Headed up to Boiestown, New Brunswick at 5am on Friday, May 7th. Ostensibly, the trip is so I can be the auctioneer for the Miramichi Salmon Association's IceBreaker fundraiser at the Woodmens' Museum in Boiestown. I (you knew this), of course, have other motivations.
Made it to Boiestown in a record ten and a quarter hours. Moved into camp, arranged the refreshment section of the cabin, and went looking for my friend and host Vin Swayze, whose home is a hundred yards away. We enjoyed the trip's inaugural glass of single malt and had dinner with Vin's lovely wife Hazel. Back to camp. Nine p.m.......hmmmmmm....no water. Stroll back to Vin's; he's on the phone with a plumber, who can make it over on Sunday (a plumber on Sunday? my wallet screams at the thought).
Enter Vin's nephew Jason, stopped by with a few cold beers to say hello. Jason also happens to be a plumber. Vin also happens to have a new pressure tank to replace the one that was about to die any day and just did. Couple beers, shoot the breeze, what the heck, let's change the tanks. Jason did the heavy lifting, I did the moderate stuff, and Vin, ever the supervisor, held the light. All is right with the world once again. But is was a darned long day.
Saturday broke windy and cold. My great friend Renate Bullock had volunteered to take me out fishing, but I wouldn't make my worst enemy take me out in that weather (well, I can think of one or two guys, maybe). So we decided to go sightseeing and headed up river in her car. I love seeing places I've never visited before, and Renate treated me to some special sights. Our first stop was on Bloomfield Ridge above the river. A lovely view:
Our next stop was at Porter Brook just up from where it enters the Miramichi. What a great place. Renate told me that if you hit it just right, you can watch salmon jumping the falls less than 5 feet away from you in October. I am going to see this someday! Would have been a kayaker's dream this day, though:
Lunch was back at Renate's, with husband Fred and friend Peter C. in attendance. The soup was perfect for a day like this:
By the way, the view out the window behind me is of the Miramichi and Fred and Renate's Home Pool. What a place to live!
The IceBreaker was Saturday night. Sold out crowd and tons of fun. It's my favorite auction to do.
The "after party" was at Jason's, also right on the river. A great time, I stumbled back to camp (maybe a quarter mile away) in the dark. Only fell once.
Much of Sunday was spent recovering from Saturday, a situation not unfamiliar to me. I did get to meet a New Brunswick Salmon Fishing forum friend, Brian C., who had hooked me up with a friend of his, Kirk G., owner of a camp on the river at White Rapids that Kirk had agreed to let my fishing partner Wally and I use during the Miramichi Classic in July. I've made some good friends through salmon fishing forums, and it was great to meet Brian face to face instead of electronically!
Late in the day, the river beckoned, and Vin and I finally went fishing after supper for an hour or so. Landed a salmon and a grilse and lost what of course had to be another salmon. All on the Deep Green Beauty - a great start to the fishing aspect of the trip!
It was a fine night for fishing with a lovely ending:
Monday morning Vin and I headed down to White Rapids to meet Kirk and learn about the camp. Turned out he and Vin had been to many river conservation meetings together over the years. I swear Vin knows just about everyone on that river. We had a great visit, and headed back to camp to fish.
Renate came along for the ride, and brought her camera. You'd think with a beautiful river in front of her, she'd find better things to photograph than the two of us!
When the sport (that would be me)rests, the guide (that would be Vin) grabs the rod and routinely shows the sport (again, that would be me) how to do it. Often. Fish on, as usual.
Happily, she also got a shot of a tight line and a nice fish, one of several we made the acquaintance of that evening:
She made me take my very expensive Simms superduty beanie-thingy off for the next shot. Said I looked like some weird river gnome in it. Who's to argue? (not much of an improvement, though):
Tuesday morning Vin and I met with Renate's son Dan to check out a leaky wood stove chimney in the camp next to her home. A replacement of parts was in order; Dan had to drive to Fredricton (an hour away) to get the parts, so Vin and I naturally volunteered to go fishing while he was gone. The score for that little adventure ended up at salmon 3, Gary 0. Dan got back with the parts at the same time we got back to shore; we spent the rest of the day doing that chimney thing. My back needed a rest from that job, so it was an early night. And by the way, so far the week has been very windy and cold...but that's good for keeping the fish around!
Wednesday was tree cutting day at Renate's. Her friend Harding has year's of experience at this; his skills were needed because the big old aspens were threatening the home and usually leaning the wrong way. We even brought Vin's Kubota along to cable the trees in the right direction. Lots of good work got done, and Renate provided the crew with our first outside lunch of the year:
I've always been a sucker for a pretty face, in this case Harding's pretty girl:
After lunch, Vin and I hit the river for one last time before I had to leave for home the next morning. The weather had come around and warmed with just an easy breeze. Nice afternoon for it.
The salmon thought so too, they cooperated with abandon. At one point, around three in the afternoon, a caddis hatch came off and I got to see what, sadly, will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime treat: salmon rising to the right of us, salmon rising to the left of us...in front of us, behind us...it was incredible to see that many big salmon snouts poking up out of the river! We even hooked two on a little baby bomber Vin dug out of his fly stash. Mostly though, they just loved the Deep Green Beauty. We hooked nine fish in just a couple hours. The fish were incredibly athletic; I lost a nice salmon when he tossed the barbless fly at the apex of a three foot leap. What a way to end a trip!
Back you go, big boy!
As it has been every time I've gone to Boiestown since 1998, it was a grand trip. My deep and abiding thanks especially to Renate and Vin for their great hospitality and friendship. Renate took most of the photos in this post. Man, that is a tough place to leave.