COMMERCIAL FISHING ON POCOMOONSHINE LAKE
In the 1890's Fred Harriman and his brother-in-law Sidney Cheney arrived from the Gardner, Maine area. Fred acquired most of lot 18 from Jasper Bailey' in Alexander and Sidney acquired all (or part of) lot 19. They built houses on either side of the Pokey Road near the shore of Pocomoonshine Lake.
Sidney Cheney (1861- ) was married to Flora Harriman, daughter of Jaob and Harriet (Brann) Harriman. Sidney was a millman and built a sawmill next to his home. He sawed long lumber with this steam powered mill.
Fred Harriman (1855-1938) was Flora's brother. He apparently worked at the mill with Sidney (and Sidney's son Harold). Fred was also a farmer and a fisherman.
In the old days Pocomoonshine Lake contained white perch and square tailed trout. In the l890's, Fred Harriman and Frank Averill brought pickerel over from Big Lake in barrels with a team, and released them into Pokey. There were no laws back then preventing this. They were commercial fisherman and there was a market for pickerel. In a few short years the fish grew and multiplied.
The open water fishing routine would use up to six men, each in a canoe or boat. Sometimes these watercraft were poled, sometimes paddled, and sometimes rowed. Fred apparently rowed an 18-foot canoe. This all depends on whose memory we use, and likely on the man providing the muscle power.
The tools included a pole about 15 feet long. Bamboo was probably preferred because it was light and easy to handle, but cedar was also used. Attached to the pole was a line of about equal length with a three-gang hook. The hook was baited with a strip of either red flannel, or white flannel, or salt pork (again depending on memory and for what the fisherman happened to like or have on hand). Again memories or practices differ; some fishermen were said to have used hand lines with 50 feet of line and a red, white and silver spoon with three gang hook with feathers. Each fisherman had two wooden boxes with him, one empty for the fish and one full of ice.
Besides Fred, men who fished on somewhat a regular basis his son Arthur, his son-in-law Blake Eastman, and Durias Williams. Frank Averill may have fished, but does not show up on Alexander or Princeton census records. Others fished occasionally and we'd like to complete this list.
The fishing process was simple. The hooks were baited and the lure was cast then skittered along the water surface back to the boat. The fish (not just pickerel) yellow perch from the river and white perch as well) were placed Into the empty box and covered with ice.
When the box was full (or by mid afternoon) the fisherman would return to the fish house on the shore of the lake west of where Fred lived. Here the fish packed into new boxes with fresh ice. The heads and tails were left on. One report stated that the fish were not gutted before shipping. The boxes used would be products of Sidney Cheney’s mill,
On a regular basis, Fred drove his wagon over via Fishhouse Lane and down through the water to soak the wooden wheels tight in the iron rims, the boxes were loaded onto the wagon, taken to the Woodland railroad station, and shipped to the Boston market. They'd be there the next morning! By 1931, Roland Perkins had a new Ford truck and would haul the fish to the railroad station in Calais.
The ice that was used for packing and preserving the fish came from Pocomoonshine Lake. It was cut early in the season, when the ice was about a foot thick. Thicker blocks would be harder to handle. The ice was stored in the icehouse behind the fish house and packed in sawdust. Those ice blocks were probably about 18 inches square. The sawdust would have come from Sidney's mill.
Fred fished through the ice also. He would cut holes in a big circle, maybe 1/4 mile across. He stated that the fish were attracted to the light. Ice fishing is cold work and he wore a heavy long bear skin coat and a big hat with netting hanging from it to protect his eyes. He would walk the circle collecting fish
In the 1930's, Miles ''Hank'' Seamans of Princeton fished for pickerel near Lewey Brook. He built a windbreak and fished through the ice at the same place week after week. He carried the fish to Princeton in a knapsack. Peter Carle (Park's father) cut white birch from 1932 to 1939 in this area and kept the road to Princeton iced up so he could deliver the wood to the U. S. Pegwood and Shank Company mill there.
Hank would walk this 3 to 4 mile iced road. The fish were packed in ice and shipped to Boston. Parks Carle remembers that the price was 5 cents per pound which was probably a dollar or more a day, not bad wages during the depression. At other times of the year, Hank fished Lewey Lake and Long Lake.
In November and December, the Corbett boys from Plantation 21 fished commercially through the ice at Blood Cove. Harry, Joe, Ted, Herbert, Carroll, and Frank had come from Dennysville with their parents. The fish being caught at this time were about 30 inches long and were black in color.
Some of the local descendants of Fred and Climena (Preble) Harriman include Rick Sears of Baileyville, Peter Sears of Crawford, and Ruth (Blaney) Knowles of Alexander. Ruth descends from both Fred and Sidney.
Sources of information: Parks Carle, John M. Dudley, Orris Cousins and Fletcher Perkins.