Thursday, March 29, 2018

THE COUNTDOWN TO SPRING

    Spring is just around the corner and most folks around here are looking forward to it. Not because it was such a terrible winter but this has been a strange winter, to say the least. Temperatures were above normal, especially after Christmas and our mid winter thaw caused localized flooding and damaged roads. Wild temperature swings became the norm but the positive part was the low snow pac this situation created. It gave many game animals and birds a welcome break from predators and allowed them to feed more freely. Here is a photo of a deer taken in Jemseg.
March is coming in like a lion and hopefully this month will go out like a lamb. If this old saying holds true, we could see some excellent spring salmon fishing this year. Last year was one of the worst in memory for poor conditions and numbers of fish caught. Mother Nature calls the shots and some years she can be downright cruel! Unfortunately, a large winter storm is making its way into the Maritimes and the forecast is for a foot of snow or more. We really didn't need this dump of the white stuff but we have to take what is served up. Hopefully, it won't last too long. The long range forecast is looking much better after the series of Nor'easters hit us around the middle of the month. The latest word from our chief meteorologist is a slow, steady melt during our 2018 spring and I like that forecast.. This photo shows a nice healthy group of deer near Grand Lake.

    This winter was also a good one for ice fishing due to the low snow pac and the local ice fishing tournaments were well attended. As usual, we took part in the kids tournament put on by the village of Minto. This is a great tournament and is always well attended. This year my grandson Jack wasn't feeling well so it was just my son Curt, a friend of his from Calgary and myself. We fished in the over 15 category and did quite well. Curt took second place with a 23.75 inch pickerel and we caught a total of 18 pickerel and one catfish during the three hour tournament. That's a good day on the ice. Here are some photos from that day.

 The next photo shows Fran M. from Calgary taking a break during the tournament. She caught several pickerel while fishing with us during her stay.

 This next photo shows Curt with his 2nd place fish before putting it back down the hole.

 This is a shot of me with one of the pickerel we caught during the tournament.

 
    As I said earlier, this tournament was well attended with about 140 people registered and it was a lot of fun for everyone. Hot dogs and hot drinks were served and J. D. Irving donated a fantastic ice fishing package worth over $2000. Young Ethen Kassiram was the lucky winner whose ticket was drawn at the conclusion of the tournament.The village of Minto and the committee members are to be commended for putting on such a great family event. I can only see this tournament continuing to grow in popularity in the future.

    The first annual Tri Lakes ice fishing tournament was held over the course of three days during the winter and concluded with the third leg of the tournament on March 10th at Maquapit Lake. This was a multi species tournament with the winner determined by whoever had the most points after fishing the three lakes. This is a great concept for a tournament and there were fishermen registered from all parts of the province. Closing ceremonies were held at the Minto Legion on March 10. Minto Councillor Reg Barton handed out prizes to the winners and after the numbers were tallied Zack Beatty took first place overall. Dustin Tower and Will Redmond tied for second. The winners received gift cards and fishing gear. JD Irving once again donated a great ice fishing package valued at over $2000. The winner was picked by draw and eleven year old Paige Clark had the right number.. Congratulations to all the winners and a special thank-you to the organizing committee whose volunteer efforts make these tournaments possible. Tournament organizers were Reg Barton, Ralph Goodwin, Sam Daigle, Jack Tremblay, George Collette, Greg Collette and Kendall Colburn. 

    Curt and I took Fran M. out for another day of fishing before she left for home and we had good luck once again. I think we caught about eight pickerel over the three hours we fished. Fran caught her share of the fish even though she had never ice fished before. She thanked us and said it really was a lot of fun. Here are some photos of that day.
 This next photo shows Fran with one of the pickerel she got that day.
 The next photo shows one of the average sized pickerel I caught during the same outing. Note the red devil in the fishes mouth. A great jigging spoon for pickerel.  

 
    I've been out the last couple of days fishing by myself and the catching has slowed down a bit but the weather has been beautiful. I caught five small pickerel and lost one at the hole. That's good enough to keep things interesting. Here are a couple of photos from those trips.
 


Here is a short video clip I made when I caught a small pickerel.

    This has been a great year for us whenever we have been out ice fishing. I think that because we practice catch and release, our success rate stayed high. You can't catch them if they aren't there. We will keep a fish once in a while but only if it's bleeding bad. For example, out of the 50+ fish we caught over the last month, we only kept two smaller ones. One for Wes because he wanted a feed and one for us that was bleeding bad so we had a good lunch.

 This last video clip was made on March 29th. I called it a monster but it really wasn't that big. I still get excited when I hook a fish with some weight. 

    Just wanted to wish Dallas and Wesley a big Happy Birthday! The Hargrove family had a very nice party with cake and lots of good food last week. Thanks for the invite! Here is a photo of Wes at his 87th birthday party.
 
    
As we move into April we will be looking forward to the April 15th opener for black salmon or kelts . This is a fantastic fishery on the MSW Miramichi River and we will be fishing again this year above Doaktown and staying at the house in Carrolls Crossing. The ice could be late going out this year so I'm not going to get too excited until the water clears and the fishing gets good.

If any sport is looking for a day of salmon fishing or a spring bear hunt just reach out through the channels provided and we will make it happen.

This is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You......Until we Meet Again"



Monday, January 29, 2018

THE BIG CHILL---THEN THE THAW!

Now that we are into the heart of our winter season here at home on Salmon River,I can only say that the weather has been a real roller coaster. Earlier in January, we had a prolonged period of 2-3 weeks of brutally cold weather with an accumulated snow pac of around two feet. The local deer herd was starting to struggle a bit and it was starting to look like it was going to be a rough winter this year for them. Then came the big thaw. A mid-winter thaw is something most Maritimers are accustomed to but this thaw was accompanied by a 40-50 mil. dump of rain that caused havoc throughout the province including the Grand Lake area. Flooding and power outages were widespread across the province. Most of the smaller brooks and streams overflowed their banks and the ice was running in the larger streams and rivers. The brook that runs beside my house washed out the Rt. 123 highway and is now under reconstruction. This has caused a detour once again to get into Chipman. It's a bit of a pain, especially after having detoured all summer but I guess Mother Nature is calling the shots in this instance.Here are a couple of photos of the flooding that occurred.
 I just chose random photos but most places in southern New Brunswick got the same mess.
    
    One blessing that came out of the big thaw was it took nearly all the snow away. This has given our deer herd a chance to rebound after the rigors of the rut and positive results are being seen in many areas, especially in the southern half of the province. Bucks that were run down after the rut have been able to put some weight back on and this will pay dividends later on towards spring. Here are a couple of photos of some deer in the Douglas Harbour area on Grand lake.
 There was three groups of 12-15 deer in each group and they all looked to be in good shape.
Another positive thing for the deer is the small amount of snow enables them to better avoid their number one predator, the coyote. I don't really like calling them a coyote because bush wolf would be a more appropriate name. These deer killers can get big. I pulled this photo from a trapping site just to show my readers what a 60+ lb. coyote looks like. If one happens to get the right genetic mix, they can get even bigger.
 A pack of coyotes this size can decimate a deer herd in one winter if they can get them when they yard up. I'm hoping as winter moves along,we won't get too much snow. If this happens, we will see a nice increase in our deer numbers here in the Grand Lake area.

The ice fishing fraternity has been out in full force this month. The first leg of the Tri-Lake Ice Fishing Tournament was held recently at the Key Hole. There was a pretty good turnout but I wasn't one of them. My son and I got down there and when I pulled the auger off of the truck I noticed the gas line was cut in two. We tried a quick fix but it didn't work so we headed back to Chipman and fixed the line properly. We then decided to go to plan B because it's an hour drive from home to the Key Hole and the tournament was already started. We headed to a nice honey hole near home and pounded down seven holes and rigged them all up with rods. Through the years, I have developed a system for ice fishing pickerel that works well for us. Live minnows are the best bait but they aren't always readily available.That's why we usually use cut bait but when doing so, you must use the right technique to stay in the running. I don't want to give too many secrets away but an absolute must is keeping the bait active.
From the reports I got, there wasn't any real big fish registered at the Key Hole but there was a few fish caught. A buddy of mine from Minto tied for first place with a 21.25 inch fish. I believe they caught ten pickerel in total.  He also registered a perch and catfish. Shaun was fishing with his daughter who was celebrating her birthday and from all reports, they had a great day on the ice. Here are some photos of their day at the Key Hole.


 Shaun S. is an avid fisherman on or off the ice and he usually has good success during his fishing trips. Well done Shaun!. The second and third legs of the tournament are coming up next month as well as the kids tournament at the Key Hole. This tournament is sponsored by the village of Minto and is very popular with the locals. Please check with the village of Minto web site for details.
    As I said earlier, the tournament was a wash for us but our backup plan worked out great.Here is a short video of us getting started in the morning.  

 After getting the holes dug and lines rigged, it didn't take long to start catching fish. I caught the first one which was also the smallest one of the day. It looked to be around 12 in. As the morning progressed, we caught fish at regular intervals and just before lunch Curt landed a nice one. It was 24 in. on the board and that's considered trophy size in these waters. Here is a short clip of Curt measuring his fish.
 We had a good lunch and took a short break to get warmed up a bit and then we hit the ice again. The fishing was good right up until we decided to quit for the day. They kept biting and we kept pulling them in. What a great way to spend a day with my son doing something we both love! Here is a photo of Curt with another 24 incher he caught later.
 I caught my share of fish too. Here is a photo of me with a smaller one.
 Curt had his dog there with us and he liked following us around when we checked the lines.
 Curt and I ended up landing 15 pickerel  in the 5-6 hours we fished. We only lost three at the hole. All of our fish were released except one smaller one that was bleeding from the gills and couldn't be revived. I'm a strong believer in hook and release and I'll talk a bit about that later in this post.

    The following week-end Curt was celebrating his birthday with a special friend who was visiting from Ontario. I last seen Anne when she was visiting during the past summer and we got her out fishing and she landed her first pickerel. It was a trophy sized one and I think she got hooked on pickerel right then. Curt asked her if she was interested in trying some ice fishing and she said she would love to. The temperatures were mild and with the weather co-operating, we set out for the day.
    We went back to the same location Curt and I had fished the previous week. After drilling seven holes in the same location as the previous week, we rigged up rods for each hole. We were catching fish before all the holes were rigged up! Here are some photos of me with some of the fish we caught.
 It turned out to be another busy day on the ice. The fish were coming at regular intervals and soon Anne caught her
first fish while ice fishing and it turned out to be the biggest of the day. Here is a photo of that fish.
 We didn't measure it but we estimated it to be around 22 inches. That's still a nice fish. Curt and Anne even had a double header at one point. You know the fishing is good if that happens! 
 The fishing was good right up until quitting time. We landed 10 fish and had a few more strikes. I was top rod for the day with 5. Anne landed 3 and Curt got 2. I think Curt was just giving us a chance because he was top rod the previous week with 8 fish to my 7 including two 24 inchers. That's good fishing on any body of water
    The popularity of ice fishing in the Grand Lake area is on the rise and it's a great family activity. Sometimes it's a couple of fishing buddies or it could be a small village set up for smelt. Years ago, there was a small community of up to fifty shacks set up near Goat Island on Grand Lake. For several years fishermen caught lots of rainbow smelt, whitefish and burbot. Gradually, the catches started to fall off and interest started to wane. Erratic weather patterns and lack of support in general caused the collapse of this yearly gathering. I think this year there is only one ice shack at Goat Island. I witnessed this as it happened and there are other fishermen who will attest to this fact. Grand Lake is the largest lake in New Brunswick. If  this lake can experience a decline in numbers then just think what happens in a small body of water or pond. Numbers of target fish can quickly become depleted especially with bigger fish that take longer to mature.One thing I  would like to mention is the fact that heavy stocking of land-locked salmon has occurred over the last few years and I'm sure this species will start turning up more in the future.
 I always like to tell the story of the retired gentleman from Bouctouche who used to come to Chipman and fish yellow perch. I would stop and chat him up whenever I seen him fishing and the first couple of years he had great success. Many times he took home his limit. I even wrote a blog entry about this guy showing him with half a 5 gallon pail of perch. http://hargroveandbauer.blogspot.ca/2008/03/ice-fishing-coming-to-close.html As I said, everything was good until the third year and then the bottom fell right out of the fishing. After several trips to Chipman with poor catches, I caught up with him one afternoon as he was leaving. He said he was very puzzled as to why the fishing was so poor after successive seasons of great catches. He had several theories why this had occurred but over fishing wasn't one of them. He really didn't get it. This was an educated man who should have been able to figure it out but he didn't. That was the last time I talked to him. I find that situation really sad and that doesn't bode well for the overall health of our local fisheries. The fun is in catching them. Period. If they aren't there, you can't catch them. Do any of you think we would have caught ten pickerel the following week-end after catching fifteen the previous week-end if we hadn't released them? I can tell you right now we wouldn't have caught that many, maybe two or three. I apologize for the rant but this point must be emphasized. PLEASE PRACTICE HOOK AND RELEASE! 

    We are at the mid point of our New Brunswick winter and I want to remind any non-resident hunters that this is the time to put your name in for the moose draw. The entry dates are from Feb. 5 to April 30. http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/Wildlife/MooseNonResidentFactSheet.pdf Bear Hunters who want a guaranteed tag are urged to enter the upcoming draw which opened Jan.22 and runs to Feb. 28. http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/Wildlife/BearNonResFactSheet.pdf

I like to receive feed back so don't be shy. If anyone has any questions about booking a hunting or fishing trip with us just give me a buzz through the channels provided. We do it all and we have good success doing it. Just check out the blog entries from the last ten years. Time flies when you're having fun!

    This is Dale Bauer saying " Happy Trails to You....Until we Meet Again! "













Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DEER SEASON 2017--A SMALL GAIN

    New Brunswick's deer season just ended a week ago and although the official numbers aren't out yet, preliminary numbers indicate a small increase in the  harvest this year. That would certainly make sense because we have had a couple of good winters that has allowed the herd to expand....a little. Successive good winters allows all age classes to better survive but usually fawns, yearlings and 2.5 yr. old deer reap the greatest benefit. A heavy snow pack during the winter has a negative effect on smaller deer on two fronts. They can't get food as easily and may be over browsed by the larger deer and they can't escape coyotes and cats if they are bogged down in snow. These two factors kill a lot of deer during a bad winter.
    In our hunting areas around Grand Lake on the Crown land we saw a slight increase in small racked "dink" bucks and does but the older deer with the big racks that most hunters are looking for were few and far between.. The older class deer that are left are very hard to pattern because they are covering a lot of ground these days. Many times these big boys are here one day and gone the next.. I didn't kill a deer again this year but Jamie bagged a young six pointer on the last week-end of the season. He hunted a big buck in Salmon River for most of the season but never laid eyes on him. That happens a lot these days. Jamie switched tactics and joined Kenny the last week-end for a hunt on private ground near Pioneer Lodge in Cumberland Bay. That proved to be a smart move. Here is a photo of Jamies 2017 buck.
 If anyone is wondering how Ken, Jamie and Dallas got their start in the outdoor life just take a look at this photo. Ol' Wes had these boys on the hunt as soon as they were big enough to buck some brush. As a matter of fact, Wes was known to put one of the boys in his knap sack and take them on a hunt BEFORE they could get around easily. This is how these guides got their start. Thanks Wes!.These boys turned out to be good woodsmen with your guidance.

      Jamie's uncle Kenny didn't tag a deer this year either but he helped a young local lad get his first buck. This kid was really pumped after getting his first deer and in this instance size DIDN'T matter. I think it's very important for young hunters to harvest game early on because it fires up that hunting instinct and that success spurs them on during future hunts. The same thing goes for fishing. Young people lose interest quickly but when they get that first rush of adrenaline they are usually hooked. This is a photo of Kyle Hay with his first buck. Well done Kyle!
 I should also mention that Kyle's step-dad, Derrick Bizeau, played a big part in his success. Make no mistake about it, this is how it all starts for these young hunters.
    Although Ken and I didn't kill a deer this year, we did have a few smaller bucks on our cameras. These young deer will be pretty decent bucks next year, if they survive. Here's a photo of one buck I was hunting this year that was harvested by Andy A. from the Minto area.
I don't know Andy personally but I do know his mothers side of the family quite well and they are all good woodsmen. This deer was killed on Crown land between Minto and Chipman. Good job Andy!
    I had a smaller buck on the camera that wasn't killed from the same area and he should be a pretty good buck next year.
 I don't mind seeing these smaller bucks around because I know if they can survive until the age of 3.5 years old, they will be nice bucks. Most deer of this age in New Brunswick will dress out between 160-180 lbs. and have a 8-10 point rack.. I'm using average figures here and there can be some variation either way. Jamie and Kenny  had a young buck with good potential on one of their cameras. This is going to be a nice deer next year.

 This deer is on private ground and very close to home.. We like seeing these bucks in our back yard. Our immediate area was known for holding big bucks back in the day but with the extensive logging over the last couple of decades, our area has suffered heavy losses in the deer herd. This isn't just a localized problem. It's province wide with the exception of some private land near the suburbs, predominantly in the southern half of  New Brunswick..This problem could be fixed relatively quickly with the right application of common sense and decency but the will to do so has to be there first. Only time will tell but I'm an optimist and I believe there are better days ahead for New Brunswick's deer herd.
    The private land around Grand Lake has long been a white-tail haven and there is still some good deer hunting to be had ,if you have access. There are some good bucks in these areas but the bulk of the deer hunting is done by local land owners. One young fellow I know from Grand lake has been having great success the last few seasons. Ryan Smith and his hunting buddies are co-operating and holding out for bigger bucks and it's paying off! Ryan has taken a nice buck the last two seasons and his buddies are doing well also. These guys are hunting hard and have a lot of time and equipment invested in their deer hunts but that's what it takes to harvest big bucks in New Brunswick today. This is a photo of Ryan's 8 point buck he took this year. It dressed out at 190 lbs.
 He took a similar deer last year. Both these deer are considered trophy sized bucks in our area by today's standards

 Here is a photo of one of Ryan's hunting buddies with the buck he got near Grand Lake on private ground.
 This big buck dressed out at 232 lbs. and won the camp contest. for heaviest weight. It sported a nice heavy 9 point rack. Well done boys! I think it's great to see these young hunters getting the job done on these local big bucks. The potential is here and with a little luck and determination, it can happen.
    Other parts of new Brunswick also seen some great bucks harvested in 2017. Parts of Miramichi and Woodstock in central N.B. had some nice bucks taken and in the south around Sussex and Saint John there were some really nice bucks killed this year. Here are a few photos of a huge buck taken in Sussex on private land by a young lady hunter. 


 That's about as good as it gets in New Brunswick but every year monsters such as this are still being taken. Congratulations to this young lady for taking a trophy of a life time. This next photo shows an old warrior from the northern part of the province that was killed this year also. This deer was taken near Edmonston.
 This buck had a very heavy rack with 17 points. It dressed out at 245 lbs. This is another example of the quality of our bucks if they can survive for a few years. Here is another photo of a big racked buck taken this year.by a lucky hunter  in New Brunswick.
 This buck not only has mass and tine length but also has a good spread with kicker points for character. Another great buck taken here in New Brunswick.
    
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my old friend from my youth, Kevin Voutour, on taking an absolute monster buck this fall. Kevin and I grew up as neighbours in Minto and travelled together for years as kids and later on as young men. I remember Kevin running his trap line after school and on week-ends as much for the love of the woods as for the extra money he made on his line. He was mainly a water trapper but he wasn't limited just to those sets. I remember seeing one of his fur receipts from a few years ago and he put a pile of hurt on the local coyote population at that time. As we got older, we started hunting ducks at MacDonald's Meadows and running the big woods of  Salmon River in the old burnt lands at the mouth of Little Forks. Here is a photo of Kevin and I with a moose I got one year in that area. He will tell you that moose hunting is his "thing"but it's much more than that. Kevin doesn't miss anything in the woods. Trust me.

We also stayed at camps on Newcastle Stream and at the head of Gaspereau River. Wild as hawks and living for the hunt! I'll say it again, "There's no life like it!".Of course, we grew up and moved on but we always remained connected through mutual friends and casual meetings. Today, Kevin and I are getting a little long in the tooth and I suspect his recent trip to Saskatchewan  was a gift to himself for reaching that special milestone in life. Kevin has come full circle with this buck and it will be nearly impossible to top this trophy. Looks good on ya pal! You earned every inch of it! This is a photo of Kevin with his buck shortly after he killed it.
 This buck had a live weight of 302 lbs. and dressed out at 242 lbs. The outfitter didn't know this buck was in the area they were hunting because there were no trail cam photos of him.What this buck scores is still to be determined. It would be safe to say it  is over 200 inches.. Congratulations again Kevin on your trophy buck!

As hunting season winds down for us here at home on Salmon River, we will still be out for rabbits and partridge while scouting around to see what deer are left. If we can get another good winter this year, our deer herd will increase correspondingly That's a good thing from where we sit..

Until next time, this is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You....Until we Meet Again".

THE COUNTDOWN TO SPRING

    Spring is just around the corner and most folks around here are looking forward to it. Not because it was such a terrible winter but th...