|I heard an interesting fishing story out of Wassookeag Lake this week that should be of keen interest to at least one avid angler in the Dexter area.
Kody Chase, a graduate student at the University of Louisiana, home last week to visit relatives after a long year of school work, was trolling on Wassookeag with not much luck until he hooked something that, for some reason, didn’t really feel like a fish.
After much tugging and reeling, Kody was disappointed to haul in a considerable length of lead-core line, the type used by spring anglers to reach the bottom as they fish for lake trout (commonly called togue). The stiff, heavy line sinks quickly so lures can be delivered to fish in deep water without using a lot of weight. These lines are manufactured in “colors,” with each different color representing 10 feet. So, if you want to put your lure down 50 feet, you let out 10 “colors” of lead-core line and you are there!
Well, most anglers want to catch fish, not other fishermen’s line, so Kody reeled in and tried to make the most of a laughable situation at least he hadn’t caught a boot! But then, as he began hauling in the line, he felt something else... something that appeared to be headed the other way!
“I’ve got a fish!” he yelled, but his companions were skeptical. He kept reeling; the line stayed straight and, sure enough, after some hand-over-hand hauling, in came a 27-inch togue caught on a hook that was at the end of the lead-core line!
Now, a togue of that size is a catch to remember at any time, but when you actually catch someone else’s line and still manage to reel in the trophy, that’s a fish story worth telling! For one thing, the odds of trolling around a lake of any size (and Wassookeag is not particularly large by Maine standards) and hooking a line the size of a pencil lead that is in 50 or more feet of water . . . well, that’s some kind of luck in and of itself. But, to have a 27-inch lake trout on the line as well... you can’t predict the odds of that happening again!
The fish seemed a bit gaunt, so it may well have been in the water, hooked and doomed, for quite some time perhaps since the ice went out several weeks ago. Put all the possibilities (and impossibilities!) together and you have some food for thought, if nothing else!
I am thinking there’s a reader out there who had a nice Wassookeag fish on the line (lead-core line!) earlier this spring and lost the fish when his line parted. If nothing else, he now knows it was a 27-inch togue and it sure made a vacationing college student mighty happy!
It is not unusual to catch non-target items while fishing. I have hooked a variety of clothing, tools, fishing tackle and even appliances during my fishing forays. Those who remember the flood of 1987 (on April Fool’s Day, of all things!), recall that many businesses along our rivers were wiped out and tons of valuable items were washed downstream, some for miles. I found any number of basketballs, shoes, furniture and books in the Piscataquis River months after the floodwaters subsided, and one day I caught a brand-new microwave oven (with safety tape, price tags and recipe book intact). I caught some excellent bass near an up-turned picnic table halfway between East Dover and Milo, and nearly ripped the bottom of my canvas-covered canoe out when I errantly skidded over a drowned refrigerator.
It’s been 20 years since that great flood, but there are still remnants of the disaster in quiet coves and muddy backwaters of every river in our area. If you look under the grass and alders along the riverbank you’ll still see stuff that makes you wonder who’s it was and how it got there.
For example, somewhere along the stretch of the Piscataquis River that flows through Varnum’s farm in East Dover is what’s left of a leather Laz-E-Boy recliner. The chair landed right side up in a muddy flat and, when I first found it, made a perfect duck blind for pass shooting. I actually sat in it and got my limit of wood ducks several times during the first few seasons after the deluge. It was still there 10 years after the flood, but years of water, winter and weathering have taken its toll.
There are things in our lakes that can cause a fisherman’s heart to skip a beat or two as well, though all they can bring home most times is a story of a lost favorite lure and a length of seriously frazzled line.
Among other non-piscatorial things you are likely to find in a given lake at any time are sunken cars, snowmobiles, boats, motors, chairs, ice-fishing shacks and their contents, pack baskets, ice augers (as well as at least one hand-made spud that I know for a fact is on the bottom of Schoodic Lake in Brownville!). I was with one party of winter anglers who decided to cut a “tub” into the ice, leaving a sliver of ice to serve as a bottom, where they intended to leave their bottles of rum, whiskey and brandy. Well, the day warm and the fishing was good, and around noon one of the anglers burst into tears when he shoved a bottle into the hole and, without warning, the bottom fell out. Down to the bottom went the better part of a dozen unopened bottles of choice liquors and my guess is that they are still down there! Walk about 200 yards off Norway Point, dive straight to the bottom (in about 100 feet of water) and look around. You should be able to find them!
At any rate, congratulations to Kody and anyone else who has the great good fortune to catch a big fish in an unorthodox manner. Cherish the moment, because it may never happen quite that way again!