Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/158

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We had been hearing for weeks of a small lake in the heart of the forest, some ten miles from our camp, which was alive with trout,—unsophisticated, hungry trout: the inlet to it was described as stiff with them. In my imagination I saw them lying there in ranks and rows, each a foot long, three tiers deep, a solid mass. The lake had never been visited, except by stray sable hunters in the winter, and was known as Unknown Pond. I determined to explore it fully, expecting that it would prove to be a delusion, as such haunts of the trout usually are. Confiding my purpose to Luke, we secretly made our preparations, and stole away from the shanty one morning at daybreak. Each of us carried a boat, a pair of blankets, a sack of bread, pork, and maple sugar; while I had my case of rods, reel, and book of flies, and Luke had an axe and the kitchen utensils. We think nothing of loads of this kind in the woods.

A couple of hours before sundown we reached the lake. If I live, to my dying day I shall never forget its appearance. … But what chiefly attracted my attention, and amused me, was the boiling of the water, the bubbling and breaking, as if the lake were a vast kettle with fire underneath. A tyro would have been astonished at this common phenomenon; but sportsmen will at once understand me, when I say that the water boiled with the breaking trout. I began casting, and had got out perhaps fifty feet of line, and gradually increased it to a hundred. It is not difficult to learn to cast, but it is difficult to learn not to jerk off the flies at every throw. Finally, in making a shorter cast, I saw a splash where the leader fell, and gave an excited jerk. The next instant I perceived the game, and did not need the unfeigned "dam" of Luke to convince me that I had snatched his felt hat from his head, and deposited it among the lilies. Discouraged by this, we whirled about, and paddled over to the inlet, where a little ripple was visible in the tinted light. Instantly, upon casting, there was a rush, a swirl. I struck, and "Got him, by—" Never mind what Luke said I got him by. "Out on a fly," continued that irreverent guide; but I told him to back water, and make for the centre of