This season had an unlikely beginning. Low flows thanks to little rain in April made the first Maine outings sparse. I did manage to get out with some of the Original 395 Gang who were Jones-ing the worst. They could be found false casting in the Colby quad, or staring at Cabella’s catalogs not very well hidden behind their books in the library. When they dragged me kicking and and screaming to a stream, I had to go. There were no great hook ups, however, until this salmon got taken one morning in a stocked area—a refugee fish from a nearby lake, who devoted himself to making me feel better after my skimpy early season:
A friendly Bates prof fishing the area helped me land him and get the picture! Whew!
Soon it was time for the annual Grand Lake Stream adventure: this year, including our new member, the Wizard of Windham, aka “Wiz” or the Normerator, because there’s nothing normal about his heart of Gold. Here he is with his first Grand Lake Stream landlocked salmon, caught on a dry, I believe. The action photo shows this Houdini fish leaping from the certain grasp of the Wiz:
Our Buddy Wild Bill was in rare form—famous for fishing into the freezing night with the Fishing Prof, pulling the latter from the frigid waters, pouring the water out of my waders, slapping me four times across each cheek, and then joining me to fish for another hour. He’s also known for his wildlife photography, with some of his studies of pop tart crumbs on the freestone section of the river now in the Smithsonian. Here’s the Wild One with a fish he pulled out of an area of the river we call Bedrock:
And of course Mac was along and in the finest form. Who could forget this reincarnation of Macgyver, well versed in the dark arts of nymphing, and gifted with the ability to tie a fly with his teeth in 40 degree water while landing a salmon with his other hand. The Macster amazed us with his skills throughout the trip. His waffles weren’t bad either:
Mac and I had one magic morning—we’d determined through advanced research that a fly discovered by the Professor, and tied by Mac, would deliver in this waters, in a stretch known to us German-speakers as “Die reiche Mauer,” famous to the rest of the world as the “Don’t Touch My Secret Schnitzel” stretch of the river. We got there at 5:30 am. The sun had not yet hit the water. We knew we’d gotten lucky when Mac stepped in the river, his “Ace Hardware” fly floating to the side aimlessly—or so we thought, when a salmon flashed at it before he’d done anything. This was an epic morning, and the Renzetti Rangers down the river could only gaze on in amazement from afar as they saw us hook up again and again:
It was fast and furious action for 20 minutes until the sun hit the water; huge fish and constant hits, landings and action. Here’s my best:
Then there was the Nobster himself—the Master of All Things Penobscot, also known to his friends as the Master of the Baxter: State Park, that is. After getting bored with the easy fishing, Bax-Man went upstream and pulled fish after fish out of an area known as “Ace Alley,” where huge salmon sit in hidden buckets of water in fast current, and only the coolest hands pull them out. Here the Nobster himself—who downed a few glasses that night in celebration—with that blasé look that comes after catching too many fish:
In the background, with fish passing through his net like the wind across the Aolean Harp, just around every bend could be found the Fishing Magic of Obi Wan Kanobe himself. Obi would disappear for long hours, then reappear with tales of massive trout, secret flies, and guys who tied on inferior vices like the Regal—Obi owns the top-flight tying vice company HMH Vices—who tried to kidnap him, chain him a tree, torture him with bait fishing tips, all just to get him to reveal his secret spots. The Wise One sent them to Monkey Pond, and could be photographed only in poses like this one:
By the time we got back to Freeport, we’d had so many glasses of Nob Creek the night before, courtesy of the Wiz, that only three of us were still standing:
There are rumors of a West Branch adventure later in the summer, with the Wiz cooking all the meals. Stay tuned!