More than 11 years ago, on what had become a fairly regular work outing, I headed to Grand Lake Stream on April 1 — opening day of open-water fishing season — to find a few tales to tell.
Recently, I learned that the most amusing tale of all was one I never even suspected.
During preparations for the release of my first book, “Evergreens,” I did a few interviews with other media outlets, and my publisher sent out publicity photos, including one of the book’s cover.
That cover photo is a striking shot taken by former BDN photographer Gabor Degre, showing three anglers (including me) standing in the Dam Pool at Grand Lake Stream on a raw, overcast day. We published the photo in 2008, I wrote a column about the day and then I moved onto something else.
One of the anglers shown in the photo was not so fortunate, I found out. He saw the cover photo in the BDN story about the book’s launch and wanted to share his version of what became a pretty memorable day for him.
He has asked that I not name him, in order to protect the semi-innocent, and I’ll respect his wishes. Here’s what he had to say.
“Congratulations on the new book! I noticed the cover photo look awfully familiar to me and wanted to share a story with you about it,” he said. “A friend of mine and I skipped some work quite a few years ago to go fishing at Grand Lake Stream on opening day. When I say ‘skip work,’ I mean just that. We struck out early from Bangor to hit the stream to fish opening day. Our intent was to fish and then turn around and beat it back to work before anyone really knew we’d been gone. It could happen, right?”
It could happen. But things didn’t turn out that way.
“I got a call from my boss while I was in the parking lot asking me if I could head over to a job site in Brewer to inspect some work,” he said. “Little did he know I was two hours away putting on my waders. I told him I certainly could, but would be a little late doing it because I had to ‘take care of a couple other issues first.’”
The other issues involved catching fish (which he did). After fishing half the morning, the angler and his buddy packed up and headed back to work.
“I showed up and did my inspection and nobody even knew I was about 4 hours late. Ha! Pulled it off without a hitch!” he said. “Now, I’m sure 99 percent of the population who skip a little work do so and probably never ever get caught. Me, however, given my luck, I end up on the front page of the Bangor Daily News!”
Oops. Sorry about that.
“I must say I was quite shocked to see that photo first thing the next day when I went into the store for coffee before work!” he said. “I’m the one cradling my rod over your left shoulder in the camo jacket. We still laugh about it to this day. Busted.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I can now tell you that our mystery angler is not alone. Over the course of 17 years of writing outdoor columns for the BDN, I’ve spent plenty of time in the parking lot of the Dam Pool on Grand Lake Stream’s opening day, and I’ve met more than a few anglers who have simply refused to give me their names nor talk on the record.
They, too, were skipping work and didn’t want their bosses to know where they were.
Unfortunately for our mystery angler, on that day I also had a photographer to help me tell the story. And when he walked out onto the top of the dam, armed with a camera and a long lens, he captured a photo that was not only striking … it was unforgettable.
At least, that’s the way our mystery angler sees it.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” a collection of his favorite BDN columns and features, has been published by Islandport Press and is available wherever books are sold.