We are pleased to announce that Wheaton's Lodge has new owners! Patrick and Sandy Patterson have purchased the business, and look forward to being your hosts in the years to come. They are Mainers with warm people skills, strong work ethics, and business experience. They both worked at the lodge throughout 2012, in various roles, and have met many of you. It is with confidence that we step aside, knowing the lodge is in good hands and that the rich sporting tradition will carry on. Thank you for your friendship and loyalty these many years.
------ Dale and Jana
The smallmouth bass fishing was outstanding throughout 2012, from the pre-spawn heavyweights of late May to the gorginging bronzebacks of late September. Our vast unspoiled waters host a truly world-class smallmouth fishery. Opportunities abound for every skill level, and daily expectations are rarely disappointed. The forage base is diverse, the ecosystem balanced, and the bass healthy. We're spoiled, to say the least.
Thanks for sharing nature's bounty with us, and for reminding us how fortunate we are.
John Merwin, long-time fishing editor of Field and Stream magazine and author, fished with us in early June. For John and his wife, Martha, this was a return trip "just for the fun of it." They ran into a brutal and tenacious east wind that hounded the region for a week, but the fish still bit well and there were stories exchanged. Some, true.
Fourteen salmon were taken on streamers their first day, fishing north of Five Islands with Paul. The smallmouths were reluctant to rise to topwater treats the next day on Spednic, but plenty of action could be had below the surface. On day three, John wanted to chase pickerel and rejuvenate some boyhood memories. There was no shortage of teeth gnashing at surface baits, and we eventually just sat back to watch Martha put on a show. The tackle box was lighter at the end of that day!
Both guide and sport reminisced about their lives spent on the water, of choices well made, and how incidental the fish was to it all.
A couple of unusual catches last May: Andy Brooks netted a live cusk (burbot) on East Grand, which weighed 5lbs. 7oz. and measured nearly 28". Ann Turnbull said it looked like a cousin of hers. Chuck Armstrong caught a 2lbs. 4oz. whitefish on Pleasant Lake. Neither species is common to open water angling, at least around here. In the 60-year history of the lodge, these catches were both firsts—and they occurred six days apart!
In July of 1939, a slight 12-year-old boy from New York got separated from his party while climbing Maine's largest mountain. Cold and frightened atop fog-shrouded Mount Katahdin, young Donn Fendler descended to rejoin his father and brothers but instead lost his way down the desolate north slope and into the wilderness.
Intense rescue efforts in the ensuing days involving the largest manhunt in the history of the state of Maine turned up nothing. The tragic disappearance captivated the nation as mothers and fathers followed radio and newspaper accounts with their hopes and prayers. After five days, search leaders concluded the boy had perished, leaving but a few family members and volunteers to continue the hunt against heavy odds. Nine days later a starved and exhausted boy, badly bruised and nearly naked, wandered out to the East Branch of the Penobscot River.
The unbelievable story of survival riveted the hearts of New England and played out for months in the national press and periodicals such as Saturday Evening Post and Look. The dramatic story as told by Fendler, appeared in book form as Donn Fendler, Lost on a Mountain in Maine (Thomas Egan, 1939.) It continues to be one of the most inspiring and enduring tales of the north woods, and is familiar to countless generations of Maine schoolchildren.
Last July, Donn came to Forest City where he gave a presentation at the Woodie Wheaton Land Trust Center, stayed at the lodge, and fished with his brother and Dale on Spednic. It was a highlight of the summer for the lodge and the community, and Donn said it was his best bass fishing ever!
Press Clippings: "Why the Maine Guide Still Matters," by Wayne Curtis appeared in the March, 2012, issue of Yankee magazine. It features Forest City guides and Wheaton's Lodge, and ponders the future of Maine's backcountry guide tradition. In June, Field and Stream's John Merwin posted accounts of the fish and fishing at the lodge. You can still access his blogs, The Honest Angler. See, e.g. "True Originals: The Landlocked Salmon of Forest City, Maine," (June 4,) "Catching and Bait Tips for Maine Smallmouth Bass," (June 11,) and "Pickerel Fishing is Plenty Fun and Always a Good Time," (June 18.)
Americans will surely feel safer with completion of the new $6.5 million Forest City port of entry. With holding cells, high-tech monitors, a 120-foot communications tower, and radioactivity scanners, the facility fulfills the urgent security needs of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP.) It was badly needed to manage the 6.7 vehicles that cross daily. No longer will our citizens fear the illegal entry of ionized raccoons or undocumented Canada geese. And they can't find ways to save money in Washington?
Russ Anderson landed a 4lb. 2oz. chain pickerel in late September while trolling a down-rigger. A pickerel over four pounds is a State of Maine citation fish. Upon release, the fish struggled to recover, but not soon enough. An eagle swooped down and grabbed it less than fifteen seconds after it left the boat, straining to reach shore. The bird seemed happy, and did not complain about the bones.
Castle Road, our access to the “Lower Landing” on Spednic Lake should see an upgrade in 2013. Funds have been budgeted for grading and gravel, badly needed.
The Spednic Lake/St. Croix River Stewardship Fund was created by the New England Forestry Foundation to support conservation, outdoor recreation, and access to the lands conserved along this waterway in 2004. The Woodie Wheaton Land Trust was integral to that project and has a standing role in the Stewardship Group. A public right-of-way was secured on Castle Road as part of the conservation project, but it remains under private ownership. The landowner has no reason to maintain the road unless it is harvesting trees in the area, and the government will not appropriate dollars to repair roads it does not own. The Stewardship Fund can redress the financial void for the benefit of local guides and sportsmen who use the landing.
|Come visit us at a fishing show near you!
New England Fishing and Outdoor Expo
February 8-10, 2013
World Fishing and Outdoor Expo
Rockland County Community College
Feb. 28-March 3, 2013
Both the new proprietors and old will be there to see old friends and swap stories.
For those who use GPS to find their way, Wheaton's lies at Latitude 46 degrees 39' 71" and Longitude 67 degrees 44' 03". In other words, we're midway between the North Pole and the Equator, and halfway between Saskatchawan and the Azores. Just triangulate.
Wheaton's will extend its season to October 12 in 2013! Although international waters are closed to fishing after September 30, there are lots of opportunities available for outdoor enthusiasts.
Fall Foliage Our brilliant autumn colors peak in the early days of October, and this is one of the best places in New England to enjoy them. Nature's exuberance is on display for leaf peepers and camera buffs who want to experience the annual show. You can do it by car traversing the scenic hills around East Grand Lake, hiking local trails and camp roads, or by canoeing the lakes and streams. Autumn's kaleidoscope of colors against a backdrop of the dark evergreen forest, and a foreground of unspoiled rock-strewn lakeshore, is a photographer's dream.
Smallmouths Nearby Baskakegan Lake and other Maine waters remain open for warmwater species such as smallmouth bass, white perch, and chain pickerel. Bass feed aggressively in October in preparation for the long Maine winter. On gentle days, you can enjoy topwater action in the shallows or work the deeper structure with jigs and soft plastic baits.
Upland Bird Hunting Maine's eastern fringe boasts a variety of proven habitat for wild ruffed grouse. This includes abandoned farmland, mixed-age poplar stands, old apple orchards, regenerating forest harvests, and lowland alders. Our mixed growth areas have sustained vibrant partridge populations through yearly cycles, and 2012 flush rates demonstrated an abundance of birds.
Migratory woodcock arrive early in October from neighboring New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to augment a base of resident birds, and the action can be spectacular. Both grouse and woodcock often occupy the same coverts, making for exciting hunts over pointing or flushing dogs.
Our experienced guides will take you to prime coverts, and make for memorable days afield. In the event of a rain day, you might sample duck hunting on local lakes and streams, catch-and-release landlock fishing on West Grand Lake or Grand Lake Stream, or the late-season smallmouth action on Baskahegan Lake.
Contact us early to reserve space.
Call or email us for a 2013 copy of the Backlash, Wheaton's annual update. In it are reports on the 2012 season, trophy fish, rates, and plausible stories.