Fly Casting and Trolling for Land Locked Salmon
Fly Casting and Trolling for Land Locked Salmon
For either fly-casting or trolling for land-locks and ouananiche heavy trout tackle is suitable, although where the fish run large a grilse rod may be used. Land-locked salmon taken by trolling in lakes weigh from eight to twenty pounds. Those taken by fly-fishing in streams, as in Grand Lake Stream and at the Grand Decharge, average two pounds and seldom range over five. Small sized salmon flies are generally used. Latterly, at Grand Lake Stream, dry-fly fishing for land-locks has been tried successfully when the wetfly fishing with the larger flies has been below par.
The following narrative of the capture of a landlocked salmon on fly-tackle at Grand Lake (by the present writer considered the very best "fish story" he has ever had the pleasure of reading—for which reason the somewhat lengthy quotation is, perhaps, pardonable), written by Mr. Henry Wysham Lanier and published in The Outing Magazine, July, 1903, under the title of "The Gamest Fish That Swims," will afford the best possible idea of the character of the land-locked salmon, when taken in running water, or of the ouananiche, and of the tackle and methods employed. The reader particularly interested in the landlocked salmon and the ouananiche, should not fail to read the entire article of which only a small part is here quoted.
"'Now, den, just give two, tree cast in de cunal first,' said Peter the Dane.
"It was half-past five of a June morning—June by the calendar, early April by the cold blast that swept down out of the north across the lake. Peter had put together the stiff five-and-a-half ounce bamboo, carefully soaked out a six-foot single leader, and rigged up a cast of a Jock Scott and a professor on number five Sproat hooks. On the reel were seventy-five yards of waterproof silk line, size E, as the rod had plenty of backbone and casting in such a wind needed all the helps possible.
"I stepped up to the canal, a thirty-foot runway from the lake which once fed the abandoned saw-mill, and cast down the gently eddying stream. When I had gotten out thirty or forty feet of line, working the flies lightly across the surface as they swung with the current, Peter grunted approval.
"'I gass you do ahl right. We go out in de cunoe.”
"I may not have mentioned the fact that Peter is a guide of unusual intelligence; his knowledge of lures and of the baffling habits of the Salmonidae is unexcelled; nor is his horizon, by any means, bounded by fish. We stepped simultaneously into the canoe and into an atmosphere of good fellowship.
"A few strokes of the paddle sent us out to the line of triangular log cribs marking the hundred-yard limit above the dam, within which only fly-fishing is permitted; and, tying up to a buoy in eight or ten feet of water, we swung around with the wind to a north and south position not more than fifty yards from the tumbledown dock that lined the shore along the head of the canal.
"The lately risen sun shone brightly, except when a mass of gray-white clouds drove across it; the waves tossed the little cedar canoe airily up and down; on the rising shore the fresh green of the white-stemmed birches stood out sharply against the dark spruce trees, the feathery blue-green of the pines, and the rusty yellow-green of the young cedars and alders. A wild duck and her fluffy brood paddled about furtively beneath the bushes fringing the shore two hundred yards away; in the cleared spaces on the bank sleek robins, with aldermanic vests of red and inquisitive yellow beaks, hopped about among the buttercups and daisies and wild roses; while a song-sparrow poured out a full throated trill from a neighboring fence-post.
"It must be confessed, however, that these beauties of nature, the Indian's shack cresting the bare hill, the group of little, unpainted dwelling houses, and the dozen forlorn, uniform, empty gray cabins where once lived the workers in the deserted tannery—even the sky-piercing brick chimney itself, such a strange sight in the deep woods—made but a vague impression upon my senses. For when Piscator has been casting flies in imagination only, for eleven months from a revolving office chair, he is not to be diverted by such trifles from his first lust of fish.
"I began to cast out toward the shore, tip well down to the water each time on account of the wind. After covering the leeward semi-circle fifteen or twenty times, my inexperience fancied that region tested of salmon; no trout or bass fisherman would have bothered with it longer; but since Peter made no sign I kept on casting. When the inevitable slackness of interest had drawn my eyes to the two canoes by the outlet, the occupants of which were switching away as industriously as myself, something happened—and heart came into mouth with a leap; for as the flies jiggled in over the tossing water there was a boil and swirl by the dropper, not twenty-five feet away, and a simultaneous exclamation from behind: 'Don't leave it; cast again. Dat excite him when de fly come again.'
"Shortening the cast, I sent the flies hastily and awkwardly ten feet beyond the danger signal. Hardly had they begun to come in when there was a sudden commotion; an instinctive 'strike' met a line taut and suddenly endowed with life; and the little rod bowed its acknowledgments at the meeting.
"First came a mad rush to one side, and after giving the mysterious visitor all the line that had been stripped with the left hand, I snubbed him, in order to have a feel of him. The result was immediate and surprising. Three feet into the air came a twenty-inch bow of silver, flashing in the morning sun as the salmon tried to shake himself free. Down went the tip, but, with the training of the black bass fisherman, I tried to cant him to one side and upset him before he could shake himself.
"'Don't do dat!' called watchful Peter. 'De salmon mout' is tender. You can't treat him lak black bass. Drop de tip straight toward him and den tighten up de instant he touch de water.'
"As he spoke, out came his royal highness again, and the rod dropped to greet him, for that spring and lashing out against a taut line must mean either a lost fish or a broken tip.
"'A good fish,' said Peter the Dane. 'T'ree pound strong.'
"And indeed it was the strongest three pounds the little rod had ever tried conclusions with. Hardly had he touched the water and the pressure been resumed when he was into the air once more, so far away that the eye almost refused to believe it the same fish. When he reached the surface this time he danced ten feet away on his tail, disappeared with a swoop that set the reel to singing a valkyr's shriek, and was out twice more in rapid succession, somersaulting till the air seemed full of salmon.
"These acrobatic displays and the continued strain of the sturdy bamboo were taking the edge off his fierceness. A dozen feet of the line came onto the reel before he fairly realized any compulsion. 'What, done already?' But at that instant the reel handle began to revolve the other way and no other answer was needed. Around the canoe he dashed, the line cutting through the water with that swish so dear to the heart of the angler. A little snubbing brought him up for the fifth leap, and then followed darts and rushes in every direction, and savage tugs and shakes and borings downward, and circus-like gallops round and round, while his burnished sides sent up old gold flashes through the clear but dark-colored water.
"'Keep de butt down,' cautioned my mentor. 'Don't never give him straight rod excep' when he jump, and den put strain on him again right off,' and Peter leaned toward me, almost whispering in his anxiety.
"There had been considerable strain on him already, judging from the feel of my wrist, but I let him have the full curve, and in a few minutes more this began to take effect. Slowly reeling in and fighting for every yard, the fish was brought within ten feet of the canoe; then the sight of us and the net started him off again, and it was all to do over. Gradually he was forced toward us, swinging in and out time after time, till at last he lay for a breathless instant within three feet of the gunwale, getting up courage for another spurt. With a dexterous sweep, Peter brought the landing net up behind—and his salmonship's next wild struggles were against its meshes in the bottom of the canoe.
"It was a beautiful creature that threw itself frantically about, flopping from side to side, bending double and lashing out with surprising strength, and springing violently into the air, net and all. About twenty inches long, stocky and well-rounded, but perfectly proportioned, with savage head and jaws, he seemed built for doughty deeds and the strenuous life. His back was a rich velvety green, lustrous from the glistening water and covered with half-concealed black spots. This color gradually shaded into a lighter tint, merging at the median line into a silvery coat that gleamed roseate and iridescent in the sunlight."
Camp, Samuel Granger. The Fine Art of Fishing. New York: Outing Pub., 1911. Print.
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