Fishing Salmon on the Penobscot River
Fishing Salmon on the Penobscot
By E. A. Douglass.
We had fished morning and night for days at the well-known Bangor salmon pool, without meeting with success. Although there were quite a few fish there, no one was even having fair success. I was fishing with a friend who has had years of experience salmon fishing and knows the ins and outs of the game as well as any of the many fishermen who follow the sport season after season. He has held high line for a number of different seasons, also catching the first fish for quite a few seasons. The first fish is surely a prize for the lucky fisherman who may have the good fortune to land it, especially if the fish is a large one, a price of two dollars a pound and a bonus with that. This high price is paid by clubs in order to get the salmon to send to the President as a present. A number of times this particular friend I speak of has sold the prize fish for $35 or $40. But I am getting away from the subject started on.
It was sunset when we shoved the light canvas rowboat in the water. Slowly my companion rows up stream, thoroughly fishing every pool where a salmon would be likely to lie at that stage of the water. Cast after cast is made and the fly goes whirling down stream in the foaming current, only to be drawn back and cast again. The fly is also drawn across every likely place to tempt the lurking fish; but it seems of little use to fish with the flies we are using. So a change is made and a silver doctor is tied to the almost colorless leader.
We now slowly drift down with the current until we reach the lower end of the pool; then carefully rowing back over the same grounds, casting here and there until at last the right place is struck, and as the silver doctor touches the water there is a quick yank, bending the slender tip nearly to the water. The fish is allowed to make a short run before the hook is set. With a steady hand the rod is raised, and the real set with a heavy drag. The fish, finding himself firmly hooked, makes a mad rush into quick water, running out twenty-five yards of line. Rowing quickly in the direction of the fish, a few yards of line are reeled in. Another run is made straight down stream; but we follow, reeling in nearly half the line out. The next run is straight for bottom, where he hangs and sulks. An occasional yank on the line is all the fight the fish is now putting up. A steady strain is kept on the line in hopes to raise him to the surface. He soon tires of hanging down and makes a long run, making the reel fairly hum. Then with a mad rush he launches himself two feet clear from the water in hopes to free himself from the hook. Three or four short runs and the fish becomes tired, so we get ashore on a smooth beach, a good chance to gaff him, if we can get him in shallow water. Steadily reeling in until I can nearly see the black form gliding through the water, the fish, finding he is in shallow water, again makes a run into deep water, hanging out for quite a few minutes. But under the steady strain of the line he is again brought to the shore. Carefully I wade out to gaff the fish; but he is inclined to keep just out of reach and gradually working up stream. Following and watching my chance to strike him through the thick part, I pass a ledge, which I have not noticed.' One fin and his tail is showing above the water. Now is my chance; reaching out over him I give a quick yank and start for the shore, backing up against the ledge I had not noticed. It is plainly a case of walk back around to get ashore, with the fish violently struggling on the gaff. The time it took me to walk back I could have had the fish safely up the beach. I had hardly reached good footing on the level beach when with a quick jump he frees himself from the gaff. Now it is a lively game of strike and kick to try and keep the fish from getting back into the water. But in the mix-up the leader was broken from the line. After awhile the fish got into the water and made his way down river with the fly and about four feet of gut leader in tow. After it was too late we saw the proper thing was to have let the fish go back into the water after freeing himself from the gaff and it would only have been a matter of a few minutes before we would have got the second chance to gaff him.
This is only one of many instances that go to prove that even the oldest and most experienced fishermen can learn something on every trip.
Hancock Countv, Maine.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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