Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Miramichi Salmon Camp, September, 2013

Bridget and I headed to the Miramichi and Bullock's Lodge (formerly Tuckaway Cabins) on Friday, June 13.  We stopped overnight in her favorite town, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, to visit with old friends of hers.  I could live there!  Since I was doing the auction for the Atlantic Salmon Museum's fundraiser Saturday night, we got an early start that morning, arriving to fine weather and a river full of water (to say the least) (and don't forget that you can click on the pic for the big picture):

My good friend Vin Swayze owns the camps used by the Bullock family; he's been keeping the intervale nicely mowed:

The four-wheeler trail alongside his Camp Pool was totally submerged:

Fishing was going to be tough.

Saturday night there was a great crowd at the Doaktown Curling Club for the Atlantic Salmon Museum's Hall of Fame fundraising dinner.

Vivian Harris-Astle, David Adams Richards and the Dieppe Fly Tying Club were inducted that night.  Julian is a fine young fellow and gave a great speech for the Dieppe club, and became my new best friend!  He's also a heck of a fly tyer!

It was probably the most fun auction I've ever done, and thanks to the Salmon Museum for having me!  I promise to get a haircut if you invite me back next year.

After a restful Sunday, we got down to business on Monday.  Bridget and I were very fortunate to have been invited to fish a special little tributary of the Main Southwest Miramichi, with Vin as our guide.  On the way in, we visited New Brunswick's tallest water fall, Fall Brook Falls.  As foolhardy as I've been known to be, rational thinking prevailed and we walked, rather than try to drive, down the trail to the falls.  Steep road!

And then there's the trail to the falls!

The hike in (and out) is worth it:

It's one of New Brunswick's special places.

And Fall Brook is a nice, coldwater feeder to the Miramichi, entering the big river right here:

After the hike up and out, I'm surprised we had the energy to fish, but considering the opportunity we were presented with (Thank you, Manley!), we made sure we were equal to the task.

It's a gorgeous little stream, and there were fish showing everywhere.  I stopped counting at 50 fish.  Bridget got right to work.

The weather started to clear a bit upstream, and that seemed to turn the fish on.

Bridget hooked her first fish around 4pm:

This fish is what Vin called a "Government Salmon".  That is, at 26.5 inches, it's just over the upper-limit length that the Province says defines a grilse.  Who are we to argue?? Salmon it is!

About ten minutes later, she's at it again:

A nice fiesty grilse.  And both fish on a Celtic Beauty!   I, uh, don't seem to recall hooking a fish.  Oh, wait, that's right, I was too busy taking pics of her fish!  Yeah, that's the ticket, I was too busy!

At any rate, it's a beautiful little tributary:

Seems as though someone, somewhere, declared Monday "Ladies Day" for the Miramichi system.  While we were enjoying time upriver, good friend and salmon camp buddy Linda Warren was busy breaking the tip of her Sage Z-Axis on this little guy:

Linda was using one of her husband Bob's salmon fly creations, the Cutty Sark.  I'm proud to say I tied the copy she was using!

Tuesday, and its "Honey, I'm throwing a party for a bunch of guys I met on the internet!" time.  Sounds a little scarey, eh?

We fished for a bit in the morning, but my mind was on the little picnic we were hosting that afternoon, so we got off the river a little early to get things rolling.  Vin and Bob Warren, as well as Bob's english setter blur (somewhere I have picture of her not running, but I don't know where), Molly, helped me set up.

We had perfect weather for a picnic!

Bridget and I took turns at the grill.

And I made sure I took a turn at the food table!  Bridget made the potato salad, and Number One Guide and friend Renate Bullock made the baked beans.  Yum.

We were tickled to have such a great group of folks, most met via several forums come to our little party!  Below, Brian Cuming (left), whom I met on www.newbrunswicksalmonfishing.com, Dwayne Miller (center) from PEI, and my bud Rene Warren (left), who serves in the Canadian Navy and whom I met on the Nova Scotia FlyGuy forum (www.nsflyguy.ca) dig in.

Rob Feeney (center), whom I met through the Speypages forum (www.speypages.com) and who lives in Fredricton, NB, brought along these new (to me) friends:  Mia and Marty Shepard on the left, all the way from Oregon and owners of a steelheading guide service there (oregonsteelhead.blogspot.com or www.oregonsteelhead.com)  and Nic Clory (next to Rob) and Dwayne Miller, both of Prince Edward Island.  Those two are incredible fly tyers.  Dwayne is on several forums, and has his own group, The Dee Tyer, on facebook.

The Group!

Kneeling, l to r: Rene, Rob, Marty, Vin, Bridget
Standing, l to r:  Brian, Howie Gould (whom I met through the nsflyguy forum; we've fished together and he's now on the NB Salmon Council, taking over Vin's chair.  He has his own group on facebook: Live Release Salmon Anglers), Nic, Dwayne, Kevin Branch (an awesome tyer I met via facebook and speypages), Dan Bullock (manager of Bullock's Lodge), Linda and Bob Warren, Mia, Miramichi regular Murray, neighbor Lucilla, Hazel Swayze (Vin's WAY better half), and Number One Guide Renate Bullock.

Since I had been, er, hydrating rather consistently since noon that day, I opted out of the evening's fishing festivities.

Wednesday was, as they say, however, another day.  The morning's fishing was nothing to write home about, although Dan Bullock and I spent some time discussing flies that might work and when.  I was swimming a variety of flies at the time.  Wednesday night as I was rotating down through the pool the light changed a bit, and Dan suggested that a Glitter Bear might work.  He was right:

Thursday we fished out of Vin's boat, the FTG (funny story about what FTG stands for; ask me sometime).  Bridget's starting to really lay out some line:

Vin dropped me off on a bar mid-river to fish from.  It was easy enough to slide into the hip-deep water, but not so for getting back into the boat, to I just hung on for dear life for a ride back to shore.  Note to self: in the future, hang on to the upstream side of the boat.  River current has an interesting inclination to try and drag you under the boat if you're on the downstream side.  Which I, of course, was.

Long-time friends Bob and Linda Warren.  Linda usually outfishes Bob (and me), but Bob has the edge as a fly tyer.  He edited Pam and Col. Joe Bates Fishing Atlantic Salmon; the flies and the patterns.  His flies are pictured in that work and many others, including Bob Veverka's Spey Flies and How to Tie Them and Dick Stewart and Farrow Allen's Flies for Atlantic Salmon.   He netted my first atlantic salmon and has taught me so much about fly tying.

Bridget and I just waitin' for a ride 'cross river:

I'm still wondering why Dan B. wouldn't let me drive his buggy:

Saturday was our last full day in camp, and it was a beauty:

Bridget landed a nice brookie (wish the iphone pic showed those colors!)  She was (sigh) Top Rod with her two salmon for the second year in a row.

The flies that worked for us over the course of the week (did I mention that Bridget had to take off a Celtic Beauty at one point because it kept hooking so many brookies??).  Celtic Beauty, Cutty Sark, Glitter Bear:

We left camp on Sunday; weather conditions made it a little (but not much) easier to leave.

Our time at Bullock's is always special, and to Dan, Renate and Vin, a special thanks for all you do for us.  And to our new friends and old, let's do it again next year!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Really Good Man

I am saddened to report the passing of Donal O'Brien.  I served with him on the Connecticut Governor's Task Force on Hunting and the Public Safety.  He ran a masterful meeting.  Atlantic salmon, and wildlife in general, have lost a powerful, effective, and caring advocate.


We can all be replaced...its just a little harder sometimes than others.