My pal Howie Gould invited me up to New Brunswick for some cast and blast fun this past October. So I did the paperwork for my Browning, gathered plenty of gear, loaded the F-150, and headed up on the sixth. The drive up has become pretty much an autopilot affair for me; this made my sixth trip of 2013. Made it to Howie's camp in late afternoon that Sunday, arriving in the midst of a spectacular day.
Don't forget: you can click on the pic for a larger version.
Howie and his dad and their friends have been working on the, camp, which is near Blackville, NB, since ice-out. They're keeping it "off the grid", which makes for some interesting fly tying, among other things. Howie at the vise:
I love a good bonfire. Sunday evening, Howie invited a couple friends that were also visiting from "away", and got a roaring blaze going just feet from the river. Derek Martin, who is from Quebec and getting well-known for his exploits on-river for the folks from Hooke (there's supposed to be a dash over the "e"; don't know how to do that), stopped by.
Derek brought a salmon fisherman from Iceland along, Mathias por Hakonarsson (again, don't know how to put ALL the punctuation marks associated with Mathias' name; my apologies to him). I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him fireside.
It was a fine night, followed by only a mild hangover Monday morning, which quickly disappeared with the morning mist rising outside camp.
We met up with another friend, Paul Elson, to give the Cains a go. Howie and Paul are both members of the New Brunswick Salmon Council. I am quite proud to fish in the company of young (I'm old enough to be their father...ugh.), ardent conservationists like Paul and Howie.
The Cains is lovely any time of year, but in the autumn...special.
Important to keep your guide in the picture!
Derek and Mathias showed up, too, as did Sylvie Malo-Clark and her husband Peter Clark, who got to watch Derek hook up.
A fine hen for Derek.
If memory serves - and it likely doesn't - neither Howie, Paul nor I got a pull, but it's always a delight to fish the Cains, hero shot or not!
We decided to try the Northwest Monday night. Another Miramichi tributary I love to fish. Several years ago I landed an 18-pound hen there in July; I was anxious to give it another go. We fished a pool that is quite a little hike to get to, but worth the effort. We were joined by Brad Hill, who took this photo, and several others in this post.
When we arrived riverside, these three fine young gentlemen were kind enough to give the tail of the pool to the elderly...me. So kind of them. And occasionally, this old man can actually pop a pretty good cast. Sadly, occasionally probably means about seventeen percent of the time.
I was swinging Bob Warren's lovely and talented Golden Pheasant Spey fly:
luck I skillfully swung through the pool, a grilse found the fly to his liking. Of some interest to me is that, immediately after the fly hit the water, I yelled back to the guys that that cast deserved a fish...seconds later, fish on!
Paul doing netting chores for the geezer
As well as careful hook removal duty
A fine fish, back on its way upriver.
The young lads allowed me to remain downriver for awhile longer, and again, the Golden Pheasant Spey proved irresistable to a grilse. Did I mention that the three young men fishing behind me weren't doing so well? I was merely trying to keep them interested in the sport by hooking this fish, and giving them something to do besides casting practice. AND, I once again had popped a good cast and called out to the guys that the cast deserved a fish...BAM, fish on! What are the chances of calling that shot twice in any one lifetime?? The guys started calling me Babe Ruth!
At this point there was some muttering in the ranks about getting the Yank deported, so I wisely backed out of the river, giving the youngsters a shot at what was obviously (I mean, I was hooking fish there!) the hot part of the pool. In the interest of remaining in Canada a few more days, I rested a bit while the boys rotated downriver. A small cigar later, I meandered into the river behind my hosts. By some strange twist of fate, I hooked another grilse.
The boys took it all good-naturedly. Graybeard 3, them zip. But there's always tomorrow...and who's counting, anyway? Oh wait, that's right...(did I mention I've never hooked 3 fish in one pool before??)
Tuesday we moved operations to the Southwest Miramichi, and Paul's camp near Sunny Corners, NB.
And my hosts started to show me how it's done.
Howie went first.
Paul is known far and wide for his unique netting style.
Seriously, he's very good with the net.
That evening, Paul landed a beauty. I seem to recall him mentioning something about his weighing more than all three of mine combined, or something to the effect. Elder abuse, I calls it!
It was a tough choice, deciding to do a little bird hunting when we knew well there were fish in the system, but in spite of that, Wednesday morning Howie, Brad and I decided to see what the partridge were up to. Paul had a guiding obligation.
I have always wanted to bird hunt in New Brunswick; the coverts are endless, it seems.
This particular morning, the grouse were apparently at a meeting somewhere besides where we were. But Howie's good eyes brought him this prize, now hanging on his camp wall:
One of the high points of the morning for me was the appearance of a pair of Gray Jays, also known as Whiskey Jacks in New Brunswick. I've heard that they are inquisitive birds, often coming right to hand if the right treat is offered. All I could find to entice them in were some withered red berries; they came within a few feet, but never to hand. Brad took this great photo of one of them:
Wednesday evening, I'm sure we fished, and likely my hosts hooked up, but at this point, some months later, all I remember is the scenery.
Thursday, I left Howie, Paul and Brad and headed upriver to see my friends Renate Bullock and Vin Swayze for a day in Boiestown, NB. Autumn was in full swing at Bullock's Lodge, for sure.
And it's always great fun to be messing about in boats with Vin!
Stayed overnight with Vin, then headed for a rendezvous with Bridget, her son Bob, and some old friends of hers at a big cottage on Sebec Lake near Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.
I took one picture there:
"Why just one picture of that beautiful area?", you might well ask. Well, with camera in pocket we rented a pontoon boat for a tour of the lake. At the cottage's dock, I felt the need to move mooring lines based on wind direction. All I have to say about that is, "Never trust a rusted handrail on a rented boat." My old Kodak and I went for a swim; I survived, the camera did not.
It was a great trip, I hope you enjoyed coming along. New Brunswickers are wonderful hosts. I want to thank Howie, Brad and Renate for some great pics, too.