As soon as I set out on a mid-October brook trout quest I was immediately struck by how deeply Fall had penetrated everything. There was a darkness about that felt secretly ominous. This darkness was expertly concealed by lavish splashes of color. Leaves ran the hue gamut from lime, tropical yellow and mango to spawning brook trout red. This was masterfully juxtaposed with rich evergreen and the blackness of forest shadow. The sky was a range of grays with cool blue peaking out of the rare cloud crevice. The wind helped animate the whole scene and fueled the seasonal take-over. I drove by Bath (“City of Ships”) and nodded to the Ironworks monument along the mighty Kennebec. I tooled by Wiscasset (“Prettiest little town in Maine”) and felt the summertime fire of the area fading to hearty coals. I rode down business Route 1 through Damariscotta and was surprised by the bustle in town, but then remembered the boost that the pumpkin festival infuses in this village as I passed massive painted pumpkins in front of almost every establishment.
I arrived at the quest location and met up with my friend and Master Maine Guide Sean McCormick. We wandered down the trail only stopping to peer into the “spring hole” surrounded by a patch of watercress. I saw a few finned shapes dart this way and that but couldn’t quite see any parr markings. We continued onward. At the trail’s end we readied the canoe and set out on the breezy Maine pond in search of Labrador-like cousins of the char. We quickened our pace as we saw several smashing rises near the lily pads along the far bank. Rigged with Buzz Balls and Serendipities we paddled to where we thought the trout lanes were and set our window sash canoe anchors.
I was shocked when a full head and shoulders came up to one of my early casts, so shocked that I didn’t set the hook immediately. I wasn’t expecting things to go easily. When you are told about wide-body brookies climbing on to dry flies you tend to protect yourself with the idea that it all could be a tall tale and that the pond could prove sterile. But the pond was not still on this evening. Our casts were met with some aggressive acceptance. Our 6X was put to the test (and occasionally snapped) by wildly colored slabs that you couldn’t get your hand around. Sean was concerned that the net he brought might be too small, though he didn't miss any.
After we both caught, photographed and released some special trout in the crystal clear water of this pond, a cold and determined wind changed the landscape. Small white caps put down the risers. We knew in a short span that the curtain had fallen. Darkness had overtaken color. We paddled back, stowed the canoe and shook hands, then made plans to fish for sea-runs in November.
Story and photos by El Pescador