We asked for your fish stories (and photos). Harold Shaw of Penobscot reached out with one of his favorite fishing moments from a few decades ago. And unlike many of our fish tales, Harold has a photo to prove he caught the monster Atlantic salmon that he describes.
I think it was in the early 90s I received a phone call from Charlie Hart, with whom I had worked at Merrill Trust and later dealt with at Merrill Merchants Bank.
He asked if I would like to go salmon fishing on the Miramichi. Well, duh. When do we leave? Wednesday. Wait a minute … OK I’m packed.
We crossed the border at Houlton and then on to the river at Burnt Hill Lodge. I drove and Charlie and John Bacon’s son-in-law, who died not long ago and whose name I can’t recall, rode with me. The lodge was across the river and they take you across in a boat. Already at the lodge were Bill Bullock and Rick Warren.
We fished that day, the next and half of the next, I believe over a weekend. It was October and catch-and-release only. I had a problem with my right arm and many actions caused it to pain and go numb, so I could not keep casting for long periods. For that day and the next we caught a number of grilse and a few small salmon.
There were two guides for us. I had guide Clyde for the last half of the second day and the last day.
That last day after lunch (the food was very good) I walked down to the river and started casting. After a few minutes Clyde came down to a spot 15 or 20 yards below me and beckoned for me to join him. He pointed to the water literally right at our feet and said, “Put your fly right there.” You see the spot in the picture, between us and the rock in the lower right. [I thought], “OK, you’re the guide.”
I had been told to bring no tackle as there was everything there we might need. I was fishing with Bull Bullock’s rod and a recommended fly, an orange charm, I think.
So I reached out with the fly dangling from the rod and let it drift about 10 feet, several times. Then the fly hung on something and I thought it might be a piece of wood or rock. I pulled a couple of times but it wouldn’t budge. I just moved one foot to get a different angle on the fly when suddenly the reel started screaming and the line went ripping through the water to mid-stream. Ohmigawd, guess I have a fish on! Over the next 10 minutes or so I was able to bring the fish closer but it would turn and go back to mid-stream. I couldn’t stop it or slow it down. Haven’t yet seen the fish. Suddenly she (determined later) leaped full-length out of the water and my heart nearly stopped. Charlie Hart had come down by this time and I screamed at him to get my camera.
Clyde gave me very few suggestions on playing the fish so I guess I did something correctly. It still took 25 minutes, by actual timing, to bring her to net and get the picture.
So there I had: (a) caught my first (and so far, only) salmon and (b) used a rod and fly belonging to someone else.
I asked Clyde what he thought she weighed and he said 22 pounds. I entered [the fish] in the lodge log book and was told that was the heaviest fish caught that year!
When we came back through customs, I rolled up to the window and said, “I caught a 22-pound salmon on the Miramichi!” The agent said, “Yeah and you just can’t wait to tell everybody about it. Get outta here.”
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Do you have a fish story and photos to share? Send them to email@example.com. The more detail you provide, the better. At the very least, include the complete name of the angler, and tell us what kind of fish they’re holding. Length and weight of the fish are also helpful, as is the water where it was caught. (Yes, we know anglers are secretive, so we might be willing to keep your favorite fishing hole a secret if you ask us nicely).