Mainers who love fishing remote trout ponds often hike into a favorite location, borrow one of the canoes that they know they’ll find there, and spend a few enjoyable hours casting flies to rising fish.
Those canoe parking lots are an offbeat Maine tradition, one that many would love to see continue forever. One potential problem: When the angler who stowed his or her canoe deep in the woods stops using it, the boat may well end up rotting in place, creating canoe graveyards in some of our most beautiful places.
We asked BDN readers what they thought of the practice, and whether they had any tales to share about their experiences with those deep woods canoes.
As always, they responded with some great stories. Here’s some of what they had to say:
From Aaron Giberson of Fort Fairfield: I have and still on occasion use these types of watercraft. Many are the “one guy fish and one guy bail” type, but they get the job done. One in particular is a 20-foot canoe that a fallen tree cut in half. Someone years ago trimmed it a bit with a chainsaw and cobbled in a transom. Just one of the cool parts of living in northern Aroostook!
From Bruce Larson of Warren: We borrow unlocked stashed canoes frequently. Some are in rough shape, folks don’t usually stash their best canoes and are usually the $50 to $100 Uncle Henry’s or Craigslist specials. We always carry a roll of Gorilla tape for on-site repairs before putting her overboard! And don’t forget something to bail with!
I support stashing canoes, being the beneficiary of using them on my once or twice a year fly fishing excursions. That said, what to do with abandoned ones is the question. Best to let them rot in place, even though it may take a few millennia. Please, no regulation or registration. Keep the canoe stashing tradition going.
From registered Maine Guide Stephen Cole: I have several canoes stashed at remote ponds in the Moosehead Lake area. I have my name and phone number in each one. I must sadly report that my canoes are locked up because those who borrowed them could not be bothered to put them back. I also have had a problem with people breaking my canoes apparently because they couldn’t use them or just because?
I have brought out my broken canoes and replaced them. I can sympathize with the land owners since some ponds are littered with old boats. I put a current use date in my canoes. I would suggest that others might also date their canoes and if the land owner finds boats that have not been used in three to five years, they could remove them.
I have several people that have keys to my boats and they let me know by text that they are using one so we don’t have conflicts.
From Chris Coggins: One of my favorite stashed boat stories is when a buddy of mine and I hiked into a remote high mountain pond. Trout were rising everywhere, literally leaping out of the water. And they were nice ones! There was one boat there, a nine-foot Jon boat, covered with leaves and branches. We flipped it over and it looked like it had been run over by a semi, dents everywhere, some kind of epoxy, and yes even duct tape. On the stern, lettered in black electrician tape, was her name, “S.S.Crap.”
It was our only option. We fashioned a couple of sticks for paddles, tied on flies and launched. It immediately became apparent how she got her name. Water started streaming in from several places but the fishing was so fantastic we didn’t care. The first fish was a lunker. It put a wicked bend in my buddy’s rod and actually pulled the boat then headed straight for bottom and parted his leader. Another fish was working the shoreline, rising every ten feet or so. I cast, hoping to lay my fly in his path. The loop unfurled, the line straightened and when the fly was about a foot from settling to the water, smash, a feisty brookie picked it out of the air.
We kept a few of the smaller ones which were now swimming around in two inches of water in the bottom of the boat, kind of a live well. That’s my stashed boat story and one of my most memorable fishing experiences. And it wouldn’t have been possible if not for the S.S. Crap.