Published Jul 4. 2000 - 22 years ago
Updated or edited Sep 15. 2015

Book review: Glimpses of Maine's Angling Past

Donald A. Wilson
Arcadia Publishing
Publishing year: 
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I recently spent an evening reading a new book entitled "Glimpses of Maine's Angling Past", authored by Donald Wilson.

This is a very unique and interesting little book. No fly patterns. No fishing techniques. It is basically what the title implies - a portal into the past of one of the most historically significant states in the U.S. with regards to fishing and in particular, fly-fishing.

The book is a compilation of very old photos, postcards and advertisements from a bygone era. Each photo, or set of photos, in the book includes additional written insights provided by the author. Many of the pictures are of fishermen and their guides, lakes, streams, camps, lodges and 'the day's catch' - which is invariably a branch, pole or stick with numerous large fish hanging from it (sure to make any true C&R proponent cringe). The bulk of the photos and ads are from the late 1800's through the early 1900's. "Maine's Angling Past's" ten chapters provide a photographic history of each of the major fishing areas in Maine - Sebago, Belgrade, Rangeley, Penobscot, Kennebec, Moosehead... The last two chapters are on Atlantic Salmon and Equipment.

This is not a typical book on fishing, but a photographic history of the sport as it relates to Maine. There are not a lot of 'luminaries' shown here (though I did see photos of popular guides Chief Needabeh and Ross McKenney). What would probably be considered the more 'well-heeled' persons of the era ('sports'), are shown in a variety of fishing poses with the popular guides of the area, fish, settings and equipment. Though I've seen these kind of old pictures before, I still get a kick out of seeing some of the stately-looking ladies and gentlemen, 'decked-out' in suits and dresses, perched in their boats or with their catch.

The names of the places featured are familiar because we have come across them before in our readings. Moosehead, Upper Dam, East Outlet, Rangeley Lake House, Attean Camps, Sebago, West Branch of the Penobscot, Mt. Kineo House, Dead River, Katahdin Iron Works, Grand Lake Stream, and so on. This book provides the visual link to those legendary names. Quite a nostalgic trip. Again, this probably not a book for everyone, but will be of particular interest to those who have links to the state of Maine or are drawn to learning more about our early sportfishing roots.

The book is 128 pages and is published by Arcadia Publishing, and is available through them directly. I went to their website and found it to be very intriguing. Apparently they specialize in regional books and have published them on a large variety of topics. The aforementioned book is part of what they call their "Images of America" series. In addition to "Glimpses of Maine's Angling Past", this series also has historical books covering major areas of just about every state.

The author, Donald Wilson, is perhaps best known for his books "Smelt Fly Patterns" and DeLorme's "New Hampshire Fishing Maps". He has been an avid fly fisherman and tyer for over 40 years, a Master Maine Guide for over 30, a speaker and a surveyor. Don has fished all across the U.S. and Canada. He spent his early years fishing the Moosehead Lake and Kennebec River areas, and guiding in the Moosehead Lake Region. Don has known a number of famous guides, fly tyers, outdoor writers and learned from such notables as Chief Needabeh, Bud Leavitt and others. You can visit Don Wilson’s website to view fly patterns, read reports and obtain his other publications.

Chris Del Plato
July 2000


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