Gone Fishin’

[Note: This article was originally written on April 19, 2020.] While the State of Maine wants Mainers to stay at home as much as possible until the coronavirus is brought under control, one outdoor activity the State is encouraging is fishing. The State even opened fishing season early this year to get folks outside and safely active. For fishermen social distancing is easy, a crowd at the fishing hole is about as welcome as swarms of mosquitoes and black flies. The Historical Society wants to do its part in motivating fishermen to head to their favorite fishing spot but being an historical society the above information, taken from a 1954 tourist guide, is just a tad dated-66 years dated to be exact. Still who is to say the “occasional trout” is not lurking in Keene’s Lake or an “early salmon” in Big Lake.

For those unsure of the location of Bearce Lake, Stony Brook or Mill Stream you can always contact a local Calais guide and Calais folks will recognize many of these names and for those who want the complete fishing experience and the chance of catching one worth mounting the handy list of sporting camps will, we hope, be helpful. As you can readily see most of the sporting camps and lodges were up Princeton and Grand Lake Stream way. As early as 1900 many of these had a national reputation.

Quimby and Gerry Tuell operated the Kennebasis Lodge and Camps for many years. It was one of the more popular spots in Princeton. They sold Socony gas and Turner Centre Ice Cream.

William Plaisted had camps at Picnic Cove in Princeton. These are now owned by the Passamaquoddy Tribe as, we believe, are the Kennebasis Camps and Lodge.

Dunn’s  Camps were operated by Olin and Brownie Dunn. We believe Olin was from Crawford and married Beulah Brown from Lincoln.

In the early 1900’s a Mr. Stone of Meddybemps built an elegant lodge with a meeting room, dining room and small camps for lodging. What happened to it is quite a mystery. The Meddybemps Historical Society newsletter published an article years ago titled “The Mystery of Camp Meddybemps” which does not entirely answer the question although the theory is a fire destroyed the lodge soon after it was built. This is supported by Mark Ketchum and Jeff Orchard who say they found the remains of of the large fieldstone fireplace in the woods at Stone’s Point in the 1960’s together with some small outbuilding nears the shore one of which had fallen down.

Ball’s Camps were perhaps the most popular of the very early sporting camps in Grand Lake Stream. Stephen Yates opened the lodge to sports before 1900 and it soon gained a  national reputation. Frank Ball bought the lodge in 1901 and added additional cabins. It later became Weatherby’s and, if interested, you can find it listed in the phone book under Weatherby’s Resort Inc.

Another historic sporting camp still operating in Grand Lake is Indian Rock Camps. It has probably changed some from the photos above but it remains a highly rated sporting lodge. We don’t know who runs it now but we came across an undated ad listing Joanne and Ken Cannell as the owners.

Grand Lake Camps and Rose’s Camps were both around in the early days of Maine’s Sportsman’s Paradise as Grand Lake Stream was called for many decades. We don’t know that they exist today. We do know there were many, many other camps in the area for sports or simply family relaxation. For those from Calais interested in fishing in the old days there was one place close to home that was hard to beat- Salmon Falls in Milltown.

Albert French was a game warden who lived on Union Street near the corner of Pleasant. An article says he rescued the son of Capt Lunn from drowning near Union Mills.

How good was fishing at Salmon Falls?

THE SALMON POOL AT CALAIS, MAINE 1889 — from Advertiser

     “A short paragraph regarding the now well-known Union Salmon Pool, within a half a mile of Calais Railroad Station on the line of the Washington County Railroad, seems fitting, especially at this season of the year when the fishing is at its best. The road passes this Pool within a stone’s throw, and fishermen on the banks and in boats can be communicated with from the tracks. One evening this week Mr. Albert French, within the space of an hour, caught two salmon, one weighing 16 and the other 19 lbs., and Mr. Frank Todd one weighing 17 lbs. Other fishermen on the same evening had numerous rises, and hooked several, but failed to land their fish. During this month the fishing at the Pool is excellent, and if any doubt exists there are not plenty of salmon there, such a doubt would be easily dispelled by seating one’s self beside the pool and watching them leap and play. Some of these salmon ignore the fish way nearby, and try their power in an effort to leap the falls, in which many succeed.”

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