By Denise Scammon

Special Sections staff writer

After learning the fundamentals of fishing, many people become hooked…on fishing, that is! If you’ve been fishing for years, you may have developed a list of your own fishing favorites – a favorite type of fishing (ice fishing versus open water fishing, fly fishing versus surf fishing, etc.), a favorite type of bait (live bait versus cut or artificial bait), a favorite place to fish to which you return year after year – the list of favorite categories goes on and on.

Fishing is a popular recreational activity, there’s no doubt about that. Some even say it is a sport, because anglers can enter contests and fishing derbies, hoping to win a prize for the best catch. Fishing contest prizes can range from a certificate to fishing equipment to boats to cold hard cash in the thousands of dollars. I’d say that makes it a sport, too.

Whether for sport or hobby, try fishing at any time throughout the year. The winter months are not without fishing. Yes, you can fish through the ice! Ice fishing on Moosehead Lake is a great adventure for a group of friends. An accompanying photo, taken in February 1983, shows me holding the 3-pound salmon I hooked using live smelts (a tiny fish) as bait. This salmon was the largest fish caught that weekend among our group, which included my husband Tim, his sister Vicki, and her husband Scott.

Included among our equipment were an ice auger, hole skimmer (to break the layer of ice that forms on a drilled hole) and tip-up ice fishing traps. A tip-up ice fishing trap is my favorite type of ice fishing gear; mine are wooden and are set in the drilled hole in the ice. The bait is lowered to a depth below the ice determined by where you are fishing and what type of fish you hope to catch. You’ll know when a fish strikes your lure because its strike will tip up a brightly colored flag on the trap seen from far away. You can set your traps far apart and return to the warmth of your ice fishing shack.

As warmer weather and open water fishing approaches, fishing opportunities change. Sandy Dyer, a graphic designer at the Sun Journal in Lewiston, says that in the summer, fishing takes third place after swimming and boating as her favorite pastime – as long as she can relax, be with good friends and maybe catch a couple fish now and then. “Fishing is definitely a great break from work and a chance to get out in the sunshine – whether you catch anything or not,” she notes. “I think of fishing as a recreational activity. I am not competitive about fishing – it doesn’t matter what I catch as long as it’s a fish.”

Surf fishing attracts people to the shores and rocks near Fort Popham. I found that a very important item you will need to fish from shore is a rod holder. Take a piece of PVC pipe and push the pointy end down into the sand. Your fishing rod is inserted into the top of the pipe, butt end down. The idea is to keep the sand from ruining your reel without having to hold the rod the entire time you are fishing. My surf rod is eight feet long, has a surf reel, and I prefer to use pieces of natural bait such as mackerel heads or live baby eels.

Dyer recalls ocean fishing with her father when she was a youngster. “I really loved ocean fishing. I caught some strange looking fish called sculpin fish. They are very ugly and bony, like a skeleton on the outside. Scary looking! All you needed was a pole, bait and a very patient parent to take the fish off the line!”

My husband Tim has been an avid fisherman his entire life. We even spent our honeymoon in Baxter State Park on a fishing trip. I have rolls and rolls of film capturing him fly fishing on Nesowadnehunk in the wilderness of the park.

Some of the flies we have used on our fishing excursions are handcrafted by my grandfather, Gerard Jean. Fly tieing is truly an art – imagine using feathers, wires and bait hooks to create an artificial lure that looks real enough to attract fish. Some flies are very small, and it takes a great deal of hand and eye coordination to get it right.

Fly fishing is a lot of fun, but Dyer says “I catch more trees than fish!” Even though her bait of choice is worms, Dyer has tied flies in the past, a craft she hopes to resume again someday. “One of the biggest fish I caught was on one of my own flies. It was a 15-inch salmon on the Kennebec River.”

Another type of fishing is trolling, which is done by boat. This type of fishing has many variables. As the boat moves through the water, you set your trolling rod and lure in the water behind the boat. The rod itself is short and stiff, while the length of line used depends on the size of your lure or troll and how deep you need to go to reach the fish. It’s a good idea to find out where the fish are biting, and then use your favorite troll, lure, or lure-and-worm combination to hook your trout.

Many years ago Dyer experienced her best fishing outing when she went bass fishing on Tripp Lake in Poland with a couple of friends. “They knew just where to go to find the fish and we caught at least five bass within an hour or so. It was great fun!”

Whether using worms or tied flies as bait, Dyer says that whatever part skill or luck plays in getting the fish to bite, “Let’s just say I consider myself lucky to even have ‘bait-robbers’!”

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