NEBO Report from the Field: Moosehead Lake, Maine

New England Boating TV wrapped up its third season of filming in grand fashion over the past week with an action-packed trip to the Moosehead Lake region of Maine. Here’s how it went down:

small pondOn Thursday, September 24, the NEBO crew of Parker Kelley, Tom Richardson, Gene Allen and Tyler Adams assembled in Yarmouth, Maine, with the Pursuit C260 and a Tracker Pro Team 190 TX (on loan from Bass Pro Shops Foxborough) in tow. From there we headed deep into the heart of Maine, filming the scenery as we progressed steadily northward. At 5:30, the sparkling waters of Moosehead Lake finally appeared as we descended into Greenville and checked into the beautiful Greenville Inn, where owners Terry and Jeff Johannemann welcomed us with a glass of wine on their sprawling porch overlooking the lake. After a delicious meal, prepared by the inn’s excellent chef, we turned in early. We’d need our rest, as we had several adventure-packed days ahead.

DSC_0327The next morning, Jeff greeted us with a full-on breakfast buffet featuring his celebrated blueberry pancakes, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit and coffee. It was the perfect meal to fortify us for a chilly fly fishing outing with guide Matt Levine of Northwoods Outfitters. Matt led the way to the Kennebec River put-in below the East Outlet, where we launched his Hyde drift boat. Parker, who had never fly-fished before, gamely accepted the challenge of fishing the mighty Kennebec, but it was Tom who caught the only fish of the day—a 10-inch landlocked salmon. Not the lunker we were hoping for, but we’ll take it.

After thawing out back at the Greenville Inn, we headed to Kelley’s Landing for lunch by the lake. Kelley’s is one of the few dock-and-dine restaurants on Moosehead, and is located in Greenville Junction. The friendly staff took good care of us, and served up all sorts of delicious dishes, including seafood chowder, BBQ ribs, burgers, “endless” fried haddock, quesadillas and more.

DSC_0268Well fed and happy, we trailered our boats up the road to Moosehead Marina in Rockwood. We were greeted warmly by Operations Manager Mark Gilbert Jr., who helped us splash the boats and directed us to our next location: an isolated campsite on Farm Island, just north of the Moose River.

After a short run to the island, we beached the two boats and unloaded our gear. A time-lapse sequence will show how easy it was to set up the tent, loaned to NEBO by the Bass Pro Shops’ Foxborough store. Bass Pro Foxborough also set us up with folding chairs, a propane lantern, sleeping bags and other camping supplies that made our trip very comfortable. Many thanks, Bass Pro!

*Double click to replay
**Video of Farm Island morning by Parker Kelley
***Video may not be supported on Google Chrome

Just as we finished setting up camp, the sun suddenly dropped below the ceiling of clouds and set the surrounding trees and the west-facing shoreline ablaze with golden light. It was a spectacular moment, and immediately sent everyone racing for their cameras. The amazing light only lasted 15 minutes before the sun dipped below the hills, but we made the most of it.

The now-legendary NEBO camping trip was a lot of fun—definitely one of the more unique segments we’ve ever filmed—and we were all reluctant to break camp and leave Farm Island the next morning. However, our next segment awaited, and we didn’t want to be late for this one!

After docking at Moosehead Marina, we drove south to The Forks, where the headquarters of Moxie Outdoor Adventures is located. Moxie specializes in whitewater rafting trips on the Kennebec River, and owner Cliff Stevens explained how we had “lucked out” by scheduling our trip on a day when the dam operators were releasing a maximum flow of water. MOA 9-26-15 K043That meant big water and big rapids, and we could tell that even the guides were pumped to run the river that day. Parker, Tom and Gene were fitted with wetsuits, helmets and PFDs (as well as multiple GoPros) and joined the group of other rafters as they received safety instructions. Then it was off to the river, where the rafts were launched and the excitement began.

We were in good hands with veteran guide Eric Sherman, who expertly steered us through a Class 5 rapid featuring a 20’ standing wall of water known as “Big Mama”. Between rapids we visited a waterfall and got a chance to float down the river alongside the raft.

With our adrenalin still surging from the whitewater run, we returned to the Moxie base and changed into dry clothes before driving along dusty dirt roads to the Greenville Inn. After a hot shower and a quick bite to eat, we returned to Rockwood to film a profile on the Moosehead Marina—the largest marina on Moosehead—and enjoy a boat ride aboard the Pursuit with Mark Gilbert.

The now-legendary NEBO camping trip was a lot of fun—definitely one of the more unique segments we’ve ever filmed

A 4th generation native of the Moosehead area, Gilbert gave us the lowdown on navigating the big lake, and also listed some good places to launch a boat. Later, he brought us around the backside of majestic Mount Kineo for a view of its sheer cliff face, which drops directly into 75’ of water. Throughout the segment, cameraman Tyler Adams shadowed us in the Tracker 190, which was driven by none other than NEBO Executive Producer Steve Wyman, who joined the crew in late afternoon.

As the sun set over the western hills, Gilbert brought us to a favorite dining establishment in Rockwood called Maynard’s, which overlooks the Moose River. Boaters can access the restaurant, part of a venerable sporting lodge with rental cabins. The interior of the restaurant and lodge is decorated with mounted fish, old photos, deer antlers and sporting artifacts. The food is home-cooked and delicious, and the crew enjoyed our meal of chicken parmesan and baby back ribs.

After dinner we returned to Greenville and again turned in early, as we had one more very special segment to film in the morning.

On Sunday, the crew was up at 4:30 a.m. and out the door by 5:00 to meet Steve Sullivan of Northwoods Outfitters, whose mission it was to get us up close and personal with Maine’s signature ungulate. We climbed into Sullivan’s van and rumbled over dirt logging roads in the dark, scanning the surrounding brush and bogs for signs of moose. After an hour’s drive we arrived at First West Branch Pond, where we launched a pair of canoes and headed into the rising mist. As the sun illuminated the steaming water and wooded shoreline, and loons called magically from the mist, we silently paddled into hidden coves in search of our quarry. Did we see any moose? You’ll have to watch the episode to find out!

Following the moose safari, we returned to Greenville, where Tom interviewed Northwoods Outfitters’ owner Mike Boutin, who was a huge help with setting up many of the show’s adventure segments. Northwoods is the outdoors enthusiast’s headquarters for any sort of activity, as they rent ATVs, kayaks, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, canoes, camping gear, skis, snowshoes and more, and can also set up guided fishing, whitewater rafting and moose safari trips. The store carries outdoors apparel, camping equipment and fishing gear, as well as fresh-brewed coffee, and is centrally located in Greenville Village.

Speaking of Greenville, Parker spent some time exploring the local shops and restaurants for the “About Town” segment of the show. That was followed by her float plane tour of the lake with pilot Rodney Folsom. Meanwhile, Tom filmed a short segment on the largest boat to ply the waters of Moosehead—the 125’ restored steamboat Katahdin, which is maintained by the Maine Marine Museum and is available for lake tours.

With the incredible weather holding strong, the crew parted ways and reluctantly headed for home. Now we know why so many people visit this beautiful area in early fall, and so will you once you watch the Moosehead Lake episode!

Be sure to follow more of our adventures this season on FacebookTwitter and Instagram with #NEBOTV.

New episodes of New England Boating TV will begin airing this fall on Mondays and Sundays on NESN.

Check local listings or stay tuned to NewEnglandBoating.com for details on the air times and dates.

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