We spent the past few days fishing with a seven-year-old and her father at Chandler Lake Camps in the North Maine Woods. A couple of weeks ago her dad had guided us down the Mooseliuk Stream, catching lots of good size native brook trout. Now, Tim Winslow was taking a ‘busman’s holiday’ with his daughter, and we tagged along.
Fishing with a kid can be a totally absorbing adventure. First, there was the hike into the pool where we could possibly find fish at the end of July. To many adults, the trek on little better than game trails, over roots and fallen pieces of trees, and through mud serves as a barrier to be overcome. To Lorelai it was an enticing endeavor that might get her stuck, again, as it had another day. Unlike the big people, she considered getting stuck a bonus. While three of us maneuvered around the deeper trenches, finding drier ground as much as possible, Lorelai dashed in, She managed to sink well above her knees in one quagmire, which totally delighted her.
After Tim had tugged her out of the mud hole, we agreed it is a definite advantage having children’s waders with boots attached. At least one boot would most likely have been sucked off the foot and lost in the deep muck. The freed wood nymph was off to the next puddle, the next tree to climb through rather than go around, the next leg of the obstacle course.
As we approached the clearing at the end of the path, we could hear big splashes. “Uh oh,” Tim said. “That’s a moose. He’s probably stirred up the pool.” We entered the area cautiously, listening to something large sloshing up the stream.
Suddenly, Lorelai cupped her hands and made a grunting sound. Tim followed suit. The moose stopped. The father-daughter duet of moose calls continued. “It’s a cow,” Tim whispered, and Lorelai changed her call. Just before the bend in the stream, a large, black silhouette was barely discernible. If you took your eye off it momentarily, it disappeared into the shadows and you questioned your original vision. But, looking very closely, then relaxing your eyes as you would do if you were trying to solve one of the old posters with the hidden pictures, the hornless moose again appeared. She remained motionless until we returned to our original mission. When I looked again sometime later, she had silently crept away.
When a moose muddies up the pool, the fishing is less than optimal. The entire spot was murky. Although we geared up, found spots to cast, and tossed likely flies, there were no takers. At her request, under her father’s tutelage, Lorelai tied on a fly by herself for the first time, a significant milestone on the road to independence. One that I could appreciate since I have only recently become fairly capable of doing most of the things that I had previously relied upon Stan to do for me. (I am referring to fly fishing, only!) I eagerly joined her exuberant celebration of the feat.
After a few very nice casts that had no results, she passed her rod to her father, directing him to call her if he got anything, and moved on to more interesting activities. She watched the tiny minnows at the edge of the pool, looked for bugs, eventually made some great mud pies on the bank.
There was very little activity, and eventually, it was time to leave. The trip out was a repeat of the journey in without the difficult extrication from the Little La Brea tar pit. When a moose muddies up the pool, you will probably not catch the fish for which you were hoping. If you are a kid, it is barely a bump in the road, there are many other things to entertain you.
We had much to enjoy. We were out in beautiful country, having hiked through what feels like the forest primeval. The sun was shining. We were very close to a moose. There even were few bugs, or maybe they were repelled by my Bug-Off jacket. We were in the North Maine Woods: the way life should be.