It was mid morning and the sun was shining brightly over the South Harpswell shoreline. There was still dew on the ground with the vibrant smell of a fresh salt breeze permeated the air. It was the summer of 1959 and we were spending time at Dad and Mom’s good friend’s, Ronnie and Vi’s, summer cottage.
We, my Dad, Ronnie, my brother Mike, and I, were readying the boat for a day of fishing on and around Harpswell Sound, Cundys Harbor, Sandy Cove, Gun Point Cove, Bailey Island, Mackerel Cove and Potts Point. Dad and Ronny liked to get underway just before low tide so we would be in position when the tides changed as you can catch more fish on an incoming tide.
A cooler was loaded with plenty of beer for Dad and Ronnie along with plenty of Crush Orange Soda for Mike and me. There were sandwiches as well just in case someone might get hungry. That would be mainly Mike and I as beer, cigarettes, and fishing would keep Dad and Ronnie occupied for most of the day.
The boat was about a sixteen foot open skiff with an 18 horse power outboard motor attached to the stern. Certainly not the kind of boat for deep sea fishing, but plenty good enough for trolling in and around the various bays, coves, and sounds surrounding Orr’s and Bailey Islands. I realize that there are a lot of beautiful places all across this country of ours, but none are any prettier than along the rugged coast line of Maine.
Dad was an avid fisherman and had plenty fishing poles, lures, etc. for all types of fishing. This time our four fishing poles were outfitted for mackerel fishing. That meant heavy gauge fishing line with five or six fishing lures strung onto it.
Being the devoted fisherman that he was, Dad hardly ever returned to shore without some fish. It was said of him that he could smell the fish and he always had the right equipment on board for whatever type of fish we might encounter during a fishing trip.
Once the boat was loaded and we were all onboard, we made our trek across Harpswell Sound, under the Cribstone Bridge that connects Orr’s and Bailey Islands, and onto Cundys Harbor where we would wet some lines.
From Cundys Harbor we would troll our way back around the point to Sandy Cove, into Quahog Bay, and onto Gun Point Cove.
We would then fish along the eastern shores of Orr’s and Bailey Islands, round the point at Lands End and cruise into Mackerel Cove. Once we found ourselves on the east side of Bailey Island we often encountered large sea “rolls”. One minute you would be on top and could see for miles, the next you were down between the rolls and could only see water all around. Not necessarily for the “faint of stomach”, if you know what I mean.
From Mackerel Cove we would make our way back across Harpswell Sound toward Potts Point and then back along the shoreline of South Harpswell. Absolutely beautiful!!! You can use Google Maps to see a map of the area and follow our trip; just type in “Harpswell, Maine” (we started out from Stover Cove across the Sound from the Cribstone Bridge that connects Orr’s and Bailey Islands).
Now, for the fishing part (and this is not just any fish story). Remember I said that the lines were outfitted with five or six lures? Well, as we trolled along we would pick up a few mackerel here and there. When we reeled in our lines it was not unusual to have two or three mackerel on. However, should we hit a school of mackerel, which we often did, then we became busier than a one legged sailor in a butt kicking contest. All four lines would load up with mackerel as fast as you could get the lines back in the water. That day we pulled in seventy some odd fish in a matter of fifteen to twenty minutes.
Dad always knew how to find the schools, he just watched the porpoises and followed them to the fish. The boat would be loaded with fish flopping all over the floor. There certainly would be fish for dinner that night; if you like mackerel, that is. It’s an oily fish which is loaded with omega 3’s and good for you, but it needs to be fried just right in order to taste good. Dad was the man!!! ‘Twas yummy.
Dad, mom, and Ronnie are all gone now, but these fond memories will linger on for as long as I live. Vi still owns the cottage in South Harpswell and hopefully Judy and I will get to see her this summer – that would be a very special encounter for this once young “old salty”.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane as much as I did. Take Care Until Next Time - - - - - -