This section is from the book "American Game Fishes", by W. A. Perry. Also available from Amazon: American Game Fishes: Their Habits, Habitat, and Peculiarities; How, When, and Where to Angle for Them.
I shall not attempt to offer many suggestions as to the proper flies to be used for Trout. Their name is legion, and each has its advocate. There are some, such as the coachmen and professors, that have a place in every fly-book. For the Rangeley, I suppose that no single fly will take as many Trout as the Parmacheene Belle, though as it was not invented when I fished those waters, I cannot say from experience.
It is always safe to have plenty of hackles of different colors -the red is a favorite with many anglers-and of small, plain colored flies with light wings. These will, in the New Hampshire streams, in those of Northern Michigan and in many other localities, often serve better purpose than larger and gaudier flies.
Trout may be taken after dark by the use of the white miller and some other light colored lure. In some waters they will rise at gaudy flies during the night, and it is stated that even the black hackle has proven attractive in certain localities.
The scarlet Ibis, though very taking in some waters of the Eastern and Middle States, seems less attractive in the North and West. It is well to carry a few flies with more or less blue in their make-up. If your flies are sufficiently attractive, the Trout will rise to them, even in mid-winter. Make the best selection in your power, and be not in too great haste to change your cast. If after a fair trial, you find that the fish will not rise to the fly, fear not to use bait; remembering that there are few indeed of our most accomplished anglers, who do not thus when other methods fail. The more attractive baits include minnows, minnows' tails, red worms, white grubs, the various larvae to be found in decaying wood, grasshoppers and the throat or belly fin of the Trout itself. Fly-fishing is not commonly successful until the spring is well advanced. Never think that you know a brook until you have fished it thoroughly, as the best Trout are sometimes taken in the most unlikely spots.
One September day, more than thirty years ago, I found myself at old Dan Quimby's, on Rangeley Lake. Few anglers were at that time in the habit of visiting those waters.
In fact, I myself was there more for the purpose of hunting than fishing. Large game, however, was scarce, much more so than at the present time, and I consequently gave the more attention to the Trout.
My first essay was at the mouth of a cove, where my guide had a boat in readiness. On our way, he had looked carefully to the right and left, to find, as he said, "some-thin' fer bait. I want ter find a potridge, ef I kin, though a red squir'l "dew."
As he spoke, a fine cock grouse rose near us and settled on a branch, to be the next instant beheaded by the rifle of my companion.
"I'd a goo' deal ruther hev a potridge 'n a squir'l or a meat-hawk," he said as, cutting from the leg of the luckless bird a liberal portion, he proceeded to impale it upon the point of a number 6 Limerick. Next he drew from beneath some bushes a seasoned juniper pole, some seventeen feet in length, attached thereto a "C" size line, spat on the bait, unmoored the boat, and was ready for business.
We pushed off a few yards and anchored. It was late in the afternoon, a southerly breeze just rippled the water, while the dull, gray sky, and the mournful soughing of the wind among the pines bore token of a coming storm.
Aleck dropped his bait into the water, while I cast my jay-fly and gray hackle toward the mouth of the brook, drawing them slowly across the ripples, but at first without success.
"Hello!" said Aleck, "I've got the fust one."
His fish was a large Trout, but broke away as he attempted to raise it from the water; and almost at the same instant, three or four Trout seemed to rise at once at the jay. One was fast, and another seized the hackle instanter. Aleck dropped his pole and looked on with much interest as they dashed from side to side, I playing them, and they often playing each other; for when one sounded, the other was pretty sure to shoot upward.
"Well," said the guide, after a long pause; "I never see a pole buckle like that 'n afore."
This was an English rod of ash and lancewood, which I had bought since leaving home, in a tackle store in Boston. It was a very light, and for those days, a very expensive one, the best the vendor had. It weighed thirteen ounces, and cost nearly five dollars. Please remember that this was almost thirty years ago. That rod was well worth its price, and money wouldn't buy it, for I have it still. It is good even yet, although the butt, after many years of faithful service, took such a "set" that I replaced it with another; thereby reducing the weight of the rod some three ounces. I seldom use it, but the many memories which attach to this old rod are such as I can associate with none other in my collection.
The Trout were soon tired out, and duly transferred to our basket, where, lying on a bed of fern, they furnished food for pleasurable anticipations for the remainder of the trip. They weighed respectively one, and one and a quarter pounds, and were much the same with a score of others taken that evening on my rod. I am, however, obliged to confess that Aleck beat me, not in numbers but in weight. I had, however, returned to the water several half-pounders, while Aleck kept all his fish. His catch aggregated thirteen in number, one of which weighed over four pounds.
The wind arose as we left the lake, and a drizzling rain set in, which with occasional intermissions continued throughout my stay.
During an interval of sunshine, I rode over to the mill-dam, where I found a native, equipped with a small rifle and a "jigger." He had shot a "spruce grouse," the plumage of which was nearly black; and had captured a Trout weighing some three pounds. He looked with disfavor upon my flies, and said that they were well enough to play with, but wouldn't fetch the Trout.