Home at Last

My father’s parents and his older brother Joe and Joe’s wife Minna used to go to a fishing camp in Maine, Castle Island Camps on Long Pond, Belgrade Lakes, for their summer vacations. Castle Island Camps was (and as of five years ago still is) a collection of little wooden cabins around a slightly larger central building which was the dining hall for the place, on a tiny island at the narrows of a long figure-8 shaped lake. Right there at the middle of the “8” was a road across the lake, one bridge large enough to take a small motorboat under on the east side, one bridge a little larger than a large culvert on the west side of the island, and the eight or ten or dozen cottages of Castle Island Camps taking up the middle. You would buy bait and replace lost or broken tackle at the main building, take a boat from the dock, and spend all your time fishing in the lake.

In 1958, it must have been, my family went there for our summer vacation. It was my grandpa’s 80th birthday, so there was a little pressure to participate. (We went there the next year, too. Apparently my grandpa wasn’t really sure what year he was born, and wanted to celebrate his 80th again to be certain he got it right at least one of the two times. So really, the following story may have happened in ’59 rather than ’58.)

We used to fish for bass a lot on our vacations in Vermont, but never caught anything longer than about 12 inches. Grandpa and Uncle Joe assured us that there were lots of bigger fish in Maine, but we were skeptical. My father said before the trip, “If anyone catches a bass over 18 inches, I’ll get it mounted.”

We had a great time fishing from boats and the shore, but never hauled in as much as my grandma, grandpa, Joe, and Min. Then one day someone looked down in the water under the smaller bridge. My father looked and said, “The submarine fleet is in!” There was a school of huge bass right there, waiting to be caught. My sister Helen got one just under 18 inches. It was close enough to the cutoff that my father agreed to get it mounted. Then my sister Sarah caught one about an inch smaller. It was close enough to the limit, and more importantly close enough to the size of Helen’s, that to stave off the sibling rivalry he agreed to get it stuffed too. I got one on a fly rod, something over 15 inches, but was enough older and more mature that I wasn’t going to argue for getting it mounted.

The stuffed fish moved with us to California and with my father to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and back to Connecticut. When my father died they fell into my hands. They’ve been in the attic in Newton for a couple of years now, but sometime in March we took them to Casco. Now, 48 years after they left their home state, they’re back in Maine.

One Response to “Home at Last”

  1. Judy Says:

    Ha Ha ! That is is one of the ‘durnest’ things I have every heard !
    They look very good though and have stood the test of time and cross country travel well. Judy