Maine’s 6,300 registered Maine guides have Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby to thank for the opportunities they have to teach outdoorsmen while making memories for a lifetime.

“Fly Rod’s story is part of Maine,” said Roger Lambert, a Maine master guide from Strong. “It couldn’t be a better story for this state, or for women. It really is part of who we are.”

Crosby, a native of Phillips, was a newspaper columnist and marketer of the Maine woods, specifically the Rangeley region. She was also a tenacious advocate for women in male-dominated outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting.

She helped develop the licensing program for Maine guides, which began in 1897, and because of her efforts was issued the first license. A total of 1,700 licenses were issued the first year.

Lambert is a lifetime woodsman with a strong outdoor heritage. “In hunting groups, you always have a lead hunter,” he said. “My father was a lead hunter and, when he got some age on him, I took over.”

Maine Master Guide Roger Lambert of Strong. Submitted photo

Lambert’s path to becoming a licensed guide started in 1962 when he was 15 years old. He and a friend outfitted and guided a group of Boston University geology students on a three-day trip up Day Mountain in Strong.

“We got somebody lost and didn’t know the protocol to get them out,” Lambert said.

Although he has guided folks for more than 55 years, he has only been a professional guide for about 25 years. “Becoming a registered guide was just a natural extension of being an outdoorsman,” he said.

Lambert said he was never in it for the money. “It’s a tough way to make a living,” he said. “Most of us do it for the love of the game.”

Among the stories he tells, a guided moose hunt with a 13-year old boy sticks out most. “He got a trophy bull moose in Zone 7. We were at a high altitude and in a cloud. It was almost surreal. I will remember that day as long as I live. It wasn’t a Rocky Mountain high, it was a Western Maine mountain high.”

The boy, Adam Tibbetts of Berwick, is now a registered guide. “I like to think I was part of showing that young man what it was all about,” he said.

As Lambert winds down his career, he does less guiding and more mentoring.

“I am long in the tooth, what teeth I have left,” he said. “My role now is matchmaking. I connect sports with guides. I educate and I mentor the next generation. There are a lot of good young bucks out there, I am just here to be their cheerleader.”

Maine Master Guide Heather Targett of Rangeley is also aware of the legacy “Fly Rod” Crosby started in the region where she and her husband live, work and play. In fact, they have named their bird dogs after her.

“Our first German Shorthaired Pointer was named Crosby,” Heather said. “Do you know ‘Fly Rod’s’ middle name? It’s Thurza. That is the name of our second pointer. I think it’s fitting they carry her name.”

Hunting and guiding are family traditions for Targett.

“My dad had me out hunting when I was 10,” she said.

She became a guide in 1996 because of her love for the outdoors, she said.

She and her husband, Randy, also a Maine master guide, operate On Targett Adventures, specializing in moose hunts. They also manage Cupsuptic Campground in Oquossoc.

“He is an excellent caller,” she said. “We each might take on separate tasks but we definitely guide in tandem.”

As for favorite memories, Heather said every year is special. “We always wonder what the story will be each year. It’s always different and it is always special.”

Like Lambert, Abraham Bradeen of Peru grew up in the outdoors and has passed along his knowledge to hunters for over 10 years.

“It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to be a guide and it is because of mentors like Roger that I decided to get my guide license last year,” Bradeen said.

Registered Maine Guide Abraham Bradeen of Peru. Submitted photo

Rather than use his status as a guide to earn a living, Bradeen donates his time to Operation ReBoot OutDoors, a nonprofit in Turner that offers hunting, fishing and recreational adventures to veterans and law enforcement officers at no cost.

“I just started with them in January and have already guided 18 spring turkey hunts and have 24 bear hunts scheduled for the fall,” he said.

His favorite memory is a fishing trip with a veteran.

“His hook was stripped and he was out of worms,” Bradeen said. “I had plenty and offered him some. He was so appreciative that someone would do that for him. He said the gesture meant the world to him. Later that night, around the campfire, he broke down.

Bradeen said the veteran said he had been trapped in his house for a long time because he couldn’t be with people.

“I realized people deal with things in different ways,” Bradeen said. “For veterans, it’s not always about physical injuries. The experience altered my perspective of things and showed me it is the little things in life that really matter.”

“It really isn’t about hunting or fishing, for me,” he added. “This is about forming friendships and helping people out.”

Jay Wininger of Bridgton shares Bradeen’s enjoyment of taking people fishing.

“My whole adult life, from the time I was 22 until I got my guide license at 40, I had been taking people fishing for the fun of it,” he said. “I was the guy with the boat. I cleaned the fish. I ran the whole show. And, I did it for free.”

Originally from Connecticut, he grew up in a fishing family. As an adult, he was an oysterman and lobsterman.

Maine licensed fishing guide Jay Wininger of Bridgton. Submitted photo

About the time his children were grown and on their own, a friend suggested Wininger become a guide so he could get paid for his expertise.

“I thought I would do that in New York on Lake Ontario,” he said. “I fished there a lot. I knew the fish there and I knew the water. But, when my oldest daughter married a guy from here, we started coming here. Eventually, this is where we ended up.

This is Wininger’s 16th season as a Maine fishing guide. He covers all types of freshwater fishing. He owns and operates Bear Pond Guide Service and is a fishing counselor at Camp Wigwam in Waterford.

“The seven weeks the boys are here, I get to fish every day,” he said. “It’s great to be able to fish with kids.”

In fact, his most memorable moment involves fishing with campers.

“I was on Bear Pond with a couple of kids when two of them hooked on something. I told them their lines were crossed, there was no way both of them had a fish on the line at the same time,” he said.

But, he was wrong. As he was netting a fish for one boy, the other was reeling in his line.

“They each caught a 25-inch salmon,” he said. “Twin fish. Two at once. That doesn’t happen. When we gathered around the flagpole that evening, those boys proudly held up their fish.

“‘ve had a lot of great things happen on the water, but sharing that moment with the kids is the thing I will always remember,” he said.

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