A Time for Smelts

I made a trip over to my friend Chas Gill’s farm in Bowdoinham today, and we went out on the Abbagadassett River “The Abby” for smelts. These relatively early ones still have the colors of the sea, and are really the finest of the season. Man was I ready for them!  Here are a few of my prizes before being cleaned and rolled in cornmeal.
Fishing was a bit slow with a lot of fine grass getting on our baits, probably from the recent rains. Still we got a enough for a couple of good meals.
The trip through the fields of Chas’s working farm, down to the river from his house, is accomplished by him kneeling on his snowmobile and towing a sled full of gear and firewood. His aging guest – me – was standing and holding for dear life onto a couple of handles on the far back. 

This section of the river – for that matter most of shoreline of the Abby – probably looks like it did when the first white face ever gazed upon it. Even now the only house in sight is the 19th century farmhouse visible ahead in the distance in the picture below. It is positioned beautifully to look across the stretch where we fished, or down the river 90 degrees to the little bridge where the Abby enters Merrymeeting Bay. God’s country for sure! 









On the right is the “bait paddle” with a shiner and a sucker set to be carved up for bait.  The board underneath doubles as the lunch counter. 


  I’ve also included some pics of the interior of Chas’s new smelt palace. This one is quite a lot more refined than his previous model.


Chas is kneeling on the other side of the lunch counter tending the wood stove.


Old fly lines attach to bobbins on the jigging bar. Fishing is by baited hooks through the slot n the floor below. For night fishing Chas brings out a small generator to power the electric lights.

2 Comments on “A Time for Smelts

  1. A smelt palace in God’s own country sounds like a great way to spend time with snow on the ground, Brad.
    Nice story, keep ’em coming.

  2. What a great winter pursuit. Nice set-up! This was a very good year for smelt. That downstream “look” , from the white farmhouse property in your photo, takes in not only the bridge over the Abby, but Leightons Smelt camps where I had numerous productive trips this winter. Started going there in the late 70’s when Steve Leightons Dad, Chubby, operated the camps . River Bend camps on the Cathance were also productive this year, both now closed for season. My last trip of the season is tonight at Bakers on the Kennebec, below Gardiner. Hopefully will be able to add to the vac-packed fish already in the freezer. Looking forward to ice-out

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