Nick Mills photo by Lydia Harris

Nick Mills photo by Lydia Harris

Full disclosure:  I was not born in Maine, alas!  I was born in Massachusetts, but the family moved to Maine when I was eleven, and I grew up in Thomaston.  My dad was skipper of one of the draggers that sailed out of Rockland, in the days when it was a rough-tough working fishing port.  When he came in from the sea his favorite activity was freshwater fishing with me and my brother, Peter.  We learned together to flyfish for trout in the Alder Stream in Eustis.  Once hooked on the sport, pun intended, I fished at every opportunity in every place I could — in the rivers, streams and ponds of Maine; in the mountain ponds of Utah, where I was stationed for a year in the Army; in high Andean lakes in Colombia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer; even in a lagoon that surrounded one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Baghdad.  I tried once to go trout fishing in northern Afghanistan when the U.S.S.R. occupied that country; a landslide blocked my path, but that led to a more interesting adventure, which I will tell you about in a future post.

I have loved fishing since early days.  The first fish I ever caught — I think — was probably a goldfish, on a bent pin baited with a little ball of Wonder Bread.  When I was a bit older, living on Cape Ann, I fished by the hour off the dock in Pigeon Cove harbor for pollock, mackerel, and flounder.  Moving to Maine was exciting because in those days Maine seemed like the frontier — wilder and less civilized than Massachusetts.  The forests held moose (!) and bears and lots of deer, and the streams that coursed through the woods and fields held trout.  My first brook trout was caught in a dark shaded pool on a worm from the manure pile behind Paul Wood’s barn.  It was no more than seven inches long, but I was awestruck by its beauty, and I still think the brook trout is the prettiest fish that swims.

No more “garden hackles” — I confess to being a flyfishing snob who pursues trout and salmon almost exclusively, and I practice catch-and-release, facilitated by barbless hooks.  I am forced to admit that the invasive species known as smallmouth bass, when hooked on a flyrod, gives a good account of itself, but I don’t want to hook one in trout water. Occasionally I will venture into saltwater in pursuit of stripers, or blues, and not always with a flyrod.  So much for purity.

Flyfishing has spawned a great body of literature, which I will try to add to in my small way.  When not fishing I like to read about fishing; the bookshelves at my camp at Upper Dam groan under the weight of my fish-lit library.  In this blog, I will write about a wide range of things, but what I will not write about is how-to, or where-to.  As for the how-to stuff I’m still trying to figure it out myself.  As for the where-to, well, don’t ask.  I write so as to share my experiences with a “brother of the angle,” as Isaak Walton put it, and I hope that my posts will resonate in your angler’s heart and soul.