August 24, 2007

Fish Stories

Nice little piece in today's Wall Street Journal on Maine fishing camps. In particular, the article mentions the writings of one John Taintor Foote:

By the 1920s, Maine fishing camps had become well-known among dedicated anglers, and men and some women from Boston and New York made the trip by train or car. Following directions--or better still, following a guide--they traveled until the road ended; from that point, they humped knapsacks of gear and tackle through the woods to a river, where they boarded a canoe or two and paddled to the camp; if it was especially remote, the men had to carry the canoe overland to the next river.

On such expeditions it was best "to go in light"--planning one's needs so that the very minimum of clothing and equipment is carried. In John Taintor Foote's hilarious fly-fishing stories of the 1920s and '30s, various characters speak of this strategy, especially Wall Streeter George Potter Baldwin, who takes his bewildered bride, Isabelle, on a rugged, torturous honeymoon to a Maine fishing camp. Our family's camp, in fact, was originally a "honeymoon camp," an uninsulated shack built in the 1920s with wood-burning stove and interior walls that didn't reach the ceiling. Apparently, honeymooners in those days needed only the beauty of North Pond and each other.

As for Isabelle, when George tells her before the honeymoon that they're going in light, she has no idea what he is talking about, so she ignores him. As he bursts into their room at the camp's main lodge to prepare her for a fishing trip, he finds her sitting traumatized among heaps of evening dresses and shoes, petticoats, handbags and hats. When he searches desperately for the gear he's bought her--trousers, boots, waders, shirts, rod and reel--she tells him she didn't have room for them.

Being fond of a) books, b) Maine, and c) fly-fishing (in no particular order), after reading this I immediately dashed over to the devil's website to pick up a copy of Foote's fish stories. I'll let you know what I think once I read them, but at the moment I'm truly looking forward to it.

Posted by Robert at August 24, 2007 02:54 PM | TrackBack