White Nose Pete

White Nose Pete was a legend that surfaced in Maine 1897. He was supposedly a giant brook trout that lived in the Rangeley Lakes Region, specifically in the Upper Dam Pool that connected Mooselucmaguntic Lake with Molechunkamunk Lake, which by then had been renamed Upper Richardson Lake. The legend later became a poem written by Charles E. “Shang” Wheeler, and also a wood carving he made of a brook trout’s giant head. Shang was well known as a decoy carver, having won first place twelve years in a row in the amateur division at the annual International Decoy Maker’s Contest held at the National Sportsman’s Show in New York City.

The legend of White Nose Pete persisted into the 1940’s. Shang’s carving of White Nose Pete is the head of a large, leviathan brook trout, with flies embedded about his jaw like a pincushion, that lived in the deep recesses of the pool at Upper Dam, Maine. He always managed to break the leader of any angler that was lucky enough to hook him. The book by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard, Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies, 2000, contains a full account of the legend, the carving, and the story of it being a hoax perpetrated by Shang Wheeler and Carrie and Wallace Stevens against Captain Joseph Bates.

Among my list of Rangeley-themed streamer patterns, I decided to created a streamer named White Nose Pete, though for some time the pattern existed only in name and concept. Interestingly enough, last July, about two months after White Nose Pete was created, still existing as an idea solely in my mind, I got a request from one of my fly-collector customers, who also happens to be a decoy carver and is very familiar with Shang Wheeler. He sent me an e-mail asking me to create a streamer named White Nose Pete. I was one step ahead of my customer at that stage. My customer’s request provided the impetus to create the pattern. I chose the ingredients, selecting green-dyed grizzly, black, and olive hackles for the wings. The colors and markings on these feathers represent the vermiculations on the back of a brook trout, and the throat is orange, black, and white, to mimic the coloration of a brook trout’s fins. Olive floss body and tail are also imitative of a brook trout. Here is the resulting pattern:

White Nose Pete -

White Nose Pete – size #1 – 8x long Gaelic Supreme Martinek / Stevens Rangeley Style streamer hook. Originated, tied, and photographed by Don Bastian.

White Nose Pete

Tag: Flat silver tinsel

Tail: Olive hackle fibers

Ribbing: Flat silver tinsel

Body: Olive floss

Underbelly: White bucktail

Underwing: Four to six strands peacock herl

Throat: Orange hackle fibers, then black hackle fibers, then white hackle fibers

Wing: Two black hackles flanked on each side by one green-dyed grizzly hackle, flanked by one olive hackle

Shoulders: A black-dyed duck or hen body feather

Cheeks: Jungle cock

Head: Black with front half of head white

12 comments on “White Nose Pete

  1. Kelly L says:

    That is a gorgeous fly Don. I love the name, and history behind it. It is an absolute killer.

  2. Alec S. says:

    “Finest kind” Don!

  3. Jeff Ryan says:

    Interesting idea and pattern, Don! I bet Shang and Carrie would get quite a charge out of this pattern! How does it fish?

    Regards, Jeff

    • Don Bastian says:

      Thank you Jeff! Glad you like the fly, and I would hope Shang and Carrie would both be honored. As far as how it fishes, this is the first one, never been in the water thus far. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Terry Chapman says:

    Don, super work! The stories behind each fly are alluring themselves!

  5. joel stansbury says:

    Don, you are really on a roll! Fantastic! If he was alive, White Nose would ‘Chomp’ on that fly for sure!!!

  6. Don Bastian says:

    Hi Joel;
    Thanks for your comment! I’m pleased that you like this streamer!
    Question is, according to your assessment, if I were lucky enough to hook White Nose Pete on this fly, would I land him, or simply decorate his jaw like countless other unsuccessful anglers before me? :mrgreen: Ha, ha, ha! Thanks again for your comment and encouragement!

  7. Timothy Grimm says:

    Sir Don,
    Can I buy one? I’m a lousy fly tier despite the best of equipment and inspiration and materials. This thread is 4 years old and I can be reached at tjgrimm1@hotmail.com.



    Spending the 4th of July 2017 on the Kennebago as the fishing has only improved since Memorial Day!


    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Tim;
      Hard to believe I made that fly, and a bunch of others like it, in a series of Carrie Stevens / Rangeley streamer flies four years ago. Sure you can buy one, but I have presently have some orders lined up. I’ll contact you via e-mail and we can make arrangements and discuss it.
      Lucky you, spending the Holiday Weekend on the Kennebago with fishing that is getting better! Jealous!
      Enjoy the fishin’!

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