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 cast my flies upon the surface of the foaming current, when they floated downward to the edge of a little eddy, and disappeared from view. There was a savage strike, and a great Trout dashed half-way across the stream and sprang into the air. He was fast to the jay-fly, and I at once renewed a resolution I had previously formed, but neglected to carry outto use but one fly on my cast where the big fellows were known to exist.
The largest Trout I had ever hooked was fast-fast and furious. I did not time the struggle, but it was long, and my rod was tried to its utmost capacity. When at last the Trout found a hiding-place behind a rock near the shore, and sulked at the bottom, the native, who had looked with much interest upon the contest, approached and offered to "jigger" the fish; which courtesy I curtly declined, not liking the look of his weapon.
The Trout again roused himself for the fray, but he was wearied, and before many minutes I succeeded in bringing him to the net. His weight was about three pounds, and he was the largest fish which I took at any time upon the Rangeley lakes.
I heard talk there as elsewhere, of the extraordinary size of the Speckled Trout there taken, but at that time no competent guides were to be had, and I did not then know, what has since proved to be the fact, that those large fish are not surface-feeders, and it is believed that they do not rise to the natural fly.
The Parmacheene Belle, which is one of the most taking flies for that region, was, I understand, suggested by the appearance of the belly-fin of a Trout-a bait much in use with many fishers. The Grizzly king, Montreal, Silver Doctor, and other gaudy flies, are taking at different times. Large hackles, gray and brown, are often attractive, but in my own experience, the jay-fly has proved the best. When a fly is taken by the larger of these Trout, it is always when below the surface of the water. Cast a straight line, let the fly sink a foot or two, then draw it toward you with short pauses, finally retrieving quietly to make another cast.
When the ice goes out of the Rangeleys, the Trout are not commonly taken until the temperature of the water and that of the morning air are nearly the same. In hot weather, the fishing is at the mouths of streams and in swift water. Trolling is common, earlier, with a six-inch chub-a deadly, though objectionable method. The employment of more than one hook is prohibited by law. As the water grows warmer in June, the Trout seek the shallower points near shore, there feeding upon the various insects. Good sport may then be had, but in the heats of summer they again resort to the cooler depths of the lakes, and not until September do they again take to the pools.
The known points where the best fishing occurs are uncertain and variable, and the stranger must trust to his guide for these, as for other elements of success. Attempt to guide him and he will serve you well, but let him see that you acknowledge his superiority in his calling, and you will have your reward. He will tell you to be on hand early, for the first rays of the sun are often death to your success.
It is my belief that the Trout caught in those waters run as large, and probably larger, than those of years ago, and at present, nearly one-eighth of the catch is land-locked Salmon, which have been planted in the lake, and the sport is the greater for the very uncertainty whether the next fish to rise will be Trout or Salmon.
My fishing on the Rangeleys was prosecuted under serious discouragements, from the continual storms, and I soon left the lakes for that season.
The next September found me in Piscataquis County, on my way to the Moosehead region, but chancing to meet a young fellow whose knowledge of the country and its sports seemed nearly exhaustive, I changed my plans, and we hunted and fished together that fall. He was something of a character, being the son of a wealthy man, of literary tastes, who had brought his library into these forests years before; but losing his property through investments in unprofitable lands, had died, and of his fortune, little but the library was left. The son had read it all, and his tenacious memory was stored with the oddest literary jumble I had ever known. He was continually breaking out in quotations, mostly from the poets; so that he was commonly known as "Old Poetry."
Old Poetry and I started out one fine morning for the woods. He had told me of a stream flowing from a spring high up on the mountain side, which he had crossed in winter, when in pursuit of a moose, and pointed out far to the northward, the gleam of the cataract, almost hidden in a dense spruce forest.
"I always thought," said he, "that I'd go there again, and catch some fur. There's some little ponds there, and Trout till you can't rest, and where you find Trout a-plenty, there's always mink, sure. But it's a mighty hard road, and I never got to trap there yet."
This spot was our objective point, and heavily laden as we were, with provisions, et cetera, we made but slow progress. Indeed, had I known beforehand of the nature of the country we must traverse, I should hardly have undertaken the trip.
Pausing at a brook, Poetry detached from his belt a silver cup, and gave me to drink. The elegant form and chasing of the vessel attracted my attention, and he told me that it was a parting gift from a New York gentleman with whom he had often hunted in the past. "And ah," said he looking fondly at the battered treasure, "My eyes grow moist and dim, to think of all the vanished joys that danced around its brim."
'Twere long to tell of the weary two days tramp which brought us at length to the verge of a rocky cliff, where we threw off our packs and looked down into a clear pool of water, many feet below, and some fifty yards in length, which filled the rocky chasm, and fairly swarmed with Trout.
Verily, it was well worth the weary journey we had made, but to see the schools of fish. The afternoon sun lighted up the rift, and the brilliant colors of the fishes shone out in full display, as back and forth beneath our stance they flashed and glided past. I had not then, nor have I since, seen such a magnificent fish preserve, albeit scarce noted by eye of angler till we reached the spot.