Most of the best fishing spots, especially trout and salmon, are well off the commonly traveled roads. Specifically here in Maine, this sometimes requires the use of logging roads to reach these areas. Knowing the safety precautions, etiquette, and laws, can make your time spent on these dirt roads much safer.
- Private Roads/Logging Trucks - A lot of the dirt roads in Maine are privately owned and maintained by the logging companies. Permission is given to people for use recreationally, like us fishermen. But the logging trucks that drive on these daily have the right of way. So, when you are approaching a logging truck it is best to slow down and pull to the side. They are working, you are fishing. Give them their space..
- Headlights - One of the first things you see with an approaching vehicle are their headlights...if they have them on. This is why most cars these days come standard with daytime running lights. Seems obvious, so it is especially true on dirt roads where narrow, dusty, tight cornered areas can make vision poor. Headlights on...
- Durable Tires - I have passed many cars + trucks along logging roads with blown tires. It's not necessary to get a full set of four AT or MT tires, especially if you only travel on dirt roads a couple times a year, but good quality tires (and a full sized spare!) should be on the top of your checklist. Being on the side of the road with a blown tire, no spare, and no cell phone reception is not fun.
- Dust - Creating situations much like white-out conditions during snow storms, it is even more evident this time of year with the little rain and hot sunny days we've had. When these dirt roads are lined with tall, thick trees, dust simply has a tough time dissipating. It does not take much to make an entire stretch of road extremely difficult to navigate. It was just recently that a fatal accident occurred on the Golden Road due to dust + visibility. After you pass a vehicle going the opposite direction and it's dusty, slow down until you can see well. Same goes for following behind a vehicle - keep a safe distance.
- Speed - With other vehicles to be concerned with in addition to deer, moose, and other animals, speed can usually be found as the common denominator in most accidents on logging roads. On some stretches there are speed limit signs, mind these and your common sense and you will cut your chances of an accident to a fraction.
- Puddles - Not only does mud cut down dramatically on your tire's traction and can easily cause spin-outs and cars in ditches, but puddles can be deceiving as well. When rain starts collection in the pot holes of a dirt road, it is next to impossible to determine the depth of these puddles. Take caution and either approach them very slowly or simply detour.
There are a lot of logging roads that are highly traveled and used safely by many everyday. They are great ways of finding new locations and reaching your favorite water. Keep your eyes on the road, give way to the logging trucks, slow down, and you'll be finding those "super secret spots" real soon...
Words + Photos: Josh Thelin