Fly Rod & Reel – January-February 2007

Downeast Bass Fishing

By JIM REILLY – Jeff McEvoy has his hand on the outboard’s throttle as he steers the canoe across Third Machias Lake. I’m sitting on the floor of the canoe to cut down on wind resistance and so McEvoy has a clear view of the water in front of us. The lakes in Downeast Maine are littered with rocks that lie just beneath the water’s surface, and a novice boater can quickly enter a world of hurt if he hits one.

However, McEvoy, owner of Weatherby’s fishing lodge in Grand Lake Stream, is an experienced boat handler and I let him worry about the rocks. I concern myself with the thick layer of clouds that stretch across the sky. It is the middle of June and humid but cool. I look up and think, I really hope it doesn’t rain.

It was supposed to be a quick turn-and-burn mission to the Maine hamlet of Grand Lake Stream to fish for smallmouth bass. Topwater action on the lakes in the region peaks between late May and early June. The bass are breeding in the shallows, and they don’t have a lot of forbearance for poppers stripped over their spawning beds during this time. Which is to say, conditions were nearly perfect for fly-fishing. But as the date for my brief trip neared, the forecast indicated an approaching cold front that threatened to stall the fishing.