The lure of the water’s bounty

Posted Oct. 20, 2011, at 9:21 p.m.
Guide John Arcaro prepares to net a salmon for a client from Colorado in the Hatchery Pool. Grand Lake Stream has more registered guides per capita than anywhere else in Maine. Arcaro owns Canalside Cabins.
Guide John Arcaro prepares to net a salmon for a client from Colorado in the Hatchery Pool. Grand Lake Stream has more registered guides per capita than anywhere else in Maine. Arcaro owns Canalside Cabins.
A fisherman ties on a bead head caddis pupa fly at Grand Lake Stream.
A fisherman ties on a bead head caddis pupa fly at Grand Lake Stream.
Kristy Pressey of Waterville prepares to net a feisty salmon in the Hatchery Pool.
Kristy Pressey of Waterville prepares to net a feisty salmon in the Hatchery Pool.
A male landlocked salmon is carefully released underwater after being caught in the Hatchery Pool by Chris Rawlins of Waterville.
A male landlocked salmon is carefully released underwater after being caught in the Hatchery Pool by Chris Rawlins of Waterville.
Autumn's colors are reflected in the water as Art McEvoy, of Portland, wades in pursuit of salmon at Grand Lake Stream. McEvoy's son, Jeff McEvoy, owns Weatherby's resort, one of several camps catering to sportsmen in the village of Grand Lake Stream.
Autumn's colors are reflected in the water as Art McEvoy, of Portland, wades in pursuit of salmon at Grand Lake Stream. McEvoy's son, Jeff McEvoy, owns Weatherby's resort, one of several camps catering to sportsmen in the village of Grand Lake Stream.
A landlocked salmon makes a jump as Mark Gregory of Dedham and Jeff Kane of Bangor team up to land the fish in the Cable Pool.
A landlocked salmon makes a jump as Mark Gregory of Dedham and Jeff Kane of Bangor team up to land the fish in the Cable Pool.
Joel Anderson of Auburn ties on a fly by the light of a headlamp under his hat as he fishes the Dam Pool at dawn.
Joel Anderson of Auburn ties on a fly by the light of a headlamp under his hat as he fishes the Dam Pool at dawn.
John Devin, of Dixmont, displays a snapshot he made of a hefty landlocked salmon he caught-and-released in Grand Lake Stream.
John Devin, of Dixmont, displays a snapshot he made of a hefty landlocked salmon he caught-and-released in Grand Lake Stream.
Kit Kerrigan, 75, of Swanville casts his fly from Gowdy Point on Grand Lake Stream.
Kit Kerrigan, 75, of Swanville casts his fly from Gowdy Point on Grand Lake Stream.
An angler's vanity license plate attests to his passion for fly fishing.
An angler's vanity license plate attests to his passion for fly fishing.
Twilight colors the sky as Richard Robertson, 68, of Rockport, casts until it is too dark to see at Grand Lake Stream. The fishing season closed there yesterday.
Twilight colors the sky as Richard Robertson, 68, of Rockport, casts until it is too dark to see at Grand Lake Stream. The fishing season closed there yesterday.

Every autumn two species return to Grand Lake Stream: landlocked salmon and the passionate fly fishermen who pursue them.

“You know, there’s something about these fish. They bring you back,” said Joel Anderson, while casting a streamer last Tuesday after dark in the quiet waters above the dam.

“I went to Montana this year and had some amazing fishing for brown trout and rainbow trout — but there’s something about landlocked salmon. I mean, I just hooked a fish down there on Evening Pool, swinging a wet fly. As soon as I hit that fish he was three feet in the air, line screaming off the reel.”

Grand Lake Stream is a 3½-mile-long river connecting West Grand Lake and Big Lake in Washington County. In the fall, when the water cools down, salmon enter the river from each lake. The hard-fighting fish have been attracting sportsmen for decades. There are more registered guides per capita here than anywhere else in Maine.

“The whole community caters to the fishermen. It’s all about the fishing,” said Anderson of Auburn. “You walk downstream and you walk through somebody’s yard, and the people are friendly. They say, ‘Yeah, walk right through.’ They’re not standoff-ish at all. They welcome the fishermen because they realize we bring the money into the area. We keep this place alive.”

The next day, an hour before sunrise, Anderson is back in the water, this time up to his thighs in the swift-moving water below the dam. A headlamp under his ball cap casts a warm light on his hands as he ties on a new fly. Soon it will be light out and he’ll have plenty of company in the popular pool.

“The place is not a secret. It’s crowded, but you know, you can’t find better right now in mid-October, not in Maine. This is as good as it gets.”

Well, actually, it’s as good as it got. The extended catch-and-release season ended Thursday.

More slideshows

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business