Friday, June 30, 2017

Maine and the Miramichi - June, 2017

How often do you truly get a chance to step back in time?  A lad I tie streamers for, Ryan U. of  Washburn, Maine, did just that when he invited me to spend a couple days with him fishing at a camp he has been going to since he was a boy. As far as its location, this is all I'm going to say about's somewhere in here (click on the pics for the bigger photo):

The ride into the camp provided one spectacular view of Maine's forests after another.  We even got a glimpse of Mount Katahdin in the distance:

 After a good hour's drive, we came to the camp gate.  As a dyed-in-the-wool grouse hunter, I knew I was in a good place:

The camp is situated where a lake empties into a small river.  There is a good landlocked salmon pool right down in front:

The camp was built in 1932.  At that time there was no road into the camp; all of camp life's necessities had to be poled/portaged upriver, including the massive kitchen wood stove/oven.  If ever the phrase "that was when men were men" was appropriate, it had to be here.  I fell in love with the place the minute we drove up to it:

The kitchen was one cast iron pan and old stew pot after another.  Imagine the trout, salmon and venison cooked here!  I even figured out how to make coffee in the old percolator.  It was the best...I'm on the search for one myself now

And then there's the table.  For more than 80 years, sports have taken their meals and shared their drinks and stories around it.  Oh, the tales and fabrications that have been told there!

Even a nice little library!

And I bet a good number of whitetails came out of the woods on this sled:

This sign cracked me up - how could you not be happy in a place like this (black flies notwithstanding - they were awesome in the old-timey sense of the word)?

It has probably been five or six years since I've fished for trout.  I really had to rummage around the cave to find the gear I needed for the trip, but eventually I was able to put the old CFO III together with the not-quite-as-old 5-weight Trident TL  rod.  The CFO is as rough around the edges as I feel most days.  And the Trident actually felt heavy to me, for a trout rod.  Technology has raged ahead in terms of what rods are made of these days; don't think I'll bother catching up.  I did really wish I hadn't sold all of my cane rods, though.  Would've been perfect in this setting.
I did manage to scrounge up a few trout flies.
The fishing options were pretty cool: wade or troll the river, or troll the lake in Ryan's great 24-foot Scott square stern canoe.  So we did both!
Ryan hooked right up after we settled into camp and got down to business with a nice little landlocked in front of camp:

I did well with a little size 10 Stimulator, landing several nice brook trout a ways downriver from camp (right where Ryan said they would be!):

The lake itself is incredible - there is only one other set of camps on it.  Take a little cruise with us:

Something to be said for simply messing about in boats, eh?

We managed several smallish landlocks trolling.  I think, even though it was fairly early in June, that the bigger fish were already down below our sinktips.  Sunset there makes you forget your cares and whoas.

Even managed a moonshot between the trees!

I needed to head to New Brunswick Friday morning.  After a bit of fishing, a pair of loons showed up to see me off.

Ryan was a great and knowledgeable host.  I really appreciate that he took time off work to introduce me to the camp.  I can't thank him enough for this "step back in time."

On to New Brunswick!  I crossed the border at a new location for me, Centreville, NB.  Mostly an agricultural crossing, a very nice young woman was the agent.  She asked me the usual questions, then "why was I crossing here?"  I explained that I had been fishing in northern Maine, and that this crossing made the most sense, time-wise.  She asked a few more questions, the last being had I ever been arrested?  I think I said no, so she invited me to pull over while she "authenticated" my identity.  So after I cooled my jets for about ten minutes in the truck, she approached and asked me if I had gotten a DUI in 1979.  1979.  Almost 40 years ago. When I replied "no", she asked me my social security number.  I told her what it is, and she just shrugged, said "Must be a different Gary", handed me my passport, and said have a nice day.  Weirdest border crossing ever for me, and I do it six or seven times per year.

Now, if you ever cross there, and want to get to Boiestown, NB, do not EVER use route 107 to get there.  Hands down the worst paved road I have ever been on, and I used to drive 60,000 miles per year for the Turkey Federation, from Maine to Michigan to Virginia.  I was surprised I had any teeth left and my truck had any suspension left when I finally got to Boiestown!  Rant over.

The main purpose of my trip was to do the Central New Brunswick Woodmens Museum annual auction.  Crowd was great, and we raised almost $11,000 for the museum.  Everyone got into the spirit of things:

Courtesy of Dan Bullock, I got to stay in the Log Camp.  It belongs to Vin Swazey; the Bullock's lease it from June 1 to the end of the salmon season.  I very much appreciate the gesture...I could sit on the camp's little porch and watch the river go by all day.

Most Junes, Vin Swazey and I like to take a little trip to parts of NB that neither of us have seen (hard for him, easy for me).  We tried to find the Christmas Mountains a year or two ago, but didn't find them.  Renate Bullock came with us this year, and I had a map!

Occasionally, there's even a sort of road sign to help you on your way.  Good thing we didn't need gas.

I have to find out the history of how the Christmas Mountains got named.  I did figure we were on the right track when I saw this sign:

There was actually an even better roadside clue:

We are talking beautiful country here:

We saw this little sign pointing to a Crown Reserve section of the river (North Pole Stream) and decided to take the road (for those that don't know - Crown Reserve waters may only be fished by NB residents, and only then through a lottery system.  I think it's a great system):

What's not to like about the decision to make the turn?

On the way in, we saw this big doe feeding in a small clearcut.  Obviously, it hadn't been sprayed with herbicide yet to kill all the hardwoods (and her food).  Not a good system.

Eventually, we made our way to what is known as the Palisades Crown Reserve stretch of water.  Glorious.

Found the trail along the river to a couple of the pools:

Table Rock:

The Palisades
Renate was actually able to photograph the elusive forest gnome that is wishfully indigenous to the region.  Always be on the lookout for their type; they steal beer:

After our visit to the Palisades, we stopped roadside for a little lunch, courtesy Renate and Vin:

We had three moose sighting along the way (all 300 km of it!).  Here are two.  Renate and Vin were chatting (I was driving) and missed the big cow that was running along side us about 10 feet away!

That was one of our better trips, especially since we actually got where we intended to go!  I spent a couple more relaxing days in camp.  Got to watch a whole hatch of eagles soaring around over the river:

And fished a little.

Sadly, all I hooked over three lovely evenings was a miserable 15" striped bass that has no business being in this part of the river.  Hope it recovered after I tripped and fell and it hit its head on a rock before getting back into the river!

Please remember to take time and smell the flowers this summer.






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Miramichi Salmon Camp - Spring 2017

Bridget, Brodie and I headed up to Boiestown, NB on April 28, 2017 for the Miramichi Salmon Association's IceBreaker fundraiser and a little Spring fishing.  We arrived to see plenty of water and the remnants of winter (click on the pics for a larger photo):

Brodie was especially glad to stretch his legs after the long Vermont winter, and left no sparrow unpointed!

The MSA IceBreaker was, as it always is, a fun, crowded event.  I was quite surprised and pleased to see the program:

There is a subtle pleasure for me to this:  After a 20 year career working for conservation and fly fishing in the United States, I was recognized as an "honouree"...pretty neat that there's a "u" in that word.  Many thanks to all my Canadian friends!  The MSA gave me a beautiful Wheatley fly box with a few flies from my old friends Renate Bullock and Vin Swazey in it:

Renate said she just couldn't resist tossing the Green Machine's into the mix.  Funny Lady, lol.

The coolest gift came from Vin...a shadowbox framed bottle of Glenlivet:

Let's make that an alleged bottle of Glenlivet.  Upon closer inspection, a little scotch tape is evident at the cork.  You can always count on Vin!

I did the live auction that night; we raised about $8,000 for MSA programs with it.

Early the next week, Vin and I got to take Bridget out for her first Spring salmon fishing experience.  Weather cooperated, as did the river:  She hooked 2 grilse and 2 salmon, getting the grilse to the net but, alas, the salmon spanked her.

The good old Deep Green Beauty fooled all four fish.

There were, of course, the usual camp chores.  There is a reason I chose not to become a plumber in one of my past lives!

To all who stay in Vin's Pine Camp this owe me a beer!

We were enjoying our extended stay in camp.  The weather, as is its custom, didn't always cooperate for good fishing conditions.  On May 7th, there was some impressive lumber floating by:


Brodie does not care about the weather.  He enjoyed the freedom to roam the intervale to the fullest!

He has been known to bark up the wrong tree!

And the inevitable crash and burn:

We did get to enjoy a fine breakfast with some of our favorite folks in Boiestown - the Wilson's, the Prices and the Swazey's - at the Wilson's home on the river.  Vin noted that it was a monumental occasion...the first time in memory that the eight of us had gotten together...and there was no alcohol in sight!

It was a great, extended trip.  We were up for about two weeks.  Makes it hard to go home, but  we did, with a whole new warehouse of great memories.

Brodie says, "Cheers!"