Robertson: White perch in Maine

Maine is a wonderful and wild state filled with hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams. On a recent visit to good friend Ozzie and Karen Morgan, grandson Nate and I were able to sample some of the wonderful fishing. Here Nate holds up an 11-inch white perch, delicious eating. 


My grandson and I were thrilled to find ourselves in Maine staying with Ozzie and Karen Morgan at their home in Washington, Maine. Don Morgan, nicknamed Ozzie in his youth, and his wife Karen both are originally from Bradford and moved to Washington around 14 years ago from Portland. They love it here and Nate and I were soon to discover some of this area’s many attractions.

Washington is a very small community centered on the intersections of Maine routes 105 and 220. The area is very local and the 1500 or so residents are spread out all over the region. Most live back on long gravel driveways with many bordering the areas many lakes and ponds. Others live on small farms or alongside the two-lane highways that twist and turn through this heavily forested region.

Nate and I arrived after a four-hour journey from his home in Cranston, Rhode Island. We’d left at 5 a.m. to avoid the heavy traffic Route 95 is noted for. I have no idea what the traffic would have been like at 6 or 7 o’clock, but I was amazed to find the 5 a.m. traffic very heavy indeed. In fact, it was what my late father liked to call “white knuckle” driving. Cars passed us on the left, then the right, entrance ramps poured cars onto the 6 lane and it was impossible to relax for an instant. I never realized 70 miles per hour was so slow to the other drivers rushing past.

Soon we hit 295 N and then the GPS directed us onto the two-lane rural highways toward our final destination. The remaining time passed quickly. Ozzie had told us to call when we hit the junction of 105 and 220. He was only a short distance away from the local store located there. Nate and I creaked out of the car and walked inside the rustic building when we arrived. It was like stepping back in time.

The floor was made of 12-inch, wide, pine planks. Widely assorted grocery goods were stacked on high wooden, 2 sided shelves along with other products. The store sold meat and cheeses and other local produce and had its own deli section offering homemade, delicious, huge sandwiches. Though the area appeared sparsely settled a constant stream of customers came and went. The customers and store owners all knew each other well and the conversations were more like those of close family members than customer and owner. It was very refreshing to witness this and I wonder what we have lost as the country becomes ever more urbanized.

Ozzie pulled up and we followed him to his half mile long driveway leading to their beautiful, log cabin home. It was so rustic inside with pine logs crossing the ceilings, pine paneling and huge wooden beams supporting all.

Soon we were unpacked and, of course, ready to go fishing. Karen insisted on buying sandwiches from the deli and they did not disappoint. Then we put the square stern canoe on the trailer and headed out.

A short drive and we launched the canoe. The bass were unresponsive in the heavy wind so Ozzie suggested we try for white perch. I asked if they were good to eat and his face lit up. Yes, oh yes, they were very good to eat!

We grabbed our UL’s and because of the speed of our drift put on two buckshot sized sinkers and a hook. Then we threaded on part of a nightcrawler and started fishing. We hadn’t been drifting three minutes when Nate’s pole jiggled and he set the hook. The little UL bent deeply as the fish pulled with surprising power, circling and diving. Soon Nate swung a 10-inch white perch in the canoe. I was surprised at the thickness and width of the perch, a heavy little fish. Then my tip dipped and I was into a feisty fish just as Oz set the hook, as well. What a ball we had. Every drift, as we crossed the drop off, we all had hits almost simultaneously.

I painfully discovered the front lower pectoral fins of white perch have spikes on them. My first perch drove one of those into my hand first flop. We all got nailed a time or two, but soon we had 30 fish in the cooler.

Back to the cabin, we cleaned the fish, showered and when I asked what was for dinner I was told clams, oysters and a thick steak cooked on the grill and tomorrow evening after fishing we’d have lobster. Man, Nate and I just grinned in expectation. We could get used to this!

Many thanks to our wonderful hosts, you’re the best!