I got in early enough to survey some of the results of the 6-7 inches of rain the area received just a few days before. The river must have come up at least 7 feet at Vin's camps. You can see how high the flood waters were in this photo:
I actually came up a couple days earlier than planned. The Atlantic Salmon Museum contacted me to see if I was available to do their annual Hall of Fame fund-raising auction on Saturday evening, Oct.3rd. Since that date was so close to when I'd be going up anyway, I agreed to do it. I've done it before and it's a fun event for a good institution.
Importantly, at the event I met up again with my young fly-tying friend Julian, who gave me one of his classic flies. He's a fine young man as the sign on the door behind us attests!
We had a heavy frost that night. Sunday morning I was able to record the frost on my truck windshield:
Frost makes such lovely photos:
What a beautiful day to start the official week of fishing!
I headed down to Howie's camp near Blackville, NB to be there around noon. He, his dad and many friends have really made it into quite a comfortable camp!
A phone call brought Paul down from wherever he was fishing (incredible to me that there is cell phone reception in some of the places these guys fish!) and we decided to try the Cains. The water was still ridiculously high from the aforementioned flood. We gave it a look, and decided to go back to camp and relax with a bonfire and some beverages (Howie makes a mean bonfire!).
Monday, October 5th dawned a beautiful day, and we decided to dedicate our time on the river to the Little Southwest Miramichi. We moved camp up to Paul and Stephanie's place in Sunny Corner to get us closer to it and the Northwest. What a beautiful river the LSW is!
Howie's single spey was getting out there nicely!
Tuesday was a colder, darker day; we decided to give the LSW another shot.
Cold enough for a shore fire!
Howie and Paul gettin' 'er done!
Paul landed a nice grilse.
As usual, the evening sky was on fire!
Wednesday became one of the most wonderful days of my life in the outdoors. We decided to float the "Horseshoe" or "Loop" of the Northwest Miramichi River. It's about a 12km canoe ride where we stopped a delightful salmon pools, large and small. It was Paul and I in one canoe, Howie and Jeff Allen in the other.
Jeff hooked up at the first pool we stopped at.
I hooked what is likely the largest grilse I've ever landed in the same little pool:
This fish had been caught before; Paul is pointing to the scar where a tag had been removed.
Paul hooked up with the next grilse:
A short time later, I had a little non-piscatorial excitement not 50 yards away:
Howie landed a couple fish that day. Here's one:
Jeff had his first "two fish" day ever. Can you tell he's a happy boy?
I couldn't resist taking a photo of Howie's
versus the old man's fly:
I always take a photo of this little beaver-dammed backwater when I fish the pool it's near:
And sometimes I can just be happy to sit and watch an Aspen tremble in the breeze:
Last pool before take-out:
I want to thank these three lads for giving me a day I'll always remember!
Jeff had to leave us on Thursday, so Howie, Paul and I decided to hit the LSW again. I don't know what the folks that named it the Little Southwest were thinking!
I was swinging my trusty General Practitioner (the variation created by Emmett Johnson) in just about the same spot I landed a great hookbill last year. Fish on! and she was a beauty, taped at 36 inches.
Friday we decided to hit the Cains again. Howie would be leaving us at the end of the day, so we fished pretty hard in really cold water. There were quite a few very affable anglers at this pool. Everyone rotated through nicely, really moving along...mostly because everyone's feet were freezing!
We built a fire!
I'm not a bad two-hand caster, but I made the mistake of lending Howie my rod. I hated seeing what my rig can do in competent hands!
Paul got a nice grilse. I got very cold feet.
Saturday, Paul, Stephanie (a professional salmon guide) and I headed to the Renous.
First Paul picked up a nice grilse:
on a fly a friend had asked him to try (its closest relative might be a Chief Needebeh):
Then Paul got down to business:
A great way to end a glorious week of atlantic salmon fishing!
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! Remember that old white house at the very beginning of this story?
See how its upper porch sagging? See in what tough shape the deck is in?
Somehow, every year, I let Vin Swazey talk me into some project or another. That's the bad news. The good news is, as a result of hanging around New Brunswick a few extra days to take care of this business, I get TWO Thanksgivings this year: The Canadian and the American. Most of Vin's family was in town on Sunday for the feast, and I wrangled a seat at the table!
And Vin's brother Lawrence was kind enough to let me bunk at his camp for the duration of my stay!
My day was capped off by watching this graceful batch of fly tying material head downriver:
Monday, Vin, his daughter Michele's friend Kirby and I jacked the upper porch up, bashed out an end wall on the deck, made new posts, and got most of it level. That was it for working that day.
Tuesday morning I faced this...alone. Vin will go to great lengths to avoid work. That morning he went to the hospital with pneumonia just to get out of a little labor, I'm quite sure! In spite of that, I made a little more progress.
By the end of the day I made a little progress:
Was almost too tired to enjoy a Miramichi sunset...almost.
Wednesday was a glorious morning and a perfect day to work outside!
Back to work! Renate stopped by for a quality control inspection and took this pic:
Thursday, my last day on the job, the "supervisor" did once again appear to make sure that I did the job to his exacting standards. Also to ensure that every time he moved a board, it was in my way and I had to put it some place else!!! (I actually love working with Vin, we have a ball together.)
And that, my friends, is how I spent my autumn vacation! My thanks to everyone up there for so much fun and great hospitality...can't wait to see you all again!