KENNEBEC RIVER, Maine — Sean McCormick fell in love with fishing as a teen.
He taught himself fly fishing on the Sheepscot River close to his residence in Whitefield. It was no simple process, because the river presents large challenges for anglers.
“You’ve got to have each trick in your toolbox. When you don’t have it, good luck. It’s like a jungle,” McCormick stated of the overgrown shoreline. “I discovered methods to dry-fly fish.”
There have been huge fish within the river — landlocked salmon, brown trout and brook trout — however the circumstances had been such that he needed to grasp all types of casts. He found out methods to match the proper dry flies to the hatch and tied them himself.
Regardless of the educational curve, McCormick grew to become infatuated with the method and his enthusiasm for fly fishing has continued to develop.
The 60-year-old Grasp Maine Information now spends about 50 days a yr sharing his data and keenness with shoppers because the operator of Blue Heron Fly Fishing.
McCormick, the lead estimator for Augusta Gasoline Firm, guides totally on the Kennebec River, the place he rows a Hyde drift boat to a few of his favourite spots.
After his first drift boat journey with a pal, he was hooked.
“I went residence and stated, I’ll have a kind of, come hell or excessive water,” he stated.
His spouse Leslie inspired him to purchase his first drift boat. Today, he’s on his third Hyde.
By way of his involvement with Trout Limitless, he discovered that in an effort to donate drift boat journeys to the group, he needed to turn into a information. So he did.
“It changed into a reasonably vital aspect job,” he stated with fun. “And I went from being one of many younger guys on the river to one of many previous farts.”
My son William and I had been lucky on Sunday to accompany Sean on a daylong drift down a 6 1/2-mile stretch of the Kennebec.
We had been handled to a grasp class in Kennebec fly fishing by a person who not solely is aware of the river however is raring to share his data not solely of fishing, however for wildlife, vegetation and flowers and conservation.
Sean had his work lower out for him. I’m a novice fly fisherman, and William is a digital newbie. Our inexperience didn’t cease Sean from ensuring that we walked away with a brand new set of expertise.
Sean is a mannequin of group. On the launch, he methodically unpacked all of the gear from his automobile and positioned it within the boat. It included a Yeti cooler crammed with meals and drinks, a Coleman range, Yeti folding chairs, a folding desk and different gadgets.
Ready for an extended day within the sizzling solar, all of us wore hats and long-sleeved shirts and/or some sunscreen. Sean donned zippered waders and a protecting masks that left solely his sun shades and the brim of his hat uncovered.
We started with a fast historical past lesson, a cease at a rock ledge adorned with Native American carvings referred to as petroglyphs. Believed to be pre-Columbian, they depict individuals, animals, canoes and different scenes and had been extra simply distinguishable after Sean splashed some water onto the rock.
We began fishing in a set of rapids not far downriver. It was then Sean should have realized that he was in for an extended day of casting classes.
“I like instructing individuals,” he stated, noting that he additionally ties all of his personal dry flies.
We began out every utilizing a Golden Stone Fly.
We labored on “mending” the road to delay the pull of the water on the fly, then rapidly flipping out extra line to assist it float alongside the water.
“Foam is residence,” he stated of the bubbles floating on prime.
Early on, Sean plucked a wayward life preserver and an empty Bud Mild can from the water, noting that he was at all times on trash element.
Regardless of standing at reverse ends of the boat, William and I sometimes tangled our personal traces, or connected with one another. Sean calmly unraveled lots of these snarls as he offered casting suggestions.
An hour into the journey we approached a promising river financial institution bordering good-moving water with a number of overhanging timber. We had been in a position to get our flies near shore and Sean all of the sudden directed me to solid to a selected opening as rapidly as doable.
I used to be in a position to put the fly heading in the right direction and inside two seconds, I noticed a flash as a brown trout inhaled the fly. I raised the rod tip to set the hook and loved a quick tussle.
Sean, who commented that it was bigger than he first thought, netted the fish fastidiously and left it submerged as we took a fast peek and snapped a number of images.
The beautiful brown trout was golden on prime and backside, with black and pink spots dotting a white background down the center from nostril to tail. It was the primary brown trout I had ever caught.
Sean gently coaxed the fish, which he estimated to be 19-20 inches, out of the online. He handed me the fly as a memento of the event after studying that it was my first brown.
We got here up empty at a few different promising spots, then it was time for lunch. Sean unpacked the tools and whipped up a feast that included shrimp cocktail, cheese, bread, steaks with sauteed onions and mushrooms, potato salad, and cherry tomatoes.
A number of kayakers and other people in inflatable boats got here by, one group blasting loud nation music. One other lady paddled nonchalantly previous, to our shock, tanning her naked breasts.
Whereas there, Sean rowed out to retrieve a half-inflated floatie holding a small Igloo cooler. The proprietor occurred by, however made no effort to return retrieve it.
We ate our fill, then obtained again to fishing. Sean regaled us with many amusing tales about fishing exploits on the river and in addition tried to elucidate the dynamics of the varied Kennebec fishery.
And he by no means stopped teaching. He couldn’t, given my propensity for messing up on mending and miscasting my fly.
William later obtained in on the act, utilizing a zebra nymph — a reproduction of the quite a few flies hatching out proper in entrance of us — to catch a brown trout after which a spunky landlocked salmon.
With Sean as our coach, our casting improved dramatically in the course of the course of the day.
Lastly, with the solar setting, Sean positioned us at a bend within the river, hoping to witness one closing bug hatch, which didn’t materialize. I capped the day by catching a 3rd chub.
Sean paddled us to the close by boat launch, the place he pulled the boat from the water and commenced gathering up the gear amid a swarm of mosquitos and fireflies.
We had been exhausted, however exhilarated, by the incredible expertise offered by Sean and we are able to’t wait to have the chance to check our new-found expertise.