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.
Fob a number of years with a companion, I went to the Medway, the last week in May and the first in June, for a week's outing. At this particular time we found the May run of salmon had worked well up the river, while the June fish were in the lower pools, so we were sure of plenty of sport, could we get them to take. The salmon on this stream are very variable in their fancies. The fly they would take fiercely one season they would often scarcely look at the next; so that frequently, when we knew the river was full of fish and. we had an abundance and great variety of flies to select from, scarcely one was captured the first day or two. One season we fished the choicest pools from Monday until Thursday noon without hooking a fish, and went home Saturday with seventeen. The outing or trip narrated here was begun May 28, 1880. Mill Village, a settlement on the Medway, was reached after a journey of thirty miles at 7.30 a.m. There we met our Indian guides, Sol and Peter, who, with their boats ready and teams engaged to take them up the stream, were waiting for us. We were soon away, and at 9.30 had a boat in the water at the foot of Poltz Falls, and the other at the head of the same. S.. and Peter were to fish the foot of Poltz, Hemlock Run, and little Salmon Pool, while Sol and I were to try the head of Poltz Shoal Ground, and Kempton's Run, with all the intervening ground. We were so anxious for sport, that we dumped our outfit on the camping-ground, put our rods together and started for the respective locations. The water was just right for good fishing. Sol and I anchored above a smooth run on the south-east side of Poltz a favourite resting spot for the fish after having faced the long, heavy waters of the Falls.
I threw a short line at first with a Durham Eanger on: but no sign. Then a little longer: still no sign. Now if he is where he generally lies, I ought to start him on the next oast, so I am very expectant. With a 15-yard line I made the next throw, and as I worked it coaxingly towards me, I noticed a curl in the water, like a small wave. " Ah! old man " (Sol always calls me this), "he's there all right." I gave him a rest, as experience has taught me that the king amongst fish does not like to be hurried too much, if he fails to be hooked on the first rush; so, after waiting a few moments to allow him to settle back to the spot he started from, I put the fly over him again, when he rushed and struck at it with his tail. I saw by this he did not want the fly, so I changed it for a Yellow-leg (yellow body, Turkey wing and jungle), and as soon as this went over him in fact, before it got to him, he sailed after it like an albacore, and was fast. " Well done, old man! " shouted Sol. " Now we must work him up the stream into deeper and smoother water, or he may take down the river, then our chances of saving him will be slim." So Sol lifted the anchor, and poled up several yards, and moored again. Meanwhile the salmon was thumping his nose on the bottom to rub the hook out. Failing to accomplish this. I knew he would soon run, and run he did, up the river at full tilt, then jumped several feet out of the water, turned and down the stream like a racehorse. Didn't my reel buzz? Fortunately, I had 150 yards on it, or it would have been " good-bye, salmon," as he did not stop until he had run off 100 yards. Then he swam into an eddy and rested. After a little I began to ply my reel, and while he fought every inch of the way, jumping out again and getting back to the eddy, I got him some 30 yards nearer : then he took another scoot across the Falls, jumped again, and shot into another eddy. It began to look pretty serious for saving him. We had him then full twenty-five minutes without any sign of his giving in, but we soon after observed that he was faltering. As he was too far away to hope to get him up to us against the current, Sol lifted the anchor and dropped the boat towards him, while I gathered in every inch of line, and held him where he was. We stopped her a little above the first heavy run, still holding the fish in the eddy, but observed that he was getting very weak, and would soon give up.
Every salmon sportsman knows that that is the time to line, hook, and tip, when the fish ceases to help himself by heading the current, so that the gear has not only to bear the weight of the current, but the additional weight of the fish. We were convinced that the only way to save him was to drop the boat down, which was by no means an easy task, when he was below the first run on the Falls, a rush of water not to be played with. Fortunately, we had an unusually long rod, and Sol dropped her very slowly, enabling me to gather in my line and hold the fish, which was now nearly drowned in the eddy. The boat had reached a point where she must be secured, and Sol and I must change positions he to the stern with the gaff, I to the bow with the rod. This was accomplished, but the situation was getting exciting. " Look out! Look out! Handle him mighty easy! The fly is almost out of him! " exclaimed Sol. "I am afraid we'll lose him yet." I was working him up towards the boat with all the tension I dared put on the tip. When I thought Sol could reach him, I straightened up my rod, which brought him to the surface, and Sol struck at him, but his gaff fell short. What an anxious moment! Could I get him nearer without risking the tip ? The fish was helpless. The question had to be decided then and there, so I worked my reel a little, and threw my rod back of me, and worked him by that double action a foot or so closer. "Now, Sol, what you are going to do, do quickly." The old Indian raised his gaff, made a sure strike, and soon had him in the boat. And there Were a pair of happy fellows. Oh, my arm! how it ached! I had had him on fifty minutes, under heavy tension all the time. While it was sport of the first water, there was certainly no play about the latter part of it. The next movement was to get the boat above the Falls, which was no easy task, but was accomplished by Sol putting on the mooring, and I using the pole. Then we landed and walked down to where S. and Peter were, a half-mile below. Our fish weighed 10¾ lbs. They had hold of one at Hemlock, which they lost by his running across the river into a snag, fouled the line, jumping when it brought him up, and cleared himself by parting the cast.