Things That End Well

Things That End Well

Instead of being on the road for our annual Father’s Day week fishing trip, I found myself in the E.R. with a bad case of dehydration. After being treated with a bag of saline, I was discharged and told to rest for 24 hours.

Heading to the ER

Heading to the ER

Thus our trip started out a day late, and we would have to revise our plans, at least slightly. We were going to try to stick to a few goals we had set.

After arriving at our cabin at midafternoon, we made our way to a boat that we had left at the famous Pond in the River.

Our Boat at Pond in the River

Our Boat at Pond in the River

It was a beautiful day, but a bit breezier than we would have liked.

We reached our destination, the northeast end of the mile-and-half-long pond with about two hours of light left.

Like almost everything about this trip so far, things started off slowly. When I was seriously thinking about starting the long trek back, Tony suddenly hooked up. We knew instantly that it was a salmon, as it was spending almost as much time in the air as it did in the water. After a great battle, we released it.

Tony's 14-Inch Salmon

Tony’s 14-Inch Salmon

Not long after that, Tony hooked up again. Another salmon, and it too had fallen for a fly that Tony had tied himself many years ago.

The light was dimming quickly, but I told Tony to try for another minute. Sure enough, two casts later, he hooked and landed another salmon—no easy task on a single, barbless hook, which is required at Pond in the River. That was last call, as it was almost dark.

Tony's Last-Cast Salmon

Tony’s Last-Cast Salmon

We had a lightweight battery that we used because of the rugged trail we needed to negotiate. Could that battery stand up to a stiff 10- to 15-mph wind that was now blowing right down the chute at us? Well, we may have overheated that little battery, but it got us back to the truck about 45 minutes later.

Our Sunset View on the Ride Home

Our Sunset View on the Ride Home

We hoped that this start to our trip, although brief, was a sign of things to come.

More to follow.

WLAGS

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…And Sometimes You Figure It Out

…And Sometimes You Figure It Out

After a season of coming up mostly short of our plans and expectations (Exhibit A: Just When You Think You’ve Figured It Out), it’s nice to have a trip meet or beat those plans and expectations. This was that trip. I had been humbled too many days this season. I, or rather we (Tony and I), needed this one.

The trip was to Bosebuck Mountain Camps on Aziscohos Lake, but the fishing was to be done at Parmachenee Lake, where we had fished for a day last September. (See 60 Years of Waiting.)

Like last year, it was to be a quick, one-day-plus trip. The goals were simple, catch fish, native brook trout and wild landlocked Atlantic salmon, and hopefully one of us would catch the biggest brook trout of our life.

Things did not look bad as far as the weather forecast was concerned, but those forecasters had been a major factor in the disappointments in our earlier trips, especially in June. Sure enough the forecasters were wrong again. They had called for clouds and maybe some showers, which would have been beneficial to our cause. Instead, Monday morning’s fog broke with an absolutely clear sky and no wind. We started to think that we were jinxed again.

The Fog Broke to Reveal Clear Skies

The Fog Broke to Reveal Clear Skies

We had a big advantage this time though. A good friend had fished here last week, and he gave us some strong tips on where to start. If the fish had not moved much, that information could save us hours of exploration. His info was still right on target. Once we neared the rocky shoreline that he suggested to us, we were almost immediately into fish, and it was very obvious why. There were dimpling bait fish in a variety of sizes all along the shore and the rocks.

In fact the first brookie I caught regurgitated a 3½” baitfish that we think was a fallfish. We were not able to get a great look at it as it slipped towards the bottom as we netted the 13½” brookie.

It did tell us that we were on the right track by fishing my Carrie Stevens-style streamers that I had tied over the last month. The law requires that we use only flies here.

Again the conditions were far from ideal for anytime of the year, but particularly for August, so we were still guarded in our optimism, even after a few fish had come to net and quickly released.

A 13.5-inch Brook Trout

A 13.5-Inch Brook Trout

We were sticking to our plan, regardless of conditions, and we were getting enough strikes to keep us optimistic and motivated. We managed a couple of landlocked salmon and smaller brook trout.

16-Inch Landlocked Salmon

16-Inch Landlocked Salmon

We each even caught a six-inch rainbow smelt; a first for Tony, and only the second time I had a smelt take a fly or lure.

Six-Inch Rainbow Smelt

My Six-Inch Rainbow Smelt

 

Tony's Smelt Shows Why They're Called "Rainbow" Smelt

Tony’s Smelt Shows Why They’re Called “Rainbow” Smelt

Suddenly Tony chirped “I’ve got one,” followed by “it’s a good one!” I knew instantly it was just that. Now the only question was, “Was it a salmon or a brookie?” Not that there is anything wrong with a landlocked Atlantic salmon, but our primary target was the native brookies of the Kennebago strain.

The fish was obviously heavy and then started shaking its head. At this point, we were hopeful that it was a brookie, but we were still not sure. As it neared the boat, it became obvious that it was a brook trout. Suddenly it came into view from the depths, and it was confirmed.

Tony's 17-inch Brook Trout

Tony’s 17-Inch Brook Trout

It was a fat, hooked-jawed male that was starting to color up for the upcoming spawning season, still a month away. I started to shake as I said to Tony, “It’s the biggest brookie of your life!”

The Parmachenee Belle fly I tied appeared in the corner of its mouth as I slipped the rubber net under it.

My Version of a Parmachenee Belle Fly

My Version of a Parmachenee Belle Fly

Tony mounted a GoPro on the handle of the net to help capture the moment on film.

Net With a GoPro

Net With a GoPro

I was visibly shaking as the fish came to the net. I believe that I was at least as excited as Tony, if not more so.

Video: Netting a 17-Inch Brook Trout

Video: Netting a 17-Inch Brook Trout

He had worked hard for this moment, and had had several close calls in recent years. I’m sure it was a moment that we will remember forever.

A Moment That We Will Remember Forever

A Moment That We Will Remember Forever

That moment made the tribulations of our earlier trips a distant memory, and we are already making plans for next August on the lake named after a beautiful Abenaki princess.

WLAGS