Gigantic trout and salmon taken from Rangeley’s famous waters are every angler’s dream. I’ve caught five pound brookies and salmon there, but nothing approaching the mounts I’ve seen at the Oquossoc Angling Association.
The exhibit features old mounts, drawings, paintings, and tracings of the fish that have made Rangeley the go-to destination for anglers for 150 years. The exhibit will be at the museum through the fall, so you could plan a fall fishing trip to the area, whet your appetite at the museum, and then catch some beautiful fish in one of the rivers or lakes nearby. I have, for example, caught some nice fish almost within sight of the museum!
When you visit, be sure to say hi to Bill Pierce, the new director of the museum. Many will remember Bill when he worked in the Information and Education Division of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
When Don Palmer first told me his dream of opening a fly fishing museum in Oquossoc, I didn’t doubt for a moment that he’d get it done. He and his wife Stephanie spent years restoring an old abandoned sporting camp on the shore of Quimby Pond into an amazing home, including a game room that looks just like it did in the early 1900s. Don also accumulated the largest collection of flies tied by Carrie Stevens, including her last one, and served as President of the Rangeley Region Guides’ And Sportsmen’s Association for 16 years.
If you’ve never seen Don’s book, Rangeley Lakes Region, one in the series called Images of America and published by Arcadia ten years ago, it is absolutely fascinating, full of images from private collections and the region’s Historical Society. The cover photo of two anglers with a stringer of two dozen trout will take your breath away.
I was privileged to attend the grand opening of the museum and was stunned by both the building and the things I saw inside. A 1920s double-ended Rangeley Boat constructed for the Upper Dam pool, one of my favorite places to fish. The largest collection of Carrie Stevens flies in the world (donated by Don Palmer). The Herb Welch room with some of his mounted trout and salmon along with his paintings and sketches, files, carvings, and personal items.
I love the early sporting camp that serves as the welcome center. Listening to Ed Grant’s (The World’s Most Truthful Man) tall tales, including one about his tame trout, is fascinating. And you will really enjoy the opportunity to attend the Madison Square Garden Sportsmen’s Show in 1900 with Ed and Fly Rod Crosby who shocked the audience with her costume that was six inches above her ankles.
But be careful. The 11-pound brook trout, caught in 1897 at Upper Dam, that you will see as you enter the museum, may turn you right around and head you to Upper Dam to fish!
Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum, Oquossoc, Open 10 am to 4 pm, Wednesday – Sunday June – September, and 7 days/week in July and August. www.RangeleyOutdoorMuseum.org.