Tag Archives: salmon

When Catching Fish Doesn’t Matter

The mighty Mirimichi

The mighty Mirimichi

My grandfather taught me how to fish and taught me how to fish for Atlantic Salmon.  It was a special time growing up and flyfishing for Salmo salar, a fish of a thousand casts.  What I didn’t realize then was that I was doing something that many people pay very good money to try and do.  For me, it was another summer fishing with my grandad in the big canoe and hoping (praying) that one of those mighty fish would tug on the line.  When fishing was slow for salmon, we would fish for trout and a fly fishing nut was born.

After moving away and fishing for trout in the south and turning into a real fish bum in the Smokies, then moving to the Northeast, I was drawn back like one of those salmon.  My grandfather called and said he would like to catch one more salmon, and he’d like to do it with me.  A trip was born and the challenge became for my grandad to hook one more salmon.

With him still living in New Brunswick, we decided to fish the Mirimichi in July, and the challenge of putting us on the fish fell to Dan Bullock, his wonderful mother Renate and a great guide Vince, at Bullocks Lodge.  A great spot on the river with nice cabins, it was a perfect spot.

The rods ready for use

The rods ready for use

With low water and only a few days, it was a herculean task.  With my grandad pushing 90, the guides took extra precautions and he was in the boat, while I waded.  The fishing was slow, and even though we were there for my grandfather, I wasn’t going to squander a chance at another salmon.  I fished every opportunity I had, and Dan was patient with me as I fished until my hands bled and in a driving storm.  The most excitement for me was a salmon boiling over my fly and the occasional flash of silver.  I was quickly becoming the expensive fishing trip with no fish statistic.

Sunset on the mighty river

Sunset on the mighty river

On the second morning my grandfather was in the boat when Dan suddenly hollered up the river to me.  I couldn’t make it out the first time so I held my hand to my ear…”He’s got a fish on!”.  I ran like hell.

With fish on!

With fish on!

An undertaker was the fly the salmon had hit on.  When I got to the boat the rod was bent and the fish was already in the backing.  “Do you want to land him?” my grandfather asked?  When I was little my grandfather would hook the fish and boat him back to the front of his camp, where I would land it.  He liked the take and the initial run, and I think he liked watching me try to land the fish even more.  “Not this time” was my reply.  The fish was well into the backing when he jumped.  And then he was off.  It was all he wanted was the take, and that’s what he got.

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Top rod for the day with head guide Dan Bullock

My grandfather was happy and so was I.  There were three other groups at the camps the same time as us.  No one else hooked a fish, including yours truly.  I fished my guts out the rest of the trip and did everything I could.  Another boil over the fly was all I got, but this trip wasn’t the time for me catching a fish.  We had a wonderful time and I heard a lot of stories, and history, and watch people twice my age drink me under the table.

There’s still the matter of me catching another salmon.  I told Dan when we left that I would be back someday and I meant it.  I may be another statistic of a sport without a fish.  But I’ll be back.  And that river owes me a god damned fish.

Thanks for reading!  And thanks again to the wonderful group at Bullock’s Lodge http://www.bullockslodge.com in New Brunswick.  You took great care of my grandad and I and it will be remembered forever.

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Is the juice worth the squeeze?

I’ve only been fishing in Maine a few times, but so far I have not been disappointed.  It intoxicates me to a degree that almost perplexes me, and I hope to spend as much time there as I can.

My Father-in-Law (the fil) was gracious enough to take me back and fish with me.  I left work early on Friday to take the beautiful drive through southern Maine and was able to make the evening hatch on a stretch of one of the  rivers.  The hatch was there with hundreds of Caddis’ coming off the water, but not a single fish rising.  I tried it all; Green Caddis dry on top, nymph on the bottom, and streamers all over the place.  No luck.  The evening was gorgeous, the fish just weren’t biting.

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Evening hatch with no fish

After a star filled night, we were up to fish a favorite pond near camp.  After seeing a lot of fisherman, we were surprised to find no one at this spot.  We began fishing and started suspecting why.  Hot sun and no rising fish.  The skunk was staying on me.  The fil caught a nice brookie on a streamer, but we were striking out and decided to swing by a popular spot.

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The Pond that hates me

Our next spot is a favorite of mine.  There a very popular hole under the bridge and nymphing is the key there, but it is always full.  Up river though, is a spot that I caught some very large brook trout last year, and the run is my FAVORITE kind of spot to fish.  Long run, water running at a constant speed, large boulders.  I feel like I can cover a lot of water and get a really good drag free presentation.  After seeing some hatches all day, I hit it right with a #12 Quill Gordon and started catching some fish.  Picked up a nice 14″ salmon, a smaller salmon, and a nice 12″ brookie.  Success!  The fil was worried about putting me on fish, but I love that spot so much, that just fishing it is fun (minus the fast water and hitting my head).  On the way out we picked up a tip from a nice man named Dave, more on that to come.

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Landlocked Salmon on a Quill Gordon

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Smaller salmon

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The fil landing a fish across my favorite run

So the tip we got from Dave, we decided to check out.  Now, every other person we’ve ever talked to has said zilch about where to fish.  And I’m not the first to divulge a bunch of fishing spots either, but this area is especially tight lipped.  A grandmother earlier in the day told us about a huge brookie she caught, but that was it.  The road to get there had a horrible stretch and we were bottoming it out hard, so we put it off.  We went up the road and finished the night at a great spot.

Huge hatches were coming off and we fished the pre-hatch, the hatch, and the spinners, catching fish the whole time.  I must have caught 20 brook trout in all stages.  No big ones, but lots of fun!

The next morning we took the other vehicle and made our way to where Dave gave us a tip.  We got to the bottom of the road and there was no river as promised.  What we did find was a secluded, abandoned beaver pond…with a rising fish right off the bat.

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What I thought didn’t exist. A secluded beaver pond.

Although hot with no clouds in sight, the fish were more than willing.  They rose all morning and we stayed for hours.  We must have pulled 40 trout or more out of this pond. It was phenomenal, and we never saw a sole.  it was the perfect spot to end our trip.

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We caught a lot of brookies just like this guy

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A very pretty and very green trout caught by fil

Getting to this pond was no joke.  The road required a high clearance 4X4 and it scratched the hell out of it to boot.  Was the juice worth the squeeze?  Without a doubt.  Fishing that beaver pond was like a Geirach short story.  The crusty New Englander with the cryptic tip, the non-existent river, but the surprise pond and the never ending rising brook trout.  The juice was worth the squeeze.

Thanks for reading!

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