Visiting Lakewood Camps is a treat in Maine, but living there for the summer is an experience that will not likely be forgotten. Tucked away in the vast woods of Western Maine, at the end of a 15-mile logging road, this fly lodge sits on the edge of Lower Richardson Lake and the Rapid River. You may have heard of this river from Louise Dickinson’s book, We Took to The Woods. The Rapid produces some of the best native brook trout fishing in North America.
With that being said, there are many fishing tales to be told. Some haunt our dreams and some we can repeatedly tell with a smile. The Rapid boasts some of the most challenging fishing on the east coast. The river is ever-changing due to its swift currents and white water produced by the Lakewood staple, Middle Dam. The river bottom consists of large rocks and old deadfall trees that give these elusive brook trout abundant spots to hide and feed.
But with great trout habitat comes more frustration for anglers. We swear these fish know every trick in the book to break your fly off. Whether it be immediately deep diving down into the rocks, swimming directly up to the dam locks, or giving you a wild ride running straight down the white water. These fish never disappoint and do absolutely everything in their power to get away, which makes it even more special when you finally land one. Stepping onto the dock at Lakewood Camps, you immediately get a sense of the history surrounding Maine’s oldest sporting camp. The sounds of the distant generator remind you of how remote this lodge really is. All of Lakewood’s quirks; from the slightly crooked cabins to the supper bell that gives you flashbacks of elementary school; they are all part of what makes it so special.
People from all walks of life come to experience this unique setting – lifelong Mainers who have been coming for 50 years, New Yorkers fresh out of the city, highly respected surgeons de-stressing, a group of women with their endless supply of rosé, several dads and their sons just looking for a fun guys’ trip – with all the different personalities, everyone somehow seems to mesh perfectly. They all come with one common goal; to have an awesome time with old (and new) friends, and the hope to take home a good fishing story.
It was always exciting at the end of each day when everyone came together in the dining room and were able to share our daily stories over a massive plate of home-style food cooked by our beloved chef, Richard. Thinking back to all of these fishing tales throughout our season, there was one story that stuck out to both of us.
Fishing Memory – *Sarah’s POV*
“My favorite fishing moment would have to be when I caught my first-ever brook trout. Several workers, primarily Ben, Sydnee, Daniel, and I, went for a quick drift boat trip in the early season during a caddis hatch, and it ended up being my lucky day. It was approaching dusk because Sydnee had finished serving dinner that night, so we were able to sneak onto the river just in time.
This was especially fun for me as a newbie who was just introduced to fly fishing the year prior (2019). I was still at the stage of selecting my flies based on the color I was feeling at that moment, almost always picking a greeny-bo-beany or a pink-puffball fly. It’s safe to say that I definitely did not choose my fly that night.
After a short trek down an old carriage road followed by a few swift rows of the oars, we set anchor in an eddy beside a slow rolling current. I was told to stand up on the horns of the drift boat and start fishing. After many messy and unsuccessful casts upstream, I decided to switch things up. I swapped over to casting downstream, slowly pulling in the line while wiggling the fly ever so slightly. What seems like such a silly maneuver made all the difference. The ripple caused just enough of a disturbance to catch the trout’s attention. To my disbelief, the trout latched onto my fly. A hard tug followed by screams from my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th mate; ‘Set, Sarah, set!’ Ever since that day, I’ve been addicted to the challenge of learning to fly fish. I have since learned from Ben that you cannot always rely on your favorite color when choosing your weapon.”
We were very fortunate to work at Lakewood Camps. Living at the lodge all summer gave us an advantage in understanding the river. However, we can’t take all the credit for all our successful trips down the river. We had some help from outside sources, namely Maine natives who owned and operated Lakewood Camps for many years.
They understood the river and could time when big hatches would happen. We would always hear stories of guests being on the river for the big caddis or Alderfly hatch, and it felt surreal when it finally did happen to me. It’s one thing to catch a native Maine brook trout indicator fishing, but to see a native brookie slowly break the water’s surface for a caddis is an accomplishment on any angler’s bucket list.