By Genie Jennings
From a very young age, Megan Hess fished with her father. She grew up with a love of the outdoors and all its creatures, particularly aquatic life. After earning her bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology at the University of Wisconsin, she decided to study for her master’s at the University of Maine at Orono. On her way to her new school, she stopped at a fly fishing show in Eddington, New Jersey, where she met Sheralyn and Jason Bouchard, owners of Chandler Lake Camps. After learning of her destination, Sherry invited the young woman to visit them.
A remote camp in the Great North Woods of Maine is not the easiest place for someone to drop in, but after settling herself at UMaine, Megan made her way. The invitation had been real; she had a place to stay and work. Jason encouraged her to get a Maine Guide License. As she worked on her degree in ecology and environmental sciences, continuing the research she had begun in her home state, Megan also completed the Maine Guide School program at Fins and Furs Adventures.
My husband and I fished with Megan last summer on our third visit to Chandler Lake. This was a particularly poignant trip, because my husband has Parkinson’s Disease and can no longer do many of the things we have always loved doing. I had been a bit apprehensive when I found we were not going out with Jason. We had been hoping to re-visit Coyote Pond (not its real name but one of the ‘special’ places one does not want to over-populate). The way, one could not call it a road, into the pond is up and then down what amounts to boulders on a very steep pitch. We were going for the green drake hatch. At night. The hatch was strong. The fish were huge. I needn’t have worried. Megan can drive backcountry!
For a while she was living one of the Maine dreams. She sold her hand-tied flies, guided people on fishing trips. She became involved with Maine Women Fly Fishers, starting her own chapter because it was too difficult for everyone in the state to meet in one place. She taught fly casting and tying. She gave lectures on the ‘bugs’ that fish like to eat. She began teaching what she calls Fly Fishing 101. A semi-private class for one to four people. In approximately four hours, it covers how to set up a rod, different styles of fishing, a variety of flies and basic casting.
Then, her real dream became reality, when she got a job for which her master’s degree had prepared her. She is now the Town of Orono’s Environmental Services Coordinator.
Megan plans to continue doing all she was doing before on a reduced scale. She will still accept custom orders for flies. She will still be guiding occasionally during the busiest times for Jason and Sherry, but mostly she will be concentrating on guiding for bass in the Bangor area. She will concentrate on bringing new, especially young, people into her sport. She is excited to continue with the very small group and one-on-one classes of Fly Fishing 101. We discussed the possibility of working with youth groups such as scouts. Both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have badges that are based on fishing and/or streamside ecosystems. These are the areas of Megan’s particular expertise and passion. Fly fishing is a personal connection with the fish and its environment. Once we feel this bond, we understand our part in it. We know we must protect it all.
Megan Hess can be contacted at beadheadfishing.com.
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