We’re so impressed with new blog Boot & Canoe that we invited the blogger, Peter Patenaude to guest blog for L.L.Bean’s Trail Mix. One visit to Boot & Canoe, and we were hooked by Peter’s focus on the Maine wilderness and the traditional sporting pursuits of hunting and fishing.
Peter is a licensed Maine Guide and owner of Boot & Canoe Wilderness Guides, a service specializing in historical Maine routes taken by past hunters, fishermen, loggers, fur traders and literary figures. We’re honored to kick off our guest blogger series with Peter Patenaude of Boot & Canoe.
Being a Mainer and an outdoorsman, I’ve grown up with L.L.Bean and value the company’s commitment to the Maine outdoor traditions of hunting and fishing. My strong connection to my family, our Maine heritage and the outdoor skills that have been passed down through the generations, inspired me to create Boot & Canoe. Thank you to L.L.Bean for the opportunity to share my blog and a special memory of fishing with my 90-year-old grandfather.
He’s not as steady as he used to be so we chose to fly fish a local pond with flat, easy access. Our technique may not be perfect as he learned the craft by reading a book over 70 years ago, but it is his, and so I use it. My pépère (grandfather in Franco-American culture) passed down his love of fishing to the entire family – every time I pick up a rod I can see his hand over mine, guiding my cast like he used to when I was a boy. Today he was hesitant, saying that he no longer has it in him, so I tied on a Coachman and sent the line out into the shadows of the bank. In only a few short minutes the brook trout began to rise to the fly, and I could see a new look of excitement in my grandfather’s eyes. I knew if he was going to take the rod, now would be the time. Without any encouragement, he began to fish – dementia can take a lot of things from a man, but today he fished. For at least a few casts he was excited by the chance of seducing a trout into sipping in the small barbless fly.
I wasn’t upset when he turned and handed me back the rod. I would have liked to watch him longer but I knew he was done. My father brought pépère around the pond for a small walk, and now it was my turn. I wanted so badly to catch a fish while he was there but I could see he was getting tired. As they were getting into the truck and leaving, I thought I would try one last cast. I tied on a beaded nymph and let it sink to the bottom. After bringing in only a few feet of line, a heavy rainbow hit and bent my rod towards the ground. I played her for twenty minutes before landing the large fish on the rocks. Gently picking her up, I cradled the trout in my arms for a picture before sliding the hook out of the lower jaw and releasing her back into the water. My pépère wasn’t there to see it, but I know when I show him the picture he will say “Hey there, buddy, that’s a nice fish you caught!”