Don Helstrom is a legendary Maine guide

Wiggie Robinson was a legendary guide, for sure. I was privileged to know Wiggie, and to fish with some of his famous flies. And I was very pleased when the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Professional Guides Association teamed up to create the Wiggie Robinson Legendary Guide Award in 2009.

Very appropriately, Wiggie was the first recipient of this award, regrettably posthumously. Many of us still miss Wiggie.

Since 2009, more great guides have been privileged to win this award, including Gary Corson, Matt Libby, Don Dudley, and Gil Gilpatrick, all of whom I know and admire.

This year, another great guide and great guy won the award: Don Helstrom of Turnpike Ridge Outfitters in Millinocket and Salmon Pool Camps on the Aroostook River. I’ve known Don for a long time and feel he is very deserving of the special recognition.

For starters, Don has been guiding for 56 years and has been a leader for many years with the MPGA and other groups. I always valued his voice and his participation in key outdoor issues during my years at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Having guided thousands of sportsmen and women on all sorts of outdoor adventures, Don focused a lot of his time and energy on bear hunting and has been a key defender of that opportunity. Having grown up in the Millinocket area, Don has a real passion for the outdoors, and I’ve especially admired his focus on introducing kids to the great Maine outdoors and to our hunting and fishing heritage.

In the photo above is Don, receiving his award at this year’s MPGA banquet. The award was presented by DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and U.S. Senator Angus King.

Congratulations Don! And thanks for all you’ve done for us and our outdoor heritage.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.