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Health scare inspires Maine man to captain fun family fishing voyages

Posted Aug. 28, 2014, at 1:34 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 28, 2014, at 4:59 p.m.

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Will Caron (center), 9, gets some help from Capt. Pete Douvarjo (left) while driving his boat as sister, Paige Caron (right), 6, watches during a fishing trip Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Will Caron (center), 9, gets some help from Capt. Pete Douvarjo (left) while driving his boat as sister, Paige Caron (right), 6, watches during a fishing trip Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's John Holyoke, Sarah Walker Caron and Caron's children, Will Caron, 9, and Paige Caron, 6, prepare to cast off for a fishing trip with Capt. Pete Douvarjo on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's John Holyoke, Sarah Walker Caron and Caron's children, Will Caron, 9, and Paige Caron, 6, prepare to cast off for a fishing trip with Capt. Pete Douvarjo on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
Capt. Pete Douvarjo navigates his boat to a spot where he believes BDN's John Holyoke, Sarah Walker Caron, and Caron's children will be able to catch many fish on Tuesday.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Capt. Pete Douvarjo navigates his boat to a spot where he believes BDN's John Holyoke, Sarah Walker Caron, and Caron's children will be able to catch many fish on Tuesday. Buy Photo
Will Caron reels in a pollack on a Tuesday fishing trip in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Will Caron reels in a pollack on a Tuesday fishing trip in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's John Holyoke (right) helps Paige Caron, 6, unhook a pollack she caught while on a Tuesday fishing trip with her mother and brother in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's John Holyoke (right) helps Paige Caron, 6, unhook a pollack she caught while on a Tuesday fishing trip with her mother and brother in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
Will Caron (right) has some help from Capt. Pete Douvarjo bringing in his line full of pollack during a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Will Caron (right) has some help from Capt. Pete Douvarjo bringing in his line full of pollack during a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's Sarah Walker Caron has some help brining in her line full of pollack by Capt. Pete Douvarjo during a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's Sarah Walker Caron has some help brining in her line full of pollack by Capt. Pete Douvarjo during a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's John Holyoke (right) helps Paige Caron unhook a pollack she caught while on a Tuesday fishing trip in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's John Holyoke (right) helps Paige Caron unhook a pollack she caught while on a Tuesday fishing trip in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's John Holyoke works to unhook a mackerel while on a Tuesday fishing trip in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's John Holyoke works to unhook a mackerel while on a Tuesday fishing trip in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
 Will Caron gives a kiss to a pollack he caught while on a fishing trip on Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Will Caron gives a kiss to a pollack he caught while on a fishing trip on Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
Paige Caron (right) giggles as BDN's John Holyoke kisses a pollack that she caught while on a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Paige Caron (right) giggles as BDN's John Holyoke kisses a pollack that she caught while on a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's Sarah Walker Caron waits for a bite while on a fishing trip on Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's Sarah Walker Caron waits for a bite while on a fishing trip on Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's John Holyoke cleans a mackerel during a fishing trip on Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's John Holyoke cleans a mackerel during a fishing trip on Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's John Holyoke (center) learns to clean a mackerel from Capt. Pete Douvarjo (left), while Sarah Walker Caron (second from right) and her children, Will Caron (right) and Paige Caron watch on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's John Holyoke (center) learns to clean a mackerel from Capt. Pete Douvarjo (left), while Sarah Walker Caron (second from right) and her children, Will Caron (right) and Paige Caron watch on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's Sarah Walker Caron (center) learns to clean a mackerel from Capt. Pete Douvarjo (left), while her children, Will Caron (right) and Paige Caron, watch on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's Sarah Walker Caron (center) learns to clean a mackerel from Capt. Pete Douvarjo (left), while her children, Will Caron (right) and Paige Caron, watch on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
Paige Caron (right), 6, tries her hand at driving Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat during a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Paige Caron (right), 6, tries her hand at driving Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat during a fishing trip on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
BDN's John Holyoke, Sarah Walker Caron, and Caron's children fish for mackerel and pollack with Capt. Pete Douvarjo on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
BDN's John Holyoke, Sarah Walker Caron, and Caron's children fish for mackerel and pollack with Capt. Pete Douvarjo on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo
A cooler full of fresh mackerel and pollack sit on the deck of Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
A cooler full of fresh mackerel and pollack sit on the deck of Capt. Pete Douvarjo's boat on Tuesday in Sedgwick. Buy Photo

SEDGWICK, Maine — On a sunny Tuesday afternoon before a bumpy boat ride, and the fishing and catching that followed, Captain Pete Douvarjo cast a friendly eye at the two young passengers joining him on his 21-foot Parker boat, “Reel Life.”

Captain Pete fitted the duo with life vests, telling them where they would be standing and where they wouldn’t.

Then he shared the rule that must not be broken.

“Here’s the most important rule,” the owner of Eggemoggin Guide Service told 9-year-old Will Caron and his 6-year-old sister, Paige Caron. “No hooking Captain Pete.”

The children of BDN senior editor Sarah Walker Caron laughed, but heeded his warning.

There’s nothing that can ruin a fishing trip quicker than a captain who’s got fish hooks dangling off him.

Captain Pete looks a bit like a real-life pirate — he’s got a stylishly wild beard, after all. But that’s where the similarity ends. He doesn’t say “argh.” He doesn’t wear an eye patch. And he has a wonderful way with children (and their parents) that he takes out on the water about 40 or 50 times per year.

“I’ve had [children] as little as 3 years old,” he said Tuesday while taking a BDN crew on his most popular adventure, the four-hour Family Fun Trip. “When we got to the dock, she grabbed me by the leg, looked up at me, and she said, ‘Captain Pete, I love you.’ Oh my God, did my heart melt.”

Captain Pete is quick to admit that his Family Fun Trips are pretty simple affairs.

“Like I said when we left the dock, this is not fishing,” Captain Pete said. “This is catching. And it is. It’s easy for me, and I guarantee the kids are just going to have a blast. They’ll giggle and laugh, and they seem to like the rough ride out, too.”

The ride out to the islands between Deer Isle and Mount Desert Island was a bit rough, and Captain Pete was right: The Caron children loved every minute, especially when sea spray drenched someone other than them.

Captain Pete isn’t just a family fun guide, though.

“I do offshore shark and tuna trips. I take people out to look at puffins,” Douvarjo said.

Some days he trailers his 20-foot Lund boat and heads inland, where he’ll take clients to the Penobscot River, and they’ll fish for smallmouth bass.

“It’s a world-class fishery,” he said of the river. “People have heard about it, but there are not that many people who fish it like you’d think. That river has got more smallmouth bass than any river in this state, and it’s one of the best smallmouth fisheries on the entire East Coast.”

But many days during the summer, he’s out in his home waters off Sedgwick, trying to manufacture some fun.

Not long ago, he specialized in striped bass trips, taking eager anglers to spots where they could catch plenty of the then-plentiful stripers.

“I could take you out and catch you 40, 50 stripers in a tide,” he said. “Eleven years ago, it started to slow up. It went from 50 stripers in a tide to five or 10. Then the next year, it was over. And it’s been over since.”

That’s when Douvarjo’s Family Fun Trips were born.

“You take people out mackerel fishing, pollack fishing. It’s not that difficult,” he said. “You’ve got to go where the fish are.”

Really, Captain Pete’s Family Fun Trips were an accident, he said. Then again, he may never have become captain if not for a health scare some 14 years ago.

“I was diagnosed with a melanoma,” he said. “The one that they found on my back was huge. I was basically given a year or so to live.”

Captain Pete decided he had to make some changes.

He always had wanted to get his captain’s license, he said. And he always had wanted to become a Maine Guide.

“I [told my wife], ‘Honey, I’ve got to buy a boat.’” he said. “All the money was going to doctors and the deductible. She said, ‘Who cares? If you check out in a year, they can come get the boat.’”

Obviously, that’s not how the story ended.

“The doctors were wrong, and I’m having an awful good time,” Captain Pete said with a grin.

And so are his clients.

On Tuesday, Will and Paige Caron hooked a few dozen pollack apiece, the vast majority of which were returned to the sea. They also landed a few mackerel.

But Captain Pete knows his craft, and he knows what children like best.

The biggest smiles came when each child got the chance to drive “Reel Life,” with Captain Pete standing by to give instructions.

At the end of the day, after pulling the boat back to the dock in Sedgwick, Captain Pete’s passengers declared the day a success. The captain agreed.

“It was a little rough, but not too bad,” he said. “Nobody got beat up, you all had a good time, you all caught fish.”

And nobody hooked Captain Pete.

Capt. Pete Douvarjo offers saltwater trips from June until the end of September. Freshwater trips on the Penobscot River run from late April until the end of October. For more information, go to http://www.eggemogginguideservice.net/.

 

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