“Where Flows the Kennebec” is another collection of Arthur MacDougall, Jr.‘s famous Dud Dean stories. Published in 1947 by Coward-McCann, Inc., the book contains a total of 13 captivating stories of hunting and fishing in Maine. The title is attributed to the upper Kennebec River in Maine, where MacDougall spent most of his adult life preaching, fishing, and writing stories. It was a unique place, with unique people and a beautiful Maine woods setting.
I can’t say enough good things about the Dud Dean stories. MacDougall’s ability to create the character of this likable, honest, down-to-earth, old fashioned Maine guide speaks volumes about his writing talent and creativity. His development of a plot within each story has a way of keeping the reader captivated till then end. And the dialogue……well, you just have to read the Dud Dean stories to appreciate the dialogue. It’s true ancient Maine-speak with a twist, and it adds so much to the character of those legendary folks on MacDougall’s Kennebec River.
Here’s a rundown of the thirteen stories in “Where Flows the Kennebec”:
The Sun Stood Still – At the request of a guest, Dud and Mak recall the best day of trout fishing they’d ever had – a day when the sun stood still. It was in the middle of a thunderstorm on the Kennebec River. A friend and his wife were with Dud and Mak on the river, but wanted to go when the rain started pouring and lightning struck. Something peculiar was happening, though. The trout were feeding like mad. While their guests retreated, Dud and Mak fished right through the storm, and a memorable experience it was!
“The Sun Stood Still” is the title of an earlier MacDougall book, published in 1939.
Wiffle’s Cousin – Pierce Pond has always had the unique ability to grow big fish. But in the early days, it was exceptional. Mak has been corresponding with a man from the city who doesn’t believe his claims about the fishing in Pierce Pond. He has to see it for himself. Mak, Dud and the visitor make the trip, and get into some incredible trout and salmon. The ending has a funny twist.
Dead Water Doings – Deadwater is an old abandoned woods town, population: 1. Dud and Mak make their way up to Deadwater to do some fishing. The storekeeper Bert, the town’s only resident, has a boarder in town. A man from Massachusetts has been dreaming of a fly fishing trip to Maine for years. Dud and Mak go out on the stream and get some fishing in. They wander upon the Massachusetts man, and secretly watch as he shows himself to be a very skilled angler. But something happens. Old Bill X, a well known local poacher, shows up on the scene. Bill X intrudes on the young man’s fishing, and all heck breaks loose!
White Deer are Bad Luck – Most all Maine hunters know that it’s bad luck to shoot a white deer. When a visitor joins Mak and Mat Markham on a deer hunting trip, Mat sees a dandy white buck. As much as he warns the out-of-stater to avoid shooting the white deer, the new guy can’t seem to understand the superstition of this old time Maine guide. In the end, the white deer goes down, but it isn’t the new guy who shoots it!
The Governor’s Wife – Dud recalls a trip he took in years past while guiding for a man who had since become a state governor. Dud took the governor and his wife on a fishing excursion to a little pond near the top of Coburn Mountain. The fish didn’t typically grow very big in this particular pond, but the governor’s wife happened to hook onto a huge one while floating on an old raft in the middle of the pond. Craziness ensued.
Ain’t it a Sight? – Dud tells the story of a time when he was tasked by the timber company he worked for to guide a high class Englishman. The fishing was good. Real good. But things went all to heck when the men ran into an enraged moose on the trail back to the cabin. If you’ve ever encountered an angry moose in the forest, you can sure relate to this story!
And the Deal Was Off - Dud recalls the day Mak “swore off trout fishin’ fer-ever”. The Dud, Mak and a man Dud called Cheerio had been on the wettest, slowest fishing trip of the year. The three men were returning home in defeat. Cheerio was the overly positive type, trying to keep Dud and Mak cheered up throughout the trip. Finally, Mak had had enough. He stated right then and there that he was giving up trout fishing for good. And just to prove it, he accepted Cheerio’s offer to buy his rod and reel on the spot. After a diversion, Mak had split up from the group. Dud and Cheerio found him on the stream, casting to rising trout in the snow. And Mak was catching fish! It was safe to say that the deal was off.
The Trout of Standup Rips - The son of two of Dud’s old clients surprises Mak and Dud as they pack their gear for a camping trip. Dud hearkens back to the time he guided the lad’s parents, and tells the incredible story of the big trout that, in a strange way, brought the two together.
My Goodness, Professor! - In his research on the trail of Colonel Benedict Arnold’s army, a professor hires Dud to guide him on the Kennebec. But when the professor’s wife showed up with him, an additional guide, Crab Jones, was hired to assist. With Crab rowing his boat, the professor hooks onto a huge fish. Let’s just say that Crab didn’t perform the duties of ‘guide’ as well as he should have, and the professor really let him know it!
A Duplicious Incident - Two sides of the same story are revealed. Dud and Mak visit notorious poacher Bill X in jail. Bill explains his side of the story, but after multiple corrections from Dud, it’s apparent that Bill can tell quite a yarn himself. I found this story hilarious. It’s worth reading just for the dialogue between Dud and Bill X.
‘Long About Morning – Dud guides a reverend, who couldn’t afford the fishing trip to Maine except for the generosity of one of his congregation. While fishing on the lake, they run into one of Dud’s fellow guides, and a sport who isn’t the most graceful. The reverend shows his character, and helps the other sport catch the fish that he himself should have caught, all the while having the time of his life.
Short Trout and Old Scores – Dud recalls the one and only time he had ever been accused of breaking the fish and game laws. He’s on a job to spot a property line up in the big woods. After a few days, he takes his canoe back downstream and meets Mat Markham and a sport in the pool he wanted to fish. Both parties end up fishing the pool, and Dud lands a huge trout with the help of Mat and the reluctant sport. On their way back downriver, the sport gets Dud back for catching that fish by sticking him in a whole lot of hot water. With the help of Mat Markham, who is fireside when the tale is being told, Dud finds out what really happened that day.
The Red Gods Sat on the Fence – Mak tells the tale of a reunion with a friend, and a great day of bird hunting that’s capped off by an incredible event. Though he won’t admit it, Dud is brought to tears.
Overall, “Where Flows the Kennebec” has been one of my most enjoyable Arthur MacDougall reads. Pick up a copy yourself, you won’t regret that you did.