Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 END OF THE YEAR SUMMARY AT H&B

    Once again,Christmas has come and we are looking forward to the New Year here at home on Salmon River. As we look forward,we also take the time to reflect back upon the events that shaped the previous year and learn from those experiences,so that we might take steps to enrich our future.The year 2012 was a good year for most species but there were some species that suffered and faltered. Life is like that.Up and down.Eb and flow.Forward and backward. Change is the one constant that remains in our life on this planet.It might come slowly or quickly depending on the circumstances but things are definitely in a state of change.
    One change that was driven home to me this past year was how serious the melting of the polar ice is. This phenomenon is happening at the fastest rate since the beginning of record keeping. This is putting more water in the oceans and,in turn,puts more moisture in the air. The whole thing adds up to more storms that are more severe in the destructive force they deliver and puts all coastal areas in peril as ocean levels increase.The real scary part is that we are going to have a hard time to reverse this process.It'll probably get worse before it gets better. 

    The ice fishing season is still a few weeks away and if the weather follows the same pattern as last year,it could be a late start because of poor ice. Although the season started out slowly last season because of the mild winter we had,the bite set in good and after we had lots of ice the fishing was quite consistant. Grand Lake and lower Salmon River had good catches of most of the species such as smelt,burbot,pickerel and perch.The whitefish bite was back on after a noticeable lack of caught fish the year before. We fish either fresh cut bait or live bait depending on the species. We use light weight 2-3 man shacks on the lake and portables on Salmon River where there is less wind. If the weather is moderate,a bucket and all your gear is all you need because you will be busy working your lines and catching fish. Our water that we fish during the winter is considered tidal water so a fishing licence isn't required and that makes things a whole lot simpler for visiting fishermen. The following photo shows Ken Hargrove with a trophy sized burbot taken from Grand Lake.
 On average,the burbot will run a bit smaller than the one Ken is holding but the chance is always there to hook one in the twelve pound range. The smelt in Grand lake can run quite large,up to twelve inches but again the averages are smaller than that. Many times we will use cut smelt for bait and it works quite well. The next photo shows some smelt taken in one of our shacks on Grand Lake. The yellow perch we catch vary in size according to where they are caught. Usually,the perch in The Grand Lake system run larger than the ones caught in the lower Salmon River. One visiting fisherman from Rogersville catches buckets full on a very small white jig. We usually put on a small piece of cut bait for added attraction. The following photo shows my son Curtis with a couple of yellow perch caught in McLeods Pond on Salmon River. As you can tell by these photos,we have some very good ice fishing opportunities in our area and the coming season should provide some great days out on the ice.
 
    As winter gave way to spring,the anticipated spring salmon season was everything one could expect. I personally never had such an opener, with fish that were literally stacked up in the deeper pools. My fishing partner and I were both done fishing for the day by lunch time,having both hooked our limit of ten fish each. There was no shortage of fish and the hook-ups were coming fast and furious, especially on the opener. This video clip was taken early in the morning of the first day.Many salmon fishermen turn their nose up at black salmon but I think that is a mistake.Last spring the fish were in excellent condition and put up a very good fight. We caught a mix of salmon and grilse,with a higher percentage of grilse landed. The next photo shows me with one of the salmon I landed on the first day. My fishing partner for the day also landed s few salmon. Donna A. is from the Doaktown area and is no stranger to the great salmon pools near her home. The next photo shows Donna with one of the fish she landed that didn't want it's picture taken. The next photo shows Donna with a nice salmon that was a little more co-operative when I took the picture. I can honestly say that last years opener for spring salmon was the best fishing I have had in my entire life.And I've done a lot of fishing in my lifetime,so don't take that statement lightly!
 
    Later on in the spring ,around the first of June,my good friend, Allen Davidson and his niece Donna,decided to float the river down to Doaktown and try to get some sea-trout and maybe get a few fiddleheads that weren't popped out yet. While we didn't land any really big trout,we did catch some very nice pan sized trout in the 10-14 inch range. While we were busy catching trout,Allen managed to gather up some fiddleheads to go with those delicious sea-trout.The next photo shows Allen and I with some trout taken on that day.
 The next photo shows Allen gathering up some fiddleheads while we were taking a break from the fishing. The larger sea-trout seemed to have run very early in May and there was a smaller run than usual. This run turned out to be a forerunner for a dismal and disturbing run of bright salmon that just failed to arrive in any numbers. After experiencing some of the best runs in decades,the bottom fell right out of it and the salmon just didn't show up. I like to think that the salmon were just too smart to enter the river under such terrible water conditions and stifling heat and decided to sit it out until more favourable conditions. Hopefully,next year the runs will be back at full strength.  
 
    The spring bear hunt was very good this year with multiple trophy bears at our bait sites. We are constantly on the look out for fresh bear sign in new areas but we maintain our older sights because they have large sows hanging around and this will draw in those rambling old boars for a sniff. I don't usually bother killing any spring bear but Ken loves to bait and hunt bears so he usually takes one every year. We had some real old smashers at our bait sights this past spring and Ken had all intentions of taking one of these larger bears but fate intervened and Ken took a nice average sized bear. This bear was one of about a dozen that were visiting a new bait and Ken decided to take him one evening later in the season. The next photo shows Ken with his 2012 bear. Our area has a lot of bears and many of them live to be trophy size because there is very little hunting pressure for bear in our hunting areas. The biggest problem most hunters have is holding out for a large bear when there are multiple shooter bears on the bait. Those big boars have a tendency to hang back at a bait and check things out carefully,so it pays to wait and judge your bear closely before pulling the trigger. This next photo shows a trophy sized bear at one of our baits. Hunting black bears in New Brunswick is one adventure that nearly always has a successful conclusion. We have a large black bear population and a good percentage of those bears are trophy sized because of low hunting pressure. As I already stated,trophy hunters must wait patiently for those big boars to show up if that's the size bear they are looking for. If a sport has the patience,you should return home with a big- headed New Brunswick boar to display in your game room.
 
    At the same time the bear hunting is starting to heat up,the white perch run usually arrives. It varies from year to year but if I had to pic a date to angle for these great tasting fish it would be around June 1st. We were out there right on schedule again this year and there was a good run of white perch this past spring. We usually have a few people every evening around this time and the fishing can be very good,especially right before dark. The white perch bite really turns on during the last hour before dark. You can catch your twenty-five fish  limit here pretty quickly when the fish are running hard. I can taste those fillets right now as I'm writing this! We aren't long doing up a pail and getting the deep fryer going after we catch a bunch. Done in a good batter,you can really gorge on these tasty little buggers! The next photo shows Josh,a friend of my son Curt,with his stringer of white perch. Curt was telling him about the great fishing we were having and he wanted to try it. As luck would have it,he caught a jumbo female on his first cast. He got enough for a feed in about a half hour and I think he's hooked!
 White perch are not hard to catch but they do require a light touch to hook them. They won't chase a bait so you must reel very slowly or use a bobber set about a foot off of the bottom. It really helps to have a guide or someone with experience fishing these great little fish to increase your chances for success. The next photo shows a bucket of nice white perch caught one evening this past spring. These fish do not require any expensive gear or lures to catch them. As a matter of fact,my son Curt has been fishing them since he was a kid and he says a hook and worm with a small split shot is the perfect set up for fishing off of our shore. He told me that with the current we have here on our shore on Salmon River,this rig will drift along near the bottom and he catches a pile of white perch with this set- up. The next photo shows Donna A. from Doaktown with a few perch taken one evening last spring. 
 
The pickerel fishing last summer was the best we've had in quite a spell. The water was a perfect height for fishing these toothy tigers and we had great fishing all summer long. We are blessed with some great habitat for a multitude of species and chain pickerel is one of them. The pickerel beds line the river from Gaspereau Forks to the entrance of Grand Lake and provide consistent fishing all summer long. The next photo shows me with a nice average size pickerel I caught one evening last summer. Note the lure hanging from his mouth.
 This lure combo works well for us in most conditions but during spring conditions with higher water,we change things up. In low water conditions during the summer,this set-up usually works really well for us as you can see in this short video clip.That pickerel is considered to be trophy-sized in these waters,as well as most water anywhere in the Grand Lake system. This is a very consistent fishery and we expect the fishing to continue in this vein for years to come,with good hook and release practices.
 
The Atlantic salmon fishery this past summer was, by any measure,a huge disappointment. The water conditions were terrible during the summer and the fish failed to return in any numbers. This made for a season that wasn't. As a matter of fact,a lot of the water on our best salmon rivers were closed down or restricted to limited angling for most of the summer. The only fishing to speak of was during the early part of the season and after that most of the fishing was in the lower parts of the rivers where the tides kept the rivers a little fresher. Salmon fishermen are, for the most part optimists.They just about have to be if they are going to hook one of these magnificent fish. All eyes are looking forward to next years runs in hopes of increased numbers of fish and better water conditions.
 
Another high point for sportsmen this past year was the 2012 moose hunt. The province has a very strong moose herd that has been building for a number of years and if you were lucky enough to draw a tag,your odds of getting a moose were very good. I finally drew a tag after many years of entering and Wes had his tag. Rounding out our group was Wes's son-in- law Denis. Wes and I both tagged out on the first morning and Denis got his nice bull at last light of the last day,in the pouring rain to put us at three for three on this hunt. The next photo shows me with my eating- sized bull I took this past season. Wes's bull was nearly identical in size to the one I took.
 Denis had a chance early in the season but couldn't get the shot and after that it seemed like everyone around him was shooting trophy bulls.Actually,there was at least four trophy bulls killed near Denis's location. His perseverance paid off and he shot a nice fourteen pt. bull the very last thing and had a real job getting it out of the cut. The next photo shows Denis's bull in the back of the truck. The photo was taken in a downpour so the image isn't the best.
 The next photo shows a group of Frenchmen who also tagged out early in the hunt. They got two trophy sized bulls,one eating sized eight pt. and a nice sized cow.
 The next photo shows a couple of the trophies that were taken near Denis's hunting area by a couple of local hunters. As you can see from the photos above,the 2012 moose hunt was a resounding success and the odds have never been better for taking a moose in New Brunswick. The coming year looks to be more of the same so get your name in for the 2013 New Brunswick moose lottery.
 
 Our annual fall duck hunt took place at our usual spot on Salmon River. Duck numbers were good this year and we had lots of ducks decoying into our small spread.  The spot we hunt has a good morning shoot but really tapers off in the evening. That's alright though because the shooting is usually good enough in the morning that a limit can be taken,provided your aim is true. The following photo shows our group of shooters and the bag of ducks taken on the first morning of the 2012 duck hunt.
 With favourable nesting conditions,puddle duck numbers should be good in the coming year.in our area. We have a lot of wood ducks because of the good nesting habitat along the river and this provides us with good shooting year after year. The next photo shows one of the nice male wood ducks we took last fall.
 
    The 2012 deer hunt showed a nice increase in harvest numbers and this was expected. We had a low snow pack during the winter of 2011 and as a result many more deer survived. This helped a lot of the younger deer to survive and the older deer were in good shape to survive our harsh New Brunswick winters. Does with twins and triplets was not unusual this past season which was encouraging. There were some very nice trophy bucks taken last season,most coming from the southern half of the province. The hunt was pretty much a non-event for Ken and I because Ken was away in Nova Scotia doing a job and I took ill just before the start of the season and that put me out of the woods for the whole 2012 season.It's too bad because I had a new area with a nice deer herd scouted out and the buck sign looked promising. Hopefully,next year we can take advantage of this new hunting area near Grand Lake. The following link will take you to some photos of some bucks taken around the province. Just click on http://newbrunswickhunting.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4123-2012-whitetail-harvest-pics-only-no-comments/ .As you can see from the photos in this forum,there are still some great bucks taken each fall in New Brunswick. The amount of snow we receive each winter determines if our deer herd is going to increase or decrease. As I'm writing this,we have just received over two feet of snow during the last couple of days and winter is just getting started. Only time will tell if the gains of last year will be wiped out in bad winter this year. One area of encouragement is QDMA's involvement in improving the deer herd here in New Brunswick. If future governments want to stay relevant in improving our environment and keeping people engaged,they had better pay attention to social media and what the people say or they will be served their walking papers. The voting public in New Brunswick will continue to roust politicians until someone gets it right. Big business is doing some things that are wrong here in New Brunswick and the majority of the people want things changed and done correctly.We have already been surveyed and the politicians know what New Brunswickers want,so why not just rule accordingly? I think we all know the answer to that one and I can see changes in the near future,both at the provincial level and federally. I would love to see young Justin Trudeau as our next Prime Minister. But I digress.
 
 As I said previously,I was out with health issues during the deer season and I got to thinking about how hunters have to change their tactics as they grow older or to compensate for some handicap. Around this time,I was contacted by John Conners,who publishes a blog on different lifestyle issues and he asked if I would be interested in linking to one of his posts that he thought would go well with my content. I said sure and the following post on hearing loss is relevant for all hunters and shooters.
 
Why Should I Use Hearing Protection While Hunting?

If you are involved in any sport or line of work that uses guns, you need to make sure to do what you can to prevent hearing loss. You can lose some or all of your ability to hear by shooting firearms without wearing any type of ear protection. Many sportsmen and emergency workers who use guns report losing some hearing with only one or two uses of their guns, so using any means necessary to protect your ears is very important.
    Any time that a hunter discharges any firearm, starting at a .22 caliber, the noise is at least 140 decibels. The human ear can be damaged by hearing one single noise at that level. Most larger caliber weapons are much louder than that and can cause even more damage. Wearing a pair of earplugs with a pair of muffs over them is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to protect your ears from becoming damaged.
    Hunting and being around just one or two guns is one thing, but going somewhere like a gun range is even worse. There are sometimes up to thirty people at a time shooting in a single gun range, so protecting your ears is not just an option, it is a necessity. Many people need to wear filtration devices or hearing aids after shooting a gun without protecting their ears due to hearing loss. Many hunters don't want to cover their ears and lose all outside noises, but many have also discovered the electronic earmuffs that have been designed to keep noises louder than 120 decibels out but allow regular noises to be heard while wearing them.
    It is possible to avoid even more damage to your ears by going to outdoor shooting ranges rather than indoor ones, by hunting in the woods where you have an open space for discharge noise to disperse, and by trying to use a smaller caliber rifle or pistol to shoot rather than the larger weapons that can cause permanent deafness in certain cases. No matter where you are when you are shooting, especially when hunting, you should make a conscious decision to protect your ears during the use of any firearm. You will definitely want to be able to hear for the rest of your life, and this is a great way to make sure that it happens.
    My father who was a hunter for many years often did not pay much attention if any at all to his hearing protection while out hunting or shooting at the range.  Due to this he now is affected severely by hearing loss and uses hearing aids to help him hearing more clearly.  Although hunting was not the only cause of his hearing loss, his doctors did say that it did play a large role in damaging his ears over time.  Protect your ears today in order to ensure healthy hearing for the future. 
    Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!
   
In closing, I would like to say I enjoyed a chance meeting with Kevin S. aka "Grey Ghost" at the local flea market. Although I had Kevin pegged as being older than he was,I was spot on in my judgement of him as both a gentleman and a scholar and it was nice to meet him in person. I would like to wish Kevin and all the outdoor folks reading this a very Happy New Year!
 
    This is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You......Until we meet Again!"
 
 

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