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
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