Saturday, May 18, 2013

Miramichi Salmon Camp, Spring 2013

Headed up to the Miramichi at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, April 26, 2013.  This is one of my favorite trips of the year...doing the Miramichi Salmon Association's IceBreaker auction, and fishing for spring salmon with friends like Renate Bullock, Vin Swayze and Allan Wilson.  Made the trip in in 10.5 hours; a highpoint of the ride was an incredible view of Mt. Katahdin in northern Maine from a pull-off on I-95:

Home camp for this trip was Vin's "log camp".   I like this little cabin very much!

It's cozy, and a body can make themselves right at home.  It's a great camp.

It has a nice view of the river.  River ice can come within a view feet of the front porch at ice-out!

Saturday morning dawned bright and crisp, with frost on the lawn.  Went fishing with Renate for an hour or so!  She always has a smile on her face, even when she has to tote me around!  No fishies this fine, crisp a.m., but a great morning to be alive nonetheless!

We did the MSA's Icebreaker that evening.  It is always a fun event, and sells out every year.  Vin's brother Lawrence (far left in pic) and friends provided the entertainment.  That delightful woman on the harmonica is a hoot, and always helps keep the bidding alive, too!

Renate MC's the event, and does a great job (I think she's taking names of misbehavers in this pic!)  Also in the photo is a true "salmon bench", hand-made by one of the guys that works at the Rocky Brook camp.

I have great spotters for the auction.  Jo-Anne and Grant make sure I don't miss a bid (which is pretty easy to do with a crowd of 175 folks having a grand time!).   By the way, if you're trying to lose a beer belly, this is not the place/time to do it!!

Sunday morning, Vin and I shook off the prior evening's festivities, and headed out for a morning's fish in his boat, good old FTG.  The river was in perfect shape; for once my timing was perfect!

We had a great morning, hooking and landing three salmon on a Christmas Tree streamer.  Renate was on shore, doing some photography, and actually provided proof that I can hook a salmon!

You really can't go wrong with a guide who got his first guide's license two months after I was born.  I am 63.  That is some serious time on the river, wouldn't you say?  Fishing with him is one of my great pleasures.  I've learned so much from him.  Oh, and he's pretty good at knowing when a camera is around, too, LOL!

Back you go!

Sunday afternoon was warm and beautiful.   Sadly though, I was forced to witness a terrible sight in person:  a gathering of the tragically oppressed woman of New Brunswick.  Can you imagine being forced to iron a shirt on a day like this, with friends trying desperately to console you.  Poor, poor Kari (Vin's niece).

And poor, poor Michele (one of Vin's daughters).  Why, she can't even afford a two-wheel bicycle!

I even had to witness poor, poor FUTURE oppressed women of New Brunswick.  I mean, look at the poor girl's hair!  Obviously in need of rescue!

And then there's the tale of Vin's other daughter, poor, poor Andy.  Forced by some unspeakable person to fetch yet another marguerita!  Oh, the horror.

Fortunately, after witnessing the awful truth about the tough lives of the women of New Brunswick, Rene Warren, an "internet friend" from the forum, visited camp.  It was great to meet him!  He serves in the Canadian Navy, and was heading home after helping another friend from that forum, Howie, (more on him later) build a new camp downriver.  Awesome meeting you, Rene!

Dinner was at Renate's Sunday night.  Ever thoughtful, she baked my favorite cake (chocolate with white boiled frosting) as a belated birthday gift.  It was incredibly good and  I was pleased that she elected to put just the one candle on it!

Sunday night Vin and I fished again for an hour or so, and landed two salmon on a Renous Special.  Monday morning and evening we landed four more salmon, all on the Renous Special.  I'm becoming a believer in the "bright day, bright fly" school of thought.   We were fishing in delightfully sunny, clear weather, and the showy Christmas Tree and Renous Special certainly did their thing for us.
Bright and COLD (in the a.m.), I might add!


Tuesday morning was the first cloudy morning of my trip, and maybe 40 degrees F. at 7am.
I was fishing with Allan Wilson, a normally very nice man who decided to hit me over the head with his boat pole before we headed out.   LOL, Allan, you got my attention!  Totally an accident, but the "incident" provided fodder for countless jibes the rest of the week!

Since it was a gray day, I decided to move on to the "dark day, dark fly" strategy, and tied on one of my Deep Green Beauties.  I've been using a Teeny T-300 sink tip with an 8lb. tippet all along. On my 6th cast, I landed what would prove to be my largest fish of the week.   Thank you, Deep Green Beauty!  At least Allan only clonked me in the head...he cut this nice salmon's head clean off!


After a fine morning's fishing, reality kicked in:  it was time to replace one of the showers in the Log Camp with my friend and supervisor, Vin.  Just a few pics to tell the tale:

We like to spread our work out.

Corner ready for installation:

The, er, supervisors (Allan and Vin) taking I'm sure what must have been a well-deserved break, while certain other individuals (that would be me) continued working hard, even exhibiting a real classy plumbers butt.

So many parts, so little time:

Vin likes to help.  Right.

It took the day and some of the next, but I we got 'er done.  lol.

On Thursday, we got a chance to run down to Blackville to see Howie Gould (another friend from, with whom Vin and I enjoyed time with on the Little Southwest Miramichi last summer) and check out the build on his family's new camp.  They got it weather tight and lockable in 7 days.  A heck of an accomplishment.

Howie has just taken over the seat on the New Brunswick Salmon Council that Vin vacated after many years of service.  I'm sure they're comparing notes here:

The river has surely brought me great friends.

Friday was my last day in camp.  Vin and I finished a couple projects and then headed to the river.  My stick was a lot smaller than the one Allan used on me!

Another bright, clear day so I went back to a bright fly.  This time, it was a no-name that I made up over the winter.  The inspiration for it was a fly put up on facebook by great tyer Dwayne Miller, which had a black wing.  I put a purple wing on a "chrome" body.  It hooked five fish for the day.

This fish jumped five times, and was the last of the trip for me.

When I'm almost 80, as Vin is, I sure hope I can do things with the gusto and enthusiasm he does.  What a good life.

And I sure do like drivin' around in boats.  Back to camp for the last time this trip.

For the record, here are the four flies that did the job for me this trip:  Christmas Tree (Renate Bullock tied this one), Renous Special, Deep Green Beauty and the no-name purple.

Camp life is the good life.  I'll be back.

As always, deep and abiding thanks to Vin and Renate for their friendship, and to Renate, as usual, for most of the photos in this post.


  1. Great photo story here Gary - as always, I enjoyed it very much.

    Thanks again,
    Ed Pirie

  2. Awesome entry Gary. Great meeting you Sir.


    1. Rene, I was tickled to meet you in person, looking forward to the next time over a beer or five!

  3. Looks like a great start to the season! Thanks! Rich

    1. It was a great start, Rich, glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Being one of the oppressed women you speak of in that photo, I can tell you it's a hard drink wine, iron shirts (for the husband I might add),visit with friends...oh, and look after children. But we are well-practiced in all of the above. :-)

    Great to see you Gary...see you on your next trip up! Kari

  5. You ladies sure know how to live!! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon!

  6. Well Gary, where is the MSA Salmon Classic report with the pics of all of the salmon we didn't catch. Dang temperatures. Great time though.