Not Easy to Part With, 1905

“Only Keuka furnishes better fishing than Otisco, and none have lovelier scenery than Skaneateles. We reached its east shore after a drive of eight miles during a thunder-storm, and were picked up by one of the two or three comical steamers that ply that water during the summer. This boat landed us at Glenhaven, on the south end of the lake; but we saw nothing but driving rain, darkness, and angry water.

“At Skaneateles one needs a guide for a day or two, to help locate the best ground for trolling and still-fishing. There are more perch here, a very few rock and black bass, pike and pickerel, and many sunfish and bullheads. We rowed the length of the lake, and then fished a whole day off the end of the dock, each convulsed to see the other anxious to get one more little sunfish or perch. Then we sailed and trolled, getting several fine pickerel; but it was long between hooking them, and the sport was abandoned for bullheading at night.

Glenhaven Inlet

“Note the accompanying picture of the tourist who has been out to scatter bits of raw meat over a certain part of promising ground at the south end of the lake, the cows seeking to avoid the flies, the pickerel-weed and scanty bullrushes, and the fine hillside with its dense woods and sloping fields of grain. The building shown is the Glenhaven hotel, — not at all a bad place for anglers and canoeists.

“And the unique feature of this beauty show was the way the bullheads liked the fresh beef on our hooks, and took it in spite of all the turmoil and uproar around our boat straining at anchor and curveting and bowing. We soon had a dozen of about a pound each, their sharp teeth and trap-like jaws, and their peculiar bark taking us away back to the time when we fished for them together by a night fire on the shore of the pond in southern Michigan.

“’Skin a ‘paout with bilin’ water, ‘n fry ‘im,’ drawled our guide from the hotel, as he took a fresh wad from his tobacco pouch, ‘ ‘n he’s good ‘ni for me. Let me show yer a trick naouw. Jes’ wait till I up with ther anchor.’

“There was strenuous pulling of the boat into the wind, and grunts while he heaved at the heavy stone being lifted from the bottom. It appeared as we drifted away fast toward shore, and was covered with bottom grass and weeds. Then a long, silent pull at the oars, and the veering to one side toward the east shore, the slap! slap! slap! of the waves, the uplifting of a little shower of spray from the port side of the the boat as it came up to a straight point, with her bow into the wind, after the anchor was resting on the gravel of an almost unknown reef twenty-five feet below. Then that guide reached in under the bow and pulled out a surprise, — a tin pail with about twenty minnows brought just for this juncture.

“We caught bass. No matter how many. But let the angler who wants a good time at night with black bass ask C.M. Goodspeed at Edgewater to hand one of his men a dollar and tell him to show where the bass may be taken.

“There is a very serious objection to angling and loafing at Skaneateles lake: It is not easy to part with it, and its memories are apt to grip the heart in longing to return.

“And where do all its fireflies come from? Night after night those shores were without a gleam from them. Yet on July 1 at midnight, the shores for miles were fairly lighted with myriads of their tiny lanterns, actually giving a steady, faint radiance of phosphorescence to the air, — as if snowflakes of fire were tormented in a blizzard. Yet the night was without wind.

“Dick sat by me and smoked and looked for an hour, and growled his regret at leaving as he went back to bed. Whether he was so impressed as I was at the fire show I do not know. He merely laughed as he told me a good-night story of the landlord who had been feeding us on ham and eggs. ‘I asked him for a steak in the morning, and he wanted to know how I could expect him to lend money to a stranger. Confound him!’”

— From “Being a Boy Again” by L.F. Brown in Shooting and Fishing, November 30, 1905

* * *

The “C.M. Goodspeed” mentioned had a camp at Five Mile Point, “Edgewater Park,” and loved to fish. He was best known as a ginseng tycoon. He built a number of houses on East Genesee Street and our Goodspeed Place, once his garden, is named for him.

The author of this piece, Levant Frederick Brown (1850-1915), was a prolific writer of articles on nature, fishing and camping, and poetry on the same subjects, for magazines such as Travel, Western Field, Forest and Stream, Recreation, Rod and Gun and Outdoor Life.


— From The Four-Track News, March 1906


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