A few weeks back, I boldly headed into the woods, new boss in tow, to show her exactly how smart her outdoors editor was.
She learned. Boy, did she learn.
Our quest that day: Find a real, live Maine moose. New boss, Sarah Walker Caron, had never seen one, and I had boldly (bordering on foolishly) guaranteed that I could find her a moose.
Apparently, the moose were on vacation that day. We came back mooseless.
Editor’s note: Still waiting for my moose, John.
First, there’s the “What were you thinking? You never guarantee someone you can find them a moose or a deer or a fish” category. (More on this in a moment).
Second, there was the “What kind of bozo are you if you can’t find a moose in Maine? They’re huge! And they stick out like a sore thumb” category.
Thankfully, there was the third category: “I feel your pain. I’ve been there. But you’ve learned your lesson.”
Editor’s note: To be fair, there was a fourth category that said it was all my fault — since I am from away. Apparently even the moose can tell.
Which brings us to this: Not long after our mooseless meandering, Sarah came to me with another idea.
“You need to take me fishing,” she said. “We have to catch a fish. Then we’ll clean it, and I’ll cook it, and we’ll write about it.”
Sarah, you might have noticed if you’ve been paying attention to our food page, is a food writer at heart. That was one of her specialties before she arrived in Bangor.
My response: “Certainly. We can do that.”
Yes, I guaranteed fish. Apparently, I don’t learn some lessons too quickly.
At this point, it might make sense to point out that after trusting me once and coming up mooseless, it would have been Sarah’s own fault if our second adventure also was a dismal failure. Once bitten, and all that.
Editor’s note: Under-promise, over-deliver, John!
Yes, it might make sense to point that out. Of course, I like my job and am still trying to impress my new boss. So I wouldn’t be the one to point that out. If you choose to make that leap on your own, however? I won’t correct you.
Given my marching orders, I began planning. Find a fish to eat? In August? In freshwater, where I do virtually all my fishing? Tough task … and I didn’t dare announce to my boss that … um … not only do I not catch many fish, I also am a pretty staunch catch-and-release devotee. I rarely take fish home with me.
I know, what you’re saying: “That’s just another way for an unsuccessful fisherman to arrive home without dinner and say, ‘Well, honey, yes, I did catch a couple dozen trout. But you know, I’m a catch-and-release guy. Let’s eat steak!’”
After a bit of pondering, I decided that I was walking a precarious path. Fail once, and it’s a joke. Fail a few more times? Well, let’s just say there are a lot of aspiring outdoor writers who’d love to have this gig. And most of ‘em can outfish me.
Not good. I needed help. Reinforcements, you might say.
Luckily, although I do not know much, I do know people. People who know things. People who are often willing to give me good advice.
That’s why I called Capt. Pete Douvarjo.
Pete is the proprietor of Eggemoggin Guide Service in Sedgwick, and he has saltwater running through his veins. He even looks a bit like a pirate — albeit, a jolly, friendly pirate. No eyepatch. No wooden leg. No sword in a scabbard. Not Pete. Just an unruly beard and a huge smile for everyone.
“Where can I take my boss to catch her a mackerel or two?” I asked. “She wants to catch a fish … and cook it.”
I told Pete that I thought he might know of a particularly productive town pier where we could have some luck.
He had other ideas.
“Why don’t you come down?” he wrote back. “I’ll take you guys out and catch you a couple hundred fish.”
A couple hundred? That’s like … wow … more fish than I’ve caught in my life, I thought.
He also told me to round up a couple of children — Sarah happens to have a couple of her own — to enjoy an adventure he bills as “the family fun trip.”
Like I said: I may not know much, but I know people who know lots.
We headed out from Sedgwick on Tuesday, a beautiful day, with Sarah, her son Will, daughter Paige and BDN photographer Ashley L. Conti.
Will caught fish. Paige caught fish. Sarah caught fish. I dodged hooks and helped herd up the fish as our happy anglers hauled them in, five or six at a time. We kept a few and tossed most back into the ocean.
Editor’s note: John is being kind here. As Ashley will attest, while my children caught fish after fish, I caught about as many as you can count on a single hand. Is it me?
Nobody bled … much.
Nobody fell overboard.
Editor’s note: There may have been a little concern about my lack of sea legs.
The children smiled and eagerly thanked Pete at the end of the afternoon.
And only the photographer got seasick. Sorry, Ashley. We didn’t get photos, but we writers always get the last word.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty successful day.
Editor’s note: John came through! Now, to plot our next adventure. What should it be?
Since I’m still sitting here and still writing, I guess the new boss agrees.