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.
Some more runs may follow, or a sulking fit. The more he is kept moving the sooner he will tire. It is well to keep him in hand with as heavy a strain as can be risked, for he fights to the last, and there is no knowing what he may do. Even when he comes to the surface and shows his white side, the sight of the landing-net nerves him to what the pugilists call a "game finish." Three-quarters of an hour have gone, when Narcisse slips the net under him with a quick but sure scoop, and kills him with a blow from the paddle. "C'est seriensement grosse" he says, as he holds up a twenty-five-inch fish. Really the balance does seem wrong when it marks only five pounds.
After a couple of hours cruising about the eddy with more or less luck, we portage over the point, making our way with some difficulty through the tangle of rocks and trees, though the men, canoe on head and both hands full, skip along easily enough. There we find a little family party of Wananishe close under the bank, in a hole beneath some alder roots, which would exactly suit a Trout's idea of home. Farther up we get some pretty casting from a steep, rocky beach past which a strong eddy runs. Later on, when the water has fallen and new eddies form immediately above the point, there will be good fishing, either off the rocks or in the canoe, which the men will hold in the very dividing-line between the main current over the fall and that which sets in-shore.
At luncheon, in a shady nook, a Wananishe a la brocJic gives us a chance to test the men's cookery. The fish, split down the back and opened out like a kite, is skewered with slips of red willow, well salted and peppered, inserted in a cleft stick fastened with spruce-root or a withe of alder, and then, stuck in the ground before a clear fire of drift-wood, is broiled without any basting but its own fat. If you prefer the flavor, you may skewer a piece of bacon to the upper part of the fish. The delicate pink flesh is intermediate in flavor between that of the Salmon and that of the Trout-richer than the latter, less cloying than the former. Planked Shad is not better. After luncheon the pipe and a chat, with a boucane to keep the flies off. The logs chafing and grinding against the shore suggest to the men some reminiscences of la drive and its perils. The artist gets a sketch for which William poses. For another mile above, the rapid foams white. That hill, covered with dark spruces, which divides it, is the point of Isle Maligne-well named, for, surrounded by heavy rapids pulsating in chutes through rocky gorges, it is rarely accessible, sometimes not for several successive years, and only one angler has ever cast a fly from its shores.
In the evening we fly down in ten minutes what it took us over an hour to mount. The roar of the Vache Cialle Rapid swells like the sound of an approaching train. The bowman stands up to look, says a word to his mate, then both settle low on their heels, and two bits of rapid are run like a flash, though the trees slipping past are the only sign of motion the passenger feels. With the current setting out straight over the fall, it is an ugly-looking place, but "a terre, en masse," and a bit of quick paddling brings the shore close. The men interchange a rapid glance.
"An large?" "Pas tropy The canoe turns out from shore again, to the horror of any passenger making the run for the first time, but, before he can remonstrate, tilts over the pitch where a pyramidal rock backs up the water, swings end for end, and sidles into an eddy just its own length, which has scooped out a hollow in the bank within forty yards of the fall.
"It is quite possible to drown one's self here," remarks Pitre, as he takes his Monsieur's rod and coat for the walk home. It is a point of honor, however, with these men, never to risk a passenger's comfort, much less his safety. An)' recklessness or bungling would meet sharp criticism over the camp-fire. They are cool and courageous in real danger, however, and among themselves the rivalry is keen. Nothing delights them more than to have a Monsieur who can appreciate their points, and, not minding a few bucketfuls of water, gives them once in a while a chance of display. After all, the passenger has the best of guarantees in the fact that very few of them can swim. I speak only of the professional canoe-men of the Decharge. Some of the Indians from Pointe Bleue, on Lake St. John, are good enough in the canoe; but since the railway has brought tourists along, many men seek employment who have no experience either in such waters or of the niceties of the fishing.
By J. G. Aylwin Creighton.