The fish stories you are about to hear are true. Most of the names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

It was early March, a bluebird day on Seboeis Lake at least 50 years ago. Two good friends were ice fishing up the lake from the cove where one of the men, we’ll call him Roland, owned a small camp. By mid-morning, Roland and his bud, Herb, each had five tip-ups in the ice holes with live bait swimming about under the ice.

Just before noon, Roland said, “Herb, I better go back to camp for a few minutes. I need to stoke the stove and water the beans. Keep an eye on my tip-ups, OK?”

“What if a warden shows up while you’re gone?” queried Herb to his fishing companion.

“Not to worry. I won’t be gone long,” quipped Roland, as he jumped on his old SkiDoo and headed down the lake.

Within minutes from Roland’s departure, Murphy’s law came on the scene attired very much like a Maine Game Warden. Uh-oh.


“Sir, you realize you have 10 traps through the ice?” the warden said to Herb as the man in green removed his helmet and shut off his big, purring snow machine.

“No, sir,” Herb said calmly. “I have just the legal five. The others belong to my buddy.”

“Where’s your buddy?” asked the warden.

“Oh, Roland went back to camp just for a few minutes to water the beans and check the stove,” said Herb. “He’ll be right back.”

“Is that Roland’s camp down there on the point where the sled is parked?” asked the lawman. Herb nodded in the affirmative and the warden struck out down the lake hell-bent for leather.

Roland, about to head back up the lake, was soon handed a citation from the Warden for not tending his ice fishing traps. (The warden was not moved by Roland’s excuse that his side trip was necessary to save the baked beans.) And from that day forward, although Roland and Herb remain close friends, Roland to this day insists that Herb “threw him under the bus.”


“What was I to do?” shrugged Herb. “You are the one who left the traps!”

“Well,” responded Roland, ”you could have played dumb and said you had no idea who put in the extra five holes. Or, like a loyal friend, you could have just taken the rap for me.”

Davyn Reynolds with his first splake from Seboeis Lake. Scott Reynolds photo

Fast forward. President’s Day weekend at the same lake 50 years later. The annual Schoodic Lake Fishing Derby is in full swing. There are a reported 200 parties on neighboring Schoodic Lake. At the south end of Seboeis, there are a couple dozen ice fishermen with dozens of tip-ups hither and yon.

Picture it. Men, women and kids and dogs and lots of snowsleds chasing after sprung flags. There is beer in the coolers and hot dogs on the fire, and frozen fish by the ice holes.

And, of course, the Maine Warden Service stops by for a visit. The fishermen’s fandango slows to a crawl as four Maine Game Wardens try to sort out who caught which fish and, in particular, whether the slot limit on splake was inside or outside the fishing regulations.

Sammy, the eldest son of Roland’s friend Herb, who is not up to speed on the splake possession limit, unwittingly throws his brother, Jim, under the bus when he points down the lake to Jim and tells the warden that he thinks his brother caught three fish at that one hole.


The wardens zero in on Jim, who has only two splake on the ice. Jim is adamant: “Sir, I know the law. My brother is full of… I caught two splake, period!”

All is well that ends well. A close shave, but no citations were issued. The wardens returned from whence they came, and the fun resumed until a spectacular sunset off to the West brought the curtain down on the festivities.

Roland, who turns 90 in March, and his buddy Herb heard this story and shared a laugh.

“Herb,” he said, ”there must be a treachery gene in your blood line.”


V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at

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