Page 11 - WCM Summer 2022
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 White Nose Pete The One That (Really) Got Away by Brett and Susan Damm
 Susan Damm
Everyone loves a good legend. There are legendary loggers, politicians, actors, musicians and the like, and they always inspire us in some way or another. In the world of fishing, there are many people, and some fish, who rise to that highest pinnacle. Rangeley, abundant with lakes, ponds and rivers, is rich with its own notables, especially in the sport of fly fishing.
The Rangeley region became most well-known through the promotion of fly fishing. Its larger-than-life characters, real and imaginary ones, are long overdue for recognition. The Rangeley Lakes Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first- ever White Nose Pete Fly Fishing Festival on June 4th at the historic Rangeley Inn and Tavern to accomplish just that. In addition to paying homage to our region’s most legendary fish, the festival will begin the process of honoring some of the people who have promoted and encouraged fly fishing in the area.
In the 1860s, stories of giant brook trout made their way into east coast city newspapers. George Shepard Page returned from a trip to Rangeley to his home in New York City with eight brook trout, weighing up 5 to 8 pounds each. These were perhaps our first “legendary” fish. His 1867 trip with a friend (landing 293 pounds of trout in ten days) led to the creation of the Oquossoc Angling Associa- tion. Many sportsmen’s shows promoted the area, sometimes calling on the talents of angler and journalist Fly Rod Crosby, camp owner Ed Grant, and others.
Beginning in the 1870s, hotels and sporting camps were built to accommo- date the visiting fishermen. The first narrow gauge railroad arrived in Range- ley around 1891. By the early 1900s, Licensed Maine Guides were catering to these sportsmen, and people continued to flock to the Rangeley Lakes for the fresh air and plentiful fish and game. This golden age of the Rangeley Lakes region lasted through the 1930s.
“Do not tell fish stories where the people know you. Particularly, don’t tell them where they
know the fish.”
~ Mark Twain
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