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The wooden broad-beamed canoe, carrying a guide and fishermen, glides across the water of West Grand Lake, Maine, leaving a small trail in its wake. At first glance it looks like a regular canoe - a "two ender". As the boat turns, however, it is obviously something different. The stern is squared off and fitted with a small outboard motor. With ingenuity typical of the Downeast and Acadia region of Maine, fishermen started building the "Grand Lakers" as the canoes are known in the 1950's, and no one has come up with a better design yet. Ideally suited to cruising across the windswept water of West Grand Lake and maneuvering around submerged hazards, Grand Lakers and their guides carry anglers out on the water and into some of the best landlocked salmon fishing in the state.
West Grand Lake is one of the largest salmon lakes in Maine. The lake is also full of lake trout or "togue," and the smallmouth bass fishing is exceptional. In the winter, ice huts pop up all over the lake, and anglers try their luck against the whitefish that live in the lake. West Grand Lake is popular with fly fishermen, and Grand Lake Stream, its primary outlet, is a fantastic place to fly fish for salmon. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife periodically stocks the lake with both landlocked salmon and lake trout. Access to the lake is from a public boat launch near the dam.
The lake's first dam was built on the west branch of the St. Croix River in 1810, and in 1836 the dam was moved to its current location. The Farm Cove Dam was built in 1879, increasing West Grand Lake's impoundment capacity as well as increasing the flow into Grand Lake Stream. Previously owned by the Georgia-Pacific Corporation, the dam and water levels on the lake are currently managed by the Domtar Maine Corporation which uses West Grand Lake as a storage reservoir for its hydroelectric power generating plant downstream.
West Grand Lake has 14,467 surface acres of water and covers part of Penobscot and Washington Counties. There are several islands in the lake, perfect for exploring by canoe or kayak. Tucked away in eastern Maine near the Canadian border in what is affectionately known as the "Quietest coastal region in Maine," the lake is ringed with pine trees. There are vacation rentals and cabins available as well as real estate available for sale. A significant portion of West Grand Lake's, shoreline, however, remains undeveloped. The Downeast Lakes Land Trust is working to maintain a forested area on either side of the lake, helping to preserve the lake's natural charm. Part of West Grand Lake's appeal is its easy accessibility while at the same time keeping its beautiful scenery and wildlife. The lake is home to a variety of waterfowl, and there is hunting nearby for moose, black bear and white-tailed deer.
In addition to being West Grand Lake's primary outlet, Grand Lake Stream is the name of a small community at the south end of the lake. By the late 1800's the village was an important tannery center. Today it is home to sporting camps and lodges and has one of the highest concentrations of guides in the state. There are also restaurants and any amenity a visitor might need. West Grand Lake is near the town of Carroll and about 100 miles northeast of Bangor.
For over a hundred years visitors have been coming to West Grand Lake to enjoy the easy pace and natural charm of this quietest coast of Maine. Today visitors come for the fantastic fishing, abundant wildlife and accessibility of this Downeast gem. With its rich history and beautiful scenery, West Grand Lake is sure to draw people in for the next hundred years as well.
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