Our last launch was emotional. Mom and Dad were waving goodbye, the U-haul was loaded and it was our final fishing hurrah. It’s tough paddling forth with optimism, knowing that you’re leaving something beloved behind. My parents sold their Maine cottage. It’s been a great run of a decade and a half of stripers, bluefish, family get-togethers, vacation memories and more. Hills Beach has been my Summertime and fly fishing oasis for over 15 years. Deep down, I’m grateful for the opportunity to recreate, share family time and fish. Nonetheless, with so many experiences in one place, it’s hard to say goodbye.
Our task for the weekend was to load a U-haul with family items and fish. My brother-in-law and I took the fishing task more seriously. We packed the fly fishing, kayak and paddle gear last. Sure, we were glad to help out and move whatever was needed. Yet, it was the promise of striped bass that eagerly motivated us.
In storybook fashion, we experienced a beautiful day of striper fishing. In the morning, we tangled with schoolies on a dropping tide. The sand eels were coming out of Biddeford Pool and hungry stripers were waiting. My brother-in-law never changed his fly. That clouser must have landed at least a dozen fish. I tied it on for him! His best was around 28″. Many were caught out of the kayak, standing on the mud flats and fishing the deeper tidal pools. It was easy to find stripers. When they busted on sand eels, the terns cried and made a ruckus. Between the screeching of the terns and watching birds dive/feed, it was easy to see where the stripers were feeding. Now and then, you could also see a striper break the surface. Make an easy cast, strip a few times and hold on. It seemed fitting that we might experience super easy fly fishing during our last trip to Maine. Those mid-June fish are on the feed, not easily spooked and very fly rod friendly targets. That easy fishing was well worth wearing additional clothing and being in/around colder water.
After a nice break and delicious fried scallops and clams, we launched on the back side of Hills Beach. We rode out the high tide towards the Pool. We enjoyed a cold IPA and anchored calmly. There was plenty of discussion about saying goodbye and how hard it was to leave Maine. As if to reward us, the terns started screeching and diving in the middle of the Pool. After an easy 5 minute paddle, we found ourselves surrounded by schoolie stripers massacring pods of sand eels. There were hundreds of terns and pods striped bass were feeding. Over the next two hours, we landed another dozen schoolie stripers. It was a hoot! The long paddle home was easier with our striper adventure adrenaline fix. Ironically, our fishing plans were squashed the next day with up to 60 mph wind gusts. After two plus hours of the wind beating us down and not being able to anchor, we dragged our kayaks back. Despite the wind, I was lucky to scratch out a 12″ schoolie that must have felt sorry two wind flogged fly fishers. Such is striper fishing, awesome one day and massive wind the next.
My parents were great in sharing Maine. I’m blessed to have experienced such a special place. Their mantra was to ensure that their children and grandchildren enjoy sand between their toes. Recently, my Mother shared some wisdom, passed on from my Grammy. The gist was, “It’s a big wide world out there. Go out and explore and enjoy it“. While it’s tough to say goodbye to the Maine Cottage, there is a big wide world out there. There will be other opportunities and it’s up to us to provide for our kids, and future grandchildren. Thanks Mom and Dad for sharing Maine. Thank you for the sand between our toes and the striped bass on the line. Tight lines as you head into Summer and may we all go forth and explore this big wide world.
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