About a month ago, we headed downeast for a well needed vacation. It was the second year that we stayed at Chet's Camps and it was better than the first!
|The Big Lake in Grand Lakes Stream|
The most amazing thing happens when you turn off of the pavement and head towards Chet’s Camps in Grand Lakes Stream. The world slips way and you are surrounded by beautiful waters, incredible hosts and world renounced fishing.
Chet’s Camps were built in the early 1940’s and since their construction, the camps have served as seasonal camps for those who are eager to get away from everyday life and relax in the outdoors. The four cabins range in size but all have incredible views of the Big Lake and come equipped with everything you could possibly need; a shower, coffee pot, comfortable relaxing chairs and couches and from the front windows, you can watch loons swim by, hear osprey calling and watch them catch fish as well as catch some of the most breathtaking sunrises.
|Sunrise was at 4:15am on the Big Lake.|
In 2002, Chet’s Camps were bought by Sue and Al LePlante, two Maine Guides with a passion for the outdoors. Both former teachers, Sue and Al work to promote the outdoors and are passionate about the outdoor issues that impact Maine and Grand Lakes Stream. More than once I have been invited to come into their home and sit-down for great conversation about past hunts, latest catches and the need to preserve and protect Maine’s beautiful lands and incredible hunting and fishing resources. Once you arrive at Camp, there is no need to look further for a local guide to help give you the inside scoop of where the best activities are, Sue and Al can help to customize your trip in a number of ways, from guided fishing, ATV trips, back country canoe and kayak expeditions, to GPS and Geocaching instruction, fly fishing instruction, and river expeditions.
That is what drew me to this hidden gem in Grand Lakes Stream and I spent my first Mother’s Day with a fly rod in my hand on the Big Lake with Al. We were looking for some of the lake’s best known catches; salmon, small mouth bass, togue, perch and pickerel but all I caught was a small salmon that I had to throw back. While we were trolling around the lake I had the opportunity to talk to Al about the rich fishing and Native American history of the area, the bear, grouse and deer hunting and the excellent hiking trails that have been established by the Downeast Lakes Lake Trust, for hikers of every kind. Al taught me how to cast and what proper fly casting form looked like. He was more than happy to take the time out of his day to teach me how to tie a clinch knot to secure my look and answered all of my questions, no matter how small they may have seemed.
|The Icehouse could be my favorite cabin on the lake|
The first year that my family went to Chet’s Camps, we had our dog and 11 month old son. Sue emailed me a few times prior to our arrival to make sure that I had everything taken care of or if I needed things like a Pack ‘n’ Play and highchair. The cabin was packed with infant necessities and ready for us when we got there. There is nothing better for a new mom then to know that things as simple as a high chair were waiting at camp so that we didn’t have to pack ours into an already filled car. The second year that we headed back, Sue did the same thing and made sure the cabin was as family friendly as it could me. Chocolate chip cookies, a basket of kids books and a stuffed loon were wonderful surprises that my son could enjoy when we were not playing on the docks, kayaking or fishing.
|Calm, beautiful water to kayak on.|
|A turtle hanging out on the rock.|
In addition to the fishing, we used the available kayaks and paddled around the Big Lake and up the stream. The minute that we said we may want to go, Sue had them ready down by the water with lifejackets and paddled waiting. Our son was able to enjoy his first kayak trip as we paddled around, watching the loons and seeing the turtles sunbathing out on the rocks. It was a perfect way to get outdoors as a family.
After only two years of going to Chet’s Camps, my family and I already have great memories. It is the place where we can relax and watch the Maine outdoors around us. I hope that as we continue this yearly tradition, my son can begin to create his own fond memories of our time there on the Big Lake.
For anyone who wants to get away, go fishing or hunting and enjoys the Grand Lakes Stream area, Chet’s Camps is a must.