Looking for a place to really get away from it all this fall? A place where the fishing is fantastic (and uncrowded) and the chance to experience true, unspoiled wilderness is just a few paddle strokes away? Then head to Forest City, Maine and Wheaton's Lodge.
Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Maine, literally on the border with New Brunswick (just 2 hour's drive from Bangor International Airport), Wheaton's is a classic Maine fishing lodge offering cozy cabins, home-cooked meals and first-class guide service.
Located on the shores of East Grand Lake, with easy access to nearby Spednic Lake and miles of untouched water, you'll find both friendly service and world-class fishing for smallmouth bass, landlocked salmon and wild brook trout.
Wheaton's Lodge was originally founded by Woody Wheaton. For many years the lodge was run by Woody's son, Dale, with brothers Art and Lance, working as part of a team of veteran fishing guides. Today, the lodge is run by Patrick and Sandy Patterson, but the pride, service and warm hospitality that Wheaton's is known for have not changed. Best of all, the Wheaton boys still help out with guiding.
Wheaton's offers full-service accommodations. Visitors stay in cozy cabins with breakfast and dinner served in the main lodge. Traditional shore lunches are prepared lakeside by your guide and are an adventure unto themselves.
Maine is a fisherman's dream state to visit and accomplished fly fishermen will find all the challenge they want at Wheaton's whether they're casting for smallmouth bass or salmon on the lakes or wading the nearby rivers for trout. Conventional fishermen using spinning or baitcasting rigs will see plenty of action as well. And you don't need to be an ultra-experienced fishermen to do well here.
On a recent trip my son, Jack, had never tried fly-fishing before. We were lucky to hit one 6-hour stretch of glass-calm weather and with a little instruction from Master Guide, Art Wheaton, Jack soon brought his first fly rod fought smallmouth to net.
Motoring down Spednic Lake in one of the big Maine guide's canoes for which the area is famous is like traveling back in time. The Woody Wheaton Land Trust, led by the Wheaton clan and concerned citizens, is working with local landowners to protect thousands of acres of shoreline in the St. Croix watershed, so it will remain pristine forever. Osprey and the occasional eagle pass overhead with miles of untouched forest reaching down to the shoreline. While the fishing is wonderful, just being on the lake is a treat.
But lake fishing isn't the only thing Wheaton's has to offer. Fishermen can also try their luck on the local streams. One day, when high winds made lake fishing impossible, we spent a wonderful morning fishing a local river that connects into Spednic. We had been told the river held some big smallmouth, but it looked so perfect for trout that I didn't believe it until Jack chucked a big Rattle Trap out and was treated to a line-burning run by a chunky bass. A short while later, in another pool downstream, he reeled in an honest 3-pounder that is the biggest freshwater fish of his career. And the entire day we never saw another soul.
For those who want inclined to do more on their own, accommodations at The Village Camps run by Art's brother, Lance, and his wife, Georgie, offers six lakeshore house-keeping cottages that come fully equipped with everything you need to cook your own meals. Want a shore lunch?
Just let Georgie know and she'll put one together for you with all kinds of choices and homemade cookies. The Village Camps also has barbeques and a boat ramp. Lance also rents motor boats for $35 per day and there is ample hiking, biking and great areas for photo taking nearby.
Whether you come to fish or just to relax for a few days, this is one part of Maine that's well worth visiting. Come for the fishing, but you'll go home having made some great friends as well, which explains why so many of the fishermen we ran into here come back to Wheaton's every year.