Kevin McKay heads out for a day of muskie fishing in northern Maine in this scene from the film "The Newbie Stage," which McKay screened for the first time at the Cabin Fever Reliever outdoor show in Brewer on Feb. 29. Credit: Courtesy of Kevin McKay

Fly fishing guide Kevin McKay has been fishing long enough to have mastered the sport’s basics, and has caught many different species during that time.

But he still remembers what it’s like to be fishing for a certain species for the first time and trying to figure out the tricks that will lead to success. That phase of development — “The Newbie Stage” — is the focus of a recent film that McKay helped produce, along with Higher Elevations Productions of Vermont.

The 20-minute film, which had its premiere at the Cabin Fever Reliever outdoor show in Brewer on Feb. 29, features McKay and other anglers targeting muskellunge, or “muskies,” in extreme northern Maine.

“There’s different stages of fly fishing, and I feel the newbie stage is one of the best,” McKay said. “That’s what the muskie [provided for] me. It got me excited [when I took up fishing for the species after years of fly fishing]. It got my heart racing.”

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The film captures that excitement, as McKay, now a muskie-fishing veteran, takes a client who has only been fly fishing for three or four years on a trip to target muskies. Also featured in the film are Stacy Chiasson and guide Del Harrington of northern Maine’s Muskie Connection.

The film features fishing from two seasons, as McKay, the other anglers and the two-man crew from Higher Elevations spent time on the water in October of 2018 and in July of 2019.

Andrew Elder of Higher Elevations had fished with McKay earlier, and produced a promotional video for his guiding business, Maine Fishing Adventures. After seeing how that video turned out, McKay said he floated the idea of a muskie-centered short film.

Andrew Elder and his brother, Nelson Elder, produced the film, which was well-received during two screenings in Brewer.

The rugged northern Maine scenery and harsh weather play a key role in the film, as does the presence of large, sharp-toothed fish that are notoriously hard to catch.

Muskies are known as “the fish of 10,000 casts,” but McKay set out to demystify the process in “The Newbie Stage.”

“You’re not throwing 10,000 casts, and that was kind of the point of me wanting to make the muskie film,” McKay said.

The takeaway messages: Even those who are relatively new to the fly fishing game can successfully catch and land muskies on the fly. And having guides who know what they’re doing will certainly help.

A short trailer of the film is available on YouTube, and McKay said interested anglers can also get a look at it at the Western Maine Fly Fishing Expo in Bethel on March 21.

And later, McKay said, the original film will be split into three parts, with each part expanded. Higher Elevations and McKay will each release those parts on their own social media channels.

John Holyoke can be reached at or 990-8214.

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...