This section is from the book "Moose-Hunting Salmon-Fishing And Other Sketches Of Sport Being The Record Of Personal Experiences Of Hunting Wild Game In Canada", by T. R. Pattillo. Also available from Amazon: Moose-Hunting, Salmon-Fishing and Other Sketches of Sport: Being the Record of Personal Experiences of Hunting Wild Game in Canada.
For several years my business required me to be at Greenfield, the head waters of the Med-way, during the third week in June, which was the choicest time in the whole season there for salmon and trout fishing. The,fishing-pool here extends three-quarters of a mile from the foot of Ponhook (Indian) Lake, 9 miles long to the head of Greenfield Falls, while the river is not more than 75 yards wide here. All through this pool are choice resting-places for salmon. On these trips it was not convenient to take my rod, so I had to rely for one on my friends in the village. On this occasion the Indian guide Newal, known of late years to many American anglers, placed his rod at my disposal, and, tying my gaff to a mill-strip, proceeded to the foot of the lake about four o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, where a boat was procured, and I went off alone. Now, as experience had taught me never to rely on single casts when I had double, nor single hooks when I had double, in dealing with salmon and alone, these were attached to my trusty callon line of 150 yards. Eight here came the question of the fly. There are Cock Robin, Silver Doctor, White Admiral, Brown Admiral, Certain Death, Prairie Dog, Yellow-leg, Black Hawk, Tickler, Jock Scott, Butcher, and Fury Brown all before me. My mind and fingers take Yellow-leg to start in with a medium double fly. This had only been cast a few times, when off to the right of me at the head of a rock a lad started with a heavy whirl, but did not hook. Seeing I would have to fish him across the stream, and consequently at a great disadvantage, I moved the boat so as to be ahead of him. Knowing where he was, my fly was cast below and slowly worked up over him. Scarcely had it come to him, when he rushed out like a whale, and was hooked; but in doing so mieerabili dictu the middle piece of the rod snapped short off. A nice predicament a big salmon hooked, all alone, and a broken rod! Yet this was no time for moralizing. Action of some kind had to be taken, and at once; so I grasped the upper part, about 5 feet, and held it with my right, while with the left hand, I unwound a lot of line, coiling or tiering it along the bottom of the boat.
Up to this time the fish had not moved from the spot where he was hooked; so, feeling pretty confident of my fighting ability, the line was tightened with the right hand, while the rod was held in the left. He soon commenced to shake his head and started to run past the boat up the river, and jumped out just above me. I saw he was a fine one, which made me all the more desirous to capture him. He sailed around a lot, but did not attempt a second jump, which made me very hopeful Now he showed signs of exhaustion, and must be brought to the boat while able to help himself; so I gathered the line with my right and checked it with the left, holding the rod with the same until he was a little above me. The gaff had been placed where it was ready for an emergency, so drawing in a foot or two more, he was right in front of me. The time for action was right there. Quick as thought the left grasped the line, and the right the gaff, which was instantly in him, but the rod had to be dropped, as both hands were required to save him. There he is in the boat. Hurrah! Was I proud, reader ? How would you have been ? Had my gear been in perfect order, the capture of such a fish, 18¼ lbs., would be something the captor might well be proud of, but to take him as you have seen the writer situated, made me more than proud I was just delighted. It was not more than half an hour from the time the boat was anchored till he was in the boat.
It was too early to go ashore, so I undertook the difficult task of securing those round, polished ends so as to be firm enough for fishing. They could not be spliced, as the wood was powder-posted, so the most was made out of a bad business by using wax.
The water had been so much disturbed where the first one was hooked that the boat was moored to the head of a gorge formed by a cliff under water a spot which any and all of my American readers who have ever fished the Greenfield waters will recognize as a choice one; fish almost always being found there; so when my fly was cast here and worked towards me, the rush of a fish was expected, and when the whirl was seen I was ready, and hooked him. A wild fellow he soon showed himself to be, for he started off on the hop-skip-and-jump style, trying the strength of my crazy gear, which soon began to " wiggle-woggle " not so classic as explanatory, leaving me in a peck of trouble. What to do and how to do it had to be settled speedily. Only one thing seemed applicable then that was the knife on the lashings. How it was done I don't know now I didn't know then; but done it was, and the 5 feet of rod were again in my hand. As the salmon gave up his racing a little, I see myself now, reeling that line and coiling it along the boat for future use. None too soon was this accomplished; for the lad was none of your sluggish chaps, but a nervous, rushing one, so he was off again, this time making straight for me, as though having taken pity on my position, and would end the trouble by jumping into the boat. That line is coming in as fast as it can be gathered, and the prospects for gaffing so favourable that that instrument was placed against my chest and the gunwale, ready to be grasped in an instant. He is only about 8 feet away, and still coming; now is the chance. But no, you don't not yet; and off he scoots down the river. The moment he took in the outline of the boat, away he started. I had observed the hooks were solidly placed, and my double cast back of that, so J did not fear for the result, although it was a wearisome as well as exciting pastime. The fish was beginning to falter, and was quite a distance below me, while the stream was too strong where the boat was to hope to get him up again; so while he was resting, the rod and line were held in the left, the killock, through the right and my feet, was raised, and the boat dropped close to him, where the river was wider, the water less swift, and the chances for handling him more successfully and quickly greatly improved. Now, my lad, this question of conqueror has to be settled right off; so here is at you: my line is coming in, but he hangs back. There he jumps. " Go it again that was a weak jump, and probably your last one." He threshes his head and holds back, reminding one of a prairie pony, when first halter-broken. But it's of no avail come you must; and come he does, now only a few feet away. Now, old gaff, do your work, and over the gunwale he has come, and is dancing the fisher's hornpipe in the bottom. " Well done, Mr. P., well done!" comes to my ears from the shore, where half a dozen or more, who had seen me fast to the fellow and alone with a broken rod, stood watching the performance, and thus greeted me. While I felt very tired, I must freely confess I was greatly delighted.