The Wulff Den

Salmon fishing & fly tying on the Miramichi...

Friday, 22 April 2016

Some pictures from opening weekend 2016.

I was going to do a report but figured I'd let the pictures do the talking on this one.. suffice to say, everything you've heard is true - the fishing is excellent and this has been our best season opener ever! And if it wasn't for the wind on Friday & Saturday (April 15th & 16th) the weather would have been absolutely perfect with enough snow left in the yard to keep the beer cold.

These pictures are just a fraction of the fish we landed - If you're sitting at home reading this please back away from your computer and GO FISHING! IT'S ON!

(Pictures in no particular order)



Tuesday, 19 April 2016

"Double J Smelt" - a black salmon fly.. that was supposed to be a trout fly..

Way back in the spring of 2015, just when the river was warming up and the trout were starting to bite I felt an urgent need to tie up an original or as close to original "trouty" streamer as I could. I seldom fish well-known patterns as I get great enjoyment out of hooking fish with something I dreamed up while at the vise. This streamer would have to be something suitable for casting from shore or hauling behind a boat in spring. It would also have to be a somewhat natural/smelt-ish looking creature with a light coloured bottom and a dark coloured top - like every other smelt fly out there. Ever since I can remember, I was told that red was an essential trout colour and any fly worth it's weight as a trout catcher incorporated red somewhere in it's design. So, earthy with a bit of red with a bit of flash was the mindset and these are the ingredients that sprang forth from my portable fly tying kit while at camp:

hook: your favorite black salmon hook - this one is a 3/0 mustad 3191 tweaked in the vise
thread: red uni 6/0
tag: silver uni oval tinsel
tail: mallard
butt: red chenille
body: silver braid
rib: silver uni oval tinsel
throat: white bucktail or polar bear (if you have any) under several strands pearl flashabou
wing: olive bucktail under black synthetic (to save bulk) under several strands rainbow krystal flash under several strands peacock herl
cheeks: wood duck

I'm not even sure how original this pattern is and it's most likely inspired by many other patterns I've seen. But, this combination of materials was literally pulled from an ingredient limited travel-sized tying kit based on how they'd hide a bit of red behind natural-ish colours. Oh and of course it needed a bit of flash - that's a given as I have absolutely no roots in the purism of traditional fly tying - flashabou or krystal flash are just materials to me whose utility and effectiveness are without question.

The interesting part in all of this is Dad decided to tie one on in the spring of 2015 and apparently it hasn't come off his spring rod yet.. During this past weekend, our NB season opener, this fly absolutely slayed.... trolled literally feet from various other patterns, kelt hammered this fly over and over. I even had a chance to try it out in the same setting (trolling) and for an hour the fish constantly ignored every other fly that swam along side this one. I got back to camp and discussed with Dad how effective this fly had been for me and it was then I realized the pattern had yet to be named. Obviously, the name would be "Joe's Smelt" (after Dad), but after a quick google search I realized the name had already been taken. It required a bit more, but not a lot more thought as Dad, or Joe, fishes with another Joe, of the Holmes variety.. There's an ongoing, inside joke about Joe and Joe or "Double J" as they are referred to while out trolling so the "Double J Smelt" was born.

Here's one that's been chewed on by 20 landed kelts this season, an unknown number from 2015 and who knows how many hooked and lost... Oh yeah, and a bunch of brookies as well:

Here are a few fresh from the vise, just itching to be chewed!

If you have a chance, tie a few for your box - or I can tie some for you for a small fee - muahaha!

Tight lines and treat those kelts with the respect they deserve - 30% of them are consecutive, repeat spawners!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A response from the Feds...

I recently received a reply from the Federal Government to our letter supporting salmon management and conservation. If they do what they say they're going to do (base their decision on science) then it's a no-brainer and there'll be no tags for the 2016 season. Of course this remains to be seen as the regulations remain a secret as of this posting, less than a week from opening day of the 2016 season. The longer this goes on the less hope I have that science is running the show at DFO.... (please prove me wrong!)

28 Reasons to support salmon management and conservation:

Ministerial Correspondence Control Unit
 Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Government of Canada
 200 Kent Street / Ottawa ON  K1A 0E6 / Tel: 613-992-3474 / Fax: 613-990-7292

 Unité de contrôle de la correspondance ministérielle
 Pêches et Océans Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
 200, rue Kent / Ottawa ON  K1A 0E6 / Tél : 613-992-3474 / Téléc : 613-990-7292

 Mr. Howie Gould and Co-Signatories
 < >

 Dear Mr. Gould and Co-Signatories:

 Thank you for your correspondence of February 25, 2016, addressed to the Honourable Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, regarding grilse harvest plans for the salmon recreational fishery for 2016.  I have been asked to respond on the Minister's behalf.

 As you are aware, public consultations for the 2016 season were recently held using tools such as online surveys, as well as through discussions with Indigenous groups, recreational fish harvesters, and other impacted stakeholders.  This process, together with science advice, will guide all of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO's) decisions regarding the recreational fishery management plans for 2016.

 The feedback of stakeholders, like yourself and your colleagues, is very important.  I want to assure you that all decisions regarding management approaches, including decisions on hook and release policies, will be based on the best available science.

 This is a very important fishery, and DFO will continue to work to protect and conserve it for the benefit of current and future generations of Canadians.

 Thank you for writing.

 Yours sincerely,

 Original Signed By

 Kevin Stringer
 Senior Assistant Deputy Minister
 Ecosystems and Fisheries Management

Thursday, 7 April 2016

2016 HRAA Fundraising Dinner & Auction, Saturday MAY 7th

I got off to a bit of a late start on this one - HRAA is holding their annual fundraising dinner & auction on Saturday May 7th and I'm looking for fly donations. The Hammond River Angling Association is a group of progressive and dedicated conservationists who specialize in salmon conservation, river restoration and youth engagement. All money raised by this group is well used in these efforts so please join me in supporting them with a few flies for their auction/raffle/dinner!

Due to my late start I'm asking that any flies you can muster are sent directly to Paul at the following address:

Hammond River Angling Association
10 Porter Road
Nauwigewauk, NB
E5N 6X1
Attn: Paul Daigle
Ph:  (506) 832-1230

Paul also does a regular a regular loop and could most likely pick your contributions up (please coordinate with him directly as I'll be away fishing!)

"I make periodic trips to Fredericton and Moncton so I could easily pick up any contributions in the Fredericton - Moncton - Saint John circuit"

Friday, 26 February 2016

Salmon Anglers support the document “28 Reasons to Support Salmon Management and Conservation” (A rebuttal to “28 reasons to oppose the live release of grilse")

(picture by Paul W Elson or Stephanie Groom-Elson)

Subject: Salmon Anglers support the document “28 Reasons to Support Salmon Management and Conservation” (A rebuttal to “28 reasons to oppose the live release of grilse")

Document link:

To whom it may concern,

We, the undersigned, are a group of Atlantic salmon anglers from NB, NS, PEI, NL and the United States who are in support of DFO's positive action of ceasing grilse harvest in 2015. We hope this repeats for the 2016 season and carries forward until returns achieve conservation levels and river by river management is implemented to ensure angling harvest is responsible, measurable and sustainable. Although we're not the authors of the attached rebuttal, it DOES represent our views and we believe it should be a strong factor when considering the management strategy for the upcoming salmon fishing season(s). A single season of mandatory catch and release does NOT take into consideration the life cycle of Atlantic salmon. (Video of life cycle:

We acknowledge the following since the implementation of mandatory grilse release in 2015:

- The change has caused much discussion among many user groups.
- Arguments have been championed by a well-known member of the salmon fishing community I.E.  “28 reasons to oppose the live release of grilse”
- Those arguments have received a lot of attention and fanfare.
- It could therefore be imagined that these arguments are representative of all salmon fishermen.
- These arguments ARE NOT representative of all salmon fishermen.
- Catch and Release is a valuable conservation measure that is required to save the future of Atlantic Salmon.
- Catch and Release is not the only conservation measure that is required to save the future of Atlantic Salmon.
- It is our privilege to angle for Atlantic salmon, not our birthright nor that of anyone else (First Nations excluded). Conservation trumps all.
- When returns are not meeting conservation minimums, every fish counts - including grilse.

We wish to note the following exception to point number 15's rebuttal, where the authors recognize and accept that C&R is the "last step before a total closure". Total closures have not been proven to "limit harm" to salmon populations in any way. Total closures, as a means of population recovery, are ineffective and in the era of conscientious C&R anglers, total closures will actually INCREASE harm by taking away the interest in volunteering, involvement with NGO's, fundraising and poaching deterrence. We reject this "old way" of management and take offence to the very idea of total closures.  The only type of closure we agree with is the temporary warm water protocol, triggered during hot summer weather where river levels are low and water temperatures are high. C&R salmon anglers should be officially recognized in management policy, as a positive force for conservation through their involvement with NGO and volunteer groups as well as being a deterrent to poaching, etc. If C&R angling goes, interest will cease and there will quickly be no salmon left to manage.

In closing, it is our sincere hope that the document “28 Reasons to Support Salmon Management and Conservation” receives the same distribution, fanfare and consideration as the previous, and arguably misguided “28 reasons to oppose the live release of grilse”. In writing their rebuttal, the authors have focused on fact and logic to back their arguments instead of the repetitive and emotional rhetoric used in the document opposing grilse release. We wish to offer our thanks to the authors who took much time and effort in crafting this excellent response. It was necessary for someone to produce and broadly distribute a rebuttal so that the other side of the argument, but more importantly Atlantic salmon, could be represented in this discussion. We also wish to thank the men and women who work for salmon conservation, many of whom do so as volunteers and ALL of whom are working towards more salmon in our rivers for everyone. A short time ago, Canada elected a new Federal Government who were given a clear mandate in the Atlantic provinces. We heard much about how things were going to change and also of the commitment to evidence-based decisions while assuring scientists would be un-muzzled and listened to. It is unimaginable how DFO, under the former government, would cease harvest while simultaneously allowing C&R angling (proving the value of anglers) only to turn around and allow retention one year later. How could this be considered without evidence of any river reaching healthy salmon populations? How could one year of catch and release achieve this outcome, considering the lifecycle of the Atlantic salmon?

We are engaged and we expect real movement and implementation of the 2015 Ministerial Advisory Committee recommendations.

Sincerely, the undersigned: 

Wayne Ackley
Marshfield Maine, U.S.A

Rob Agar
Fredericton, N.B.

John Alward
Moncton, N.B.

Mike Bardsley
Bedford, N.S.

Rene Battah
Caraquet, N.B.

Bob Bissett
Fall River, N.S.

Kevin Branch
Burton, N.B. 

Andrew Chandler
Rothesay, N.B. 

Steven Clapperton
Antigonish, N.S. 

Jean-Claude Cormier
Quispamsis, N.B. 

Aurele Daigle
Smithtown, N.B. 

Paul Daigle
Nauwigewauk, N.B.

Steve Delaney
Nauwigewauk, N.B. 

Will Doyle
Quispamsis, N.B.

Stephen Drage
Halifax, N.S. 

Paul P Elson
Saint John, N.B.

Paul W Elson
Saint John, N.B. 

Stephanie Groom-Elson
Saint John, N.B. 

Bill Ensor
Saint John, N.B. 

Dave Flanagan
Red Bank, N.B. 

Gary Fraser
Middle River, N.S.

Julian Furlaga
Moncton, N.B. 

Karol Furlaga
Moncton, N.B. 

Andrew Giffin
Sussex, N.B.

Joe Gillis
Summerside, P.E.I.

Steve Gillis
Quispamsis, N.B. 

Howie Gould
Saint John, N.B.

Joe Gould
Saint John, N.B. 

AJ Greenhow
Springhill, N.S. 

Brad Hill
Fredericton, N.B. 

Kris Leblanc
Memramcook, N.B. 

Paul Leblanc
Dieppe, N.B.

Brad Leger
Fredericton, N.B. 

Bill Lendorf
Saint John, N.B.

Kim Colello Macgarvie
Cape Breton, N.S.

Rod MacQueen
Fredericton, N.B.

Taylor Main
Cornwall, P.E.I. 

Derek Martin
Moncton, N.B. 

Syd Matchett
Trout Brook, N.B.

Michael McKinnon
Middleton, N.S.

Blake Milbury
Bear River, N.S.

Andy Miller
Smithtown, N.B. 

Darrin Moran
Moncton, N.B. 

Don Moroz
Moncton, N.B.

Erik Neilson
Waterville Maine, U.S.A. 

Andrew O'Hanley
Quispamsis, N.B.

Gord Osmond
Cape Breton, N.S.

Brandon Paterson
Steeves Settlement, N.B.

Roland Pentz
Wabush, NL

Gordie Richard
Moncton, N.B.

Brett Silliker
Lyttleton, N.B. 

Larry Shortt
Lower Sackville, N.S.

Chris Sinclair
Charlottetown. P.E.I. 

Paul Smith
Pictou County, N.S.

Vincent Swazey
Boisetown, N.B. 

Gary Tanner
Bennington Vermont, U.S.A. 

Leigh Voutier
Sydney Mines, N.S. 

Paul Westbury
Blackville, N.B. 

Mark Willigar
Springhill, N.S. 

(59 people so far)

(picture by Paul P. Elson, Jeff Allen or Gary Tanner)

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Larry's Gulch

Larry's Gulch trip August 15th, 16th, 17th/2015

It was just another morning at the office when the phone rang about 2 weeks ago .. I could tell I was on speaker and there were a couple of my good friends on the other end ... "Ya got any money?" the voice said, to which I replied "why, where are we going?". Even now, sitting at home looking through the 400+ pictures Sharleen and I took, I still can't believe the answer Debbie and Paul gave: "Larry's Gulch!". I had an opportunity last year (which I didn't take) to fish some clear water on the Restigouche so there was no possible way I was turning this one down, warm weather, low water or not. This trip would be my first to the mighty and gin clear Restigouche, and I know it will not be the last. In the Miramichi system, we fish salmon most times on faith alone as we're unable to see into the dark bottomed, tannin stained waters -- unlike the Restigouche where you know IF there are fish in the pool, WHERE they are located, and most times how MANY and how BIG they are... On the first day I suffered a bit of eye strain by trying to spot fish from the front of our 26' canoe while going up river at full speed - can you blame me?

We managed to put together a wonderful group of folks including my wife, Sharleen, who took some absolutely beautiful pictures (many of which are below), My Mom & Dad (Cathy & Joe), Paul & Stephanie, Debbie & Dale and last but certainly not least, Kathy and Fred - the man who can single hand, overhead cast an 8wt, twelve and a half foot spey rod all day long - no joke!

We arrived on Saturday afternoon (August 15th) after a pit stop in Quebec because apparently they have cheap beer there - not that I would EVER purchase out-of-province bud light at 48 cans for $54 - how would the poor, destitute province of NB survive if I did such a thing? But I digress... back to the story, but not before a cold bud light =P Muhaha!

I mentioned it was warm, right? I can't remember exactly when I took this picture but it wasn't the warmest part of the day and it only got hotter as the trip went on, all the while the river was dropping. In fact, the motors on the guide's canoes were occasionally touching the bar above Soldier's pool as we "puckered" over it on our way to Flying Eddy and Fence pools.

Once we got settled I had to go dip my toes in the river which seemed surprisingly cool considering the temps.

The view down river from the dock:

The view up river:

After meeting the wonderful staff and camp manager, Arnold,  we were treated to a delicious meal, which meant we'd soon be meeting our guides and hit the river for our first outing. Oh baby, was I EVER in my happy place :)

The walk down to the dock where this silly grin of mine is 100% mandatory!

Our guide was Jean-Paul Larouche who is a quiet man, full of local knowledge which he was always willing to share when asked. He knows the river like the back of his hand and both Sharleen and I enjoyed his company very much to the point it was tough saying good-bye to him on our last day. He put me on fish and recommended a couple flies (Crevette & the Yellow bug - both dry flies) which proved effective in hooking 2 of the 3 fish I tangled with. Only 2 made it into the log book as I broke the third off at the net. Fight 'em fast like you're not scared to lose 'em, is my motto!

Jean-Paul Larouche or "JP" for short:

Working on my eye strain:

My lovely wife Sharleen: (XOXO)

Howdy strangers! (Maw & Paw)

Paul & Steph @ Flying Eddy:

Debbie & Dale:

Wet flies proved not to be on the menu during this trip as not a single fish, if I recall correctly, was hooked on one... this was an "all dry" trip - 'cept for the booze, that is ;-)

Tying on a "Blue Angel"

(Sorry for the 'man spread' - thank goodness the rod was blocking my er, nevermind)

The view down river from our anchor point:

The view of my first tight line -- a Carter's bug did the job on this little grilse, although when he took the fly he did so with such great enthusiasm he missed it with his mouth and caught it with his tail! I've fought ten pounders with greater ease than this rascally little devil!

We landed and released him without a picture - figured the poor guy had already been through enough for one day.

The sequence of events might be a little off on my re-telling of our Larry's Gulch adventure - it was an awesome trip but a very busy one, so that's my excuse for any errors.

Mom & Dad's guide was a gentleman named Paul, who like JP, was an expert on every rock, riffle and lie and he put Dad over fish the entire trip.

Through Paul's expertise, experience and encouragement, Dad got his fish which really put a cherry on top of an excellent trip. It was quite a challenge to raise a fish, let alone hook one as the conditions were very hot in low water. Whoever said salmon were fish of a thousand casts has only ever fished in perfect conditions, it's more like ten thousand casts and I know because I counted! Way to stick with it, Dad.

A bomber in mid flight:
(If memory serves, Dad actually hooked up on a rat-faced Macdougall)

Dad's grilse in the net!

Grilse in hand :)

Like I said, chances are the order is a bit messed up but the next day was our full day on the river. I'm not sure where everyone ended up fishing in the morning but Sharleen and I ended up at Upper Fence and Paul & Steph were at Fence. A few pictures from the journey up river:

Dad with Camp Manager, Arnold on the dock. Arnold is a heck of a great guy!

Paul, Steph, Fred & Kathy getting ready to head up river:

A few pictures of the morning fog taken by Mom:

A few of Sharleen's morning pics - did I mention how awesome this place is?

Sharleen on the trip up river (XOX):

Upper Fence:

Paul & Steph down at Fence:

We put in most of the morning without seeing much action, in fact we saw maybe 4 fish show the entire time. It was almost time to head out when JP said, "here, try my rod with the killer crevette". Exactly four casts later WHAMMO! Grilse on!

Sharleen did an awesome job catching the action on film and here's the entire sequence:

What a great way to end our morning outing!

Back to the lodge for lunch, a little light soda drinking and, of course, a little light fly tying -  I just HAD to tie a few at Larry's. If anyone going to the Gulch happens to read this, look up in this room for a little 'easter egg' I left - I hope it brings someone a tight line or 2 :)

After fly tying, some folks went for a nap but I slid down to the river with my 9wt. spey to stretch the line out for a while. I figure there are at least 17 trillion parr in front of the lodge as my fly felt like someone was trying to communicate with me through morse code on every single swing - it was nuts! Once we got the afternoon in and another wonderful supper it was time for the evening fish. I was very excited as we were finally getting to fish Soldier's pool! What someone failed to tell me was that on weekends, Soldier's becomes a very popular gathering spot for locals for swimming and boating. I think we had about a half hour of undisturbed fishing, the rest of the time it was like grand central station and there was no way we were going to have any luck. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

You can almost see JP & Sharleen's level of annoyance with our boater/swimmer "friends"..

We finished up a scenic and uneventful evening with thoughts of finishing up our trip the next morning with a fish at the lower part of Flying Eddy.

Our last morning at Larry's:

We settled in and got down to business. We could clearly see several different groups of fish so it was just a matter of annoying the hell out of them long enough to see if we could move one or 2 with dry flies. We did several drops and the further down the pool, the more active the fish seemed to be - things were looking up.

Trout attack:
He just had to have that Carter's bug - a.k.a. "trout buster 5000"

Some time later I heard a splash but could see no surface disturbance from a fish... Then a minute or 2 later Sharleen & JP pointed to a moose crossing the river below us - pretty cool :)

It was getting on and I had moved a small salmon and rolled a grilse on a white wulff and then a Carter's bug. JP had another fly suggestion:

The Yellow bug (a dry fly):

Given the fact his previous suggestion netted me a grilse I was only too eager to oblige JP. The group of fish I was harassing were more or less lined up with the outboard motor directly across from me.

The drift:

It wasn't long before I saw some movement and finally FISH ON!

And that's when the line went KER-SNAP! Somewhere in the Restigouche river swims a nice grilse with a yellow bug in the corner of his mouth. With any luck he'll be able to rub it off on a rock or it'll just fall out as that is definitely one of the BIG bonuses of barbless hooks.


And yet another great job on the camera by my lovely wife, Sharleen, who said she had a wonderful time and would definitely "do this again". She got to see what all the fuss was about and why people are so fanatical and obsessed with this incredible species. I love you babe and I'm so happy you came to Larry's with me!

If any of you reading this ever have a chance to go to Larry's do NOT pass it up. No matter the water, weather or fishing conditions this is an amazing place which MUST remain property of the Province of New Brunswick. This was my opinion of Larry's before I went on this trip and now that I've been there my opinion has only been reinforced. If Larry's Gulch ever became property of private interests, average New Brunswickers like myself will NEVER have a chance to experience one of the great wonders of our beautiful province. Larry's Gulch is staffed by an amazing group of people who sincerely care about their guests and bend over backwards to accommodate. Linda and the kitchen staff hit you with one amazing meal after another while Arnold works behind the scenes (and out in front) to ensure all goes smoothly for his guests. The guides are all very professional, personable, knowledgeable and always do their best for their sports AND their quarry.

This will not be my last trip to Larry's!