Posts Tagged With: fishing

Old Town Canoes

The Bangor Daily News had a nice piece on the Old Town Canoe Company today, and while the crux of the article was regarding the now closed original factory location, there is quite a bit of information regarding the history of this iconic Maine company. There are scores and score of companies that have built canoes, and still do, but few have risen to the reputation and excellence the Old Town Canoe Company has achieved. When a sportsman thinks or talks of canoes, most assuredly the name Old Town is forefront in nearly every conversation.

Of course, the company has new digs they are enjoying which are much more accommodating to today’s modern manufacturing methods, and the canoes they build are made of synthetic materials, and not the natural wood and canvas products used in the past. Time changes all it seems.

I came across a letter to the “trouble Department” column of Power Boating magazine[November, 1914], and the writer[B.B. of Portland Ore.] says he installed a four horsepower motorcycle engine into an 18 foot Old Town Canoe, and wanted to know what size propeller he should use to get the most speed from that motor. The reply was that he should reduce the 4100 rpm speed of the motor to a third of that and mount a two-blade 14×16 propeller on the shaft for the best speed. We men were daring in those days, weren’t we?

These advertisements shown here to the left were taken from several early 1900 periodicals, and they show the range of product this company was able to provide, even in the early days of Old Town’s life. One model in particular, the “Sponson” model even included air chambers along the sides to prevent capsizing and sinking of the canoe should an unsuspecting (or reckless) paddler get too close to danger.

Speaking of the early 1900s, I believe one of the reasons Old Town has persisted for over a century is its dogged resistance to the changing times, while at the same time being able to change with those very times as they change. WWI was no exception to the rule. As the war caused many companies to fold due to retracting sales, the management of Old Town Canoe grabbed the paddle and forged ahead by increasing their advertising and reaching out for new markets to conquer. Their strategy paid off, and because of their ability to adapt and change, is still around today.

That ability to persevere in spite of the circumstances seems common in Maine, or at least it used to be. A Mainer would see that something needed to be done, and he(or she) would get it done. There was no intent to gain glory in honor in doing a job, the job was done because it needed to be done. companies failed for many reasons, but others succeed for a very few reasons. The drive to carry on in spite of the obstacles is just one of those reasons.

Some would say that Old Town Canoe achieved success in the boating world because of their name and location, but we must remember that not only was Old Town Canoe not the only canoe maker in Maine, they were not even the only canoe maker in Old Town. In the early days they also competed against the E.M. White & Co., the Carleton Canoe Company, both of Old Town, Morris Canoes of Veazie, the Robertson and Old Town Canoe Co., formerly the Indian Old Town Canoe Co., of Old Town and a score or more of other makers, just in the state of Maine.

So what were the circumstances that caused Old Town Canoe to become such an iconic presence in the outdoors world, and why do they keep selling the world’s best canoes today? There are many answers to that, of course, but I believe we can summarize by stating that this company, which essentially began as a back room extra income business has stuck to its core standards, and while changing with the times in some respects, still adheres to the age-old mantra of pride and quality going hand in hand. They know what they do well, and they stick to it.

Many age-old companies have changed with the times, but the core values of the companies have changed as well. Take Abercrombie & Fitch, for instance. Once they were the premier outfitter of the world. If a sportsman wanted hunting, fishing or camping supplies, their first choice was Abercrombie. They were so prominent; the TV show MASH had an episode where Hawkeye Pierce even ordered a portable bathtub from the company. Today, they sell clothing of objectionable taste to teeny-boppers who obviously have no taste. Relegated to a few thousand square foot sales floors in the nations malls, this company today faces a prospect of extinction because they have wandered so far from their core audience.

Not so for Old Town Canoe, and I hope they never compromise their name, nor their reputation for the sake of easy money, no matter how trying the times become. Compromise begets many negative things in some instances, but never more so than in the manufacturing and retail scenes. Remember when Black and Decker was a name you could trust and respect? Sylvania? General Electric? Or even here at home, L.L. Bean? I remember when you could get top quality merchandise for the outdoorsman. Today, they have come to compromise their own core standards in favor of catering to big city wannabee sportsman who want to look the part as they tool around town in their pricey SUVs, wanting to look rustic, but not willing to pay the real price to be rustic. Don’t get me wrong, you can still get good quality merchandise, but it isn’t like it used to be. Time changes all things (but not necessarily), remember?

A brief piece in the April 25, 1909 issue of Motor Boat magazine perhaps says it best when it comes to the power of owning a canoe, and in particular an Old Town canoe. Those were the days when sportsmen were sportsmen, and getting away from it all was the real prize, although bagging a trophy was indeed icing on the cake.

THERE’S a great deal that might be said about Old Town canoes, a great deal more than can be spoken in this brief space. These canoes are built by the Old Town Canoe Company, at Old Town, Me. Canoes are about the most primitive craft; they were used by the early tribes of mankind, and throughout the ages the canoe has survived, until we find it, refined and perfected in the Old Town models. They are found in all parts of the world, thousands of them. To the owner of a motorboat cruiser the possession of a canoe will bring many hours of pleasure that could not be enjoyed by any other means. A canoe carried on deck enables one to explore out-of-the-way waters, to seek the beauty of shallow streams. The writer cherishes the memory of many happy hours spent in an Old Town, paddling leisurely upon almost hidden creeks, beneath the foliage of overhanging trees, in absolute peace. If you would know rest, and seek quiet, if you would meditate, would muse and dream, as you need to, get a canoe and take it with you when you cruise. The illustration shows the cover of the Old Town Canoe catalogue, and it is a book worth reading, it breathes the spirit of the thing in every line. A copy is free to any reader of Motor Boat.

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Piscataquis River Fishways

This post is a continuation of a look at the fishing heritage of Maine’s angling locations, refer to “A Paradise for Anglers” post of 15, May, 2012 for the beginning article…

This being the time of the year it is, meaning fishin’ time in the Pine Tree State, I thought I would share some excerpts from the 1907 Bangor & Aroostook Vacationist’s Guidebook. Historically speaking, Maine has been a destination of choice for many anglers, with the choices for game fish ranging from brook trout, to bass to togue and salmon, and then there is the offshore fishing as an option too. Remember as you read this that it was written over 100 years ago, and I share this here for the historical value these old guidebooks provide to the reader today. I intend to share the entire section on angling from this book in shorter segments, so come back tomorrow for more on Maine’s angling paradise from the bygone days!

Remember that this book is over a century old now, and the trains no longer carry passengers to any of these station, and in fact, none of these stations exist today. I include them here for those of you that might want to do a little treasure hunting and search for these old stations.

Piscataquis River Fishways

Piscataquis river; offers plenty of black bass and pickerel, and some trout; can be reached from any of the stations along the Moosehead lake division from Milo Junction to Shirley.

Seboois lake; offers white perch and exceptionally good pickerel fishing; waters flow through Endless lake and Seboois stream before entering Piscataquis river. Good trout fishing in these tributaries: Northwest pond, Seboois stream, Ragged Mountain pond and stream, Bear brook, Patrick brook, Endless lake (or Trout pond) and several smaller ponds. Nearest railroad stations: Schoodic and West Seboois.

Schoodic lake; offers landlocked salmon, trout, togue and black bass in abundance; flows into Piscataquis river through Schoodic stream, of which Hunt brook is a tributary. Tributaries: Norton pond and several smaller streams which flow into Schoodic lake, all well stocked with trout of good size. Nearest railroad station: Schoodic stream, of which Hunt brook is a tributary. Tributaries: Norton pond and several smaller streams which flow into Schoodic lake, all well stocked with trout of good size. Nearest railroad station: Schoodic.

Pleasant river; is well trouted in its upper waters; enters the Piscataquis near Milo Junction. Tributaries: Lower and Upper Ebeeme ponds, Roaring brook, Houston and Little Houston ponds, Houston brook, Mountain pond and brook, Big and Little Lyford ponds, West Branch pond, Hay and White brooks, Greenwood, Cedar, Spruce, Spruce Mountain, West Chairback, East Chairback and B ponds, Beaver and Guernsey brooks, all particularly well populated with trout. Nearest railroad station: Katahdin Iron Works.

Pleasant river; is well trouted in its upper waters; enters the Piscataquis near Milo Junction. Tributaries: Lower and Upper Ebeeme ponds, Roaring brook, Houston and Little Houston ponds, Houston brook, Mountain pond and brook, Big and Little Lyford ponds, West Branch pond, Hay and White brooks, Greenwood, Cedar, Spruce, Spruce Mountain, West Chairback, East Chairback and B ponds, Beaver and Guernsey brooks, all particularly well populated with trout. Nearest railroad station: Katahdin Iron Works.

Sebec lake, tributary to Piscataquis river; harbors landlocked salmon, trout, black bass, pickerel and white perch in quantity. Excellent trout fishing in these tributaries: Goose pond, Mill brook, Grape, Long, Second, Third, Fourth, Burden, Grindstone, Greenwood and the Benson ponds. Lake Onawa, another important tributary, has hordes of landlocked salmon and trout. Other more northern tributaries are the Greenwood ponds, Long Pond stream, Ixnig, Trout and Hedgehog ponds, Grindstone, South, Monson, Hebron and the two Spectacle ponds, Wilson stream, the Wilson ponds, Fogg, Bum and Trout ponds. All of these waters offer splendid trout fishing. Nearest railroad stations: South Sebec, Dover and Foxcroft, and Abbot Village.

To reach Lake Onawa, go to Brownville Junction or Greenville, thence over the Canadian Pacific railroad to Onawa station. Hebron and nearby lakes are best reached from Monson.

At Blanchard; good trout fishing in Blackstone brook, Mud, Spectacle and Thanksgiving ponds, Bald Mt. and Bog streams.

At Shirley; trout in Piscataquis river, Gove and Gravel brooks, West and Oakes bogs, Spectacle, Ordway, Indian, Trout,

Notch, Hound and Moxie ponds. Indian and Ordway ponds also offer togue of splendid size.

Next up in the “Paradise for Anglers”series is the Moosehead region

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A Paradise for Anglers

This being the time of the year it is, meaning fishin’ time in the Pine Tree State, I thought I would share some excerpts from the 1907 Bangor & Aroostook Vacationist’s Guidebook. Historically speaking, Maine has been a destination of choice for many anglers, with the choices for game fish ranging from brook trout, to bass to togue and salmon, and then there is the offshore fishing as an option too. Remember as you read this that it was written over 100 years ago, and I share this here for the historical value these old guidebooks provide to the reader today. I intend to share the entire section on angling from this book in shorter segments, so come back tomorrow for more on Maine’s angling paradise from the bygone days!

It is one thing to want fish; it is quite another thing to know where the fish are, and how to get them. It can be safely taken for granted that forty-nine men and women out of every fifty find sport a-plenty in the gentle art of fishing. They have the angling inclination, the desire, the hopes, but they are not always fortunate in their choice of a fishing place. It is for such enthusiasts as these that this chapter of the guidebook is especially prepared. Here is given in detail just the kind of information the fisherman would like to know — where the best fishing waters are, what varieties of fish may be caught in them, and how they may be most easily reached.

Maine’s great north wilderness, with its acreage of over fifteen thousand square miles, is crossed and recrossed by the most remarkable network of aqueous lanes and byways that all America can boast—magnificent lakes, picturesque ponds, broad rivers, silvery streams and winding brooks — some thousands of them in all, if you care to make a count. They are most charming to look upon; they afford an easy road for the canoeist in and out of the densest portions of the wilderness; but most important of all to the fisherman, they harbor game fish of record size and in record numbers, and despite the annual invasions made by anglers in these domains, the piscatorial wealth of the region remains apparently unchanged.

Trout, togue, landlocked salmon, whitefish, black bass, pickerel and white perch make up the fishy fare for anglers in northern Maine. And these are not fish of ordinary size or ordinary gameness; 40 Pounds of Moosehead Lake Togue. tlieV l’llll large, and from the moment they are hooked until they are finally brought to net they give proof in plenty of great pluck and endurance. Northern Maine trout range in weight from one to eight pounds, togue will weigh from three to fifteen pounds each, landlocked salmon from three to eight pounds, with the other fish of proportionally ample size. It is no boy’s play to hook and land these finny trophies, and the fisherman who finally wins out over his battling prey certainly earns the victory.

Sport for wielders of fishing rods begins in northern Maine with the going out of the ice in the spring and holds good until well through the summer months. As for picking out any one fishing place and calling it the best, that is obviously impossible, for piscatorial advantages have been scattered in hundreds of different localities throughout northern Maine, and with wonderfully impartial hand. Our advice is to study this book enough to become familiar in a general way with northern Maine’s best fishing grounds, and then ascertain from the camp owners who advertise in this volume, whatever special information is desired regarding the angling outlook in their respective localities.

Northern Maine fishing waters group naturally into eight systems or divisions, as follows: The Piscataquis river, Moosehead Lake, Penobscot river West branch, Penobscot river East branch, Aroostook river, Fish river, Allagash river, and St. John river systems. The chief fishing waters of each system are given below, with a mention of the various kinds of fish to be met with in each instance, the most convenient railroad station, and other detailed information.

Next up, Piscataquis River Fishways…

Categories: Books, history, Maine, Maine things to do, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is Fishing?

Winter is finally beginning to show its teeth here in Maine, in spite of the lack of snow, and I thought I would drift a bit off history here today and share one of my latest poems and video productions to while the winter time away. Just a spot of time to remind us that while the weather may not be the best today, it soon will be warm and sunny again, and then we can grab that old pole and reel, and head for waters unknown to do battle with the elements of the natural world on our own terms.

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that in addition to writing about preparedness, survival and history, I also dabble in poetry as well. I came up with a poem that talks about the sport of fishing, and addresses the question of “just exactly what is fishing all about, anyways?” For you preppers and survivalists out there, it is a way to harvest protein for your families table. For those of you who do not care about preparing for the coming times, it is a way to recreate in a special way.

Fishing holds a lot of different meaning for a lot of different people, but unless you have really been in a situation where you have that ultimate catch, you really cannot get the full depth of what fishing is really all about.

Imagine yourself fly-fishing on a little mountain stream, if you will. It is a warmish late spring day. The flies are buzzing lazily in the air around you, and there is just enough of a breeze coming down the mountain to temper the suns strength. You cast your favorite fly over that hole where you just know a big one is lurking, and start to reel the line back.

Suddenly, you feel the tug as a fish tastes the delicacy you have so skillfully presented, and then the bite, the hook sinking deep into the trout’s lips. He reacts, diving deep into the pool for the safety of his home. But you have different plans, and the fight begins between the man and fin. You play out line and the fish tries to flee, and then you reel some line back in, a little more each time. And each time the fish weakens just a little, until suddenly, after what seems like hours, but is really only a few minutes, the fish, in a sudden burst of adrenaline bursts from the surface of the stream.

Water sprays and splashes, revealing the sparkling color of its scales, reflected in the midday sun. the Rainbow flips his tail in an audible slap, sending a spray of water across the deep blue sky, each drop of water glistening, appearing as a hundred diamonds sprayed across the air, each one reflecting the colors of the sun in a glittering rainbow spread across the scene before you.

Until you have actually been in a position similar to this picture painted here in words, you really have not been fishing, and until you have, you really cannot fathom what fishing really is. For some, fishing is about accumulating equipment, buying the latest surefire lure and the latest technological advance in poles and reels and maybe that pro class bass boat. However, that is like going to church every Sunday and not knowing God. It just does not give you the true sense of what life is really all about.

Here for your enjoyment is the video-poem that I put together. There is some archive video showing some fishing during the ’40s and early 50’s time frame, as well as an entertaining newsreel piece at the beginning. I hope you like the poem, as well as the video, and feel free to share.

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