Sunday, July 10, 2016

Last Few Hours in Maine: Three of the Best Fish I've Ever Caught

I got up very early on Friday because there was something I had to do. The pond our Cabin was on had consistently skunked me throughout our stay, which was unfortunate because its fish were giant. The pond has an abundance of bait and insects: smelts, fathead minnows, hexegenia, and some of the biggest caddis I have ever seen. I knew where I could catch fish, the only place I saw any activity was over a big spring hole I discovered. Every now and then, a giant brookie or two would start chasing swimming gammarus, making huge boils. I could not figure out how to get these fish to eat the fly. I didn't have anything that would stay at the depth of the shrimp and still move slowly enough to entice the brookies.

That morning I anchored a big away from the spring hole and began trying different patterns. Nothing. Fish boiled all around the spring hole. I tried five patterns, making roughly 30 casts with each. Then I came to the Frenchie portion of my nymph box. I decided to try something much smaller than I had been. I went with a size 20 black bead Frenchie with an olive collar. I think it was on my first cast that I got a take. I didn't feel the actual take, it ate moving toward me. I was just suddenly into a big pond brookie on light tippet. It was quite a battle, and it was a fish that I REALLY didn't want to loose. Fortunately it wasn't going to end badly, and I got to hold a truly large Maine wild brook trout. It was a strong, lean 16 incher. Awesome! I called it quits then.

But that was not the end of the epic fish catching that day. We headed west out of Rangeley instead of going straight south. I was not leaving Maine without fishing one of the areas most famous spots: Upper Dam. The area bellow the dam between Mooselookmeguntic and Richardson Lakes is famous for producing big char and salmon. It id where Carrie Stevens first fished her Grey Ghost. It is a landmark of fly fishing history, and very productive. When we got there (it was a mile long hike in) I made a few casts with the Hornberg in the big eddy before making a bee line for a big deep run. I KNEW there were going to be fish there, and it only took a couple of swings before a large brook trout came up for the skating 'berg and ate it with a loud slurp that sound like a toilet being flushed. It got in the fast water and took off, with me not far behind. Eventually I got it to hand, another PB. It was a little shorter than the pond fish but probably a quarter of a pond heavier. It was so thick and heavy! 

So basically I beat my previous personal best brook trout twice in one day. I wasn't done yet. I have an obsession. Other than just fishing... I am obsessed with Atlantic salmon. They are the most amazing fish I have ever targeted. One of the up sights to fishing the Rangeley area was that I would have a shot at wild landlocked salmon. I hadn't caught any grown ones yet, though I got close. With about 10 minutes left to fish, I made my next cast into that run. And BAM! Salmon. It jumped twice, the first time clearing about 3 feet. Then it pulled. Salmon are incredibly strong. I can't wait to come back and hook a bigger one.

A big brookie and a landlocked salmon. Two consecutive casts, two amazing fish. What a way to close out one of the coolest weeks of my life. 


  1. It appears that your road trip to Maine was a success!!! Some very solid brookies you have there!! nice job!!

    1. It certainly was Pete,
      I can't wait to return during the fall, when the really big fish are in.

  2. What a vacation! Thanks for sharing the adventure.
    - G.

  3. Way-to-go Rowan!!! Those fish are so beautiful. That was a great trip. Thanks for the stories and photos!
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

  4. Awesome looking trip RM! I cant get over the football like stature of those big brookies... and awesome to catch that wild salmon as well. The pull and leap like no other!

    1. Thanks,
      I was very impressed by the weight of that fish. Clearly been chowing down on some smelt or maybe dace.