Tuesday, February 28, 2017

N.B. SPRINGERS: SALMON & BEARS

    What a difference a month can make during a Maritime winter! Residents and wild game had a pretty easy go of it up until this month. It seemed when February arrived,so did winter. Successive storms, including back-to-back Nor'Easters, dropped more than four feet of snow on the southern half of the province. This curtailed many of our outdoor activities but there is always something to repair or prepare for in the coming weeks. The weather turned mild after the big dump and as I write this, we have above freezing temperatures during the day and night. That's quite unusual for this time of the year but we'll take all we can get!
    The annual ice fishing tournament at the Key-Hole on Grand Lake was held recently and it was another great day of ice fishing with family and friends. We were there with our regular crew which included myself, my son Curtis and my grand-son Jackson. Here is a photo I took at the start of the tournament.
 We got there early to get our spot and drill our holes and get some chum working. This all takes time and it's nice to have some younger lads on hand to help with the heavier work such as transporting gear across the ice and drilling holes. Here is a photo of Curt and Matt taking a break from drilling holes.
 After getting set up and getting our holes chummed, we took a break while waiting for the horn to blow to start the tournament. I made a short video clip of the area to show the start of the tournament and the fishermen moving in and getting set up.Here is that short clip.
    The fishing started off slowly and it wasn't until a half hour after the start that I pulled up a 16.5 inch  pickerel. Jack took off with his Dad to register the fish and I never bothered to get a photo because it was on the small side and I thought we would catch some bigger ones later on.That proved to be a mistake because we never hooked another fish all day and I only had one other bite that never hooked up. We fished hard but it just didn't happen.
    There were about 138 participants registered and the total fish registered during the tournament was 36. I don't have the numbers from previous tournaments but my guess is that these figures are on the low side. There were a few nice fish caught including a 24.5 and a 23.5 inch fish but the rest of the registered fish were on the small side. I do know that the area where the tournament was held was fished hard the month prior to the tournament and I'm sure that was at least part of the problem of low fish numbers and smaller class fish. I harp on about these situations to the point I'm sure it becomes annoying to hear for some folks but you can't take fish out of a closed pond and expect to have continued good fishing. The resource is finite. There are only so many fish and when they are gone, it's over. Hook and release is very important in these locations.but, unfortunately, some people don't get it.
    Some long time volunteers were honoured with plaques stating their years of service. Jack Trembley and Ralph Goodwin both have 25 years of service and Brian Glenn has 30 years of service. Well done gentlemen and congratulations!
    Here is a photo of one little guy with a fish caught early in the tournament. He was pretty happy with his catch.
 This next photo shows Viola Roi who took third place with her fish and was also the oldest participant registered in the tournament. Well done Vi!
 Overall, this was another great tournament put on by the village of Minto and everyone had a great time with lots of laughs. Hot dogs and hot chocolate was served up for the kids and adults. This is a fun day out for kids and adults alike and I look forward to this tournament every year around this time. Be sure to mark it on your calendar for next year.
    Spring is just around the corner and that means the spring salmon fishing will be coming right along. The April 15th opener will once again find me on the Miramichi River and I can't think of a better place to be to shake off those winter blues. I love fishing the Miramichi and each year I can hardly wait to get that first tug and feel the weight of a fish. I usually fish with family and friends during the first week but many years the fishing will stay good right into May. This is the best time for a beginner to get started fishing salmon. They are a little easier to catch in the spring and a lot easier to land, mainly due to the fact the hooks are larger. I prefer to fish parts of the river that have good shores to cast to with nice runs and lots of quiet water. Here is a photo of my son Curtis with a grilse he caught last year while fishing with me and my grand-son.
 Tyler hooked a nice salmon and played it for forty minutes and lost it at the boat before I could get the net under it. Although he was disappointed he lost the fish, I told him there is always another one waiting to take the fly again. Everyone loses a fish now and then but with more experience comes more success in hooking and landing a salmon. A salmon fisherman must learn how to play a fish, from the moment he hooks it until it's tailed or netted. What a thrill it is for a beginner to land his or her first fish! Here is a short video clip of me playing a fish during an opener a few years ago.
  I have played a large spring salmon for 1.3 hours and lost it. Over time, the hook wears a hole in the fishes mouth and any slack at all will cause the hook to fall out. Here is a photo of a big spring salmon I landed a few years ago.

    Immediately following the spring salmon fishing, Ken and I will start running our bear baits. I always look forward to this season with anticipation because you never know for sure what size bears will show up on the baits. We choose our bait sites carefully to ensure we attract multiple bears to our sites. Some guides just place their baits haphazard  in the woods and hope for the best. Ken and I find the best habitat in the zones we hunt and space our baits far enough apart so we don't have the same bears hitting multiple baits. We also pay close attention to where other guides and hunters have baits to make sure we aren't butting heads with anyone else. This is important because here in New Brunswick bait sites aren't registered with the DNR. It's up to each individual to make sure you aren't too close to another bait. We also try to keep our bait sites clean and natural looking. The bears don't care but we do. Nothing looks any worse than a bear bait with garbage and buckets scattered around the woods. Believe me, we have seen it all. We also select our attractants and bait carefully so we can get the bears to visit regularly especially the bigger dominant bears. Ken and I believe we have a great system and it has proven itself over the years. We start our baits around the first of May and continue right through until the end of the season. We only hunt the most productive period of the season and we just take 4-6 hunters per week. If you choose to hunt with us, you won't get lost in the crowd. Each hunter gets personal attention and we cater the hunt to match each hunters expectations. Here are a few photos of some bears we have had at our baits.
 These photos are from bears we had at our baits last fall that were not killed. The next photo shows Ken with a bear he took a few years ago in zone 18.
 The next photo shows one of our guides with a bear from a few years ago.
 Here is Ken again with a nice bear he took a few years ago. This bear was taken very early in the spring season.

    As you can see, we aren't new to this game and we have great success during the spring and fall bear season. Ken and I are offering up two FREE bear hunts this spring. This offer covers the whole hunt except your hunting licence and taxidermy related costs. To claim one of these hunts you must become the "hunt master" and organize your hunt with a minimum of three fellow hunters. You would take care of booking the actual hunt for your group and supplying all the relevant information to us prior to your hunt. Your fellow hunters must pay the full cost of a hunt with us or, if you are the generous type, the savings can be spread across the entire group. We would like to have one US and one European hunter to claim these savings but we will honour this offer on a "first come, first served" basis. We are doing this to help us grow our business a little and make contact with more international hunters. Our new friends from Germany, Nils Otterpohl and his wife Elli, had a great hunt with us last fall and that experience prompted us to make this offer available to sports looking for a bear hunt at a reasonable cost. Please contact me through the channels provided on this web site and we will get right to work on setting up a spring black bear hunt here in the beautiful Grand Lake area of New Brunswick.

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...