The author’s fishing partner with a plump Parmachene Lake salmon. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

Sometimes its nice to recalibrate the old internal compass and get off the grid. Ditch the cell phone, forget about the news channels and put social media on hold. I had no clients booked last weekend, a rare occurrence, so I phoned my pal Pete and headed north. My destination was the fabled Parmachene Lake region above Rangeley. You may recognize the name after the fly, the Parmachene Belle, that was originated in that area. But chances are you haven’t fished the lake or even the nearby waters, as it is behind gated woods roads and access is by invitation only.

Tom Roth is a freelance outdoor writer who lives in Raymond on the shore of Sebago Lake. He has been fishing and hunting in this region for more than 30 years and is a Registered Maine Guide.

Back in the 1890s, in the heyday of Maine being discovered as a premier hunting and fishing destination, a group of wealthy businessmen, mostly lawyers from New York, leased 120,000 acres along the Canadian border to the Magalloway River and formed the Parmachene Club. A series of cabins was built on a large island in the lake, and today, there are only a few cabins on the whole lake. It was then a private hunting and fishing club on a pristine waterway full of salmon and brook trout. Today the fishing is still exceptional and it retains that private control. You have to either own a camp there or be invited by a camp owner. Fortunately for me, my buddy’s dad owns a series of cabins and I have an open invite.

In the 1890s, a sport had to hop a train from New York or Boston and head to Maine, getting as close to Rangeley as the rail would go. Then it was by horse and buggy, on foot and by canoe or boat to reach your destination. I was luckier; I drove my truck to the shore of the lake after entering the gated perimeter roads and took a boat ride out to the island. I stayed in one of the original cabins with the original wood log siding. It was like taking a step back in time, imagining myself as an 1800s sport up to the camp for a weekend of fishing, good food and tall tales.

After a good night’s sleep listening to loons cry, my fishing partner and I trolled the lake for salmon and brookies. Parmachene Lake is fly-fishing only, but you are allowed to troll flies, so that’s what we did. The water was warm and the brookies were down low, but we managed to catch a few small salmon trolling lead core line with streamer flies. We then headed to the Magalloway River to try our luck on the abundant brook trout. Sadly, the river was down low and the brook trout were gone to the deepest pools and ponds, so we were fishless, but it was still nice to be on that water again throwing a graceful arcing fly line in such a picturesque setting.

A great dinner then relaxing on the porch as the lake went to sleep rounded out my first full day. The following day we trolled the lake again and this time really got into the salmon. My fishing pal and I each boated several small salmon and one decent fish each. It was Sunday and we had to head home, so we packed up and said goodbye to the little slice of heaven once again, vowing to come back soon. I remarked as we hit Rangeley village that it’s nice to just disconnect from the world once in awhile, and as soon as I said that, my phone started buzzing with incoming texts and emails stacked up while I was off the grid. Boy, I wanted to turn around and head back!

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