Fishing Disasters

My friend, Jay Naliboff, suggested that I write some columns about my fishing disasters, and I loved that idea. Some of the disasters I witnessed, but most involved me. Here is my first column of fishing disasters.


Our canoe was anchored in the rapids on the Allagash River, and I was catching lots of nice brook trout when my guide said, “George, check this out.”

I looked up and here came a canoe with a lady in front, a man in back, and about 5 feet of stuff piled up in the middle of their canoe with their dog on top. Sure enough, as soon as they hit the rapids, they turned over and everything spilled into the river.

My guide started pulling up the anchor and I said, “Hey what are you doing? I’m catching fish.” He responded, “We’ve got to help them.” And of course, he was right.

So we went up and down the river collecting as much of their stuff as we could, brought it all to shore, and eventually sent them on their way down river. The dog of course was able to swim to shore on his own. The couple did not recover all of their stuff but we did get quite a bit of it back.

Kennebec River

I used to fish quite often in the Kennebec River below a dam in Fairfield, where brown trout would pile up. I drove up and parked on the east side of the river and waded out as far as I could.

One day I waded too far and started floating down the river. And yes, I panicked. My waders started filling with water, but thankfully, after floating about 30 feet, I came to a shallower place and could stand up.

I quickly turned and walked back to shore, taking off my waders and emptying them of water. I don’t remember if I went back fishing but I probably did.

Nesowadnehunk Stream

One of my favorite places to fish when we were at our camp was Nesowadnehunk Stream. There were pools where I could catch as many as 50 brook trout. But some of them were a long walk down stream.

When I was finished fishing, I had to turn around and wade all the way back to the trail which took me out to my vehicle.

One time I got the idea that I could cut through the woods and hike back to the car on the road. That would be a lot easier than wading all the way back in the stream against the current.

Unfortunately, as I made my way through the woods, I quickly became lost, and I wandered  back and forth for quite a while, cutting through some very thick brush, before I finally found the road. And I never tried that again!


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.