Turing onto Quimby Pond Road with the warm summer air coming through my open car window I can’t help but smile. Seeing the road sign makes me instantly feel like it is truly summer; I am almost at camp where campfires, berry picking, and summer relaxing resides. Soon I will sit on the porch and have a summer drink— there will be yard games and canoeing and fishing.
In the evening I slip away and sit on the front steps looking at the stars in the clear summer sky, the loons call on the water sending shivers down my arms…or maybe it’s the cooler air. It is mid-August, and the weather has turned cool at night, perfect for sleeping, but not too cold to close the windows and I keep listening to the loons as I curl up in bed.
On my morning walk to the pond the sun pierces the mist rising out of the trees and turns the pond pink as it chases the last of the mist off the water. Three mallard ducks swim in front of me on the shore and a belted kingfisher flies from the tree next to me. It swoops low to the water as it hunts and his blue wings flash in my direction. I pick raspberries as I walk back, ready for another day of summer at Red Quill.
Happy Summer Solstice! June brought the official start of summer and it was a great month for fishing and basking in the sun. It has been warm and sunny in Rangeley, with occasional rain to keep the water cool for the fish. It’s that time of year when the garden salads are plentiful, the days are sunny and warm and the fish are biting.
When the road-side fishing holes are full of fisherman and everyone is vying for the same fish, I reel in my line, pack a bag for the day and get on my bike to find the places that you can’t drive to. With my flyrod in one hand, handlebars in the other and the sun on my back, I take to the woods and follow the rivers along the old woods-roads for the day. Often, the best fishing holes are off the beaten path and take a little effort to get to, but they’re always worth it.
landing a big one!
Whether fishing the rivers, paddling around Quimby Pond, or lying in the hammock, now is the time to be in Rangeley!
early morning fishing
I slipped my canoe into the water and followed a great blue heron around the pond. I had finished my dinner and walked down the road from camp to the water. It had been unrelentlessly hot for two weeks, which in Maine feels like eternity, and it was the first evening that was cool enough that I could do anything other than sit on the porch. Quimby Pond glowed with the evening light, a few dark silhouettes of the mountains around me were mirrored in the water, and I pushed the canoe in with a few ripples that set the heron flying. He was a big heron who stayed just in front of me as I paddled. He must have been fishing for his dinner– it had been too hot for me to fish until recently. I went to Little Falls and caught three nice brook trout the other night. Their colors this time of year are getting darker and darker making it look like someone took a bright red paintbrush and painted their fins, then dipped the edge of each one in a can of starch white paint.
Fishing Little Falls
I did not see the heron catch a fish, perhaps because I was distracting him, but the loons were diving exuberantly after fish. Loons will eat about 600 pounds of fish each year. On Quimby Pond we have a nesting pair of loons and a floating nest box for them. Last summer they laid two eggs, but unfortunately neither of the eggs hatched. A Maine State biologist told me that the eggs most likely had a disease that didn’t allow them to fully develop and hatch. This particular pair of loons was banned over ten years ago so that the state could track and study them. They come back to Quimby Pond every summer; the male usually comes back first, a few weeks before the female, to reclaim the pond as their territory. It hasn’t been proven, but it is commonly thought that loons ‘sing the landscape’. They have four distinct calls, and the “yodel call” varies from region to region changing with the landscape. Perhaps my loons were singing about the mountains this evening, or maybe they were just enjoying the way certain pitches and tones echoed off the mountains.
I pulled my canoe back onto shore and walked along the path to camp in the dark. I stopped and picked a few blueberries in the front yard and the loons called. There was a very slight breeze that smelled of woods and water and summer. I tipped my head back and threw the rest of the blueberries into my mouth smiling at the joys of summer in Maine.
A few other updates from Red Quill Camp:
I built a new woodshed!
A crew of my family members came up to see Red Quill for the first time!
Family Trip To Red Quill Camp
Trout With Fly in Lip
I love the Rangeley River because of its healthy hatches and remote feel. It seems to be a quieter spot compared to the Magalloway or the dams on Richardson. When we parked in the muddy area next to the gate and stepped into the squishy ground I knew the river was going to be high, but I was amazed by how high the water really was. We had to wade thigh-high on the trail where it is usually bare ground. Laughing at the absurdity I sloshed toward the spit of land beyond the river bend where the good pools are. I peered out of the trees to see if anyone was in my favorite spot, and to my delight only a flock of sparrows were swooping over the pool—a good sign that there was a hatch happening.
As I emerged from the water, onto the now tinny spit of dry land, I found myself in the midst of twenty or so little tree swallows with bright blue backs and clean white bellies. They were obviously eating a recent hatch or emergers being forced up by the flooding water. They flew next to the tip of my rod and I was afraid at times that they were going to eat my fly or get caught in my line as I cast. On my third cast I caught a beautiful brook trout! It’s bright red fins and shiny silver belly danced onto shore as I reeled it in. It was my first fish of the season! How auspicious that I caught it amidst the little blue tree swallows darting around my line. The camaraderie of fishing is fun, but the solidarity of that day, casting by ourselves with the birds feeding on the bugs around us was pure and beautiful.
A few weeks later I went back to the Rangeley River with my parents, (up for a weekend of fishing with Granny) and a fisherman caught a 16.5-inch salmon in that same spot! It was one of the first beautiful sunny summer weekends, and everyone was out enjoying the weather.
Granny and Papa Riverside
Papa Fishing The Rangeley River