Monday, March 30, 2015

I Remember Atlantic Salmon In Maine

As my years have turned into real time, I have been reflecting on important moments.  In my angling life there is one that stands out above others and happened during the early 1970's in Maine.

The Narraguagus River is a Queen of waters among salmon rivers.  She has all the components that make for strong shouldered fish like those of the Matapedia and Moisie.  This is a river of Salmon and very few Grilse.

It was not my first year in pursuit of a Salar encounter.  I had been traveling to Maine in late May and June for three years and visited most of the other rivers with major runs.  Penobscott, Sheepscot, Pleasant, Dennys and Machais had all received some time with no takers.

I arrived in Cherryfield late in the day and spent the night in a local motel.  The rain had been coming in buckets and was not giving up.  The river would be in full glory and sounding a dark rage.  Reality was far more harsh than my words.  Even with such conditions the casters were lined up at the Cable Pool.  Other pools down river were available but most anglers would put their rods in order and wait their turn on this highly productive water.  I seem to remember hours between rotations at times.

On this day I decided to cross the rail trestle below the pool and fish from river right.  My 8 1/2 foot Fenwick glass 8 weight would be a limited match for a raging river that offered little back cast room.  Sinking line and a huge Mickey Finn was my set up.

As the rain continued, I made cast after cast shooting out as much line as possible and then letting the heavy current take more line down river through my fingers.  This is a technique that I now use to control the side ways speed of my fly in faster water.  In the middle of a swing it finally happened.  I had a salmon on my line in a raging river with no less that thirty people lining the banks.  The show was on.  The fish jumped multiple times, screamed down river, bored its way to the opposite bank where I thought it had wrapped a rock,  coxed close at hand on a heavy leader and finally came to net.  I then did what seemed natural.  I removed the hook quickly scampered back to the river and let the fish go.  What a thrill.

You could have heard a pin drop!

Now, today we call it 'Live Release' and before that 'Catch & Release' and up in Maine in 1973 they called it 'I can't believe he let it go'.  I remember one fellow coming up to me and telling me that if I am going to release a salmon that I should not have used the net.  I have hand tailed many fish for myself and others, removed the hook and having the catch on it's way in a matter of moments since.

I think for many that day it was the first time they experienced the release part of the equation.  The following year I made a stop at L.L. Bean for supplies and a fellow said, "Hey, you're that guy who let the Salmon go up on Naraguagus."  I proudly said, "Yes I am".

Sadly, the salmon of the cable are now visions in my mind.  I Remember Atlantic Salmon In Maine.



penbayman said...

Great post and nice looking , very informative blog..My Dad fished the Narraguagus from time to time..It was one of his favorite AS fishing spots..I've added your blog to my fav's..

Anonymous said...

Brought back old memories. Later on in the 1970's the Narraguagus Salmon Club gave a cash award for those that released a salmon- with witnesses. I caught and released one from the big rock below the cable pool. Another angler, at my request, cut my leader to release the with the least damage to the fish . At the end of the season I received a check for $135. I never cashed it- my memory trophy - hoping to help the release initiative the next year.
The club knew the catch and release was needed but, even with the cash incentive, there were only, including mine, three verified releases.
The current condition of Maine’s Atlantic Salmon is sad. I miss the good old days.


Ben B. said...

Great post. I wish I was around back in those days.

Thomas batch said...

read your post about the naraguagus river, it brought back memories of fishing the river with my dad and uncle from 1967-early 80s, i still visit the river every year,to reflect back on the memories , i miss fishing thst river in the old dasys, i still fish there for shad,i now fish the matane and matapedia rivers. tom bacigalupo

penbayman said...

Great memories Tom..long ago but not forgotten..

Anonymous said...

I remember fishing the 'Guagus with my Dad and several friends for a number of years beginning in the late 1960's. There was a cast of regulars there every year - locals as well as old Dr. Babson and Dick Lawrence and his Dad from MASS. It's a shame what happened to all the Downeast rivers. Have to spend our money in Canada now, not Maine, but Maine's vested interests didn't care. Steve Messier