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.
Wotton, could not command a decent respect from old Sam Johnson, or persuade Venator that angling and hunting had any right to be mentioned in the same breath. It is different now. There may be no precedents of recognition in the musty past, but the fruitful present utters no doubtful sound at least, so far as Salmon fishing is concerned. Salmon fishing has been ennobled as a sport by Her Royal Highness, the daughter of the Queen of England and Empress of India, and conjointly by her noble spouse, the Marquis of Lome, late Governor-General of Canada. With her own royal hands the Princess Louise has captured a twenty-five pound Salmon on the river Restigouche, and sent it home to her Queen-mother, with the Jock Scott fly which caught it fixed in its jaws, as a trophy of her prowess, and affidavit that the feat was all her own!
No lukewarm sportsman is His Excellency, the Marquis. It was my good fortune once to be privately presented to him on the eve of an excursion down-river. It was at Quebec, on the occasion of his inaugurating the Dufferin Terrace, in 1879. I found the royal party on board the steamer Druid, inspecting cabin quarters which they were to occupy en route to the Restigouche, where they were going to fish. The Druid was a government vessel, commanded by Captain Mar-mion, with whom it had been my pleasure to make several voyages around the Gulf of St. Lawrence as many as fifteen years before. While I was pleasantly engaged in a friendly chat with the veteran mariner, my friend, J. U.Gregory, Esq., the Naval Agent at Quebec, came up the companion-way in company with Major De Wintor, His Excellency's aide-decamp, and having presented me, announced that the Marquis would be pleased to see me presently. I held one of Abbey & Grubrie's oreide Salmon reels in my hand, and literally "stood by the wheel," like a true helmsman, determined to shirk no duty. Accordingly, when I came to a front face and present, His Excellency took me graciously by the hand, and we occupied common ground at once. We talked of fish and fishing-tackle, the natural history of the country, and kindred topics, and when we finally parted, I was quite at my ease, and felt more than ever the truth of the old adage, that "one touch of nature makes the whole world kin." Had we never fished, we had never met!
Earl Dufferin, his predecessor, was a most proficient angler, and so was the countess. Both were at one time guests of the Hon. Allan Gilmour, of Ottawa, who owns a princely preserve of 5,000 acres on the Godbout. They fished that river in 1876, staid two days, and are credited with a score of seven fish, aggregating seventy-one pounds in weight. Dufferin on one occasion had fought a fish manfully in one of the most difficult pools on the river, where the old Scotchman delights to test the mettle of his visitors. In an attempt to bring the fish to gaff, after a long struggle, he slipped on the rocks and plunged into the drink. He got a thorough wetting, but saved his fish and won a reputation. The laugh, however, does not come in here. The climax is reached when his lordship appears an hour afterward in a dry suit of Mr. Gilmour's habiliments, loaned in extremis, which were as much of a fit as one could expect where one man was only of fair average size, while the other stood six feet two in his socks, and weighed at least sixteen stone.
The Godbout River is several hundred miles below Oucbec, and until recently was considered to be almost at the antipodes. At present date, however, nearly all of the rivers on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, which do not belong to ancient seigniories, are up for lease, and it is every year becoming more and more interesting to see how the spirit of exploration and emulation is carrying our own people of the United States fartffcr and farther into the remote portions of the Canadian Dominion. Within two years they have taken possession of a large part of the Lake St. John country, and the wilderness lying between it and Quebec, registering a club membership of over one hundred, and numerous camps; and now the eye of the keen angler is directed to the rivers on the eastern coast of Labrador, which lie far beyond the line of popular ambition hitherto. It will not be long before the Salmon rivers of Byron's Bav and Sandwich Bay will be visited, while the Tomliscom, the Hamilton, and the Nor'west Rivers of the Great Esquimaux Bay, in latitude 55 degrees, which I described in "Harper's Magazine" thirty years ago, will become places of annual resort for anglers. These last named are fine Salmon rivers, and the presence of two very considerable Hudson Bay ports in the vicinity, within thirty miles of each other, relieves a sojourn on the Bay of an asperity of aspect which might otherwise seem hyperborean to a man who has never traveled in higher latitudes.
The Esquimaux who live on the Bay number perhaps fifty souls now, though once they were a community of seven hundred; and each season they salt and smoke a large quantity of Salmon for their own use and the consumption of the Hudson Bay employes at Rigolet and Nor'west River stations. These two stations are headquarters for the Southern District of Labrador. Fort Chimo, on Ungava Bay, is the headquarters of the Northern District, and there is a regular trail from one to the other over the great dividing ridge which separates the two. This ridge, or mountain range, extends southwesterly across the Labrador to the Saguenay River, touching it at or near Lake St. John. It is a most elevated platca'u, diversified by peaks and knobs, among which Mount Nat Mokome (the Clerk) and an extensive range known as the Mealy Mountains, are conspicuous, nearly all bare of verdure, and snow-capped perpetually. I could write an entire chapter about the physical geography of this region, so little known, but this fishing paper is not a suitable place for it. However, it is pertinent to state that on this vast water-shed, which traverses a region containing 450,000 square miles, are collected innumerable bodies of water, some of them immense, like Lake Mistassini, larger than Ontario, and others mere lakelets, out of which they discharge the melted accumulations of winter in turbulent streams, which usually plunge over lofty escarpments into the ocean and Gulf of St. Lawrence, in falls from one hundred and fifty to four hundred feet high. This feature is peculiar as well to the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, from its mouth nearly up to Quebec. The celebrated Montmorenci Falls afford a striking illustration thereof. Some of these falls impinge directly on the river, while others are set back from one to four miles. In many cases, however, the waters of the interior find their exit through great gorges and rifts in the rocks, and in all such cases become Salmon rivers, unless there are obstacles to obstruct their ascent. There are perhaps sixty of these rivers catalogued for lease at the Crown Lands Department in Quebec. The most notable of thesearethe LeVal,i8o miles below Quebec; Trinity, 276 miles; St. Margaret, 340; the Moisic, 364; the St. John du Nord, 454, constituting the boundary line between the Province of Quebec and Labrador; the Min-gon, 465 miles; the Natashquan, 571 miles, and the Esquimaux, 720 miles from Quebec. Seven hundred and twenty miles are a good many to make for a few Salmon. The St. John du Nord used to be a favorite river of the Harriotts and the Havemeyers, of New York, and actor W. J. Florence used to fish the Natashquan. One summer, I think it was in 1879, he went down with E. A. Sothern (Lord Dundreary), the Duke of Beaufort, and Sir John Reid, and the party captured ninety-eight Salmon, weighing 1,328 pounds, in the course of about three weeks, though the actual fishing time was but fifty-eight and one-eighth hours. That bunch of Salmon must have cost the party about $3. 50 per pound. The steamer which they chartered to take them down from Quebec to the fishing-ground cost $1,000, and the other expenses must have brought the bill up to $6,000, for to be comfortable under such circumstances requires the building of a commodious cabone at the river; to have cooks, gaffers, and supernumeraries; to provide liberally with provisions and camp-furniture, as well as personal outfit. Even the item of fly-oil, some wag has suggested, must have been important of itself.