The following was found on page 5 of the May 7, 1896 edition of RANGELY LAKES. He appeared in the weekly column called “With Sportsman”. He shares the first results of an annual rite of spring in the region, Ice Out Fishing. I particularly enjoyed the reported successes of women fishermen of the time. These ladies may not have had the right to vote yet, but it looks like they are running for men. It also reveals that the average size of trout and salmon was starting to decline when, just 10 years ago, news of a 3-pound trout would never have even made the headlines. The resource, once considered inexhaustible and THE best in America, was beginning to show the combined effects of overfishing, poor fisheries management and unregulated forestry practices. Landlocked salmon and smelt had been introduced 20 years earlier and native blueback trout were almost non-existent at that time. The once epic fishery would continue to decline through the 1940s. was much smaller than it is today. Anecdotally, judging from this report below, trout and salmon sizes are even better today than in the spring of 1896. Keep in mind that despite the armada of boats that the Greenvale Cove can be seen as the ice comes out today, many more anglers were then hunting trout and salmon in the waters of the area.
(Pierce’s comment shared in italics, otherwise the copy has been reprinted here as it appeared in 1896).
Get your gear ready! The ice left Dead River Pond on Sunday. John Rufus Wilbur caught a 3-pound trout Wednesday morning. Several parties are reserved for “just as soon as the ice goes out”. A number of trout were caught from the Haley Pond mill dam on Tuesday evening. Many guides are waiting to wire their first groups as soon as the ice clears. Ned Churchill and George Wilber caught a nice string of trout at Hunter’s Cove on Sunday. There were 18 fish weighing 20 pounds, five of them averaging 1 1/2 pounds each. Redington claims the first out-of-town sportsman of the season – Mr HM Sewell from Bath who arrived on Monday evening. While in Washington, DC recently, Colonel Boothby took up residence with Theo L. Page at Page’s Hotel. He informs us that Mr. Page bemoans his inability to visit the Rangeleys as in previous years. A regret to which all his former friends join. Natt Carr brought the first salmon of the season to the Rangeley Lakes office on Tuesday. He and Frank Harris caught it in the creek near the steammill. Six of those present guessed on his weight, a guess on the right numbers – 3-1/2 lbs. The shore, from the boathouse aft of Dana Hinkley to the steam mill, was lined with men, women and children on Tuesday evening, all trying to catch a trout in the early spring. We understand that the ladies had the upper hand and their combined catches far exceeded those of the men.
Phillips opened the fishing season in good standing on Friday. Geo. A. Staples caught 30 fish on Warm Stream. Walter M. Sawyer and Elliott C. Dill got 30 on Black Brook on Friday, but those who tackled Meadow Brook found the water too red. Joe Boston caught one on the river under the bridge.
Master Raymond H. Merrow, 9-year-old son of RA Merrow, was the successful angler who caught the first trout caught in Lake Rangeley this season. He weighed about 1-1/2 lbs., and was captured at the Marble Point wharf, City Cove on May 1. This trout graced the tables at the new Rangeley Lake House on Saturday morning, May 2, and it can honestly be said that Master Raymond H. Merrow successfully opened this season’s trout catch in Rangeley Lake (Oquossoc). There appears to be “blood on the face of the moon”, where violations of fish and game laws are suspected. Under the new organization of State Commissioners, Guardians show more starch in their vertebrae. There seems to be a general understanding that Commissioner Carlton is serious, and the more that idea sinks into the minds of those who sometimes take risks, the less violation there will be. One person much preferred sawing wood, than paying the price, “assessed” for illegal fishing, with the possibility of retirement for “30 days” in addition.
Below is an ad of cheap land available in California, on page 6.
LAND IN CALIFORNIA
I can sell to parties wanting to settle in California, real estate of 5 to 1,000 acres or more, located in what I consider to be the best part of California, 20 to 50 miles from the ocean, just brought into market by the Coast Line RR from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I’m not urging people to leave Maine but if there’s any coming here I can help them land $5 to $50 an acre as much as can be bought in other parts of the state for $400 an acre. Climate good. Well wooded, pine and oak. Good water. This is the best chance for a poor man to get land and start any place I’ve seen in this state. For more details, write to me or call me. Address: SEWARD DILL, Soquel, Santa Cruz Co.
Since the transcontinental railroad had been in operation for 27 years at this point, one could travel 3rd class to San Francisco in about 10 days at a cost of around $45. There were probably more than a few who took advantage of this opportunity for Mr. Dill.
Have a great week and be sure to make your own Rangeley story!