John Holyoke fly fishes off the dock at Lac Barbel in Gagnon, Quebec in early July 2009. Credit: Courtesy of Chris Lander

Spend a bit of time fishing, and you’re sure to end up with a fish tale to share. If you’re lucky, it’ll end up with you being the victorious angler who (finally) catches a true whopper. But even if that’s not how things turn out, you still might end up with a memorable story.

That was the theme of a column I wrote a couple weeks ago, and I shared a few examples that we’ve featured in these pages.

I also invited Bangor Daily News readers to share fish tales of their own, suspecting that some interesting stories would pour in.

I was right. In fact, the responses were so cool, they’d more than fill up the space I’ve got allotted for this piece. Stay tuned for another story (or two?) this week that will feature our readers’ fish stories.

It’ll be like we’re all going fishing together — socially distant, of course — for the first time.

Here are a couple stories to get us started. And if you decide to share a fishing story (and photos) of your own, you can send them to me at

Flying fish

From Aaron Giberson of Fort Fairfield: This story doesn’t produce a whopper, but it’s 100 percent true and I have a witness! We were fishing Island Pond in T10R10 a few years back, dragging dead smelts on lead core, and various lures with very little success. [We were dealing with] high winds, swells, etc. My boat partner decided that he needed to relieve himself and due to the windy conditions, a mid-troll relief might be problematic, so we decided to reel up and head for the nearest piece of shore.

We landed the boat successfully. My friend had a small rod leaning inside the boat and a tiny Daredevle [lure] was hovering about 2 or 3 inches above the water at a depth of about 6 inches. Imagine my surprise when I saw a giant mouth coming through the water, then KASMASH! A 21-inch landlocked [salmon took the lure]. My friend grabbed the pole and picked the fish up into the boat. We were speechless. [It was our] only salmon that day.

Long-lost lure

From Kathy Pollard: Recently along Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor, a sleek, orange object with little black dots caught my eye. Picking it up I realized it was a vintage fishing lure minus its hooks, which made me think it had been in the river for a long time.

Studying it, decades peeled away and I was a 10-year-old girl again, transported to the place I

grew up — a fisherman’s paradise. Dad was a naval aviator stationed at NAS South Weymouth [in Massachusetts], and we lived off base a mile from the coast, in Marshfield, where a network of small ponds and streams led to salt marsh, and tidal North River, which emptied to open ocean. We fished all of these waters!

As very young children we learned how to make poppers and flies, and we gathered

nightcrawlers, muscles, clams and grasshoppers to attract our target fish. We observed the

ways of fish — the intelligence of trout who were discerning what they ate, and the indiscriminate

appetites of bass who never refused our crude poppers made from corks, elastic and hook!

We loved to visit the local fishing tackle store, where 10 cents could buy pretty colored feathers

for our flies, and our eyes would take in the array of fancy gear. That summer, I fell in love with a

bass hula popper that caught my attention with its shiny metallic paint and beautiful colors. I had

to save for it all summer.

I brought the popper home just before our annual cranberry gathering-fishing trip to Plymouth.

The cranberry bog was adjacent to a sizable pond known to have some record-setting bass

among the pesky pickerel. I could not wait to try out my new lure!

The trip involved herding what was then the six Pollard kids, all under eleven years old, into our

blue ‘66 VW camper van, with a Grumman aluminum canoe and a heavy wood and fiberglass

model tied to the top. A Coleman stove and makings for dinner, which included the prospect of

fresh-caught fish, was packed along with rods and tackle. The way it worked, half the kids

fished, while the other half picked our winter supply of cranberries, then everyone switched.

The first shift of fishermen included my best friend Bobby McClane and several of my brothers

who set off confident they would bring back dinner. My parting words to them, as I resigned to

cranberry picking, were: “No matter what, DO NOT use my new popper!”

A couple hours passed and they returned, not with fish, but with a fish story. The temptation had

proved too much. Bobby had to put my popper on his line and cast. There was a sound that only

a really big fish can make when it swirls up to grab something from the surface, and curves back

down to the depths. What fisherman has not felt his or her heart quicken at the sound of that

swoosh?! The whining drag on Bobby’s fishing line as his pole bent into a half circle affirmed it

was a BIG fish.

They fought valiantly to bring him in. Without anchor, the canoe was towed this way and that as

the fish tired. And then they slowly reeled him closer to the canoe and waiting net. Close enough to get a really good look — just as the fish took one last big dive and snapped the line

before disappearing along with my coveted popper. They swore the bass’s open mouth was the

circumference of a summer cantaloupe, and they were mighty sorry they’d used — and lost — my

hard-earned lure, but oh what a story!

Somewhere, on the shore of that great pond, or tangled in the depths of debris on its bottom, a

girl’s dream fishing lure might still rest. It will be worn, and burnished, and probably the hooks

will have rusted and are gone. Perhaps in the intervening half a century, it has already been

spotted by someone walking along the shore. Perhaps they bent down and picked it up, and

wondered what story it would tell.

Fortunately, the second crew to go out fishing that long ago day, myself included, was able to

catch some nice perch for dinner! I forgave my friend Bobby, and shortly after he moved away

and I never saw him again — though like the story, I’ve never forgotten him. I wonder if he remembers that day and the swirl of a giant bass as his best friend’s fishing lure disappeared along with the catch?

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...