Home Away From Home

After two years of longing to go back up to Northwestern Maine to see friends and chase some salmonids, I finally was able to get back there for Memorial Day weekend.

Ever since my beautiful son Luke was born in November of 2022, there have been certain fishing trips that had to be postponed. Not that I’m complaining of course. Being Luke’s dad is better than all the fish in the world.

However, I was extremely grateful to go see my friend, Tim Harrison who runs Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camps in Pierce Pond Township. Tim has known me since I was about six years old, and his friendship to my parents goes way back to the early 1990s.

This is such a special place to me, and it’s even the first place I ever held a fly rod. It’s also the first place I ever caught a trout on a fly rod, so going back there always seems like coming full circle as an angler.

Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend finally rolled around. My wife and I packed the car, put Luke in his car seat after a small amount of fussing, and made our way north early in the day. We arrived about three hours later at the camps, and Tim already had our cabin ready for us. Harrison’s has nine different personal cabins next to the main lodge, and each is absolutely what you would want for a rustic, bare bones Maine woods experience. Tim takes a lot of pride in making his guests as comfortable as possible. The cabins and the lodge haven’t changed one bit since I first went up there as a kid. This place is my home away from home.

We unpacked, put Luke down for a nap, and began to have some quality catching up time with Tim. I started to get excited when he told me that some friends of his were up the week before,and reported that the fishing was outstanding. Pierce Pond can be a very finicky place to throw a fly. The fish are notoriously hard to find, and can be extremely selective about what they feed on. Hearing this news was certainly encouraging, but I’ve also learned to keep expectations low on the pond.

The great thing about fishing at Harrison’s is that the Pierce Pond Stream runs out of the pond and runs right through the property. The stream is actually full of many small to medium sized native and wild brook trout, which are typically willing to take a bugger or a wood duck heron if presented right.

I usually start my trips there by walking down to the stream in my jeans and t-shirt and throwing a streamer in a couple small pools. I made my way down to the stream with my 11’ 3-wt. and one fly. The fly was my Golden Doodle pattern that I’ve posted about on here before. The first cast yielded a beautiful 10-inch wild brookie, and the second cast yielded a smaller but wonderfully colored trout. After fishing the stream for five minutes with two trout to hand, I became more excited to fish the pond!

After a steak dinner at the lodge, and me playing a few Beatles songs for Tim on my guitar (which is mandatory whenever I visit Tim), we set off on his ATV down to the boats. We put a brand new Honda motor on the back of the boat, loaded up the gear, and I set out in search of fish.

This particular evening there was a lot of bug life going on. Not just Hendricksons laying eggs everywhere you looked, but also caddis and unfortunately black flies by the hundreds of thousands. I’ve learned throughout the years at Pierce P. that whenever I see the trout keying in on dries, even when there are Hendricksons and March Browns present, it’s always a Caddis pattern that ends up yielding fish. Not sure why, but it’s been the case for many times in the pond.

After looking around for rising fish, I finally found some that were just a short troll away in the boat. I soon came upon a few trout that were feeding consistently in one area. I looked around in my fly box for something buggy looking that I could load up with desiccant powder. I found a Corn Fed Caddis pattern that I had tied last summer, and it seemed like a good choice. A few small twitches of the fly on the still water enticed a nice 13-inch brook trout!

The next morning I started out around 9 am after a pancake breakfast and set out in search of rising fish. After not seeing any action, I decided to strip streamers for a bit, but that also proved to be fruitless. After two hours of hitting different spots on the pond, I finally saw what I was waiting to see: the ripples of rising fish. I slowly made my way towards the recurring wake on the water, put on another CDC Caddis and quickly had a beautiful salmon on the line! Landlocks in a pond are such a joy to hook into and in my experience they seem to jump even more in still water, which is always nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. After a quick picture and release I saw some more ripples about 200 yards away.

Once again I did my best to creep up to the spot as quietly as I could. I ended up having to find another CDC Caddis to tie on, as the other one became too wet to dry out in time. Fortunately I had one left! I loaded it up with floatant powder, cast a few feet ahead of the last rise, and proceeded to hook the biggest wild brookie of my life! After a five-minute fight, I landed what turned out to be a beautiful 18.5-inch wild brook trout. It was one of those moments that you wish you could experience more, but you know you might have to wait a few more years to experience again. It is stored in my memories and will live there for the rest of my life. I think my father would’ve been very proud to see me catch a fish like that on the same pond that he introduced me to a fly rod.

Leaving Harrison’s is never easy after a vacation there, but it is unfortunately necessary to return to normal life. As the summer progresses and I chase fishing opportunities where I can, I will probably find myself returning to thoughts of hanging out with Tim, watching my son laugh and play in the lodge, and fighting those beautiful fish on the fly. I will also make sure I show up with more CDC Caddis flies. 🤙🏻

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