Saturday, August 23, 2014

NO DOG DAYS THIS YEAR



    This month being August, we can usually expect to get some hot, muggy weather with low water conditions in our streams and rivers. Not so this year. If anything, this August has been the opposite of a " normal " year. The weather was cool this month with enough rain to keep the local streams and brooks from getting to their summer low. This is good news for most species of fish especially cold water species like salmon and trout because this is usually the time of year when they suffer with warm water conditions. This month has seen a series of raises in the water levels in the Miramichi River and her tributaries, as well as the northern salmon rivers. Salmon fishermen should be jumping for joy but instead many are once again lamenting a lack of fish and poor fishing in our salmon rivers. This is a very serious situation and the outfitters must be feeling the pinch. News travels fast these days and sports won't book trips if the conditions are poor. They will go elsewhere or not at all but you can bet they are doing their homework before they spend upwards of $1000 per day to fish for Atlantic Salmon in New Brunswick or elsewhere, for that matter. I'm sure most of the outfitters were hoping for a good summer with lots of fish after the disastrous spring season. This summer is proving to be very slow for all participants of this " sport of kings ",from fishermen to guides and outfitters to fly shop owners, they are all singing the same tune. No fish....to speak of. One prominent outfitter on the Miramichi has been bantering about a radical solution to the poor numbers of Atlantic salmon returning to that watershed. His ideas have been met with mixed reviews on some forums, probably because it is a departure from traditional thinking but sometimes that's what it takes to make something work. This is a very complex issue but I do believe that science and lovers of the sport will prevail at the end of the day.
    Every year at the start of fishing season for bright salmon I re-stock my fly box with some flies that have been lost or abused and this year I decided I should visit an old acquaintance from Minto. Being born and raised in Minto,  I first started buying flies from Fred Dufour who ran a general store on the Ridge Road. The flies I bought from Freddie were the ones that came tied on a leader and were mounted on a cardboard strip. I loved to go with Dad when he got our order each week and I could always manage to pick up a fly or two to use on my favorite trout stream which happened to be a short walk from home. Grizzly Kings, Coachman, Royal Coachman, Parmacheane Belle, Montreal and Red Ibis were all part of my repertoire when stalking trout. After having great success with a small bucktail that looked very similar to a black nosed dace that I wore completely out, I decided to visit Ralph Goodwin to see if he could duplicate the fly. Ralph lived handy to Newcastle Stream in North Minto and tied flies out of a small shop beside his home. I was just a kid and Ralph wasn't much older but he tied me up some nice flies and I became a satisfied customer. Ralph has been fishing salmon and tying up a storm ever since those early days of my boyhood. Ralph is both an expert tier and salmon fisherman and  his expertise has been noticed by the Ledges Inn in Doaktown and Ralph has been guiding and tying  for them for the last few years. Ralph has tied a few originals with great success. The Belly Dancer and the Mintonian are two of Ralphs patterns that he developed over the years. I hadn't seen Ralph in years but he still remembered me. After catching up on what we had been doing lately, I started picking out some flies that Ralph had on hand. The next photo shows Ralph at home in his shop.
 After picking out a handful of flies and a promise to return, I got my flies home and arrange them for a photo.
 If any of my readers would like to check out Ralphs lineup of flies just click on this link http://www.goodfly.ca/ . I'm pretty sure Ralph will do orders through the mail so don't hesitate to contact him if you want to purchase some well tied flies in a variety of popular patterns.

    Although the salmon fishing is off this year, Salmon River was very good this month for both pickerel and white perch. We had some great fishing for white perch this year and I think a person could still get enough for a feed. They seemed to stick around longer this year,  for some reason. The water in Salmon River has been unusually high this summer and as I write this it is about 2.5 ft. above normal. That can sometimes make for some hard fishing conditions when pursuing pickerel. We use our standard set-up to start out but if it gets tough, we have a couple of tricks that will usually get us some fish. Pickerel are such fierce predators that they can usually be coaxed into taking something.
    We were happy to once again have Sgt. Ryan Cains come down from CFB Gagetown on New Brunswick Day to fish with us. This is the third year he has fished with us on New Brunswick Day and what a day he had! My son Curt loaded the boat up and they headed up river to a couple of hot spots and they caught a lot of fish. Sgt. Cains said it was his best day of fishing-ever! Curt told me that they landed twenty or so pickerel and lost that many again. He said it started a little slow but then they really started hammering it. This is a photo of Sgt. Cains landing a nice pickerel.

Here is another photo of him with an average sized pickerel.


 Curt said when they started fishing one honey hole, they were getting strikes on nearly every cast. Pickerel put up a good fight when they are first hooked but they will tire quickly under steady pressure. This next photo shows a nice pickerel thrashing the water near the boat.
 Curt said after fishing pickerel for a few hours, he asked the Sgt. if he wanted to try for some white perch. Curt told him he would fillet them for him and he would write out a recipe for cooking them up . They motored back down river and stopped at a deep hole and started catching nice sized white perch on nearly every cast. After getting enough for a feed, they headed back in. The next photo shows Curt and Sgt. Cains with a nice bag of white perch.
 After a short visit,  Sgt Cains headed back to the base but he promised to come back again soon. In the meantime, he said he was going to try out the fillets Curt had done up for him. They sure are tasty!
 
    I managed to get out for an evening of fishing with Donna Aguillon and although the water was three feet higher than normal, we still managed to hook up with a few fish. With water conditions like that you have to cover as much water as possible and push in close to the shore. I think we landed around a dozen and lost a few nice ones. The next photo shows me with a good sized pickerel.
 We caught fish and had strikes regularly over the two hours we were on the water. Here is another photo of a nice pickerel.
 Donna had her turn too but she told me she doesn't like handling them so I helped her out with her fish and returned them all back to the water.
 The next photo shows the biggest pickerel we caught that night. I lost one when it wrapped up in the weeds that was a bit bigger than this one.
 
With a provincial election coming up next month the government has been handing out plums to the hunters in hopes of winning their support. First it was a five day moose hunt this year. Then it was an extra bear tag. Now, just recently, the government announced a limited turkey hunt in 2015. This is all good news but I wish they would have only allowed one tag in each of the bear seasons, spring and fall. The Tories under Alward are desperate for votes after losing support steadily over the last year because of its stance on fracking and the controversial New Forest Strategy. Do they really think that these small initiatives are going to make hunters change their vote? I am predicting the Alward Conservatives will be ousted and the Liberals will form the next government. Hopefully, a minority government. As things are put back into balance,  Big Brother will lose its stranglehold on our province. The battle for the hearts and minds of New Brunswickers has been lost by the present government and big business. This ruling elite is so arrogant that they are ignoring the writing on the wall and actually forging forward on their narrow path of destruction and all the while expecting voters to swallow their BS and endorse their selfish actions. Sorry if I rant a bit. Like most New Brunswickers I want change and I want it for the better. Period.
 
    We have been seeing lots of game while travelling our hunting areas. Partridge numbers are good and there are a lot of rabbits around. While fishing, we have been seeing good numbers of ducks but not quite as many geese as other years in our area. The high water level has curtailed the growth of duck oats in many of the ponds here at home on Salmon River so we might have to look for ducks back in the more remote,  smaller ponds. Moose numbers remain high and I already mentioned it's a five day season this year. Most people think this will make for a better hunt, including me. I found three days to be a bit stressful sometimes especially if the weather was bad. The deer population did suffer a bit last winter but we are still seeing some deer where there is good habitat. There are plenty of bears around but I don't like the idea of getting two tags in either season. By having one tag in the spring and one in the fall the pressure on the bears would be spread out more in the hopes of increasing hunting numbers during the fall hunt. That's where you want the increase. Time will tell how this change pans out. Here is a photo of some turkeys on the number 10 highway taken this summer.
 
    On a personal note, this past month has been a very difficult one for me. My best friend of thirty years, Allan Davidson, passed away on August 11th, 2014. He was sixty-eight years old.
 Allan and I first met thirty-five years ago when I lived in Minto. Five years later, when I moved to Chipman, I met up with Allan while walking home at 5:00 AM in a snow storm that had big flakes falling softly at that quiet time of the morning. As we walked along, we chatted and found out we had a lot of common interests. We both loved the outdoors and we were soon hunting and fishing together at every opportunity. Our personalities just seemed to jell and we always had a great time with lots of laughs. Our deep friendship lasted until his passing and even as I write this I find myself choking up. Allans daughter asked if I would write something for Allans eulogy which I gladly did. That proved to be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. All those photos and memories came flooding back to me and I was overcome with grief. I managed to finish writing his eulogy and Allans brother Glenn delivered the eulogy that I had written and he did an excellent job. I knew I couldn't do it. Rest in peace, old friend, your earthly work is done.
 
    I picked up a couple of nice items this past month that I would like to share with my readers. The first item is a pocket watch and watch fob from the National Sportsman Magazine. The fob is circa 1930 and the watch itself is a little more recent vintage but has a nice hunting scene on the watch cover.
 Finally, a picker friend picked me up a nice model of a white-tail buck made from chalk or plaster of Paris. I have two other identical pieces that are lamps but this one is made to be either an ornament or possibly a door stop because it is quite heavy.
This type of ornament was often given out as a prize at fairs and exhibitions back in the day. I would date this piece to the 50's.
 
There are lots of adventures waiting for visitors to the beautiful Grand Lake area so just give me a call or send me a message to make arrangements for a day or a week on the water or in the bush. Until then, this is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You......Until we Meet Again"

 

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 indicat...