In nearly 50 years of angling in waters from Hudson Bay to Florida I have known only two places that could rightfully be called a "Fisherman's Paradise"—a term used far too loosely by resort owners and fishermen themselves.
The first place was in a rocky cove in Waukewan Lake at Meredith, New Hampshire, where unaided and alone I caught my first mess of fish (three smallmouth bass and one pickerel), and that was paradise enough for a boy of 8.
In the years that have passed since then I must have fished a thousand lakes, streams and brooks. Many times I have enjoyed spectacular fishing in almost perfect settings, but not until last summer did I find a spot that recaptured that long-ago day on Waukewan Lake.
I first saw the place through the window of a seaplane as it circled to alight on a remote lake called Travers, some 600 miles northeast of Quebec. The spruce-bordered lake seemed no different from dozens of others the plane had passed over in the last hour, but what caught my eye was a small circle of water alongside it that looked like a blue poker chip from the air. It lay between Travers and a higher lake to the north. The waters of the upper lake foamed over a falls into the blue disk, then cascaded down into Travers on the other side. The white-fringed pool, really a miniature lake between lakes, grew larger as the plane came down. I judged it to be a quarter of a mile in diameter, the upper and lower falls about 10 feet high. Then we landed and taxied up the middle of Travers to an island, and the pool was lost from sight. Well, it would be there tomorrow and I would find it.
We unloaded the plane, and the pilot immediately took off in order to get back to his base at Havre St. Pierre before nightfall. He was scheduled to come back to Travers in two days with another load. Standing beside me on the island as the plane vanished into the enormous Quebec wilderness were my wife and two men we had never seen until the day before. All we knew about them was that they were government biologists and that they had come to Travers to net ouananiche ( Quebec's landlocked salmon) to supply a hatchery at Gasp�. Meanwhile I hoped to catch a species of fish I had never seen but was interested in because of its rarity and reputed gameness. This was the Quebec red trout (Salvelinus marstoni), a landlocked arctic char of undefined range, listed in the provincial fishing laws only in the past few years.
Earlier in the summer I had queried the Department of Fisheries of the Province of Quebec about the new trout, and was referred to Robert W. Bourassa, biologist and director of Quebec's fisheries Management and Protection Service. Bourassa wrote me that the year before he had taken five-pound red trout and brook trout out of Travers, also some ouananiche. He was planning to go back there in August, he said, and invited us to come along.
On the island in Travers I asked Bourassa how he happened to choose this particular lake among the thousands of others in the province.
"My brother was on a surveying party here nine years ago," said Bourassa, speaking with a strong French accent. "He told me he fished at the falls and caught enough ouananiche to cover the bottom of his canoe. Last year the government wanted ouananiche for stocking some lakes, and they asked me if I knew of a sure place to get them. I remembered what my brother had told me about this lake. There are maybe a hundred other lakes around here with ouananiche in them but I could spend three or four summers trying to find out just where to set the nets in those lakes. But this one I was sure of before I came. I knew the exact spot—a hundred feet off the falls. We found the ouananiche there, but for every one we netted we got 30 brook trout. You will see."
"What about the red trout, the marstoni?"
"We will get them, too. They will be in the net."