This is a fine example of the taxidermist’s art from Herb Welch of the Rangeley Lake Region in Maine. In its prime, the region was home to legions of fat trophy brook trout and sports from all over the country traveled there to try their luck.
The next best thing to hooking and landing one of these monster brook trout was to have a custom mount made of it by a talented taxidermist and artist like Herb Welch.
This trophy brookie was caught by W.H. Gammon on Kennebago Lake, possibly in the 1930s, and is a fine example of Herb Welch’s work, who used highly artistic and realistic designs with skin mounts over wooden forms carved by hand.
Welch was a bit of a Renaissance man, in addition to his artistic taxidermy, painting, and drawing, he was a championship caster who performed at many fishing and outdoor shows in his day. He guided as well, fishing with President Herbert Hoover and Ted Williams, among other celebrities, He was also the originator of the Black Ghost streamer fly pattern.
Welch’s life (1879-1960) included art studies in Paris and New York, as well as possible involvement in an unsolved local murder, all beautifully chronicled in Graydon and Les Hilyard’s book “Herbert L. Welch: Black Ghosts and Art in a Maine Guide’s Wilderness”.
Steve Woit is the author of “Fly Fishing Treasures: The World of Fly Fishers and Collecting”, a book featuring profiles of 30 experts and collectors and over 800 photographs of rare and collectible fly rods, reels, flies, books, and ephemera.