Nolan Raymond, a junior at Hermon High School, enjoys Maine’s hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities. He is involved in Dirigo Search and Rescue as well as Boy Scouts of America. He also plays the drums and competes in track and field.
My very favorite part of ice fishing is the chance to haul anything through the ice: You just never know what you might catch.
I mean sure, I’ve had plenty of days without a single flag, and plenty of days where the little perch and panfish manage to drain your bait supply. But hasn’t every angler had those days?
Maybe you can look at it as a numbers game. If you fish often enough, in the right areas, and really work at it, you’ll eventually be rewarded with a more sizable catch.
My brother Kent Raymond, a University of Maine wildlife conservation student and avid fisherman, has certainly put in the commitment. He’s out ice fishing about every weekend, rain or shine, and sometimes goes to some of his local haunts after classes with friends. Take a peek in his truck and you’re likely to spot anything you could need for an impromptu angling adventure.
On a Sunday excursion in January, his hard work paid off. He took a trip to Cold Stream Pond in Enfield, along with a couple of friends. His trip didn’t start out quite as you might expect.
At around 9:30 a.m., my dad got a text. “Yet to drill a hole, re-coil on my auger broke.”
He’d been trying to jerry-rig a way to start it for two hours. My dad, being a real go-getter and a supporter of our outdoors antics, made a generous offer.
“I’ll drive my auger up if you want, I can be there in an hour.”
The rush was on: getting the other auger fueled up, loaded in the truck and hitting the road. I didn’t have much going on, so I hopped in as well.
We met Kent at the landing, after coordinating via text. Once we gave him the functioning auger, we took the defunct one back home.
A couple of hours later, another text rolls into my dad’s phone: a photo. Although I didn’t catch his reaction, I imagine there was a second of disbelief. He quickly showed it to me.
I was shocked to see Kent posing with a trophy of a salmon! We gave him a call and heard the story.
He’d been set up for about an hour when a flag popped on one of his Heritage tip-ups. After running across the clear ice to the hole, he found the trap to be pulled violently to one side.
Upon lifting it out of the ice, he found that whatever was on the line had taken such an aggressive run that the spinning of the reel tightened the drag down. It was obvious that it was still on.
After a five-minute fight, the lunker showed itself to the hole.
“It was big enough that it wouldn’t just flip up and out of the hole. I had to get its head up first,” Kent said.
Once its head was out of the water, he managed to grab it under the gill. Through a combination of commitment, skill and good luck, Kent landed the biggest salmon we’d ever seen.
The trophy weighed in at 6.4 pounds on a registered scale at JC’s Variety in Hampden, measured a whopping 26.5 inches, and landed him a spot in “The One That Didn’t Get Away Club” sponsored by The Maine Sportsman.
Some day, the trophy will hang on Kent’s wall, a way to remember a once-in-a-lifetime fish and a depiction of the value of commitment and patience. The fish also earned him a spot on the family leaderboard.
I’m sure my grandfather, the late Ken Warner, pulled some trophy salmon from Maine’s waters. With that said, it’s certainly bigger than any salmon my parents or siblings have landed.
Kent has caught some trophy cusk through the ice in northern Maine, but his most recent catch will go down in the record books as one of the biggest salmon in the family heritage.