John Templin Jr. has been fishing at Moosehead Lake most of his life, but not once during those 30-plus years has the Smithfield native laid eyes on a brook trout that compares to the one the family put on the boat on June 11.

In the Templin family, brook trout bragging rights now belong to his youngest daughter, 4-year-old Gracie, and his wife, Ceara.

John set the hook, while Gracie and Ceara took care of the reeling, to land a gorgeous Moosehead Lake brook trout that measured 24 3/4 inches and weighed 5 1/2 pounds.

“It was pretty awesome,” said John Templin, the general manager at Woodsmith’s Manufacturing in Oakland. “The little one, she’s like, ‘oh, geez, it’s cool,’ but she can’t comprehend how big of a fish that was.”

The Templins, who have a camp at Moosehead, were fishing off their new 27-foot boat. The boat has three pontoons, which can handle the rough water conditions that can pop up on the lake. It also features an enclosure on the back in case of rainy or cold weather.

Gracie Templin and Ceara Templin of Smithfield caught this 5 1/2-pound, 24 3/4-inch brook trout on June 11 at Moosehead Lake.  Credit: Courtesy of John Templin Jr.

While it might look like a pleasure boat at first glance, theirs is rigged up and ready to fish. Templin installed an adjustable mount on the tow bar that enables him to run six rods simultaneously.

“I’d run two, stack ’em, off each downrigger and then I’d run two lead core rods, one off each side,” Templin said.

That enables him to accommodate rods for him, Ceara, the kids and thensome.

On this excursion, John Templin rigged up one of the lead core roads especially for Gracie. It featured a blue Hookmore Leaders spoon that she had picked out at Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville.

The lure, running on four to five colors of lead core, proved to be a lucky charm for Gracie.

“I had that one set light, so you could hear it, and that one started singing,” Templin said of the reel on Gracie’s rod. “I grabbed it, set the hook and said ‘get back here.’”

Gracie began the difficult task of reeling in the fish, which Templin knew was a good one.

“She was getting tired and I’m like, come on, keep going,’” Templin said.

Gracie battled the fish for a short time before John invited Ceara to take over while he netted the fish and got it on the deck.

Moosehead’s slot limit requires anglers to release brook trout that measure between 18 and 22 inches. This one was bigger than that.

“I said, oh, yeah, we’re definitely keeping this,” said John, who gave all the credit for landing the fish to Gracie and Ceara.

He was quick to share the news with his father who, even with a lifetime of fishing on the Allagash, has not come across such a large brook trout.

“It’ll be something that we always have the memory of,” said Templin, who filled out the paperwork for Maine’s “One That Didn’t Get Away Club” administered by The Maine Sportsman magazine and dropped the fish off at the taxidermist to preserve the accomplishment.

“That was by far the biggest brookie that I’ve seen,” Templin said.

He confessed the catch helps take away the sting of an estimated 4-pound brookie that shook itself off the hook the previous weekend after he neglected to put the net in the boat.

For now, Gracie and Ceara’s brook trout occupies the top spot in the  2022 Moosehead Big Fish Competition being sponsored by  the Fish Moosehead Facebook page.

John Templin said passing down fishing, hunting, trapping and other outdoor traditions to his children is an important part of the family’s heritage.

John Templin Jr. (left) of Smithfield and his daughter Gracie, 4, show of the 5 1/2-pound, 24 3/4-inch brook trout Gracie and her mother Ceara Templin caught on June 11 at Moosehead Lake. Credit: Courtesy of Ceara Templin

“My girls, they love it,” he said. “I hope that they get to enjoy it, have the memories, like I did when I was a kid.”

Templin, along with family members and friends, have continued to fish Moosehead hard this summer. But brook trout have been scarce.

“Since then, I have not caught another brookie this year,” he said.

“That’s the thing about fishing. You never know what you’re going to get, when you’re going to it, or if you’re going to catch anything.”

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the brook trout’s length.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...