As I recall it was about 10 years ago when state regulators were having a hissy fit about people permanently stashing their old canoes along the shores of Maine’s remote wild trout ponds. I suppose they had a point, though the sight of old canoes chained to trees next to a pond’s put­-in never gave me any heartburn.

Actually, the presence of the canoes was a pretty encouraging sign if you were a first-­time visitor to the pond. As a rule, the more canoes stowed in the woods near the pond the better the fishing.

My departed friend from Katahdin Country, Wiggie Robinson, was the King of Canoe Stashers. Man he had so many canoes chained to trees near wild trout ponds that he lost count. Granted, some of his canoes were a little marginal, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Most of his pond-side watercraft were chained to cedar trees and locked with a combo padlock. A generous friend, Wiggie shared his lock combination with me, as well as the use of his canoes. He had one cardinal rule about how his canoes were to be left: no blood, no mud. Not wanting to lose my canoe privileges, I faithfully honored Wiggie’s protocol.

When Wiggie passed along to take up, eternally, the paddle of the Silver Canoe, his son Jay inherited the list of stashed canoes. What a legacy to leave a son, especially one who lives to fish like Jay does.

Canoes must have been on my mind yesterday. Son Scotty and I fished some Hancock County trout ponds and did some good, despite gray skies, swirly winds, and cool temperatures. Working a Copper John with a wet line near the bottom, we enticed a few early brookies.

During the lull in the fishing, the conversation got around to canoes and the ponds we had fished over the years.

“Dad, you still have that little red canoe stashed at Trout Pond,” Scotty asked.

I had to think a minute.

“Yes, come to think of it,” I said. ” At least, it was chained to a tree there when I last fished that spot. That must have been more than 10 years ago.”

The old red canoe. It has been there waiting for me all these years, and it just sort of faded from my mind. A small, tippy little vessel, my father gave it to me after he tipped over in it for the second time. It was an easy carry, though, and my boys and I lugged it a couple of miles into a pond that was our favorite at that time.

We used it a few years, then I lost the key to the padlock.

Is it still there, do you suppose? Did a fallen tree branch punch a hole in its hull? Or maybe a porcupine chewed up the wooden thwarts. Or somebody assumed it was abandoned and walked off with it.

All questions that I need to answer. I’ll go back there later this spring and check out the old red canoe, and maybe fish a little, too.

I’ll let you know what I find.

Or don’t find.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co­host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News­ Talk Network (WVOM­FM 103.9, WQVM­FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e­mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”


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