Friday, March 29, 2013

SPRINGTIME 2013

    Winter is finally going the other way and is heading away from us, just as spring is breaking through. I can hardly wait each year until the middle of March because that is usually about the time the days start to warm up and the sap starts to run. I know that in one month,on April 15th,I'll be on the Miramichi River angling for the King of Fishes-Atlantic salmon. This is a terrific way to start the season off and I can count the number of times I have missed fishing on the first day on one hand over the last twenty-five years.
    Many of the smal
ler streams such as Coal Creek,Gaspereau River and Newcastle Stream are all starting to open up and the bigger rivers will break up with the raise of water that will come with the warmer weather. The following photo shows the Newcastle Stream at North Minto looking upstream to the old trestle.
 As you can see,the swifter water and stronger current has the ice moving in the smaller brooks and streams. As of this writing,the Salmon River and Miramichi are still holding solid,for the most part. I noticed the edges just starting to go on the Salmon River near Stewart-McLeod Park. I am sure the ice will be running by the first week of April as long as we don't get a prolonged cold snap.
    If any sports are looking forward to fishing for spring salmon,be advised to concentrate your fishing during the first week of the season. That's when we will be doing all of our fishing in the Doaktown area. Don't look for a season like last year because it's just not going to happen. Last spring the fishing was nothing short of phenomenal but that's because the river was full of fish and the conditions were perfect until we got a big raise of water.This spring there is only a fraction of the fish in the river compared to last year. Above Doaktown, the good fishing will be short and sweet. After the first few days,sports would be advised to head down river if you want to find some fish.
    I had a lad from Doaktown build me a new wooden flat-bottomed boat over the winter. My old one was starting to take a lot of maintenance and I knew it was time for a new one. The boys over there usually build two basic styles of boat, one having a pointed nose and the other is made like a scow with a square front. I like the look and feel of the pointed end design but I think the square front type is more stable and easier to get in and out of the boat. The square front design has a small platform on the front of the boat that provides good footing. My new one is a square front sixteen footer with all the bells and whistles. That includes a double pulley on the anchor,one at the anchor and one on the nose. This set-up really makes it a lot easier when pulling anchor all day while fishing salmon. A word of caution here. The Miramichi River in high water is not a place for poor equipment or mechanical breakdown. PFD's are a must. Oh,and don't forget to wear lots of clothes. It can get pretty cold out there when a wind comes up.
    Here are a couple of photos of the flies we have been using the last few years while fishing for spring salmon.
 These Marabou flies are deadly in clear water that is relatively low. I use them almost exclusively unless the water is high and dirty.In conditions like that,I like a fly that is a little bigger and brighter. Here is a photo of the rabbit strip flies I used last year. I caught nineteen salmon before the orange one with the green head broke.
  Ralph Goodwin tied these flies and I can attest to the quality of the flies he ties. Check Ralphs flies out at his web site http://www.goodfly.ca/ Here is a short video clip from opening day last year.The water  was perfect and the river was full of fish that were in superb condition.
   

  Water conditions and the weather are the two conditions that many times determine success or failure. If the ice is running,I leave the boat parked and wait for better conditions. The Miramichi River is not a place to be in high water with the ice running.
    Here is a photo I took yesterday while checking the conditions on the streams and rivers in our area.
 This is the Gaspereau River looking up river from the top of the hill at Lemon's towards the covered bridge in the background. The water is summer low and running free. There is a lot of ice laying on the shore from the raise in the water that broke the ice up. I would expect the water to rise again over the next couple of weeks.
As soon as the spring salmon season finishes up,Ken and I will be busy placing bear baits for the up coming 2013 spring bear season. This is always an exciting time of year for us because Ken and I both love baiting and hunting bears. I usually don't bother taking one but Ken takes an eating size one nearly every year.
    The Grand Lake area of New Brunswick has a high population of bears that many times reach trophy size without ever seeing a hunter. Our location near Chipman is literally surrounded by thousands of square miles of crown land that is prime habitat for black bear. Non-resident success rates are very high and it's not a question of seeing a bear to harvest but rather if the hunter is satisfied taking the size bear that is hitting the bait. This is where experience and patience come into play. If a sport takes the first bear that comes into the bait,odds are he will be taking a smaller one. These smaller bears will hang around near the bait and rush in to grab a morsel of food before one of the boss bears shows up. I tell bear hunters to take their time and size up the bears they are seeing. It is sometimes hard to judge the size of bears in all the excitement when they are on the bait. One thing I have noticed when judging ANY big game animal is you will know immediately when you see a trophy size animal. If you are looking hard and trying to figure out how big it is,most times it will be a smaller specimen. A trophy sized animal acts and moves differently than its smaller relatives.
    Ken and I are constantly looking for big tracks that give away the home turf of trophy sized bears. We know which locations the bears will frequent while foraging for green grass and a spot and stalk hunt is a great way to take a bear early in the season. This next photo shows Ken at one of our bait sites.
 As you can see from this photo,we like to have our bait sites look as natural as possible. Ken and I don't like bait sites that look like a garbage dump. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we have perfectly clean bait sites but we do try to keep the sites as garbage free and biodegradable as much as possible.
    Most of our bait sites have multiple bears visiting them,with one or two trophy sized ones in the mix. The next photo shows a couple of big bear that were hitting one of our sites last spring.
 This particular site had about eight different bears hitting it. The cameras really take a beating at spots like this and bear proof cases are a must. Although this is a night photo,we get lots of day time action, too! This next photo shows one of the dominant bears visiting this bait site.
 Ken had a bait site not far from home that turned out to be a real hotspot. We had been out baiting and scouting for bear sign last spring when we found a new cut that had a lot of green grass growing along the edges. We immediately started seeing a lot of tracks and scat from different sized bears. as a matter of fact,the place was crawling with bears! It didn't take long to get a bait going.We dropped off the left-overs from a couple of butchered cows and started adding sweets and some special treats that Ken always uses and they started hammering it. We estimated that there were at least a dozen different bears visiting this site. Ken and I have noticed, over the years,that sometimes you will find a spot that ,for one reason or another,has a lot of animals nearby. Sometimes the reason is obvious. Maybe there is a blueberry field or an apple orchard nearby. Many times a significant natural food source will attract multiple bears to an area,including trophy sized ones! Ken and I are always on the look out for spots such as this. The next photo shows Ken with the bear he took last year at one of these prime locations.

    If you visit our web site at http://hargroveandbauer.com/ you will see we have upgraded our site and provided more info so visitors can get the facts easier. We have also lowered the prices per day for big game hunts from $350 to $250. This is a significant decrease that Ken and I feel better reflects the economic times we are in. Sports will get the same service as before but at a reduced rate. We think this is a great deal and we hope our visitors will too.
    My good friend Allen Davidson will be helping us out this year in the woods and on the water here at home on Salmon River and on the Miramichi. Allen is a life long sportsman and guide and has been down many trails with me. He was also tought by some of the best woodsmen in our area such as Angus LeBlanc of Bronson and Bob McBeth of Chipman. Allens father.Fred Davidson,was considered by many to be the best skinner in the area. He brought Allen along on his trap lines and Allen has many stories of his father and the predicaments he would get into. The next photo shows Allen with a nice trout on the Miramichi River last year.

    Ken and I will be donating half day trips on Salmon River to Big Brothers and the Anti-Poverty Organization this summer. We are doing this because we think it's important to give something back to the less fortunate and hopefull make a difference in some young persons life.
    We are also going to give away two free bear  hunts this year. One to an American and one to a European hunter. These hunts will be given to individuals who can help us find clients in their respective countries and demonstrate to Ken and I how they will do that. We still only want to guide a maximum of six hunters per week,so this isn't all about getting larger.It's more about consistency. If anyone can help us out here,just send me an e-mail or give me a call.

    I like to include photos of vintage outdoor items occasionally and for this post I dug up a photo of a great old magazine cover. I love these old graphics that magazines used back in the day and this hunter looks like he has his hands full.

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

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