All he really wants, he says, is a patch.
“I want to get a patch from ‘The One that Didn’t Get Away,’ said Grant, referring to the club that is organized through the Maine Sportsman, an outdoor publication.
That’s why he has called the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, he says. That’s why he had his grandson e-mail photos to the BDN. And that’s why, on Monday afternoon, I ended up on the phone with the avid Hermon fisherman.
After hearing his tale, I can tell you this: I think Harold’s going to get his patch.
Grant headed out on Saturday for an all-day, three-lake jaunt with his son-in-law, Ralph Helms III, and his grandson, Derek Helms.
The trip itself was ambitious.
“We started at Schoodic [in Brownville], fished like four hours, came back to Sebec [in Dover-Foxcroft] for two and a half hours, and then we were headed home,” Grant said. “And we always fish [Lake] Wassookeag.”
So, following tradition, they stopped at the Dexter lake for a couple of hours before returning home. That’s where the 70-year-old Grant, who says he’s been fishing for 60 of those years, caught the fish of a lifetime.
“I figured [it weighed] 10 or 12 pounds when he was running. I had four colors [of lead-core line], and I was bringing him up and he took four [colors] right back, 120 feet,” Grant said.
“I had the drag set, too. He was yarding it out of there. He was smoking,” Grant said.
After a half-hour fight, Grant got the monstrous fish to his boat, where Derek Helms netted it.
The lake trout weighed 18 pounds, 1 ounce, and was 35 inches long.
“That’s a big fish for a little puddle of water,” Grant said of the 1,062-acre lake.
Grant caught the fish on a 3½-inch brown-and-white Rapala lure.
Grant said he caught another large togue — a 10-pounder — at Beech Hill Pond in Otis back in 1976. But at Wassookeag, his best-ever laker was about 2½ pounds.
Grant said locals who saw his fish couldn’t believe it came out of Wassookeag.
“We talked to the natives at the grocery store and they were blown away,” he said.
For the record, in order to receive his patch, Grant says he’s got to prove his togue weighs more than 15 pounds. It’s currently in storage at taxidermist Roger Adams’ shop, and that confirmation shouldn’t be hard to get.
And though he was proud to catch the fish, he said he may have released it, had the fish not fought so hard. By the time his grandson boated the togue, it was out of energy, and Grant doubted it would survive if released.
“If we’d wanted to throw him back, we couldn’t,” Grant said. “He was done.”
And while he was fighting the fish, Grant really didn’t allow himself to get his hopes up too much.
“I’m at the age, it’d be nice to catch him, but if he gets away, no sense in crying,” Grant said. “I was waiting for [the line] to snap, any time.”
About those turkeys …
With Youth Turkey Day behind us and the full five-week season beginning, my e-mail and regular mail in-boxes will soon be full with people looking to tell a story.
So, let’s talk turkey.
First, it’s important to realize that if we chose to do so, we could run nothing but turkey stories from now until July 4.
It’s also important to realize that we won’t do that.
Some stories will be recounted in these pages. Others won’t (even though I’ll have a good time reading them). There’s just not enough space. Some years we share a story or two. Other years, we’ve shared five or more.
My goal: To provide readers a representative sample of the tales we receive, and to share some particularly interesting stories.
So, what kind of turkey tale makes the cut and ends up in the paper?
Here are a few things to consider: While every turkey tale is interesting to those who lived it and tell it (and retell it … and retell it), even grandma (if hard-pressed) would admit that she’s tired of hearing about “The Terrible Tom of 2002.”
A first turkey is generally more interesting than a fifth. A 10-year-old bagging a bird with grandpa will entertain more readers than a 22-year-old cutting class to hunt with a college chum … maybe.
Of course, it’s the “maybes” that make the decision-making particularly tough.
When you see rare critters or have unforgettable days because something truly unique happened to you in the field, it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how much success you’ve had in the past.
Which, I suppose, is a long-winded way of saying that when we see a good tale, we’ll know it.
And when we do, we’ll share it with you.
The more details you include, the more apt you are to convince me that your story deserves to be shared. A simple photo with a picture of a camo-clad person and a dead bird? Well, I think you know the answer to that.
So fire up your computer, and start e-mailing your turkey tales. Or, send them to me at PO Box 1329, Bangor, 04402-1329. Include a phone number so I can get back to you.
And have fun hunting.
I know I already have … but that’s a story for another day.