Great fishing stories and more

J Wayne Pelletier’s book, Memories from the Fisherman’s Bench, has lots of great fishing stories, but he also shares lots of other great stories about his life, from when he was a kid to throughout his adult life, including his service in the military. While his fishing was mostly in Maine, wherever he was in the world, he managed to fish.

I especially liked this book because I had fishing experiences exactly like his, and often in the same places. For example, he fished in Long Pond, just 10 minutes from my house, and a place I fished a lot.

Wayne is a native of Clinton who lives now in Belgrade. He writes a popular fishing column in The Fisherman’s Bench.

His fishing experiences as a boy were – well, they were my experiences. For example, on the first page, he writes:

As a child, I was allowed to freely roam the woodlands and fields to my heart’s content – as long as I was home for supper. Sometimes, I brought supper home myself: a string of native Eastern Brook Trout caught on Twelve Mile Stream, which runs straight through town.

Me too! As a young boy, I would walk up the hill to the end of High Street in Winthrop, and hike through the woods to a brook where I would catch lots of brook trout. No one worried about me as long as I was home for supper. Quite often I would bring home enough trout to feed my family for supper.

A lot of the time, Wayne fished with family and friends. His wife Laverne loved to fish, and they fished a lot together. Much of the time, Laverne caught more fish than Wayne. That matches my experience with my wife Linda, who didn’t fish until we bought a camp on Sourdehunk Lake in the north woods. After we bought the camp, Linda learned to fly fish, and she often caught more fish than I did. But she was never a fanatic angler. Sometimes she’d catch a bunch of trout and then sit in the boat reading a book.

I also enjoyed Wayne’s encounters with bears while fishing. I had those too, especially on my 3 fishing trips to Alaska. Once on Sourdehunk Lake, I had a bear swim right up to my boat, so I pulled the anchor and speeded away.

Well, if you like to fish, you will love this book, but even if you don’t fish, you will enjoy Wayne’s stories.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.