In keeping with our summer Day In blogs I’d like to introduce you to a place where you can spend a day, a week, or even a couple of months. Up here in THE COUNTY we call them the lakes, but their official name is the Fish River Chain of Lakes. Click the link to see Google Earth’s sat photo of the lakes.
The chain consists of eight lakes all connected to one another via a number of thoroughfares as well as Fish River itself. The lakes are (from east to west) Long Lake, Mud Lake, Cross Lake, Square Lake, Eagle Lake, Saint Froid Lake, Portage Lake, and Fish Lake (the most remote of them only accessible by unpaved tote roads). What is unique about these lakes is that you can put a canoe or kayak in at the public boat launch and access all of the lakes. Most of them can be accessed by a motorboat however when the water recedes during late June, July, and August the Square Lake outlet of the thoroughfare between it and Cross Lake will be as shallow as two feet. Many of the shorelines are lined with homes (a number of people live year-round on Long, Cross, Eagle, St. Froid, and Portage Lakes) that may or may not reside on land they own (in by-gone years one could not purchase the land but could get a ninety-nine year lease) much of the land is now controlled by Irving Corporation and to cut a tree without their
permission will get the camp or home-owner into a conflict. Whether owned land or leased the lakes are a beautiful place to live with year-round benefits. In summer you can swim, boat, jet-ski, or fish; fall will dazzle you with nature’s art as the foliage surrounding the lakes bursts alive with color (actually, the color we see is the natural color of the leaf, the green is the result of chlorophyll–but that’s a subject for another blog) and if you are a hunter there are hundreds of square miles of forest in your back yard I find this the perfect time for a long ATV trip–many of the railroad track beds have been converted into trails; in winter there is ice-fishing and snowmobiling. The lakes are ideal habitat for a great number and species of game fish (many of which will be mentioned).
Each of the lakes has areas where campers have created impromptu campsites (a night in one of these will give you an idea of what life was for our ancestors as they traveled across our great country.
Due to the fact that this might turn into a long dissertation we’ll only travel a single day, from Sinclair, ME on Long Lake to the camping area at Limestone Point on Square Lake. That being said, lets start our trek.
Long Lake extends southward from Saint Agatha into Maine township 17 ranges 3 and 4. Tributaries Brishlotte Brook, Ouellette Brook, and Little River flow into the north end of the lake. Paulette Brook flows into the east side of the lake; Mud Brook flows into the southeast end of the lake; and McLean Brook, Bard Brook, and Pelletier Brook flow into the southwest arm of the lake. The lake overflows from the end of the southwest arm through the Long Lake Thoroughfare into Mud Lake approximately 500 meters (550 yd) away. There are two boat launch areas, a picnic area, and numerous residences and camps where Maine State Route 162 follows the west shore of the lake. Long Lake is the deepest lake of the chain (163 feet), and provides good habitat for brook trout, rainbow smelt, and land-locked salmon. In winter there are areas so full of ice-fishing shacks it reminds one of a depression-era shanty town.
Long Lake Thoroughfare discharges into the east end of Mud Lake in Maine township 17, range 4; and the west end of Mud Lake in township 17, range 5, discharges through Cross Lake Thoroughfare into Cross Lake approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away. Numerous residences and camps line the north shore of Mud Lake along Maine State Route 162. Mud Lake is the smallest and shallowest (22 feet) lake of the chain, and provides habitat for longnose sucker, hornpout, and yellow perch.
Mud Lake discharges into the east side of Cross Lake in Maine township 17, range 5; and the south end of Cross Lake in township 16, range 5, overflows through Square Lake Thoroughfare into Square Lake approximately 1 kilometer (1,100 yd) away. There are residences and camps along the north end and eastern shore of Cross Lake where Maine State Route 161 follows the northeast shore of the lake; and there is a public boat launch and picnic area on the southeast shore. The remaining shoreline of this shallow lake (46 feet) is boggy and undeveloped. Tributaries Dickey Brook and Daigle Brook enter the north end of the lake and Black Brook enter the south end providing spawning and nursery habitat for brook trout, rainbow smelt, and land-locked salmon.
Cross Lake discharges into the east side of Square Lake, and the north end of Square Lake overflows 3.5 miles (5.6 km) through Eagle Lake Thoroughfare into the eastern arm of Eagle Lake. Square Lake is the largest lake of the chain (8090 acres) and is almost entirely within Maine township 16, range 5. Tributaries Dimock Brook and California Brook flowing into the north end of the lake from township 17, range 5, and Goddard Brook flowing into the south end from township 15, range 5, provide good spawning and nursery habitat for brook trout, rainbow smelt, and land-locked salmon.
Navigating the thoroughfare between Cross and Square Lakes is a challenge. Long ago boulders were deposited and in low water seasons it is best to have a Rock Watch assigned to stand in the bow of your boat to spot them (local rumor is that the boulders were put there to make it difficult to traverse the thoroughfare, the following link will take you to a YouTube video of traveling the thoroughfare with 89 year old Norman St. Peter (now well into his nineties).
Similar to Lake Superior, Square Lake has a reputation of being treacherous having claimed the lives of a number of fishermen (one of them a man I grew up and went to school with). I have personally experienced how rapidly the lake can go from a glass-like placid surface to choppy with waves high enough to swamp many boats. I have spoken with many local sportsmen who refuse to fish Square Lake.
From the thoroughfare it is a lengthy paddle northwest toward the Eagle Lake thoroughfare and the campsite at Limestone Point. The campsite has no amenities ladies so be prepared to live as pioneer women did. You will now be deep into the forest and due to the lack of ambient light, on a clear night you will be rewarded by a view of the Milky Way that is breath-taking.
In my next blog we’ll depart Square Lake for Eagle Lake and spend some time at the Eagle Lake Sporting Camps.