Zac Bragdon of Eddington grew up with a deep appreciation for the wonders of Maine’s outdoors.
His love of fishing and hunting was fostered in him by his grandfather, Robert Bragdon, who often took Zac on these excursions.
“He was a great role model with hunting and fishing, so ever since I started doing this with him, it just felt normal,” said Zac Bragdon, as he manned his table at the annual Cabin Fever show Last weekend reliever. Beer Auditorium put on by Penobscot Fly Fishermen.
Bragdon, who is a member of the organization, was tying flies and chatting with people. Talking about fishing is one of his favorite things.
In 2021, with Robert Bragdon in failing health, Zac Bragdon began to think more deeply about the importance of the relationship he shared with his grandfather. He had studied carpentry at Eastern Maine Community College.
Zac Bragdon of Lateral Line Guide Service talks to a patron Sunday during the “Cabin Fever Reliever” show at Brewer Auditorium sponsored by the Penobscot Fly Fishermen. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN
Yet somehow he knew that this would not be his life calling. I wanted to work outside.
“When we realized he didn’t have much time left with us, I said, I really want to guide and make it a little bit of a career before he dies so he can see what I’m doing to honor him,” Zac said. Bragdon.
Robert Bragdon died on November 21, 2022, just months after Zac Bragdon passed the test to become a Maine Registered Fishing Guide.
Upon learning of his grandfather’s death, Zac Bragdon decided to honor the memory of the person he called his best friend by going on a deer hunt the next day.
“I got out of the car and walked down to my spot, sat for five minutes and shot a deer. It was pretty remarkable,” Bragdon said.
“He was right there with me, I would know.”
Whether hunting grouse, targeting salmon and brook trout on the West Branch of the Penobscot, or guiding a client, Bragdon continues to be inspired and motivated by his grandfather.
For 22 years, Bragdon operates the sideline guide service, offering a variety of fishing experiences for his clients. He also plans to get his hunting guide license later this year.
Most of the knowledge he has developed and the advice he imparts comes from his grandfather’s influence.
“He acted as my guide growing up,” Zac Bragdon said.
He was fortunate enough to get his business off to a strong start, thanks in large part to friends and acquaintances who supported and guided him along the way.
Bragdon’s booth featured a couple of fly rods and a bunch of hand-tied flies for sale, along with numerous photos of beautiful fish caught by him and his customers.
“We have phenomenal salmon and brook trout fishing here in Maine and I think people really gravitate toward that,” he said.
Bragdon believes that in addition to his clients’ success on the water, his reputation as a chef can also be a factor in helping fill his schedule.
“I try to include that in my trips, a good, hearty meal,” said Bragdon, who admitted that some people prefer a quick sandwich to try to get back on the water faster.
He learned how to tie flies on YouTube, but has honed his skills to the point where he can provide himself and his clients with the right patterns to attract even the most demanding fish. Bragdon also provides tackle and fishing equipment if required.
“They just have to show up with a good attitude. That’s all I ask of them,” he said of his clients.
Bragdon is part of a new wave of guides and outdoorsmen who feel a responsibility to pass on the knowledge and skills of fishing and hunting to young people.
Looking around Brewer Auditorium over the weekend, it was clear that many well-known and respected anglers and fly fishermen in Greater Bangor are coming of age, but there are also many young enthusiasts who are ready to follow in their footsteps .
“They’re the next generation, so you’ve got to keep it up,” Bragdon said.
He talked to some kids and answered their questions as they stopped by to see his assortment of fish photos.
“I think there’s going to be a point where the younger generation is going to have to pick up, because people are running out,” Bragdon said of fishing guides. “I think we’re going in the right direction.”
And although Bradgon has no children of his own, he has already experienced the thrill of watching other anglers catch fish under his guidance.
“I really enjoy seeing my clients doing what I love to do,” she said. “Seeing the joy when they catch a fish, that puts a smile on my face.”
It has helped him better understand how his grandfather must have felt to show him the ropes and see him succeed.
“Every time I take somebody out, it’s kind of in the back of my mind,” said Bragdon, who is buying his grandfather’s house in Eddington.