Adults often remember youthful epiphanies that shaped our destinies – some good and others a heartbreaker.

Between 10th and 11th grades, a positive incident occurred in mid-June during those carefree days that rural Maine kids know so well – the period that lasts from the end of school in June until before blueberry raking starts in mid to late July.

Once school vacation began, the late David French, a cousin from Somerville, and I fished nearly every day, a regimen that continued into July. We targeted chain pickerel – an abundant and cooperative game fish in French’s Mill Pond on Lovejoy Stream and in the Sheepscot Deadwater just above the Somerville four-corner.

When the sun-splashed afternoon began on June 15, pickerel offered me a fun, exciting challenge, but before the day ended, the “incident” altered my fishing life forever. From then on, I became a consummate salmonid angler, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The late Lawrence Grover stored a canoe on James Pond on Orrin Crummett’s shorefront land, and Lawrence let David and me use it. We’d paddle across the pond, enter a thoroughfare between it and Sheepscot River and then drift downstream to the Deadwater, the most delightful spot to spend late spring and early summer pursuing pickerel.

David was two years younger but several grades behind me, so we’d talk angling and little else. All my life I have mostly used a fly rod, but that June 15 my choice was a South Bend spinning reel and Garcia-Mitchell 300 spinning reel. Oddly enough and despite what occurred next, I have always regretted choosing the spinning outfit that day and not my usual old bamboo rod.

Near the north end of the Deadwater, I cast a red Dardevle with yellow spots, an odd-colored lure design on a traditional spoon. That spotted lure proved dynamite on pickerel, explaining my choice.

A fish hit the spotted lure and at first it didn’t feel all that big. Guided by my reeling, it swam right up to the gunwale before everything broke loose: A brown trout that looked as big as a canoe paddle – a heart-thumping sight for a 14-year-old.

The brown then took off on a long, blistering run. Each time I worked it back, off it went again like a rocket sled.

Finally it came to hand, a very large brown. We paddled back to Crummett’s landing and I hot-footed it home. My father had just gotten out of work and we took the brown to a store, where the scales showed it weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces.

Back then, Crummett, the late Lawrence French and others caught browns that large and larger upstream of the Deadwater, and my love for trout began sending me upstream for browns rather than down for pickerel.

Twelve years later I met DIF&W biologist Bob Foye, who told me this stretch of the Sheepscot had the best brown-trout fishing in the Northeast.

That Sheepscot brown-trout fishery from Sheepscot Pond to Route 105 began when the old Department of Inland Fish and Game stocked the species in the pond in 1949 and 1950. The brown stockings ended because of the endangered species listing of Atlantic salmon in the river.

But back to my big brown. Pickerel, black bass and so forth never thrilled me again. In order of preference, my favorite quarries are all trout species, Atlantic salmon, landlocked salmon and tarpon. I’m not snobbish about my list; just saying that these fish are what floats my proverbial boat – particularly the salmonids.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at:

[email protected]