Eddie Fort
Eddie Fort and his fish.

When I was 10 years old (and living in NH) my Dad promised to take me on a canoe trip fishing the Allagash River in upstate Maine. Unfortunately, he got cancer and died before we could go but it has always been on my bucket list so to speak.

With my older son in Afghanistan I realized that time was slipping away and we needed to do it sooner rather than later. My wife and I started kayak fishing about 2 years ago. We primarily yak in Smith Mt. Lake, VA, where we live and in Hatteras, NC where we have a house. Our family has always been somewhat adventurous and we decided to ask my youngest sister, Tania, and her family (husband Drew and sons Dominic and Kyle) to join us and our son Stephen.

After realizing how remote the place is to get to ( we drove down logging roads for 56 miles to get to the put in) we decided to hire a guide to help with the logistics etc. Bryant with Maine Quest Adventures had everything we needed for a 5 day trip and off we went.

It had been raining hard on the East Coast for the entire month of June and into July including our drive up there. Just as we finally reached the river it stopped raining and didn’t rain the entire time we were there! The river is in the middle of “The Great North Woods” which is a 3.5 million acre forest managed for timber.

We offloaded and paddled up stream about 300 yds and set up camp for the night. Camping is only allowed at designated sites that are scattered along the river. Each site had a fire ring, table and outhouse!  We were concerned about the mosquitos and other insects but Bryant kept a smoky fire going which kept the bugs away. The next morning we loaded the boats and started paddling downstream ( which is actually North). The river was running at about 6500 CFS  due to the heavy rains compared to the normal 2300 CFS so paddling was relatively easy. We paddled about 15 to 20 miles a day.

The Allagash is a river that connects a series of small lakes so the  current varied through out the day.

We fished both from the kayaks/canoes trolling and from the shore when we stopped for the night. As we got better handling the currents we figured out how to stop the yaks and fish the many eddies that were along the shore and were able to catch several fish that way, particularly where small streams fed into the river.

We tried fly-fishing but the famous Green Drake hatch was about a week away and the fish were not rising so we ended up using spin tackle to catch most of the fish.

All told we probably caught about 50 fish. About 15 were brook trout that were up to 15″ in length (In VA the native brook trout are 5-6 ” long). The rest were various other species of native fish.

We ended up seeing several moose, black bear, otter, beaver, eagles and ospreys and the best part of all….no cell service!

Our trip ended where the Allagash River meets the St. John River which is the border between Maine and Canada.

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Ric Burnley
“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.

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