Friday, June 24, 2011

Hunting and Fishing on The Montreal River

 In the 1950's the dam at mile 93 on the Montreal River was going to be raised another 30 feet. Which meant amongst other things that all of the flooded land must have the timber removed. The river at the dam is about a 1/4 mile wide and up stream there are places where it is over 1 mile wide. That involved a lot of trees and the loggers were from Quebec and spoke their dialect of French. Most of the loggers were up stream about 25 miles at a logging camp which helped keep them at their best behavior. Some were based down at the dam where they had a log sluice with a conveyor to bring the logs up the river bank, one right after another. Then they were stockpiled and/or loaded on rail road cars to be taken to the Soo for processing. That left a lot of river to get the logs down to the dam and, they used to "raft" the logs. They would have upwards of a 1000 logs floating and they would place a log chain (or boom) around the raft. The log boom was made of logs with a 1 1/4 inch hole drilled in either end and a cable would hold the 2 logs together, log after log was thus chained together to encompass the whole raft, which could be a couple of acres in size. They had a little tugboat (steel) that had a single cylinder slow RPM and it went PUTT-------putt 24 hours a day when they were using it. It probably took them a day or a day and a half to make the down river trip. The little boat was slow but powerful and the wind liked to blow those raft of logs around giving the captain a fit. In nasty weather weather they'd pull smaller rafts.
 In the process of transporting those logs some would escape either by partially sinking some even sinking on just one end so that it was vertical in the water, those deadheads were the worst kind, for boaters.

The railroad trestle as viewed from the docks at Damsite Lodge, early1960's
 Back at the dam there were, I would say 200 at the most, construction workers that were going to raise the dam. They had steel workers and cement masons, carpenters and high line crews (they had to string more wire for the increased electrical output. The power company put up temporary housing for them and probably 8 to 10 men lived in each building. Everything came in by train, all of their tools, trucks, construction supplies and foodstuffs. And that side of the river dor one summer was like a small city. It was a busy place yet seemed to run like clock work. The men were well behaved, we thought, one day as I was walking by one of the buildings with Barb Deur (aah! Barb best looking gal under 25 there, the only one) a man came bursting out right through the screen door yelling "I see one, I see one". Scared, yeah I was scared. I thought I was going to lose my girl friend right there. But, what he saw was a comic book that she was carrying. Afterward she an her dad (Horace) took the men of that cabin all of the magazines and books they could find, to them. They had nothing to read, no TV, radio was sporadic. The construction company soon started bringing in the newspapers and magazines on the daily train.
A GOOOOOOOD Shore Lunch. I believe the guide is Art Tegosh
Really there is not anything much better than fresh caught fish fixed over an open fire.
  Fishing was good over all and Pike were the only thing being caught in the main river. There had to be other fish but they never made it to the hook. We used a heavy casting rod with very heavy mono filament line in about the 40 pound. We did not use landing nets if the fish was larger than 5 pounds and you wanted it you used a gaff hook, otherwise pick it up with your hands.

A nice days catch with Johnny Roach as the guide (left flannel shirt)
His dad Bill can be seen, down by the river
Also in this picture is Billie Farnum (3rd from left also he was Ast Secretary of State for MI) his son, Eugene, and I went to school together. The rest were all state employees.

You never knew for sure what size you were going to catch, many, many times you would catch a a "hammer handle' (2-3 pounds) and a larger fish would attack and usually you could land both as the attacking fish would not let loose. I remember one day a customer had a little hammer handle and a bigger pike kept rolling up and trying to strike it. I said do you want it he said yep. the next time that big one came up I used the gaff and it was 17 pound fish.  Another time I was out with another man and he had hooked a monster of a fish, well over the 30 pound class as he got it close to the surface he said something to the effect "I don't want that in my boat". With that he took his cigarette and burned the line, instantly. We never did know how big the biggest fish in the river was but it had to be enormous and NO they were not Muskie's.
 The lure at the time was a red an white "Daredevil".  They worked real well and on a sunny day they did really great. On a cloudy day it was hit and miss on what the fish would hit but sometimes a brass one would work.
A nice trophy moose. I believe this one was harvested by Horace Mckinley( 2nd from left)
 a retired government engraver. Guide on the left is Art Tegosh, fall of 65

1 comment:

Kitt said...

I remember ALWAYS catching huge pike...ALWAYS! We never got skunked. I just thought that's the way it was. As I got older I realized you don't always catch fish, let alone fish that big, every time you go fishing.