joke. After coming up flat again, I give in to his advice and try a top water myself.  And this time I forced Dan to row while I trolled off the back.

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At long last, I brought in my first Smallie and it was a beautiful one at that. I was using a Heddon Tiny Torpedo in Fluorescent Green Crawdaddy.

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A couple other greedy little fish seemed to want a bite of the lure as well.

That’s a gill and a baby small mouth.

Brook was terrified of the canoe because of the way the slighted move shook the boat side to side. She was standing most of the time, frozen in place, but finally laid down.

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The prop bait started to slow down so I moved onto an Original Rat-L-Trap crank bait in Lake Fork Special color. This thing vibrates so hard you can hear it no matter how far you cast it away. I ended up only pulling a little baby yellow perch on it, however.

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Dan continued to catch some little smallies, and I switched it up to a popper. We were both utilizing a similar technique for the top waters. Basically, you cast out, then holding your rod parallel to where you cast, twitch the rod away, causing the lure to pop and bubble toward you. Then you reel in, to tighten the line and let it sit for a little bit. By varying the twitch strength and the length of the pause, you can draw in the attack. The fun of it, especially for smallies, is seeing them jump out of the water to grab the lure.

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BAM! My record smallie! Dan and I JUST got a scale before we went on the water this day, so I was able to measure it in at 2.5lb. This fish fought HARD. Didn’t help I was using an ultralite rod, hoping to catch some lake trout. We fought for a good 3 minutes, and she jumped straight out of the water. I couldn’t help but let out a loud “WHOAAAA!” when that happened. It was really exciting!

Sadly, that was the last hog Dan or I brought in on the lake, but we did scoop up a couple of smaller fish.

All the while we were out in the canoe, searching for flats and weed beds, my Dad, who I brought an interest in fishing to, was on the dock, casting out into no more than 2-3 feet of water tops, using his classic shallow bobber-night crawler combo. As usual, he was hauling in tons of little bluegills and green sunfish, and a lot of juvenile white perch.

He did this into the night, and while I was sitting at the table, conversing with my mom, suddenly my Dad comes running to the door, frantically. I run out, thinking he’s stuck with a hook or something, and he holds up this:

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A FAT small mouth. Weighing in at 3.4#, my dad, who I always make fun of for never bringing in a big fish, has snagged the biggest catch of the entire trip. But there’s a reason! He was using the secret technique, and not his bobber. The secret technique is how Dan and I first learned to fish in America: a weightless treble hook with a nightcrawler, slow pitch jigged across the bottom. I had been trying to get my dad to use this technique for ages, and finally, it seems he conceded– and it paid off, big!

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It was incredible staying at a house with this beautiful pond right in its back yard, and we were floored by the top tier smallie fishing available at our fingertips! I would highly recommend Georges Pond for any Smallie fishermen or those looking to get into catching them. And with the fight these fish put up, you will get addicted in a heart beat.

Nimblewill Creek

Get ready, this is going to be a long post! It was easily one of my favorite trips so far. Dan and I decided we wanted to try our hand at trout fishing in Georgia again. We did extensive research using the Fishbrain App (A great app for finding where folks have caught certain fish, as well as more or less the angler’s instagram– my user is shipyard if you want to follow me there!) as well as other online resources. Our first stop was the Chattahoochee just South of Lake Lanier since it was about 2.5 hours from Columbus, where I live. Well, as it turns out it’s solely Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area down there which does not allow primitive camping… or DOGS! They had campgrounds such as Sawnee on the Southern portion of Lake Lanier, but they were all booked up anyways. Besides, the no dogs is a deal breaker. Seriously? It’s the 21st century! Dogs are people, too!

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I mean look at that face. Side note, since moving in with Dan she’s gotten a little chubby (Or as the vet put it, she’s on the “upper end of where she should be”) so she is on a diet.

Anyways, we scrambled around all over the place to try and find a new location that wasn’t too far away from where we were. Dan honed in on Nimblewill Creek– a creek that advertised primitive camping areas all along a trout creek only about an hour north into the Chattahoochee National Forest near Dahlonega. Just what we were looking for!

A note on the advertised directions– know that google maps will NOT lead you to the creek and will instead take you down toward Bull Mountain parking area. You can use the directions off Dahlonega.org  however, FS 28-2 is not indicated on maps other than local maps. Instead, if you’re using a google map or something similar, FS 28-2 will be listed as “Nimblewill Gap Road.” There ARE signs on the road that say FS 28-2 once you reach it, though, and it’s no the same as FS 28-1…It took us a good 45 minutes to an hour of driving around aimlessly to figure this one out. It’s also a no service area, which is great for being unplugged, not so great for navigation without a local map. Feel free to contact me if you want more info about getting there.

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Finally, around 3p we arrived. The creek parallels a long dirt road with multiple pull offs on either side that serve as primitive camping sites. There were a few other folks there, so we just drove until we found a free site.

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Here’s what it looked like; A sectioned off area for the tent, and a rock fire pit. Ignore that bottle, that’s avocado oil that I brought along. The tent we use is a Coleman 4-man pop-up tent that I got off Amazon. It’s weathered through massive rainstorms before, even with just the small fly it comes with. Also it pops up which is really neat and sets up in 3 seconds. We went for the 4-man because Brook sleeps in there with us and she really likes to sprawl out.

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We could head in maybe 50 feet from our campground and the creek bed was right there. We grabbed our fishing supplies, which today consisted of my Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo Light and Dan’s Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod Ultralite. We used 4# test line, and size 14 treble hooks with 1/16th inch split shots. I prefer to use a split shot, but you do not have to use any weight when trout fishing. For bait, we had dead crickets, Berkeley Powerbait Trout Nibblers (In neon green, yellow, pink and orange) as well as general canned corn. This is all valuable stuff we learned from my friend when we went to Dick’s Creek the last time we went trout fishing.

Directly in from our campsite, the creek was shallow and clear enough to see directly to the bottom and not see any fish. So we headed downstream through a small goat path. The whole area was empty enough that we could let Brook loose. We were actually the only people we saw fishing out there. It didn’t take too long to start getting nibbles and catch the first rainbow, even though we were skeptical that there was even trout in the creek!

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Key was throwing the bait into pools beneath small waterfalls, as well as near overhanging rocks. I didn’t even see this guy; he was hiding in a small cave. One thing we realized quickly was that we forgot a trout line. Easy solution here– tie a bowline using paracord, thread the free (long) end through the gill, and then back through the loop.

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We continued moving downstream and throwing into these pools. Brook was so well behaved, sticking by us the entire time. The score was 2-1 Dan at this point (we always end up competing…) Eventually, we came to an area where there was a family camping nearby. A woman told us that yesterday, anglers were having luck in this particular spot so we decided to cast our lines. From the side I was working with, I had to cast through branches which was a little tricky… not to mention I’ve lost countless lures and rigs to the trees. But from here I could actually see dozens of trout resting in a pool. 20170617_165748

Quickly caught two more, but the family took notice and then the little kids started wading into the area I was fishing, wanted to toss their lines in. I would have stayed longer, but of course I wanted to respect their space…and not hook a small child, so we moved on. After approximately 2 hours, we called it a day and returned to our site to clean the fish. Victory poses:

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We ended up with a total of six trout, which wasn’t bad at all, especially for starting so late in the day. We went to the creek bed by our site to clean the fish and prepare it for cooking.  Here is our guide on How to Clean a Fish in Three Steps which is the method we utilized. Here is the end result:

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It was then that we realized I completely forgot some of our supplies at home… namely, butter, salt, pepper and tin foil. We threw some ice on the pan, tossed it in the cooler, and had to make an almost hour round trip into town to the gas station to get the supplies.

Once we returned, we were ready to go. Dan is the primitive cooking guy, so he seasoned and primed the trout with simply butter, salt and pepper, wrapped them up in tin foil and tossed them onto our camp grill.

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We lit up a fire as well, consisting of one tee-pee fire and a second long fire. We had local logs, and ignited it using the twig method, along with toilet paper as our manmade tinder (it was pretty wet everywhere, since it had been raining the past few days).

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While the trout was cooking, we sliced up some potatoes, threw them in a pan with avocado oil and tossed it in the long fire to cook. A quick explanation of the long fire– basically an extension of your main flame, only you make it horizontal instead of vertical. We used two logs and braces, with kindling and twigs in between (on a lower plane) which we lit. The fire is kept contained by the braces, that way you can place a pan atop the braces, directly over the twig fire.

We covered the top of the pan with tin foil because potatoes tend to take a while to soften. When the trout was done, we just placed the foil packets aside, added fresh diced onions, cheese and mushrooms (STORE BOUGHT! In general, even in a survival situation,  if you can prevent it, it is not wise to consume wild mushrooms. Often, highly poisonous mushrooms can look strikingly similar to edible mushrooms and cause a host of ailments, including but not limited to death– both from consumption, or the inhalation of smoke produced from attempted cooking).

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Once it all cooled down, the meal was complete and ready to eat.

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Nothing is more satisfying than a catch and eat meal. If only we had grown the potatoes in our own vegetable garden as well! The trout was cooked absolutely perfectly, though. It was falling off the bone. Trout does have a lot of pin bones to avoid, though.

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Yes, we did bring out plastic cutlery, but rest assured we brought in and hauled out a contractor bag with all of our trash.

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No feeling quite like the peace and calm of a night out in the woods, no cell phones, no internet, and nothing but us and our dog. The stars were stunningly beautiful above, and the silence breathtaking.

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Had to bust out the marshmallows to complete the good ole American camping experience. Good thing I also brought napkins because as you can see, Dan got it all over his face.

Now, what was Brook doing during all this time? We fed her the same time we ate; we brought her special food from home. She was off leash, and is smart enough not to go near the grill or fire, luckily. For the most part, she spent her time right behind us. Brook is a great dog to have in the woods at night. She goes into full guard dog mode, and literally stands at her post all night until bed.

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There’s her guarding right behind Dan.

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Here’s her guarding next to our tent. She looks/listen/smells what we can’t and always alerts us of human or animal movement at night. Knowing that we have no phones, and are fairly isolated in this area, it’s a reassuring habit.

At around midnight, after chatting, talking, laughing and enjoying the wilderness all night, we bunked down in our tent. Equipment wise, we brought thin inflatable sleeping pads and thin blankets. I brought sleeping clothes, though Dan didn’t. I’d recommend it if not just for feeling cleaner and more refreshed in the morning. Brook sleeps in the tent with us because she is our daughter.

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She stole my blanket… she also absolutely loves that spot right behind my knees when I sleep on my side.  But in this picture, you can also see the sleeping pad and blanket I brought.

For protection, we had our knives and bear spray. Probably all you need. Georgia’s population of bears is only about 2000 total, and stick to distinct portions of the state (including the mountainous region of North Georgia), so the spray is reserved for any unwelcome visitors… bear or not. Personally, I believe in preparedness without paranoia. Do I think being isolated and without signal in the woods could be dangerous? Potentially, but not in how folks that don’t do a lot of camping or backpacking would think. I will always argue that you are far more likely to be hurt or approached by unwelcome human contact in the populated city center than the middle of the woods. Sorry, that a bit of a rant!

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Fast forward to the morning. We woke up as the sun rose at around 7a. Dan was still asleep, so I poked out of the tent and went for a walk down by the creek. There were a few fly fishermen down there. The soft bubbling and morning view was so tranquil. Funny thing, Brook managed to get the tent unzipped after I left, and came running toward me 100mph to my surprise while I was down there. She found me!

By the time we made our way back, Dan, the camp-chef, had breakfast in the making. Breakfast was things we brought with us– eggs, steak, and cheesy potatoes o’brien. Eggs and potatoes cooked over our portable charcoal grill in a pan, while the steaks were sizzled over an open fire atop a steel camp grill.

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Talk about a feast. It was a little much for me so early in the morning, so Brook got the remains, little spoiled dog. We took a bit of a food coma nap after that. When we woke up, we packed everything up into the truck, made sure the site was left a little better than we found it and began the 3 hour, 40 minute trip back (to which I was the driver, ugh).

I highly recommend this area for trout fishing and camping. It was absolutely perfect in terms of the experience we were looking for. The sites are all right along the creek, so you hardly even have to walk (definitely don’t have to drive) to fish the creek. Most of the area was very clean, though we did spot some scattered beer cans, etc in the woods. Best of all, it was unplugged, and not crowded at all. Truly one of my favorite fishing trips thus far.