Eric Day of Bangor shows off the 20-inch, 3-pound brook trout he caught in June while fishing in northern Maine. He snagged the fish using a self-styled DB Smelt lure with his own Eddie Van Halen paint scheme. Credit: Courtesy of Eric Day

Eric Day has done a lot of fishing in his life.

He knows the potential receptiveness of fish to offerings from anglers can change with a variety of factors including the time of day, lighting, water temperature, available food, bait used and lure presentation.

Day is a self-professed avid fisherman. Over the years he has learned a thing or two about how to coax a fish into biting.

Recently, he discovered a new wrinkle.

Early last month, Day and his wife headed “up north” for their annual fishing trip.

“My wife Kathy Rioux and I were up on my favorite salmon lake in northern Maine and over the years it’s been a very productive trip each year,” Day said. “Same time, early June, five days. It has not been uncommon to boat 70 or more salmon on a four-to-five-day trip.”

No such luck this year.

Day thinks perhaps the warm early spring weather, lack of heavy snow and other unknown factors led to what he described as “VERY slow fishing.”

On the day they arrived, in three or four hours, Day and Rioux landed seven or eight salmon.

“Nothing big, but a pretty good start, and we were optimistic for the days ahead,” Day said.

He knows that when it comes to fishing, there are no guarantees. But he didn’t expect the run of poor luck they encountered.

They were up at 4 a.m. and on the water by 4:30 or so, and fished all day. Their reward? A bunch of yellow perch, 30 to 40 feet down, in 100 feet of water, and an occasional salmon.

“It pretty much shut down,” he said.

He reached deep into his bag of fishing tricks.

“We tried everything in the box with not much success,” Day said.

On the third day of the trip, he remembered something he had done over the winter as a tribute to rock ‘n’ roller Eddie Van Halen, who died in October 2020.

“[I had] taken a few of my DB Smelt [lures] and hand painted each one red with black and white stripes in the typical Eddie van Halen pattern we all know so well,” Day said.

Eric Day of Bangor displays one of his DB Smelt lures that he painted with a Van Halen red, black and white scheme to honor late rock ‘n’ roller Eddie Van Halen. The lure helped Day and his wife change their luck for the better on a recent fishing trip to northern Maine. (Courtesy of Eric Day)

He dug through his tackle box and found one of the lures.

“I set it up on one of my downriggers and figured, let’s see what happens. My wife even put on some Van Halen on her cell phone,” he said. “It was not even 5 minutes and the Eddie downrigger popped and started bouncing like crazy!”

Day said after a short battle he landed the fat, 20-inch, 3-pound brook trout shown in the accompanying photo.

“It’s not the biggest brookie I have boated, but it sure was fun and satisfying,” Day said. “Who knew brook trout like Eddie, too.”

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Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...