Fly Fishing History
It all began in the mid-1860s when the stories of giant brook trout made their way into the newspapers of east coast cities. George Shepard Page returned from a trip to Rangeley with eight brook trout weighing up to eight pounds each. Blue back trout were native to the waters and the primary food source, and most likely responsible for the brookies’ large size. Locals would harvest the blue back trout by the wagon full to live on and sell. In 1876, landlocked salmon were introduced along with smelt. This lead to the final demise of the blueback trout by the early 1900s. A new industry of guiding and catering to fishermen sprang up. Large hotels and sporting camps were built and people flocked to the Rangeley lakes for the fresh air and plentiful fish and game. The “golden age” of the Rangeley Lake Region lasted through the 1930s. Fishing was still good, but the unregulated keeping of large catches brought the inevitable decline of the size and number of fish. With the advent of the automobile and the mobility it provided, visitors no longer stayed for extended periods of time. In the late 1930s train service was discontinued and the heyday was coming to an end. Today the grand hotels are gone, but people are still discovering the area for the first time. The brook trout and salmon remain and still challenge fishermen from around the country and the world.