The Drought, The Drought! On And On It Goes. As For Fishing, An Old Dog (Me) Learns A New Trick.

A look at Flagstaff Lake in Eustis tells us what we need to know about the drought: it is serious, very serious.

Flagstaff Lake, west side of Route 27, Eustis

Flagstaff Lake, west side of Route 27, Eustis

I have never seen this part of the lake so exposed. Granted, this is a shallow part of the lake to begin with, but never this shallow. It’s not even damp. On the east side of Route 27, where lies the main body of the lake, there is water but also islands that are normally covered. Until 1950 there was a town of Flagstaff, but it was dismantled when the Dead River was dammed for hydro power and the resulting lake covered the remains of the town. If the drought continues, we may be able to resettle the town. And the drought in the Rangeley/Eustis area does not even qualify as “Severe” on the State’s drought map — just “Abnormally Dry.”


Flagstaff Lake, east side of Route 27

Flagstaff Lake, east side of Route 27










At Redacted Pond, rocks that are never exposed are exposed. But the trout don’t seem to mind, at least not yet. Trout Boy and I were trying to entice a trout or two to eat our flies the other day with no success, even though the trout were enthusiastically enjoying some hatching midges. Artificial midges, anyone? No, thanks. Then another angler showed up, parked his boat nearby, and right away caught a nice fish. Then another.

“How did you do that?” I demanded.

“Down in the mud, boys,” he replied. “Down in the mud.”

While the fish were making the occasional explosive rise, they were also preparing to spawn. “They’re defending their nests,” the guy said. “Drag a nymph through their territory and they will snap at it.”

Off came the floating line, on went the sinking tip line and a small black nymph. Up came a trout, at the end of my line, a beautiful fat male in full spawning regalia. Did I say fat?

“They look like footballs,” our teacher said, “because they are ready to spawn.” The trout, males and females, were heavy with their respective components of the reproductive process. I caught one more, bigger than the first. Trout Boy briefly hooked a monster that followed his fly to the surface and smashed it. By then it was getting dark and we hauled out and went back to camp.

So we learned something about catching trout at this time of year. It’s never too late to learn. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going fishing to practice what I have learned.


Nick Mills

About Nick Mills

Full disclosure: I was not born in Maine, alas! I was born in Massachusetts, but the family moved to Maine when I was eleven, and I grew up in Thomaston. My dad was skipper of one of the draggers that sailed out of Rockland, in the days when it was a rough-tough working fishing port. When he came in from the sea his favorite activity was freshwater fishing with me and my brother, Peter. We learned together to flyfish for trout in the Alder Stream in Eustis. Once hooked on the sport, pun intended, I fished at every opportunity in every place I could -- in the rivers, streams and ponds of Maine; in the mountain ponds of Utah, where I was stationed for a year in the Army; in high Andean lakes in Colombia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer; even in a lagoon that surrounded one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in Baghdad. I tried once to go trout fishing in northern Afghanistan, when the U.S.S.R. occupied that country; a landslide blocked my path, but that led to a more interesting adventure, which I will tell you about in a future post.