Salmon fishing & fly tying on the Miramichi...

Monday, 15 October 2012

My LAST weekend fishing report of 2012 .... (part 2 of 2)

After a great day on the river with Paul, I arrived back at the camp to expect to see Dad, Joe and Bill there but they were running a bit late. So I made some supper and a hot cup of tea to try to warm up a bit. This evening was to be the last session around the campfire for 2012 so I needed to build a foundation to support the evening’s events. Shortly after I got the camp warmed up and supper finished the lads showed up. Apparently a back road navigational error in unfamiliar territory caused a lengthy backtrack. Oh well, at least everyone was safe. We bundled up, arranged ourselves around the campfire and began agitating. As the evening wore on and the wood supply dwindled we realized how cold it was and decided it was time to retreat to the warmth of the trailer. Doug was supposed to come up that evening but he was pretty beat from a long week at work and wouldn’t be up until the next morning. Our plans were to meet up somewhere on the Cains and fish together for the last time this season.
A cool evening campfire:
There were to be no alarms the next morning as our mission was simply to finish closing and winterizing the camp, have some breakfast and head home while stopping for a quick fish along the way. Dad, Bill and Joe opted not to fish and headed straight for home.

Ice from the ‘automatic dishwasher’:

A cold set of waders:
The Southwest Miramichi:

One of the half dozen Whiskey Jacks who joined us for breakfast:
A.K.A. Canada Jay, Gray Jay, Moose Bird, Gorby – this critter of many names are amazingly bold and will often eat from your hand.

After we finished eating and cleaning up we briefly discussed our plans to begin building the Wulff Den proper next spring! 2013 is going to be an exciting year at the camp, assuming of course we all survive Dec 21st/2012 *rolls eyes* So we said good-bye to the camp, then each other and hit the road. I headed into the woods up the South Cains road to my first stop.

Last year Doug and I had an incredible fall fishing session at this pool – We showed up, made one pass through the pool, he landed a monster salmon, I landed a grilse and I broke off another monster – all in the first pass among a number of other fishermen. I was hoping for a second chance at the monster that broke me off but it was not meant to be. I did see a couple fish porpoise but there was to be no love for the Canary. Midway through my first pass Doug showed up and we chatted about what to do and he said casting at the next pool up would be a whole lot easier – he also uses a spey rod but  only uses it overhead so he needs a lot of room for his back cast. I was happy he showed up as I was seriously considering finishing my season for good after that first pass …

We arrived at salmon brook to find a few fellows having a midday snack in the parking area. They were nice enough lads, and we had a great discussion about live release and conservation… Our chat got onto the striped bass and grey seal situation and it was agreed that something needed to be done. These gentlemen had caught striped bass as high up the Southwest Miramichi as Blissfield. We each shared our favorite preparation methods for bass … I’ll leave it at that…

(remember the red leafed tree mentioned in part 1?)

So down to the river we raced - I gave Doug a freshly tied marabou pattern and I opted to skip the Canary this time and tied on the Showgirl to see if I could pull out a Hail Mary on my last pass of the season. The Cains was also full of yellow and red leaves but clear. Doug went down through first and his plan was to just go down about 50 yards from the mouth of the brook and call it quits before hitting another pool. My plan was to make this pass then head out as I wanted to be home by suppertime. We each made our way down through, I was tucked up quite close to him for the amount of line we were throwing because there was quite a queue growing on shore. A longer cast means our swings also take longer and I was trying to observe the step-cast-step etiquette necessary in crowded public pools. To keep the conga line moving at the expected pace I had to start stripping in about ¾’s through the swing which was ok with me as my fly would be over the sweet spot before then anyways ;-) Doug finished his abbreviated pass and stepped out and went up to the queue area. When he was walking by he said ‘Some quite, eh?’ to which I agreed and said back to him ‘I only have a dozen more casts and I’m done as well’. So I continued to work down through and I was really starting to get a feeling back for my Skagit line which I had only put back on earlier that morning as I knew we would be fishing ‘river right’ in heavy wind. For me this means double spey and that line punches through wind like nobody’s business. I was down to about 3 steps remaining when I felt the BIG PULL again and saw a tremendous splash in front of me followed quickly by a “RIGHT ON HOWIE!!” from Doug who had witnessed the whole thing! I lifted up and started to fight this beautiful but dark hen fish. I was in a daze almost like it was the first fish I had ever hooked and didn’t know what I was doing... I think it was more the shock of what had just happened – I mean these last minute, pull a rabbit out of your hat moments never happen to fellas like me?! Anyways, once Doug got down by my side and calmed me down it all started coming back and we worked on getting her in. It took a few attempts to tail her but no harm was done. She remained in the water for all but 5 seconds to snap a few pictures. We fumbled the hand off so I only managed a few pictures of Doug holding her. The exact same thing happened to us but in reverse last year on his much bigger salmon I mentioned in part 1. A fumbled hand off and the only pics that were taken were with me holding his fish. I can’t say it bothers me because it’s nice to see a fish that fought so hard take off so quickly with so much vigor. I guess that’s the advantage of lots of cold water – a condition that was rare in 2012.

Thanks Doug, it was a great day on the river!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

My LAST weekend fishing report for 2012.....(part 1)

I'll be honest, getting up to the camp this past weekend was a bit of a bag drive.... I wasn't terribly enthusiastic about it and the thoughts of fishing in the cold, wind and rain wasn't terribly exciting. In fact, I was more interested in birds so I made sure I picked up a hunting license and dusted off the trusty old Remington 870 Express - is there a more reliable utility grade pump gun? The plan was to duck out a wee bit early on Thursday and drive to the camp via the back roads from the 123 a.k.a. the Grandlake Road so that I could do some 'hollywood' hunting before it got too dark. About 2 kilometres on the Chipman side from the Cains river bridge there is a logging road called the Acadia Road. This road meets the South Cains road some 40-ish kilometres is the woods - great chance to drive along and scope for some birds. When I made the turn off the pavement and started seeing some of the fall colours a change began... my less than chipper mood about this endeavour began to be pushed aside as I remembered how much I love the fall and everything to do with it... This season has been so terrible fishing-wise that I became obsessed with the weather details and river levels to the point that I forgot to stop and smell the roses... I've been so worried about something I can't control ... I suspect I'm not the only NB'er or salmon fishermen to have had suffered the same affliction this 2012 season!

Inspiring Fall colours (yes, the 'U' belongs)

I made my way through the Acadia road and finally got to the South Cains road - no birds sighted. I decided to stop at Salmon Brook to check the river and boy was she high and dirty! There were a couple fellas pounding her anyways -- the lads were troopers! Please note the only patch of red in the trees on the right --- you'll be seeing that a little later in this report ;-)

So I finally made it to the camp, it took me almost 4 hours to get there - it's normally a 2.5 hour drive. I really enjoyed my tour and it certainly put me back into the right frame of mind. I lit a fire and had a couple 'sodas' while waiting for Paul to give me a ring. When he called we discussed our plans for the next day -- the plan was to do some pool hopping on the Northwest in the AM and the Renous in the PM. I was to meet him at Debbie & Dale Norton's place "Upper Oxbow Outdoor Adventures"
If you ever need a place to hunt or fish from I highly recommend the Oxbow. They can accommodate any type of fishing or hunting adventure available in New Brunswick!

6 AM came early and I was surprised when the alarm went off. The morning was cold and there was rain in the forecast... what would today bring?

Breakfast by flashlight:

I arrived at Debbie's place shortly after 7 in time for coffee. I chatted with some of the regulars and Paul Sr. was there as well. It's always nice to get up there and see everyone - it feels just like home!
We loaded our gear into the 'little tank' and headed north, pool hopping here we come! We saw a nice buck and doe whitetail on the drive.

We hit 3 pools by noon and pool 4 was to be a coin toss and we decided to hit one that I haven't fished in a while. As usual before we started through the pool Paul and I discussed what fly each of us would use... when we fish together we try to not fish the same pattern so that we can cover a wider spectrum of flies and presentations to increase our odds of finding what the fish will key in on during that particular day and for those conditions. Being fall, marabous were high on the rotation - it was just a matter of colour. I started each pool with my favorite fall marabou - the canary. I think it was midway through the first pass that Paul mentioned the fish are likely sick of looking at yellow and red because of all the leaves in the high water... I took his theory and decided to change up midway.. I normally like to complete a pass before changing flies but this just seemed to make so much sence that I busted out the 'showgirl'. If there are fall leaves in the river that look like a showgirl I'll eat my hat! I continued down through to the slower, bottom part of the pool and that's when the trout parade began:

I was starting to think to myself, alright - this is getting annoying! But surely these pesky critters are holding in similar places that salmon would, aren't they? Somewhere in between trout Paul stepped out to warm up and he tied on another uniquely coloured marabou pattern and stepped back in above me. He made 1 or 2 casts and came tight on a salmon! It wasn't meant to be and the hookup wasn't solid and as I was turning my head up stream to yell and beg him for a fly of the same colour I felt a BIG PULL!! No way!! Fish on!! It wasn't 30 seconds after what just happened to Paul so we almost had a double header!! Paul yells back, "take your time and enjoy!". It had been a while for me so I really did have a great time with this fish. She jumped a bunch of times and didn't just roll over and play dead. She wasn't my biggest fish ever but she was certainly my best of the season (spring fish don't count). She also bent the hell out of my hook - a number 4 mustad 3665a.

The battle:

Getting ready for some tail ;-)


With Instagram filtre:

The release:

A few more pics  *we finished here for the day*

Paul throwing some line:

Dave checking things out:

This is exactly how I wanted to finish my season, fishing with the Nut. I had zero expectations of fish and she was certainly a bonus. Thanks again for the great day on the river bud, I can't wait for our next trip. Good luck silver bass fishing if you manage to get out!

This pretty much wraps up Friday. I'll get Saturday's update done soon. I managed to get out with my cousin Doug on Saturday -- He's the guy who got me into all this foolishness in the first place! ;-)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The last hurrah.... Er I mean the last HURRAH!!

I drove up to the camp this afternoon via the Acadia road and took in some beautiful fall sights ... I was driving through around 5 and the sun was just right to illuminate the beautiful fall foliage. If anyone comes through there in the near future from the 123 side of things just watch there are a couple deep puddles you must drive slowly through -- I was putting along through one and it suddenly dropped another 6 inches so it would have been an ugly bump if it was hit with any speed. I stopped in at salmon brook pool and it seems the Cains was also hit with the thunderstorm we ha province wide last night. It's high and dirty with lots of debris and leaves. A couple gents were fishing and had been all day with no luck, apparently. I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring when I meet up with the Nut but I came prepared this time with my 870 in tow ;)

A few pictures from the drive up:


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A few more pics from Moose hunting...

Here's a few more pics from Dad's camera from our great outing for moose last week.

Next on the agenda, bird hunting!