I love the Rangeley River because of its healthy hatches and remote feel. It seems to be a quieter spot compared to the Magalloway or the dams on Richardson. When we parked in the muddy area next to the gate and stepped into the squishy ground I knew the river was going to be high, but I was amazed by how high the water really was. We had to wade thigh-high on the trail where it is usually bare ground. Laughing at the absurdity I sloshed toward the spit of land beyond the river bend where the good pools are. I peered out of the trees to see if anyone was in my favorite spot, and to my delight only a flock of sparrows were swooping over the pool—a good sign that there was a hatch happening.
As I emerged from the water, onto the now tinny spit of dry land, I found myself in the midst of twenty or so little tree swallows with bright blue backs and clean white bellies. They were obviously eating a recent hatch or emergers being forced up by the flooding water. They flew next to the tip of my rod and I was afraid at times that they were going to eat my fly or get caught in my line as I cast. On my third cast I caught a beautiful brook trout! It’s bright red fins and shiny silver belly danced onto shore as I reeled it in. It was my first fish of the season! How auspicious that I caught it amidst the little blue tree swallows darting around my line. The camaraderie of fishing is fun, but the solidarity of that day, casting by ourselves with the birds feeding on the bugs around us was pure and beautiful.
A few weeks later I went back to the Rangeley River with my parents, (up for a weekend of fishing with Granny) and a fisherman caught a 16.5-inch salmon in that same spot! It was one of the first beautiful sunny summer weekends, and everyone was out enjoying the weather.