Adventures in Angling
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You can read more about Mack's view of his country and his philosophy of life and, especially, fishing. 

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Mack and his Country


Mack Brown wasn’t your typical Maine guide, but he was a typical Maine native.  He didn’t talk much, never volunteered anything unless he knew you well, and mostly he kept to himself.

He had fished or hunted or trapped over most of what was called the North Country, and had guided over at least half of it.  He had fished places that most of us only think about and had seen this country when it was really country.  There were few roads and very few planes when Mack was in his younger years, so most of his travel was either by canoe or by railroad, or occasionally by vehicle.  Later on, he, like most of the other guides, used boats and motors on the lakes and larger ponds.

Mack dressed in a conventional manner, often wearing boots, but preferring moccasins, jeans or similar pants, wool or flannel shirt, sometimes suspenders and a felt hat.  He seldom was without his pipe.

He grew up in Maine and lived near Waterville, but didn’t spend much time at home.  His wife, Leona, worked in a woolen mill.  I never knew if they had any children, but I suspect not.  Mack usually spent his winters at home and his summers away from home, in later years here on the Lake.

Mack’s country was the outdoors, and he was usually out in it, rain or shine.  If he wasn’t guiding, he was fishing.  If he was guiding, he was still fishing.  “Someone else’s pullin’ ‘em in ‘s all,” he’d say.  “They all count ‘one’ in the boat, no matter who claims ‘em.”  I could never argue with that.

The first year or two Mack decided to make this country his second home, and he had one goal— to learn as much as he could about as much of it as he could.  He worked at it until he was satisfied, then he relaxed and enjoyed it.

Someone once told me that in his younger days, before he settled down, Mack had worked for a lumber company.  He learned a lot of territory that way and got used to being a long way back in the woods for long stretches of time.  Mack never told me that, but in later years I came to realize that he knew an awfully lot about logging, and working in the woods.
            
Mack knew how to take care of an axe too.  His was always razor-sharp and he wouldn’t let anyone else touch it.  No matter what.

“Certain things you don’t loan other people,” he once told me.  “Your axe, your fly rod, your best rifle, your canoe, your dog, or your wife.  Anything that’s precious to you, keep your eye on it.”  Mack practiced what he preached.

He was a fly fisherman first and foremost, but he was also experienced regarding other methods.  A real master at trolling, a lot of the time with bait, Mack preferred trolling with flies.  He was partial to bamboo fly rods, although he used fiberglass fly rods for trolling.

Mack’s country was great country, but it was harsh, and it was big country.  You could go for weeks without seeing another human being, but that’s just the way he liked it.  When things were slow around camp Mack would sometimes be gone a week, or longer.  Just him and his dog, in a canoe, exploring areas that were mere dotted lines on topographic maps which were so new that they weren’t even colored yet.  Some of them you had to look all over just to find a road, and even if you did, it might not go anywhere.

Mack was studying such a map one night at the lodge he stayed at when a New York fisherman was peering over his shoulder.  The out-of-stater pointed to one of those roads that was “just there.”

            “Say, Mr. Brown, where does that road go, anyway?”
            Mack didn’t even look up.  “I been on that road, and it don’t go nowhere.  Stays right there where they built it.”
            I think the New York fellow turned in after that.

Few roads, lots of timber, an abundance of streams, lakes and rivers, was Mack’s cup of tea.  And, by the way, unlike most guides of that era, Mack would drink tea, but he preferred coffee.

I first met Mack in the fifties.  By this time he had parked himself at one lodge and spent every summer there, using it as a base camp.  I grew up being around him, and admired the things he did.  Eventually we became the best of friends.  He taught me a lot, especially about the outdoors.  And he taught me to cook, how to pick out a good bird dog, how to sew on a bait, and how to play cribbage.

Mack loved his country and was probably closer to it than you and I will ever get.  He probably achieved his goal—he probably did learn everything about all that he could, at least in one lifetime.  I never knew him to fail to answer anyone’s question, and as far as I knew, his answer was always right.

I’ll never forget what he told me about that.  “It’s easy to be smart, but it’s a lot easier to be too smart.  Learn to live with nature, don’t ever try to outsmart her.  Plants ‘n animals been around a good deal longer’n you ‘n me.

That made sense to me.

Mack Brown wasn’t your typical Maine guide, but he was a typical Maine native.  He didn’t talk much, never volunteered anything unless he knew you well, and mostly he kept to himself.

 

He had fished or hunted or trapped over most of what was called the North Country, and had guided over at least half of it.  He had fished places that most of us only think about and had seen this country when it was really country.  There were few roads and very few planes when Mack was in his younger years, so most of his travel was either by canoe or by railroad, or occasionally by vehicle.  Later on, he, like most of the other guides, used boats and motors on the lakes and larger ponds.

 

Mack dressed in a conventional manner, often wearing boots, but preferring moccasins, jeans or similar pants, wool or flannel shirt, sometimes suspenders and a felt hat.  He seldom was without his pipe.

 

He grew up in Maine and lived near Waterville, but didn’t spend much time at home.  His wife, Leona, worked in a woolen mill.  I never knew if they had any children, but I suspect not.  Mack usually spent his winters at home and his summers away from home, in later years here on the Lake.

 

Mack’s country was the outdoors, and he was usually out in it, rain or shine.  If he wasn’t guiding, he was fishing.  If he was guiding, he was still fishing.  “Someone else’s pullin’ ‘em in ‘s all,” he’d say.  “They all count ‘one’ in the boat, no matter who claims ‘em.”  I could never argue with that.

 

The first year or two Mack decided to make this country his second home, and he had one goal— to learn as much as he could about as much of it as he could.  He worked at it until he was satisfied, then he relaxed and enjoyed it.

 

Someone once told me that in his younger days, before he settled down, Mack had worked for a lumber company.  He learned a lot of territory that way and got used to being a long way back in the woods for long stretches of time.  Mack never told me that, but in later years I came to realize that he knew an awfully lot about logging, and working in the woods.

           

Mack knew how to take care of an axe too.  His was always razor-sharp and he wouldn’t let anyone else touch it.  No matter what.

 

“Certain things you don’t loan other people,” he once told me.  “Your axe, your fly rod, your best rifle, your canoe, your dog, or your wife.  Anything that’s precious to you, keep your eye on it.”  Mack practiced what he preached.

 

He was a fly fisherman first and foremost, but he was also experienced regarding other methods.  A real master at trolling, a lot of the time with bait, Mack preferred trolling with flies.  He was partial to bamboo fly rods, although he used fiberglass fly rods for trolling.

 

Mack’s country was great country, but it was harsh, and it was big country.  You could go for weeks without seeing another human being, but that’s just the way he liked it.  When things were slow around camp Mack would sometimes be gone a week, or longer.  Just him and his dog, in a canoe, exploring areas that were mere dotted lines on topographic maps which were so new that they weren’t even colored yet.  Some of them you had to look all over just to find a road, and even if you did, it might not go anywhere.

 

Mack was studying such a map one night at the lodge he stayed at when a New York fisherman was peering over his shoulder.  The out-of-stater pointed to one of those roads that was “just there.”

            “Say, Mr. Brown, where does that road go, anyway?”

            Mack didn’t even look up.  “I been on that road, and it don’t go nowhere.  Stays right there where they built it.”

            I think the New York fellow turned in after that.

 

Few roads, lots of timber, an abundance of streams, lakes and rivers, was Mack’s cup of tea.  And, by the way, unlike most guides of that era, Mack would drink tea, but he preferred coffee.

 

I first met Mack in the fifties.  By this time he had parked himself at one lodge and spent every summer there, using it as a base camp.  I grew up being around him, and admired the things he did.  Eventually we became the best of friends.  He taught me a lot, especially about the outdoors.  And he taught me to cook, how to pick out a good bird dog, how to sew on a bait, and how to play cribbage.

 

Mack loved his country and was probably closer to it than you and I will ever get.  He probably achieved his goal—he probably did learn everything about all that he could, at least in one lifetime.  I never knew him to fail to answer anyone’s question, and as far as I knew, his answer was always right.

 

I’ll never forget what he told me about that.  “It’s easy to be smart, but it’s a lot easier to be too smart.  Learn to live with nature, don’t ever try to outsmart her.  Plants ‘n animals been around a good deal longer’n you ‘n me.

 

That made sense to me.

 


Mack Brown wasn’t your typical Maine guide, but he was a typical Maine native.  He didn’t talk much, never volunteered anything unless he knew you well, and mostly he kept to himself.

He had fished or hunted or trapped over most of what was called the North Country, and had guided over at least half of it.  He had fished places that most of us only think about and had seen this country when it was really country.  There were few roads and very few planes when Mack was in his younger years, so most of his travel was either by canoe or by railroad, or occasionally by vehicle.  Later on, he, like most of the other guides, used boats and motors on the lakes and larger ponds.

Mack dressed in a conventional manner, often wearing boots, but preferring moccasins, jeans or similar pants, wool or flannel shirt, sometimes suspenders and a felt hat.  He seldom was without his pipe.

He grew up in Maine and lived near Waterville, but didn’t spend much time at home.  His wife, Leona, worked in a woolen mill.  I never knew if they had any children, but I suspect not.  Mack usually spent his winters at home and his summers away from home, in later years here on the Lake.

Mack’s country was the outdoors, and he was usually out in it, rain or shine.  If he wasn’t guiding, he was fishing.  If he was guiding, he was still fishing.  “Someone else’s pullin’ ‘em in ‘s all,” he’d say.  “They all count ‘one’ in the boat, no matter who claims ‘em.”  I could never argue with that.

The first year or two Mack decided to make this country his second home, and he had one goal— to learn as much as he could about as much of it as he could.  He worked at it until he was satisfied, then he relaxed and enjoyed it.

Someone once told me that in his younger days, before he settled down, Mack had worked for a lumber company.  He learned a lot of territory that way and got used to being a long way back in the woods for long stretches of time.  Mack never told me that, but in later years I came to realize that he knew an awfully lot about logging, and working in the woods.
            
Mack knew how to take care of an axe too.  His was always razor-sharp and he wouldn’t let anyone else touch it.  No matter what.

“Certain things you don’t loan other people,” he once told me.  “Your axe, your fly rod, your best rifle, your canoe, your dog, or your wife.  Anything that’s precious to you, keep your eye on it.”  Mack practiced what he preached.

He was a fly fisherman first and foremost, but he was also experienced regarding other methods.  A real master at trolling, a lot of the time with bait, Mack preferred trolling with flies.  He was partial to bamboo fly rods, although he used fiberglass fly rods for trolling.

Mack’s country was great country, but it was harsh, and it was big country.  You could go for weeks without seeing another human being, but that’s just the way he liked it.  When things were slow around camp Mack would sometimes be gone a week, or longer.  Just him and his dog, in a canoe, exploring areas that were mere dotted lines on topographic maps which were so new that they weren’t even colored yet.  Some of them you had to look all over just to find a road, and even if you did, it might not go anywhere.

Mack was studying such a map one night at the lodge he stayed at when a New York fisherman was peering over his shoulder.  The out-of-stater pointed to one of those roads that was “just there.”

            “Say, Mr. Brown, where does that road go, anyway?”
            Mack didn’t even look up.  “I been on that road, and it don’t go nowhere.  Stays right there where they built it.”
            I think the New York fellow turned in after that.

Few roads, lots of timber, an abundance of streams, lakes and rivers, was Mack’s cup of tea.  And, by the way, unlike most guides of that era, Mack would drink tea, but he preferred coffee.

I first met Mack in the fifties.  By this time he had parked himself at one lodge and spent every summer there, using it as a base camp.  I grew up being around him, and admired the things he did.  Eventually we became the best of friends.  He taught me a lot, especially about the outdoors.  And he taught me to cook, how to pick out a good bird dog, how to sew on a bait, and how to play cribbage.

Mack loved his country and was probably closer to it than you and I will ever get.  He probably achieved his goal—he probably did learn everything about all that he could, at least in one lifetime.  I never knew him to fail to answer anyone’s question, and as far as I knew, his answer was always right.

I’ll never forget what he told me about that.  “It’s easy to be smart, but it’s a lot easier to be too smart.  Learn to live with nature, don’t ever try to outsmart her.  Plants ‘n animals been around a good deal longer’n you ‘n me.

That made sense to me.