Guide Lines: A good friend makes for a great excursion
OUR hunting and fishing camp, the Do Duck Inn, is located in far northern Maine, in an area where brook trout are not stocked but are quite plentiful in their native state. Landlocked salmon are not native, but they do propagate and this leads to a great combination of wild salmon and native brookies.
Our best fishing is right after ice-out, which often happens anywhere from this week to Memorial Day, depending on the depth of the winter season. And when that happens, a nice smelt run will put the trout and salmon on the feed, both at the mouth of rivers and up into the major streams - water big enough to navigate with most fishing-sized craft.
My lifetime friend and fishing partner, Brad Conner, is an avid fly angler and one of the best streamer fly-tiers in the East.
And when the smelt are running and we are lucky enough to be there at the same time, we will wear ourselves out just trying to catch (and mostly release) these great fish until our arms ache and our legs start to tremble.
My boat is rigged nicely for this river fishing. On the bow, there is a special pulley through which 200 feet of anchor line (lobster trap line) is threaded. This enables our boat to be anchored and gives us the ability to haul the anchor from the middle or rear seat of the boat. The pulley device is designed to lock the anchor line in place just by dropping the angle of the line and letting the device drop a grip on it. To pull the anchor, you just have to lift the line above the device and it will release its grip.
We anchor well above some of the well-known fish holding spots. By casting our streamer flies from both sides of the boat, we can cover most of the water. When we move downstream to a new spot, we change casting sides so we get equal chances on most of the good places. So we methodically cover the pools by letting out a few feet more of our fly line with each cast-and-swing.
When we feel we've hooked or risen most of the fish in that area, we move downstream either by letting more anchor line out or by hauling and resetting our anchor.
Brad is about six months younger than me and we were both born in the late 1930's. But we've had people half our age have trouble keeping up with us on one of these fly fishing excursions.
But we do break down after a few hours of this casting, so we just pull the anchor and go trolling, using the same fly setup and the same streamer flies. We'll troll the rivers we've been casting flies on or go out into the lake and troll off the river outlets. Sometimes those places produce more and larger trout and salmon than what we've encountered, and other times we might find big lake chubs or yellow perch.
I like to call Brad an elitist because he can't stand me liking to catch yellow perch, but this old fool knows about fried yellow perch fillets and would just as soon trade a salmon or trout for equal weight of those perch fillets. And he doesn't need much coaxing to come to the table when I've fried up a bunch of the fillets.
Yup, we could be called the "odd couple," but in my estimation it's Brad who is odd. Funny, but he thinks the same about me.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.
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