Bangor Daily News readers often send me comments and suggestions. Luckily, most are even repeatable.
They also send me photos. Cool photos. Photos that make you say, “I wish I was there to see that.”
That was the case in late November, when Peter Stone of Enfield emailed me a pair of pictures that nearly sent me scrambling for a fly rod.
Here’s what Stone had to say: “Two days ago I was standing on my front porch talking on the phone. I live on Cold Stream Pond and it was flat calm at the time. Some movement in the water caught my eye and I saw this salmon swimming in about 18 inches of water. It hung around long enough for me to snap a couple of pictures.”
Stone’s email reminded me of a day I spent fishing on the East Outlet of the Kennebec River several years ago, when I had just begun fly fishing. As was often the case in those days (and as is sometimes the case even today), I messed up. Badly.
Through a series of wild gyrations (I thought I was casting … later I learned I was wrong), I had succeeded in weaving my leader into a nice little nest. I won’t tell you how long it took me to realize that fact, nor how long I’d been flogging the water with my fly nestled in a nasty mess of line. I’ll let you guess, and advise you that you’re likely underestimating how oblivious I was.
But eventually, I caught on. I noticed my fly wasn’t drifting too well. That it was leaving a sizable wake. So I reeled in, began cussing, and set about replacing, repairing and untangling the ugly mess.
After five minutes or so, still hopelessly tangled, I caught a flash of movement in front of me. A quick aside: When you’re standing thigh-deep in a river … alone … and see a flash of movement, it can be a little bit disconcerting.
As I focused at the spot where I’d seen the movement, I saw the source. And it was pretty amazing.
Two small salmon (I’d caught exactly zero salmon to that point) were swimming toward me. Right toward me. I remained still and watched as both fish took up positions behind my downstream leg, just like they would if my leg were a boulder. The fish rested for a minute or so, then edged back out into the current and slowly finned their way upstream.
On a day when the fishing were slow, the lesson was clear: Fish are still here. You just don’t know what you’re doing.
Today, years later, I’m not sure how much I’ve progressed. But I do know this: I tend to pay closer attention to my surroundings nowadays.
Maybe I’m slowing down. Maybe I’m growing up. Or maybe I’ve learned, as Peter Stone’s photos prove, you just never know what you’ll see out in Maine’s woods and on its waters.