Ralph Tuttle, left, with a big, fresh early-run east branch St. Mary's salmon
Ralph with a big springer at Miller's Bank, East Rver St. Mary's
Building the cabin
Ralph's very proud little great-grandson
The Tuttle Cabin on Rock Island Pool
By Paul Tuttle, 2018
If there's one thing my father, Ralph Tuttle, loved to do above all else it was to go fishing. He loved fly fishing for Atlantic salmon in particular and preferably on the St. Mary's River. He tied his own flies and made his own fishing rods. He was also a renowned expert on the subject of how and where to catch salmon.
After many years of fishing on the St. Mary's and living in tents while doing so, an opportunity presented itself to acquire a piece of land near the Rock Island pool on the west branch of the river. During the summer of 1969 the lot was cleared, logs were cut and the following year the cabin was constructed.
Having the cabin made it much easier to go fishing and that's what my father did every chance he got. I tagged along on many trips to fish the spring run on the east branch of the river. I remember a few names from those days, Wes MacDougall, Ray Buckland, Gordon Macintosh to name a few. It was quite a thrill whenever one of them would land one of those big fish. Later in the season when the salmon ascended the west branch, it was just a matter of stepping off the cabin porch and he was on the river.
From the first days at the cabin until about the mid-eighties the fishing was very good and on a good day you could limit out in ten minutes if you wanted to. There was a noticeable decline in the salmon numbers from that point on, though as most are aware, they have not rebounded since. Dad's reasoning for the decline was in line with many people's thinking: habitat destruction, acid rain, overfishing on the high seas, etc.
Dad passed away in 1997. He was able to enjoy his cabin and his fishing right up to the end. When you think about how passionate he was about it, he was fortunate to have such a place and to live in a time when the wilderness was still largely unspoiled.
My son now has the cabin and we're giving the old place some much needed attention. My little grandson loves it there too and caught his first trout last summer. There's a picture of my father hanging above the fireplace, and I'm pretty sure he'd approve of what we are doing and be elated that his great-grandson loves to go fishing.
Churn Brook Falls - is a short hike up Churn Brook from where it enters West River St. Mary's, just downstream from Rock Island Pool.
Photograph by Scott Beaver.
St. Mary's River Association
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