People You Know: Born to fish

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LEWISTON — Gabriel “Gabby” Giguere started leading his first fishing expeditions for strangers at age 12.

“The old man used to keep the money — just one time I kept it,” Giguere said. He bought a pole.

One of eight kids growing up in Tramway, in the Allagash region, Giguere would go with his family on days-long trips to trap, hunt and fish around Churchill and Eagle Lakes. In a good year, they might trap 30 to 40 beavers, he said.

A bumper beaver crop of 150 pelts when Giguere was 16 gave his family the money to move from remote northern Maine, where they were the last ones in the area, to a farmhouse in Durham.

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Today, he fishes with poles that he’s built, using flies that he’s tied as well as a gorgeous inlaid net that he’s carved and strung. He made his own paddle for his canoe and three years ago recaned the seats.

The state honored the 87-year-old this month for his decades spent outdoors with Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Giguere’s not in the woods and lakes as much as he used to be, but still ties fishing flies in a work station in his home filled with feathers, thread and tiny tools of the trade. He gave away more than 100 flies last year.

“I’m getting good at it,” Giguere said with a smile.

All four of his and wife Cecile’s sons fish. Their daughter, not so much.

The couple, married 68 years, met when he worked in the Hill Mill and she worked in the Bates Mill. Giguere had a car that burned through a quart of oil every day. The owner of the Auburn gas station where he always stopped introduced them in 1948.

On date nights, “we used to go to Sim’s (in Auburn) and eat lobster, it was 99-cents: lobster, French fries and a chocolate milk,” Giguere said. 

The couple married a year later.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into — I had never been to a wedding,” he said.

Sitting at their kitchen table, the couple sweetly kidded each other.

“Looking back, I’d do it all over again — with the same man,” Cecile said.

Back in the day, he used to catch fish and she used to cook them. These days, he likes to cook as well.

Giguere only fishes for trout and salmon. He’s gone out a lot over the years in the Rangeley area.

Three years ago, Giguere was in Rangeley reeling in salmon left and right.

“The woman (fishing near him) was there for two to three hours, she hadn’t caught a fish yet,” he said. “I catch four salmon in a row; she hasn’t caught nothing. I was ready to leave so I told her to come over. I gave her six flies, all different colors. I showed her what I was doing. The third cast, she caught a salmon 20-some-odd inches long — she even gave me a hug.”

kskelton@sunjournal.com

Gabriel “Gabby” Giguere shows off a couple of the flies he tied in his home in Lewiston that he says “you won’t find in any store, anywhere.”

Gabriel “Gabby” Giguere shows off a couple of the flies he tied in his home in Lewiston that he says “you won’t find in any store, anywhere.”

Gabriel “Gabby” Giguere tied this fly in his home in Lewiston that he says “you won’t find in any store, anywhere.”

An assortment of flies that Gabriel “Gabby” Giguere tied in his home in Lewiston that he says “you won’t find in any store, anywhere.”

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