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.
Although at most times, especially when they are lying in large schools in the eddies on the border of the main current of the great rapids of the Grande Decharge, Wananishe take the fly readily, they are as wary and capricious as any other of their genus, and as much affected by change of weather or character and amount of food.
In the early season, whether fishing from shore or from the canoe, the flies and the methods of casting and working them used in Salmon-fishing are the most successful, allowance being made for the peculiarity in feeding hereafter to be noticed. As a rule, small-sized Salmon flies are the best, say No. 4 and No. 6 O'shaughnessy sizes on single hooks; but at high water, and even at other times, a large fly is often successful. The Jock Scott, Curtis or Black Dose, Black Fairy, Popham, Silver Doctor, and Donkey are all good. The first-named is almost infallible; indeed, I sometimes think that with variations in size one needs no other fly for Salmon, Wananishe, and really large Trout like those of the Laurentian wilds of the Nepigon, and the sea Trout of some Canadian rivers, except a large brown hackle for the Trout, and this is not to be scorned as a Salmon fly, when the charms of golden pheasant crest and jungle-cock fail, though, oddly enough, it is not much good for Wananishe. Red is not a favorite color with them; yellow and black is the best combination, and gray with a yellowish body comes next. Among the larger Trout flies, Queen of the Water, the Professor, and the Grizzly King usually do good work.
Later in the season, when the fish are lying singly in deep water along the rocks, or in small pools among the rapids, all one's skill is required to entice them. If you understand the fine art of dry fly-fishing, and can maneuver a tiny dun on a twelve or thirteen hook so as to look like the real article, and can also handle large fish on the fine tackle required, you will get good sport and the satisfaction which comes of catching fish as Reynolds mixed his colors-with brains. If not, you will have to fall back on live grasshoppers and stone flies, and the reflection that you conquer your antagonist by his carnal weakness, not by your own skill. Wananishe will take bait, but as worms do not live in Laurentian syenite, the habitant fisherman uses a bit of the Wananishe itself. The eye, trolled behind a canoe, is sometimes very deadly, and the jumping a large fish will do when he has swallowed the eye of one of his brethren with a hook in it, is almost sufficient excuse for such an abuse of angling. The spoon is another favorite bait of the habitant, but it soon frightens all the fish that have seen its effects. The artificial minnow trolled succeeds well sometimes. I have no doubt that a live or dead minnow, spun in the style of Thames Trout-fishing-one of the most artistic modes of angling, though very little known and rarely practiced on this side of the Atlantic-would prove successful when the fish will not take fly.
The choice of rods and tackle depends on the kind of angler using them. I have seen fishermen catching Wananishe with a so-called "Grilse rod," sixteen feet long, which most people would consider a rather heavy Salmon rod, and others handle the same-sized fish easily with a seven-ounce Trout rod. A rod strong enough to recover a long line quickly in a heavy current, and with good killing powers, is necessary, for Wananishe are stubborn fighters, and require to be given the butt hard. The size of the line will depend, of course, on that of the rod, but there should be plenty of it-fifty yards at least, and one is safer with seventy-five, in view of long runs. The use of a thirty-yard line spliced to a much finer "business line," as is customary in Salmon-fishing, will avoid the necessity for a reel disproportionate to the weight of the rod, if this be light.
The casting-line, or "leader," as Americans call it, should be of strong, even Salmon-gut. There is a great deal of wear and tear on casting-lines from the action of the water, and a good allowance is required for sudden strains from the fish leaping when the line is short and taut. But for these considerations the finer the leader the better, and this is true of all fly-fishing. As to color, there is not much to be said. Personally, I prefer undyed gut, which soon loses its glitter and gets a satisfactory stain from the water itself, which in the Saguenay, though clear, is of a tawny amber.
Avoid cheap reels; get a good one, and have it rather large, with good, free-running bearings and a moderate click, just enough to prevent over-running.
A landing-net is handier, and for these small fish surer than a gaff, which only one man in a hundred can use properly, and only one in a thousand well.
There is no wading to be done in fishing for Wananishe-the Saguenay is too large, deep, and strong; therefore rubber boots or wading trousers are superfluous, and, moreover, are dangerous in case of an upset canoe or a slip from the rocks. As a rule, there would not be much chance in either case, for on the Grande Decharge, which is about as unlike ordinary Salmon or Trout water as can well be imagined, the best fishing is on the verge of tremendous rapids, and sometimes in the most dangerous parts of them.
This brings me to one of the greatest charms of Wananishe-fishing-its excitement, with an element of danger-and to the peculiarity in the feeding habits of the fish which was alluded to above. When they come down from Lake St. John they lie in the large eddies formed by the innumerable currents running in every direction-up, down, and across the course of the river, round the islands and points along the great rapids. When at rest they rise like Salmon from the bottoms of the pools, if this word may be used to describe their favorite places, which are very different from Salmon-fishing pools, or "streams," to use the more descriptive Scotch term, and nothing at all like the ordinary idea of a Trout pool.