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.
This one was 11¾ lbs. S. secured an eight-pounder, at the head of Little Salmon, just as he was leaving for camp, disgusted at the afternoon's luck. When we had the fish ready for the team to take to the village, we were proud fellows. They were a pretty sight, and we concluded the spell of hard luck had been broken by changing our grounds.
The next morning it was raining heavily, and continued all the forenoon, raising the water some, while it became very thick, so much so that the fish would not or could not see the fly in the afternoon, and I found none that day. S., however, fared better, and was into a queer freak with a salmon on Murray's Brook, where he had gone for trout. This brook is a large stream, famous in those days and since for its trout-pools, extending some distance into the forest, and emptying into the Medway just at the head of Little Salmon. Finding no fish on the main river, he went up this brook for trout. When he had taken fourteen, up came a salmon, and he hooked him, but had no hope of saving him with his trout-gear, as the stream was quite narrow, the bushes growing out over it. However, the fish sailed about for a while, jumping three times, but S. held him very loosely, so he had him still when he swam close to the banks and amongst the bushes, of course taking the line with him. Here he stopped. Now what was to be done ?
There was only one thing which could be done, which was to cut a track for the boat and line out, so, holding the rod steadily. Peter and S. actually cut with their knives a track out of the bushes and their entanglement, and were out free. Now they raised the rod, not supposing the salmon was still on, as there had not been a motion of the line all the while they were cutting, so we can well imagine their surprise to find that they still had him, and a pretty fish at that, which they soon had in their boat. S., in telling it, said he never was so proud of capturing any fish as of this. He was 10£ lbs.
The next morning, by agreement, we changed boats. Fishing below, and I above. It was seven o'clock before going to the pools, as the river was so dense, but scarcely had I cast into the western pool on Little Salmon, when one came and was hooked. The boat was well above the Falls, and the water was not very strong in this part of the pool, so that I had no difficulty in getting him up above the run without disturbing the pool, and he was in the boat in a very short time a 9-lb. fish. Then I threw into the same pool, where there seemed another waiting for his breakfast, which he found speedily, for I hooked him on the first bounce, and captured him with little trouble another nine-pounder. Then I fished until ten o'clock, when there were six in the boat, and two others somewhere about sulking with sore mouths, which I lost. Just before leaving for camp, Sol took the rod, remarking, "I would not be surprised to find one in that little eddy, close to the eastern shore." With that remark he made a oast, and was startled by such a mad rush that he only pricked him. The river seemed to be, or that part of it, literally full of fish that morning. All our catch was taken with the homely fly I put on two days before. Sol, the day before, had made one much like mine, and with it that morning S. hooked four, saving three of them, so that when we were both on the shore, with nine salmon lying on the moss, it was a sight to gladden the hearts of the heartless.
Many sportsmen claim that if a salmon is after flies, he will take any one you give him; but they can't make me believe that. If you cast the fly he wants, he'll take it with a rush; if you don't, you may fish for hours without seeing a sign, while he may he under your fly all the while. It is often remarked that " the salmon is a queer fish; " and he is. The fly he will take quickly in the early morning he will discard by nine o'clock, and the fisherman, to please his fancy, has to be changing it every hour in the day. In the early season you will find him in the eddy of the rocks; when the water gets warm, and the lamprey eels are in the stream, seek for him and expect to find him usually at the head of the rocks in the swiftest water. Then he himself can fish in quietness without the eels bothering him, which they do in the eddy.
The salmon-fisherman should be very patient to be successful. When he is at a pool in which fish generally rest, and he knows it, then he should not soon get discouraged if not successful. Many a time I have fished more than an hour in one spot without a sign, when frequently, just in the act of reeling in my line to move, some peculiar action of the fly would attract his attention, and up he would come; often with my fly trailing while hauling up the anchor has one rushed out and hooked himself. So, reader, if an inexperienced fisherman, don't get quickly discouraged. If luck does not speedily attend you, whistle and keep your courage up, and he'll come later on. My general readers will pardon this digression, which has been made especially for those who do not know as much about the whims of salmon as you and I do.
After such wonderful luck in the forenoon, we started out at four o'clock, thinking there would be no difficulty in making up the dozen fish by dusk; but in this we were sadly disappointed, as I did not see one, while the only fish S. and Peter got was jigged under water in the soft part of his belly. He gave them a big chase, cutting from one side of the river to the other, and was saved by most careful handling, as the flesh tore so easily it was only by a constant and moderate strain the hook was kept in him. We slept soundly that night, the last of that outing, and were early on the ground in the morning for the final fishing. S. took the head of Salmon Pool, captured one and lost one; while I hooked a fine fellow at the head of Rocky, hut lost him on the Falls, as he took down the stream. At eight o'clock we had taken breakfast, had the tent down, fish in the boat, and were at the head of Rocky to drop them to the foot with the moorings, as to attempt to run them meant inevitably the loss of boats and men. This job was accomplished, but not without much difficulty. The foot of these Falls was a famous trouting spot, so S. decided to put in an hour there, while we went on to Black Rattle a long, smooth, deep pool at the head of a heavy fall. We watched S. for a little time having fine sport with those big speckled fellows, and then moved on to our proposed fishing spot. This was certainly a most attractive pool, and looked as if there was fan ahead for us. Well, I fished and continued fishing, my killing fly seeming to be no better than the others. The last one I tried was the Crow, jet black with silver tinsel, but failed to start any, so I laid my rod down, the fly still trailing, while Sol was hauling up the anchor. Scarcely had he drawn the boat a yard when up came a salmon with a rush. I caught up the rod. and he was hooked.
I played him fully an hour. He was such a pretty fish it made me the more anxious to get him, but when he was nearly up within reach of the gaff, and quite drowned and helpless, thereby bringing an immense strain on the fly, the snood drew out, and he was free. We watched him being swept down the Falls, with his tail occasionally showing. It was a great disappointment, as the reader may imagine. S. joined us a little later. He had had glorious fishing, and such famous trout those big silvery-sided fellows, that make the sportsman's eyes sparkle. The day had so rapidly advanced that we found it necessary to move along without further delay, although we all yielded to the necessity with great reluctance. At two o'clock we had reached the head of Salmon Falls, where the boats were to be left, and, the team being there to take us to the village, we were forced to take our rods apart, and thus wind up the pleasantest week's fishing of my life.
At three o'clock we were at Mr. M.'s, where the salmon were that had been sent down.
These, with those we had with us, were all packed in shavings and ice in boxes on our express, and with the tent, cooking-gear, rods, and two heavy fellows fattened for a week on the choicest food in the land, made a load for old Dobbin that caused him to stagger in many places on the road home. Four o'clock found us all ready for a move, so, bidding our faithful guides adieu, but not till we had engaged them for the following year, we jumped into the waggon, and started for our homeward journey of 30 miles, finishing it, without a mishap, at midnight.
Of late years the Medway, located on the south-western part of Nova Scotia, has become a famous resort for salmon-fishermen. Many of the choicest pools have been bought, and club houses erected; but while the shoals of fish entering the stream are immense, beginning in February, the river is so miserably protected that poachers with drag-nets trap hundreds of them before and after they reach the first ground.* This, as a matter.
* Mr. Pattillo's descriptions of his sport make one long to go out to Nova Scotia. What a pity such splendid water should be so poached! R B. Mabston, Ed. Fishing Gazette, of course, makes the fish scarce, and so frightened that they are slow to move. To any sportsman thinking of trying this stream, I would recommend, as first-class guides, Bernard McKenna, Peter Antony, both white, and Sol the Indian, all residing at Mill Village, Queen's County. Their charges are moderate. In closing this recital of a most enjoyable week's outing, I do so wishing that all my readers may have the like good fortune that was mine.