Zac Bragdon of Eddington ties flies at his Lateral Line Guide Service booth on Sunday during the "Cabin Fever Reliever" show put on by the Penobscot Fly Fishers at the Brewer Auditorium. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

Zac Bragdon of Eddington grew up with a deep appreciation for the wonders of the Maine outdoors.

His affection for fishing and hunting was fostered in him by his grandfather, Robert Bragdon, who often took Zac along on such excursions.

“He was a big role model with the hunting and fishing, so ever since I started doing that with him, it just felt normal to me,” Zac Bragdon said, while manning his table at last weekend’s annual Cabin Fever Reliever”show at the Brewer Auditorium put on by the Penobscot Fly Fishers.

Bragdon, who is a member of the organization, was tying flies and chatting with folks. Talking fishing is one of his favorite things to do.

In 2021, with Robert Bragdon in failing health, Zac Bragdon began thinking more deeply about the importance of the relationship he shared with his grandfather. He had studied carpentry at Eastern Maine Community College.

Zac Bragdon of Lateral Line Guide Service talks with a patron on Sunday during the “Cabin Fever Reliever” show at the Brewer Auditorium sponsored by the Penobscot Fly Fishers. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

Yet, somehow he knew that wasn’t going to be his life vocation. He wanted to work outside.

“When we realized that he didn’t have a lot of time left with us, I was like, I really want to do guiding and kind of make it a career before he passes so he can see what I’m doing to honor him,” Zac Bragdon said.

Robert Bragdon died on Nov. 21, 2022, only months after Zac Bragdon passed his test to become a Registered Maine Guide for fishing.

Upon learning of his grandfather’s death, Zac Bragdon decided to honor the memory of the person he called his best friend by going for an evening deer hunt the following day.

“I got out of the car and I walked down to my spot, sat five minutes and I shot a deer. It was pretty remarkable,” Bragdon said.

“He was right there with me, I could tell.”

Whether hunting ruffed grouse, targeting salmon and brook trout on the West Branch of the Penobscot or guiding a client, Bragdon continues to be inspired and motivated by his grandfather.

At 22, Bragdon operates Lateral Line Guide Service, offering a variety of fishing experiences for his clients. He also plans to sit for his hunting guide license later this year.

Most of the knowledge he has developed and the advice he imparts is taken from his grandfather’s influence.

“He acted as my guide growing up,” Zac Bragdon said.

He was fortunate to get his business off to a strong start, thanks in great part to the friends and acquaintances who have supported him and steered business his way.

Bragdon’s booth featured a couple of fly rods and lots of hand-tied flies for sale, along with numerous photos of beautiful fish caught by him and his clients.

“We’ve got a phenomenal salmon and brook trout fishery here in Maine and I think people really gravitate toward that,” he said.

Bragdon believes that in addition to the success of his clients on the water, his reputation as a cook may also be a factor in helping to fill his schedule.

“I try to include that in my trips, a good, hearty meal,” said Bragdon, who admitted some people prefer a quick sandwich in an effort to get back on the water faster.

He learned fly tying on YouTube, but has fine-tuned his skills to the point where he can supply himself and his clients with the right patterns to attract even the most finicky fish. Bragdon also provides fishing gear and equipment, if they are needed.

“They just have to show up with a good attitude. That’s all I ask of them,” he said of his clients.

Bragdon is part of a new wave of guides and outdoor aficionados who feel a sense of responsibility for passing fishing and hunting knowledge and skills on to young people.

Looking around the Brewer Auditorium over the weekend, it was clear that many well-known and respected anglers and fly tyers in Greater Bangor are getting older, but that there also are many enthusiastic youngsters who are ready to follow in their footsteps.

“They’re the next generation, so you’ve got to keep it up,” Bragdon said.

He spoke with some children and answered their questions as they stopped by to check out his assortment of fish photos.

“I think there’s going to be a point where the younger generation is going to have to pick up the slack, because people are getting done,” Bragdon said of fishing guides. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

And while Bradgon doesn’t have any children of his own, he has already experienced the thrill of seeing other anglers catch fish under his guidance.

“I really enjoy seeing my clients doing what I love to do,” he said. “To see the joy when they catch a fish, that puts a smile on my face.”

It’s helped him better understand how his grandfather must have felt to show him the ropes and see him succeed.

“Every time I take someone out, he’s in the back of my mind a little bit,” said Bragdon, who is buying his grandfather’s house in Eddington.

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...