You haven’t visited most of Maine—few people have. It’s an immense state that’s largely unpopulated. Well, try this: fly to Bangor, then drive three hours north. You’re getting up there. At the end of an 18-mile dirt road is Libby Camps. Established in 1890, it’s been in the same family for five generations. That all sounds promising, and it should. We’re partial to lodges and cabins that don’t dress themselves up (wall-to-wall carpeting is a telltale warning sign). When you arrive at Libby you know you’re in a place that has earned the right to take the long view.
Come in May and June to fish for native brook trout in many of the remote ponds that can only be accessed by foot or, even better, by float plane. Or come back in September when the water falls and they turn red before they spawn. Either way, you fly fish from a 20’ Old Town canoe and cast out one of the idiosyncratic flies made by the guides. Or, if you’re more classically minded: a caddis or March Brown. You can hope for a trophy 3 pounder, but that’s a setting the bar high. Aim a little more realistically, while expecting regular action from strong, healthy fish.
This isn’t the kind of place that has a spa. In fact, they take their sport quite seriously. Breakfast is from 7-8am, which may be earlier than you get up to go to work. You meet your guide and, if you like (and for a fee), Matt Libby will fly you to a more isolated location. You and your guide are on your own until you return for dinner at 6pm. Which is probably the earliest you’ve eaten in years.
The separate cabins have a wood burning stove and gas lamps. Electricity is in in the main lodge, it runs on a generator that turns off at 9pm. Do we understand the terms here? It’s not about lobster rolls and antiquing. These people aren’t kidding around: they cut 300 pounds of ice from the lake each January and store it under sawdust to use the following summer. There’s also grouse and woodcock shooting in the fall months, if you’re so inclined. So yes, you’ll see some moose, tangle with black flies, that’s how you know you’re in the wilderness. It’s time to get a taste of the sporting life as it was lived a hundred years ago: go north, young man. — DAVID COGGINS