An Afternoon With the Pirate of the Kennebec
When I arrived at Wilsons on Moosehead Lake for an afternoon photo shoot, owner and Maine Master Guide Scott Snell was already offloading the brand new Pavati Helium drift boat from its trailer. “What could go wrong?” said Scott as he shoveled snow onto the beach to make a slide for the new drift boat so it could make the last ten feet to the river. It’s March 29th and it snowed last week so I just shook my head. “He’s a wild man” I thought to myself, thankful I was only there to take pictures and get some good footage.
Geared up with my cameras and snowshoes to trek down stream to the class three rapids, I wished Scott and his first mate, Tucker, good luck and started on my 15 minute hike. The hike downstream was quiet, the only sounds were the birds and the water. A gorgeous 50 degree spring day with the sun reflecting back up off the snow made it really feel like spring to me for the first time this season. Following the deer paths in the snow made the snowshoeing easy and in no time I was at the rips and found a good rock to sit on while I waited.
The boat that Scott and Tucker were maneuvering downstream was a new boat to his fleet, a Pavati Helium drift boat that had just arrived last week and Scott was dying to try it out! Scott and his staff of guides offer trips down the river from the camps all spring, summer and fall. “Drift boat fishing is an experience you won’t soon forget. Each boat can accommodate 2 sports, plus your guide. We have a number of boats and are able to provide trips for larger groups as well. Low water have you worried? Not a problem! We have two rafts with row frames on them to get you down the River even in low flow conditions on the East Outlet.” Scott is excited just talking about it. Haven’t the first clue about fishing? That’s okay, neither do I. Scott will teach anyone who wants to learn. This river is home to world class fly fishing and Scott knows all the hot spots.
Soon, they appeared on the water, a spec in the distance, but I could see Scott’s smile as broad as day. The “Pirate of the Kennebec” as he’s locally known was in his element! A first trip out doing something that you absolutely love will do that to anyone. Tucker stayed steady in his position at the stern. It looked effortless as Scott made his way through the rapids with ease, the smile never wavered. I don’t know how many times he has run this river but he made it look like he does it every day.
“Stay right there and I’ll come pick you up” he shouted to me. Say what? He’s just going to pull over and grab me off the shore? With all my camera gear and my snowshoes? Yes, I decided it was clear. He IS a crazy man. But parallel park that drift boat he did and in no time I was headed down river- my first trip on the East Outlet! Now, I didn’t tell Scott this until we were done, but I don’t like water. My zodiac sign may be the crab but water really is just not my thing. I have to say- I’ve never felt so happy to be out of my comfort zone IN MY LIFE!
The take out was as interesting as the put in was. Ever seen someone take their boat out with a snowmobile? Neither had I until yesterday. That’s good old fashioned Mainer ingenuity at its best right there folks.
So my advice? If you ever get the chance to explore the East Outlet of Moosehead Lake in a drift boat with Maine Master Guide Scott Snell- JUMP at the chance! Book your trip with Wilsons on Moosehead Lake, go catch some fish and see that smile for yourself. You’ll want to book in advance because, as you can imagine, they book up fast.
Wilsons on Moosehead Lake also offers lakeside cottages, docking, a beach and other guided experiences.