Wednesday, December 22, 2010

THE YEAR IN REVIEW AND VINTAGE STUFF

The year 2010 is coming to a close and for sportsmen it was both a good year and a poor one,depending on the species being pursued. We had a very good ice fishing season last year with many nice pickerel and burbot being caught,as well as some land -locked salmon and brook trout. As usual,we caught some smelt and a few yellow perch,although we don't usually target this species.We certainly have them in abundance in our home waters of Grand Lake and Salmon River but most anglers here don't bother with them. We do get a few Frenchmen from the north that really like catching them and some sports take home buckets of them to fillet and freeze. Although perch are a prolific species in our waters,we have noticed in recent years that they can be fished out in certain areas with too much pressure. It never ceases to amaze me that some people can over harvest fish from an area and think it has no effect on the numbers left to angle. Our resources are NOT infinite! Sportsmen must harvest conservatively or the day will certainly come when the fishing or hunting will suffer. I have seen this scenario played out many times in our woods and waters over the years and there is absolutely no need of this occurring.
    The spring salmon season was very good this year with many large salmon being taken.There was a very large run of msw salmon in 2009 and this was the reason so many large salmon were caught in the spring of 2010. Not all guides and sports experienced good fishing but if you had the right flies in the right pattern,the salmon were taking well. Although the run of sea trout was very early this past spring,there were very good numbers of large trout in both the Miramichi and Cains River systems. The fishing for brook trout in the early summer was also very good,with pan sized brookies taking everything being tossed at them.
    The fishing for bright salmon started off well but quickly deteriorated as the temperature rose and we experienced a heat wave that took its toll on both the salmon and the fishermen who angle for them. There was a large kill on the Miramichi because of the soaring temperatures and prudent outfitters and sports left the fish alone until the temperatures moderated and the fish weathered the storm,so to speak. There was some  excellent fishing if you were lucky enough to be on the water during these brief periods of opportunity but the timing had to be right. The same could be said of the fall fishing.The run of hook-bills was late arriving and it was only the lower stretches of the Cains that held some of the large males that Cains River anglers love to hook. The fall fishing on the Miramichi River was rather disappointing because of the high water conditions at the end of the season but there were some fish taken.           
     The striper fishing on the Saint John River was good again this year but you have to know your stuff or you could spend a lot of days going fishless. Good electronics combined with the right bait and gear usually produced fish for sports and guides who know the river.The musky fishing below the headpond was virtually non-existant because of the low water conditions and high water temperatures. The Mactaquac Headpond did produce some muskies in the Woodstock area but the fishing was still poor overall.
    There were good numbers of grouse and woodcock available for the upland hunters and Jamie and Dallas took full advantage of this fact by bagging many grouse while out scouting.
     If there is one species in New Brunswick that would be a sure bet to bag, it would have to be black bear. The province is overrun with these beasts and while trophy animals are a little harder to take,bagging an average sized bear is pretty much a slam dunk. This is the only species that I would say pretty much carries a guarantee to harvest. That's how good the hunting is in New Brunswick for bear.
     I wish I could say the same thing for white-tailed deer but I would be lying. That being said,there are still good opportunities for trophy white-tails,but you really have to work at it and Lady Luck must be smiling on you. The deer kill for the 2010 season was about the same as the 2009 season which was at the low end of the scale. The weather played a large part in the harvest figures with warm temperatures and high winds coupled with lots of rain keeping the numbers on the low side.
     We had a very good waterfowl season this year in our area. If you look back at my previous posts,you will see some photos of our group out hunting close to home on the first day of the season. Dallas and Jamie also had some good goose hunting during the early season in some private fields. I got a nice wood duck and it is at the taxidermists right now getting mounted.I've wanted to get one of these beautiful ducks done for some time now and I finally got a specimen worthy of mounting. The colors on these ducks are simply stunning.
     On a more personal note,I was fortunate to have won the 2010 Chipman Summer Festival photography contest in the wildlife category. The following photo is one of two puffins I took off of Grand Manan Island during a tour I took while vacationing on that little jewel of an island. I would recommend a tour of the island to all those looking for a relatively unspoiled natural paradise to vacation in.I really love Grand Manan and have visited there many times during my life and I will certainly be back there again.This little island has a good population of white-tails and many islanders were bemoaning the fact that an invasion of Frenchmen from the mainland landed there this deer season and since the island is pretty much private land,the inevitable hard feelings and ill will come to the forefront and many islanders are vowing to post their land to make sure another repeat season doesn't happen again. It will be interesting to see what happens next year on Grand Manan.                                                                                                                        
Although we are experiencing some unusually mild and wet weather right now,we are looking forward to some good ice next month so we can get out and do some ice fishing.This can be very enjoyable if you are well equipped for the weather and know the area you are fishing.We have ice shacks that are wood and plastic that we put out on Grand Lake,as well as portable huts for day trips on Salmon River,which has more sheltered coves to provide some cover from the winds that are always present at this time of the year. Our rates are very reasonable and if you require accommodations,the Pioneer Lodge has cabins very close to the lake where we fish.
This month I have a couple of very nice vintage items to show my readers.The first photo is of a folk art carving from a Quebec artist of a trout that has been mounted on a plaque.This carving was done at a studio and is signed by the artist. I am not certain of the year it was done but I am guessing the "60's".
The next item shown is a photo of a rifle I recently purchased with the help of a local antique dealer who picks outdoor items for me when he comes across them.I was absolutely thrilled to get this gun as it was done by a local who is now deceased.It is a "sporterized .303 British built by the late Moses Weaver of Coal Creek near Chipman. Moses or"Mosey" as he was called by many who knew him,was a guide who also did gunsmithing as well as carving and paintings of outdoor scenes during his lifetime. As of late,his folk art paintings are in high demand and commanding some fairly high prices,if you can find them. This is in part due to his living relatives seeking them out and offering high prices for these hard to find paintings,especially the larger ones depicting action hunting scenes. Moses also did a lot of guns for his American sports who visited each fall as well as doing carvings on guns for locals wanting a personal touch such as a deer head or a moose to decorate their favorite firearm. I feel very fortunate to have purchased this gun and I look forward to hunting with it next fall during deer season.By the way,its mounted with a Weaver scope. It only seems fitting.
In closing,I would like to wish all my friends and acquaintances a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Happy trails to you......Until we meet again!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

BIG BUCKS,BUCK WARS AND MORE VINTAGE STUFF

New Brunswicks 2010 deer season is now one for the books and according to the numbers,it was a season very similar to the last one in terms of deer killed. The weather this year wasn't good for hunting by any measure and I'm sure this had a lot to do with the low numbers tallied this season. We had a lot of rain and many days the wind was blowing hard. This,combined with above average temperatures,kept the deer laying low and hunters out of the bush,choosing to drive around and staying comfortable in their vehicles.
      Our crew hunted hard,especially the last week of the season and we found both the hunting conditions and the deer numbers to be very disappointing this season. We started out,as usual,hunting the big woods of Gaspereau River and the Harley Road,which is on the eastern side of Salmon River. It didn't take long to realize that the deer continue to suffer a miserable existence in habitat dominated by Jack Pine plantations and too many moose. We usually concentrate on the different brooks and drainages in these areas and hunt the ridge lines that accompany this type of habitat. Many times these drainages hold the only decent habitat because of the buffers left along these brooks and the deer will use these spots as travel corridors,following the ridge lines when moving around from one area to another. These big woods bucks are having to travel further all the time because of the dwindling deer numbers and this makes it harder to catch them when they get running around looking for does.
     Kenny once again proved his worth as a guide by setting his cousin Duane up on a nice track in the area I got my buck last year.I have talked about Duane in previous posts and I spoke of his being in the Canadian Armed Forces. Because of his career in the military,he just doesn't have the time to scout and prepare for the deer hunt,so Ken does the scouting for him and helps get him set up on his post.Duane is a sitter and he has been greatly rewarded for his patience over the years,having taken many nice bucks while hunting with us.This year was no exception as he took a very nice buck,having only posted for about forty minutes before the buck stepped out at eighty yards.He hit the buck in the front shoulder and he dropped on the spot,which is always nice because it's not much fun trying to track down a poorly hit deer in big woods that run for miles.The following photos show Duane with his 2010 buck.



    I asked Duane if he was going to get his head mounted and he replied that he thought this buck was too small! I would be overjoyed to take a SMALL buck like this one any day! Although this bucks rack was on the light side and had short brow tines,he also had a nice spread of nineteen and a half inches and a kicker off the back of his G1 that added character to the rack. In Duane's defence,if you know the calibre of white-tail heads he has on the wall,I guess you could understand why he's calling it too small. Although Duane was the only one to score on a nice buck,Dallas had three chances at two different four pointers and Jamie and I both had a long distance encounter with a nice heavy ten point buck that was just too far away. Jamie had left his post at lunch time to join me at my blind and that's when the buck decided to come out in front of Jamies stand location. Talk about poor timing! Jamie also encountered a nice little six point and what Jamie later described as an absolute "monster"at lunch time on another day while out doing some scouting.Unfortunately these bucks were also well out of range and all Jamie could do was look at them and admire them from afar.
     The trail cam photos below show two of the bucks we were hunting this year. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos but unfortunately they were the only pictures I got of these bucks. The  second one on the right side of the page is the big boy I spent most of the season hunting. What is remarkable about this buck is the fact he wasn't the dominant buck in this area. There was a very large bodied buck in the area and we seen evidence where {the tracks} the buck in the photo was run off by the bigger buck. If you look closely at the photo of the buck I was hunting,you will see a tuft of hair sticking up on his rump as if he was prodded by a set of horns.I have seen this on other deer and this seems to fit the profile. The tracks of the largest buck were absolutely huge! There were also a couple of other nice bucks in the area that were travelling in the same area as the other two. The first buck on the left side of the page was a buck Dallas was trying to intercept but he's still running around out there.

    Although I wouldn't say 2010 was a good year for taking big bucks in our area,there were a few nice ones taken by some of the locals. A migrant hunter from the Moncton area shot a very nice wide and heavy nine point in Bronson that I never got a photo of but Trevor T. of Chipman got a nice even ten point while driving in to his stand just outside of Chipman. Trevor told me this buck had to be the stupidest buck in N.B. because he let Trevor stop the truck,get out and put his hunter orange on,load the gun up and walk out in front of his truck to take the shot! However you got him Trev,he's still a nice buck! 
    Another lucky hunter scored on a nice buck from the Coal Creek area. Matthew LeBlanc, a youth hunter travelling with his father,shot his first deer,  a nine point buck standing in a clear-cut. Matt dropped him with one shot at about three hundred yards! That's a pretty good shot, Matt! Hope you have lots more to come! The next photos are of Matthews deer.

    Kevin H. of Chipman got a nice wide nine point buck from the Harley Road and I've had an unconfirmed report of another young hunter that kill a huge buck in the Ripples area near Lakeville Corner that was over three hundred pounds field dressed! The word I got was the local butcher processed two hundred and twenty-six lbs.of meat from the buck for this young hunter. Unfortunately,I haven't got any photos of this buck,but if I get any I'll include them in a later post. The first deer registered in Minto this season was an oddity.Apparently,this deer was a doe with one horn in the middle of its head! In other words,a unicorn! Only in Minto!The local big buck contest had thirty-seven contestants and there were only two bucks registered.The winning deer was a six point, two hundred and three lb. buck. The runner -up was two hundred and one lbs. To me, that isn't a very good showing,considering the calibre of hunters that were entered in the contest. Two thirds of the deer hunters entered were what I would consider to be "hard core" hunters,with at least one good buck taken in the past. They all agreed the hunting was pretty tough in our neck of the woods this year.
     A trophy white-tail buck is one of the most sought after big-game animals in North America. Each year tens of thousands of hunters take to New Brunswicks woods in search of these elusive creatures and in the process of doing so,many times these hunters rub each other the wrong way.Sometimes its locals pitted against migrant hunters and other times its locals challenging other locals for what is perceived to be "their' hunting grounds. Why would grown men and sometimes women, get down-right mean and quarrelsome over the pursuit of an old buck deer? When I first pondered this question, I thought it was an ego- related thing such as "mines bigger than yours", but the more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion it comes from a much deeper level. The emotions displayed sometimes between hunters comes from the instinct to survive. We hunters still carry this with us to a certain degree and many times when we encounter other hunters in our area,we instinctively feel a need to protect our territory from intruders. If a hunter could rationalize these negative feelings  and realize the origin of these emotions, he would soon realize the folly of his ways. Crown land belongs to ALL New Brunswickers and we hunters have to learn how to share it. It pretty much boils down to using a little courtesy and respect and most situations will resolve themselves. Another thing that pits hunter against hunter is the many debates about choice of weapons,hunting methods,hunting rules and a myriad of other subjects. Many times these subjects prove to be very divisive and we end up hurting ourselves  rather than improving our lot. So the next time you feel your hair bristle when you see another hunter in your area,try to remember that the emotions you are feeling come from a long ago time when things were very different. Take a deep breath,chill out and remember,that other hunter is most likely just like you, a regular guy out trying to down a big buck and get to experience one of the greatest thrills a man can have,wrapping your hands around a big New Brunswick white-tail bucks horns!
    The following photos show some more vintage items I have collected over the years. The second picture  is a stylized, hand carved goose that can be used on a nite table to hold jewellery or smalls. This nice carving is signed M. Thamlov and is circa 1965. The first photo  is a beautiful porcelain plaque with a painting of two brook trout,circa 1960.

The next  items are two very nice cookie tins,circa 1950, lithographed with a king fisher  and an ivory-billed? woodpecker. Note the detail and beautiful colors of the lithos.
   I have a ton of vintage items I have collected over the years that I will continue to include in my blog and I hope my readers will enjoy seeing more of this stuff in the future. If any sport,young or old,experienced or not,is looking for a guided adventure in New Brunswick, just give me a call and Ken and I will arrange a trip to the beautiful Grand Lake area that you will not soon forget!
     Play Safe and Happy Trails to you!.......Until we meet again!




Thursday, October 21, 2010

NEWCOMER SPECIES,THE BITE AND VINTAGE STUFF

The brilliant colors of fall are slowly fading as the brisk winds we have had over the last couple of weeks takes a toll on the remaining leaves.This will open up the coverts and will no doubt provide a bit more shooting for bird hunters looking for a few grouse for the pot. The changing seasons once again remind me that nothing stays the same and that change is inevitable. The question is whether the change is for the better or not. Each fall, I make several trips to the Harley Road outside of Chipman, mainly to take in the kaleidoscope of colors the landscape provides in that part of the country and check out the deer sign,while keeping an eye out for some partridge. Each year, I notice changes made by the wood harvesting operations and this year was no different. New clear cuts and evidence of re-planting in one of the nicer areas we hunt.Normally,I don't get too upset at this type of activity because it's just a fact of life in this neck of the woods but this time I've really got my back up about what's going on out here. What I find upsetting is the fact that the "tree growing company" that manages this area has seen fit to replace the large stands of hardwood it has harvested with plantations of softwood.This whole area has been predominately stands of hardwood for hundreds of years,created by Mother Nature in a place she has seen fit to grow these magnificent stands of maple, beech and birch. The Harley Road has long been an ideal habitat for deer and grouse and many trophy deer have been taken here over the years. I was there when this country was first opened up and I recall that the first year there was around one hundred and seventy-five deer taken that fall. The next year another one hundred and twenty-five were taken. The following years deer were still taken but in ever shrinking numbers. And each year,more and more Jack Pine plantations were planted to replace the stands of hardwood being cut. We are now to the point where most of the Harley Road has been cut and the huge stands of virgin hardwood are no longer standing. The deer herd has also shrunk to the point that there are only a handful of deer taken there each year and the grouse have all but disappeared.How could a company and its foresters do such a morally corrupt thing as to totally go against what Mother Nature has seen fit to create?How do you justify changing a huge expanse of hardwood into a tree farm of Jack Pine,a species that is no friend to any animal? I could understand if the ground were allowed to re-generate naturally and let nature take its course. If nature seen fit to produce large stands of softwood in these areas,so be it. But to purposely impose stands of softwood on ground that wants to grow hardwood,at the expense of the game and the hunters that pursue these animals,is nothing short of criminal. Oh,and don't forget,these jokers are spraying herbicide to kill off the young succulents coming up that the game feeds off of.Shame on you all! Big business and government both. I hope I live long enough to see the pendulum swing the other way.It will be a great day for all New Brunswickers when our forests are once again managed properly.
There are a couple of new species making news here in N.B.The big news is the pending re-introduction of wild turkeys to the province.We already have some Maine birds crossing into the province as well as some free ranging birds that are slowly spreading from their point of origin. These birds have survived two brutal winters here  and are thriving so there is no question we will have a huntable population some time in the future.The question is how long will it take to get a huntable population if left to expand naturally? This process will be speeded up considerably if the government OK's a stocking program.I urge all hunters to be vocal and contact your MLA,asking that the government move forward with this stocking program as quickly as possible.Here is a photo of some birds sunning on a mud dump in the Midlands area.

Another species which has made the local news is a pair Sandhill Cranes that have taken up residence in the Grand Lake area. This is a wonderful event as this is the first time in recorded history that a nested pair of these cranes have been discovered in the Maritimes. The exact location of these birds is being kept under wraps so as not to disturb them.There are a lot of bird watchers that would like to add these cranes to their lists and while this is an honorable hobby,too many onlookers could disturb the birds and cause an unwanted reaction by any commotion made by any interested parties. Hopefully,these birds will
thrive in their new environment and provide some photo opportunities in the future.
The next species I want to talk about is not one we should welcome to this province.I was asked to look at a photo recently and asked my opinion on what the creature might be that was captured on a trail cam at a deer bait. At first glance,the photo looks like a bear but if you look closely at the ears and the hair,as well as the general build of the animal,then you may change your opinion as to what you are looking at. Take a close look at this photo.It isn't the best quality,but it's good enough to form an opinion.To me,this creature looks like a wild pig! I sure hope it isn't but I don't know what else it could be. The big question is where did this thing come from? The only wild boars that I know of in this area were ones raised by a local farmer who raised some exotic species. I had a close encounter with a large boar that weighed about three hundred pounds that escaped its enclosure and ended up in my front yard! At the same time,about eight little piglets escaped and were destroying lawns and landscaping in the neighbourhood.This all took place about six or seven years ago and most people thought they would just die off. I'm starting to wonder about that after seeing this photo. The area where this photo was taken is about twenty kilometers from where the pigs escaped but I have learned that some of these pigs were spotted as far as thirty km. away from where they escaped! Is this one of the original escapees or is this an offspring of the originals? Or is it a totally separate incident where another individual has escaped? Hopefully, these questions will be answered in the near future. One individual from the DNR was shown the photo and he said it was a bear! You be the judge. I just hope and pray we don't have a breeding population of these destructive buggers because there are a lot of places in the south that would dearly like to get rid of the ones they have! This is not a good news event. I will keep my
readers posted on any new developments as this situation unfolds.
The open water fishing is just about done for another year. The diehard striper fishermen are still at it,especially around Reversing Falls in Saint John but everything else is pretty much done. As usual,I finished out the salmon season on the beautiful Cains River. This fall ,I found the fishing to be great but the catching was a bit spotty. If you fished on a raise of water and a day or two after,you had a chance of hooking a fish.After a couple of days,the water dropped like a stone and the bite stopped just as abruptly. Maybe the quick run-off is normal but I find it troubling. Nowadays,the water seems to drop off too quickly. Allen D.,good friend and guide,travelled with me for a few days and he potted a few grouse and I managed to catch a nice ,dark grilse.Before catching this fish,I had numerous bumps and short hook-ups but it was pretty tough fishing. At least there was lots of wildlife around to keep things interesting.A couple of years ago, there was a semi-tame fox hanging around the bridge on RT 123.This year,there was a family of otters entertaining/torturing the fishermen. They showed up early each morning and scolded anyone who was in their fishing hole! I also saw a large male mink on the shore one afternoon. I did manage to get a photo of the otter as they were hissing and chattering at me.
There was an adult and three pups when I saw them but I only got two of them in the photo because they were diving so often.The next photo is me with the grilse I caught .
I also caught a few nice trout while fishing salmon on the Cains. That is one of the bonuses of fishing this beautiful river.If the salmon aren't taking,you can almost be sure the brook trout will be and there are some dandies in that old Cains river.This next photo shows me with one of the trout I caught while fishing salmon this fall.
Overall, 2010 was a very good year for salmon,in terms of returning numbers. The down side to the summer fishing was the brutally hot weather we had for a couple of weeks.It really stressed the fish and the catching was very poor for a spell but when the water did cool off, there was some great fishing for those lucky enough to be fishing during the right time slot. Looking forward,the spring fishing should be very good because of the good numbers of fish in the system.
We had some very good shooting during the early goose season,with Jamie and Dallas bagging several one morning at Randy N. farm. Dallas works some for Randy and he lets us shoot his fields each fall.
The opener for ducks was also a great day afield for us and three shooters each bagged a limit.We had Allen D. along to do some cooking and Jamie's girlfriend,Brook,was along to take photos and help out with the cooking.The shooting was fast and furious and the food was fantastic.
The next photos were taken on the marsh on the first day of the duck season.

The 2010 moose hunt was also a great success for most hunters lucky enough to draw a tag. Dallas hunted again this year with Randy-Micheal,who was the second gun on his mothers tag. Dallas is a popular guy to have along on a moose hunt because he is young and strong and is an excellent skinner and meat cutter. Dal really knows his way around a meat shop and has processed many moose at Chappie's Meat Shop in Briggs Corner.Randy took a beautiful young six point bull on Friday right beside the highway on the 123. Randy and Dal said it sure made the retrieval a lot easier. The next photo shows the boys skinning their moose over at Wes's.Old Wes just loves to see the pole hanging with a fresh kill because he knows there will be some tenderloins frying in the pan later on.
Our local station registered about thirty moose this year and the biggest was a twenty-two point bull taken in the Canaan River area. This moose weighed in at eleven hundred and twenty -five lbs. Adam P. and his family were also fortunate to take a trophy moose and got it on their own property,no less! Adam's mother had the tag and Adam was the second shooter. Adam is a supervisor at the local saw-mill here in Chipman but he lives in the Florenceville area. The next photo's show Adam and his mothers seventeen point bull taken in a beaverdam.
Congratulations to all the successful moose hunters of 2010 and maybe next year I'll get lucky and draw a tag if the new government and DNR change the format for picking tags. This was one of the election promises and it would go a long way towards making the draw fairer and allow some long time applicants a chance at a tag.
Here are a couple of photos of some of the vintage items I have collected over the years. The first photo is one of a TV or table lamp from the late Fifties or early Sixties. These lamps were quite popular at that time and came in many different forms. This one is a Puma standing on a rock ledge.
The next photo is one of a display case I had made for me many years ago to hold some of the early board games I collect. I had a set of horns from a ten point bull moose I had taken and I really didn't think the horns would display well on the wall so I had a friend use them as the legs for my glass case and it turned out quite well.
I will continue to show the readers of this blog more vintage items in the future,including some that I will be selling  when I retire. But if anyone sees something they like and can't wait that long,just give me a shout and we will see if we can come to terms.
Be sure to watch for next months edition of my blog for some pictures of the great New Brunswick bucks that are sure to be taken this season. Myself and the crew are bird-dogging some real nice ones and I'm sure there will be some hanging on Wes's pole.
Until next time, Happy trails to you.....until we meet again!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GUN DOGS, THE BITE AND VINTAGE STUFF

Summer is officially over and it took a blow from a hurricane to get rid of that hot,humid weather we had at the end of August. Now I like warm weather as well as the next person but that was just downright brutal,especially if you had to work in it. I often think of the fish and game when we get extremes of weather and how uncomfortable they must be. The salmon,in particular, had a very rough few weeks this year. I know my dogs were also uncomfortable during the hot weather we had and they even had the river to cool off in! Caution and common sense must be used whenever working gun dogs in hot or cold conditions when afield or you risk serious ailment or injury to your pup.If it is really warm out,try to forgo any training sessions or hunts until a more temperate day or at least limit the time the dog is working and make sure he has lots of fresh water to keep him hydrated. If you are working a retriever in cold weather,a vest will help keep him comfortable when he is making those long retrieves at day break in the marsh. Most gun dogs are bred for the task and have the physical attributes needed to work in the outdoors but gunners want their dogs to be comfortable and enjoying the hunt as part of the team. There is a special bond that develops between gunners and their dogs and any sportsman who has ever owned a good gun dog knows what I'm talking about.I have been privileged to own several good gun dogs of different breeds and I have shot over some other good ones owned by friends and hunting partners.My first gun dog,believe it or not,was the family German shepherd that we got when I was just a toddler. I started out with a BB gun and then progressed up to a nice pellet gun that I used to hunt squirrels mainly and my dog Flash was always by my side when I went to hunt our sixty-five acre woodlot. That dog loved to hunt squirrels and she never lost one that I can remember. She taught me at that young age to trust a dogs nose and hunting ability because she always led me to those smart old squirrels that tried to escape by going from tree top to tree top.Many times I would be going one way  and she would go off in another direction and would soon be barking up a tree and sure enough,there would be Mr. Squirrel. I hunted with that German shepherd until I turned thirteen and then I started to leave her home because I was now hunting partridge and rabbits and that wasn't Flashes' game.Since that time I have owned black labs,yellow labs,Irish setters,English setters and German shorthaired pointers and I enjoyed them all.Some were much better pets than gun dogs,such as the Irish setter I owned. His name was Red and he was a stunning dog to look at but he was uncontrollable in the field.I did my best with him but in the end I gave him to my mother-in -law as a gift. She was happy to have him and I was glad to have room for a new dog in my kennel. One of the finest gun dogs I ever owned was a handsome English setter that I named Harry. Harry was a real blue blood in the field dog world.His grand sire was Fld.Ch. Jettrain,one of the winningest setters on the field trial circuit during the seventies and he had the potential to be a champion in his own right but I buggered that up and I've always felt guilty about it ever since.You see,I got Harry by default as my original pup died shortly after I purchased her and the breeder had told me if anything happened to the pup within a reasonable time,he would replace her with another.When my new pup died,I went back to the breeder and he had two pups left.One was a big quiet pup that didn't seem to have much energy and the other was a beautiful male that looked and acted like he had all the right stuff.The breeder tried to steer me towards the big slow pup because he knew I wasn't really into the field trial game and he thought that pup would make a better gun dog. I told him I thought that pup was a dud and I would rather have the other one that showed more spirit.He told me he was going to keep him to train for the circuit because he thought he had potential but if I insisted he would give me his favorite one if I agreed to train him and enter him in competition,which I agreed to. I did do a lot of work with Harry but I made one fatal error with him that never got resolved and that was letting him run on his own at my parents place when I was visiting.That was how Harry learned to hunt on his own. Not good.From then on I had a real hard time keeping him in range and before you knew it,he would be in the next county with me whistling and whooping my lungs out to get him back. I continued to work with him and he did point birds and was very stylish when pointing but he would break point. When he was still at an age when he could run as a puppy in the trials,the North American Woodcock Championship was held in Pennfield  and as I had promised,I entered Harry in our first field trial.I really had my doubts about him making it around the course without getting lost but to my amazement,he actually made it around and did so in style.I was going to leave after our brace had run because I just didn't think he had done that good but his breeder had asked me to stay until the judging was over,so I did. I couldn't believe my ears when the judges awarded Harry and I third place in the Open Puppy at that prestigious trial! The breeders face was a mix a joy and pain because in all the years he had been breeding and trialing he had never placed a dog! Harry did me proud that day and from then on I let him have his head and I didn't have the heart to fully break him. Harry died running at full tilt at the age of twelve under the wheels of a vehicle. Harry was the only dog I ever seen who could run down a rabbit and catch it.That was another fault he developed that made him all but useless as a field trial dog.This is a photo of Harry with some sharptails in Rose Prairie near Fort St. John,BC.
Here is another photo of me and my brother Tim after a three hour shoot in the Beaton River valley in B.C. This valley was the most game rich place I have ever hunted.
Another great hunting dog I owned was a German short-haired pointer named Joma.She was a female and was the most head strong dog I have ever owned but also one of the best gun dogs I have ever shot over. She was an excellent retriever and did a super job on woodcock and grouse. I sent her to Sioux City,Iowa to have her bred to Fld. Ch. Brown L's Jet, a field trial champion from a great lineage and she had a beautiful litter of six pups.My original plan was to keep a nice male pup and sell the rest to cover the cost of breeding.That plan didn't work out too well because I found that not many gunners were familiar with the breed here in N.B. at that time and I ended up giving away all of the pups but two at the farmers market in Fredericton! Some people got some super dogs at a super price! I kept the pick of the litter to give to my beloved grandmother Boyd,as she loved GSP's and this dog had champion written all over him. She kept Bruno until she had to move into the old folks home where she wasn't allowed pets. I didn't have any room in the kennel at the time,so I gave the dog to a local houndsman who was familiar with the breed and took good care of his dogs. He later told me he and his partner shot a dozen grouse the first time he hunted over him and he said Bruno was the best gun dog he had ever seen. I would have to agree.He was a magnificent animal to watch working a cover and he was rock solid on point. I had started all the pups with Joma and they followed Mamma's lead perfectly. Bruno met his fate one day from a bullet from a neighbours gun after he got loose and went to check out the guy's ducks.A sickening end to a dog that was probably more valuable than the creep who killed him.The houndsman was outraged and the guy was lucky to keep his hair and if the owner had known for sure who did it,I'm sure we would have read about the aftermath of this fiasco in the local papers. Unfortunately,I don't have any good photos of these dogs,but I do have a picture of one of the best retrievers I have ever hunted over.
Cain belonged to one of my duck hunting partners and was the biggest ,strongest,hardest-working gun dog I have ever had the pleasure of hunting over. Rodney L.,my hunting partner,had asked me to help him train the dog and I told him there was no shortcut to success when training gun dogs.I told him the main thing was the trainer had to be smarter than the dog.That may seem like a cute remark to some but it's really a true statement.If you loose your temper or get frustrated with the dog and react with emotion,the dog will defeat you.I explained to Rod the basics and told him to be consistent in his training regime.He asked me what the most important commands were and I told him to work hard on "come "and "stay" and the dogs natural ability would take care of the rest. Rodney did a great job training Cain,considering it was his first dog and he had no experience at the game.We hunted over Cain for about five seasons before he was struck by a car and was laid to rest.In those five years Rod and I killed around four hundred and fifty ducks and dozens of geese over Cain and I made Rodney a plaque to remember and record Cain's accomplishments in the field.This is another photo of Cain at the duck camp we set up each year on the McGill Meadow.
The last good dog I hunted over was Jamie's dog, Whiskey.He was a Golden retriever out of good stock and I would have to say Whiskey was one of the best all round dogs I have had the pleasure to know. He was just coming into his own when he was killed,yet again,under the wheels of a vehicle. Whiskey was one of those dogs who was a wonderful pet and hunting dog.This is not something that always occurs when owning a gun dog.Sometimes they are great gun dogs but are poor pets and vice versa.Whiskey was one of those dogs that had it all and even writing this I get sentimental about him.This year Jamie is still feeling very sick when he thinks about Whiskey because he now realizes just how special that ol' Whiskey was as a gun dog and pet.
So readers,if you take nothing else away from this bit of blog,make sure you have control of your gun dog at ALL times.I have owned and bred dozens of gun dogs during my life and I can recall only one dying of natural causes and that was my GSP,Joma.

    We had some great pickerel fishing this year at the end of summer but it has pretty much come to an end.Right now,the striper bite is starting to heat up and Corey S. and his fishing partner Eddy S. landed two nice ones last week weighing in at 19lbs. and 15 lbs. Corey says there are a lot of stripers in the Gagetown area but there are so many eels migrating out to sea throughout the system that it is making hooking up rather difficult.Corey says after the eels clear out, the fishing should improve until the water temperature drops to the 40 degree mark,then the bite pretty much dies out.

     The fall run of salmon has started in earnest on the MSW Miramichi and if the water conditions stay good,the fishing should be great,as there are a lot of fish in the system and more fresh fish entering the river daily.The lower Cains River is starting to turn on with some nice hook-bills being taken in the river from the Sabbies River down to the mouth. With the recent rain we have had,I expect to see some fish arrive in the upper stretches within the next two weeks.The Cains River is a beautiful salmon river to fish in the fall and if you have never fished it,you should make it a point to do so.

     I have a couple of very nice vintage items to show my readers this month,the first being a beautiful coat rack that Kenny made for me a few years back.Ken made the plaque out of a nice piece of pine and he spent many hours burning in a scene of very detailed songbirds.What really caught my attention with this piece was the wood grain in the pine that looks like the head and beak of a duck.If you look closely,you can see it in the background behind the songbirds.
Ken added some brass hardware and a couple of split pine branches that he peeled and used for hangers.He has made a few of these hangers,with some being used in a local restaurant.These hangers require a lot of painstaking work on Kenny's part and he says he never gets paid for the hours of work he puts into the finished product but he gets a great deal of satisfaction from knowing he has produced a nice work of art that will retain its value into the future. 
    The next items in the following photo shows a couple of decorative "carnival" pillow covers I picked up in the Chipman area.These covers were sold at the local fair and at the gift shop in Chipman during the Sixties as souvenirs. They used to be quite common one time but are now getting hard to find and I'm lucky to have picked up these ones in my travels.
I'm a little late publishing this latest blog because we are really busy at this time of the year but I will try to get back on schedule with my next installment. If any sportsmen out there would like a trip to New Brunswicks' Big Woods,just give me a call or drop me an E-mail and we will make plans for your trip of a life-time. Happy Trails to you--until we meet again!

Friday, August 20, 2010

MENTORS AND GUIDES,THE BITE AND VINTAGE STUFF

Summer is slowly winding down here at home on Salmon River and what a summer it has been! Aside from a two week hot spell in July,the weather was very nice,with lots of sunshine and seasonable temperatures. Many people liked those scorching temperatures we had last month,but if you were a fisherman rather than a beach-bum,it really wasn't much fun for either the fishermen or the fish. We had a great run of salmon this year and it's probably a good thing since many fish died during the hot spell in July. Anyone guiding salmon fishermen right now has his hands full as the fish are stacking up anywhere they can find some water and they aren't being very co-operative in taking the fly.On the subject of guides,I was thinking about how much things have changed over the years when it comes to guiding. There was a day when a guide was a "woodsman" and by that I mean a guide literally spent most of his time in the woods. Most of the old time guides I knew of were almost universally trappers who worked a bit in the woods and guided during the seasons.These old timers knew the woods and rivers like the back of their hands because of the sheer amount of time they spent on their trap lines and felling timber and yarding it out to the brows to be sent downstream to the mills.These old guides would start out guiding fishermen during the spring and summer and then would switch over to moose and deer in the fall and wouldn't miss a beat.Today, most guides seem to specialize in one area such as guiding for salmon or maybe guiding grouse and woodcock hunters. I know many guides today who are good salmon guides but couldn't find a deer to save their soul.Or they may be great dog men and do well chasing birds around the coverts that course along New Brunswick's many brooks and streams,but couldn't call a moose in on a bet. This new breed of guide knows his game,whatever it may be,but can't really be called good "woodsmen" because they are specialists and haven't got the experience in other areas of outdoor pursuits. I feel very privileged to have been mentored by some real "woodsmen" when I was growing up and starting to tramp the woods and waters here in southern New Brunswick.Now that I'm at an age where I look back as much as I look ahead, I find myself wishing I would have taken photos and tried to document the countless trips made with these great guides and mentors of my youth.I will never forget my first trip to the Big Woods with my Uncle Rowan when I was about twelve years old. Uncle Rowan and a couple of his war buddies had a log cabin on the headwaters of Newcastle Stream near Clearwater Brook and they spent a lot of time at the camp fishing trout and hunting.I think there was a fair amount of drinking went on during their forays into the bush because there were several pit stops along the trail where I recall seeing many empties and small piles of tins.This was long before the days of concern for the environment and very little garbage was hauled back out of the bush. The hike into my uncles camp was five miles in along the old portage and I recall the very real sense of adventure I felt when hiking along with Uncle Rowan and my cousin that fall day. I recall seeing many moose tracks along the portage and I felt we would see one around every bend in the trail. In truth,we really were in good moose country,but my uncle was looking for deer that fall day,not moose. As we neared the top of the ridge that led down to the camp beside the stream,my uncle paused to have a nip of some sort of spirits and announced to my cousin and I that our trek was nearly over and the camp was just down the ridge a step. As we stood there for a moment,I seen a flash of brown half way down the hill and at the same time my uncle was trying to shoulder his rifle while getting himself untangled from his gear. It was a large ten point buck streaking from his bed and heading for cover and my uncle just couldn't get a bead on him as he took large leaps away  while looking back at us over his shoulder.My Uncle Rowan had let his guard down just briefly because we were so close to the camp and it cost him a nice buck.He took it all in stride,but I never forgot that lesson I learned that day. My uncle loved to fish brook trout and each year he would make a trip into the "V" on the Gaspereau River with a couple of buddies.This was a ten mile hike in and they would spend one or two nights and then hike back out.I still recall Uncle Rowan landing home,sometimes a little tipsy but always with a large mess of trout. Nothing huge,just nice pan trout of ten or twelve inches and lots of them. I only made that trip once and I recall I never thought I would make it across Dorsey Bog to get to the "V" and all that good fishing.I did make it and the fishing was fantastic but my young legs ached for a week after!I made many such trips as I was growing up,sometimes with older mentors and sometimes with like-minded young friends,but I will never forget those first trips with my Uncle Rowan Bauer into the camp at Clearwater Brook.Another great friend and mentor during this time was Norm Hiltz.Norm was a good friend of my Uncle Hartley Boyd and it was through him that I became acquainted with Norm.He loved the woods and waters here in the Grand Lake area and spent as much time as he could fishing and hunting during those seasons and trapping foxes and cats during the late fall and winter. Norm was a very charismatic character and all who met him were enthralled with his tales of past adventures and I was no exception.Being a youngster,I couldn't help but look up to him and he was the type of man who didn't just" talk the talk",but he "walked the walk" and you just knew he was the real deal. What impressed me most about Norm now that I look back was the fact he wanted to include me in the trips to the bush he and my Uncle Hartley made on a regular basis. Remember now,I was just a kid of fourteen or so,but I think old Norm recognized in me a love of the outdoors and he did everything he could to encourage me to pursue the sporting life.We went on many hunting and fishing trips and it was Norm who taught me how to hunt deer.Now Norm was a great trout fisherman,trapper and moose hunter but what he was really good at and loved the most was hunting big white-tails. When I say big white-tails,I mean BIG bucks and he certainly had the racks to prove he was very good at outsmarting those sneaky old grey- faced bucks.How good was he at taking big bucks? Well,the Red Fisher show held a big buck contest for a few years and if I recall correctly old Norm won that contest twice and placed a third time.This was no small feat,as the contest covered both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and there were many entries. Norm had a bad heart and I remember him still going out to the bush even after the doctor told him to take it easy.That's how much he loved to hunt deer. Another time I recall was when he got his moose licence and headed to the Cains River country to hunt.Norm really liked this area because he regularly fished the Sabbies River and he knew it was good moose country,so it was only natural he would head up that way. When my uncle and I went to visit him at his camp,to our surprise,he was camped on the side of the126 highway, just on the other side of the Cains River. After greeting us,my uncle Hartley asked him why he was parked on the road instead of going off into the bush to look for his moose.Norms reply was that he could call his moose out to the road and there was no need to chase around the woods looking for a bull. My uncle and I exchanged inquisitive glances as Norm picked up his horn and told us to be quiet and listen for an answer as he called. Old Norm could really talk moose talk and I couldn't believe it when he got an answer immediately.We could hear that bull coming like a freight train through the woods and when he finally stepped out onto the side of the road,Norm was waiting for him with his gun at the ready. He dropped that moose right there and it was the largest moose taken in the area that year. If I remember right,it had twenty-eight points and had very large boards and weighed over one thousand pounds. What a great experience for a young lad just starting out. Norm died relatively young. I believe he was in his late fifties and I recall thinking it just wasn't fair for such a great woodsman to be taken so young.These are just a couple of the men who mentored me when I was a young lad and I will talk about some others in future posts.
This photo is of the Trestle Pool on the Newcastle Stream.This was my favorite pool as a youngster and I caught many nice brook trout here as I was learning to fly fish. We're now into the time of year when the trout and salmon are holing up in cold water brooks and springs trying to stay comfortable until a raise in the water. the trout fishing can actually be pretty good,IF you can find them.Salmon,on the other hand, really have a hard time in hot weather and they become very hard to hook. Since the water is low and warm,we usually switch over to fishing pickerel and perch,with the odd trip for stripers. Right now,with the conditions being as they are,the pickerel bite is smoking hot! Ken and I were out last week-end for a few hours and hooked dozens of nice pickerel up to twenty-four inches long. I lost two that I thought were larger than the two footer I landed. What I love about fishing pickerel is the lightning fast strike.It almost startles you because you aren't prepared for the viciousness of the attack they make on your lure. Many times,the fish will miss the lure,just because of how wildly he goes after it. Many times even if the fish misses the lure,if you throw it right back at him,he will attack it again and you will eventually hook up. Pickerel are also notorious for throwing or spitting the lure back at you. This is why I fish the lure that I have put together most of the time because I get good hook-ups and less thrown lures. When I do occasionally use a top water lure,its a top-prop,for sure.I make sure to rig it the same way as my Hildebrand's and I get good results with this lure in the evening when the water is still.This photo shows two lures rigged the way I like them.I fish these lures almost exclusively and have been doing so for about ten years now.I remember my Uncle Hartley making his own pickerel lures by tying a gob of red feathers onto a red beaded,double bladed spinner with a treble hook.Many times he would add another set of treble hooks to this rig if he thought he needed more hooking power.This photo shows Kenny with a nice pickerel he got trolling in deep water while we were on our way to the weed beds.Pickerel are like any other fish in that they like structure and cover and Ken caught this one that was laying beside a stone abutment with some weeds.Ken was using a small bronze Mepps and he caught a lot of fish on it.When the conditions are like they are right now,you can throw just about anything at them and they will smash it with abandon.This photo shows me getting ready to land a nice pickerel. You can see the orange double-tailed leech hanging from his mouth. Ken and I always practice hook and release when fishing for pickerel in the late summer because if the fish is handled gently,he will take again the next day and the fun just goes on and on.Pickerel have very nice white meat and we will occasionally take one for old Wes,Kens dad, in the winter or early spring when their flesh is still nice and firm. The only down side to eating pickerel is they have Y bones,so there is a little tedious work taking the meat off of the bones.Here is  another photo of Kenny with an average sized pickerel taken from our area of Salmon River. I don't know how many fish we caught but it was a lot. That seems to happen to Ken and I quite often, for some reason! Another reason I like fishing for pickerel is the fact they are very co-operative in striking a well presented bait or lure and a successful outing is almost assured,under most conditions. This is a photo of a young family fishing a cold water pool on the Cains River.As I said earlier in this post,the conditions are less than ideal for fishing salmon right now but there are fish to be had,with the right flies and a generous dose of patience. With the conditions being like they are,salmon fishermen would be well advised to be using long leaders and small black flies,size eight and ten and bombers with white tails. The young lady in the pink vest managed to land a nice grilse,but that was the only fish taken that evening.There were fish rolling and jumping in the pool but very few takers.The salmon fishing needs a nice raise of water to get the fish moving and bring in some new fish to the pools.When they get in their comfort zone,they will start taking again.
This is a photo of a crib board made from a deer antler.I just love this kind of vintage stuff and I have been collecting it over the years. All the camps we used to go to back in the day  had a crib board and a deck of cards.Many evenings were spent over these crib boards with a few drinks and lots of laughs and memories of camp life with good friends and family. Kenny is very good at making folk art type things and I always try to encourage him to make more of it whenever he gets the chance. This type of thing is getting harder and harder to find every year,so if you get the chance to get something like this,you should grab it.This next photo shows a nice white-tail deer T.V. lamp or table lamp. This item is circa late 50's-early 60's and is made of plaster of paris and is quite heavy. The light is behind the deer and back-lights the area where it is placed.A word of caution to my readers about older electrical items.Many times the wiring can become brittle and connections can get corroded,so make sure you do a thorough inspection of the electrical components of any older device before you use it.If you have any doubts at all,just replace the components. I will continue to show photos of vintage outdoor goods in future posts to my blog,so be sure to keep an eye out for some great old items from the sporting past.Ken and I would also like to  invite you to contact us anytime to arrange a trip to the Big Woods of central New Brunswick. Happy Trails to You!......Until we meet again!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

GRAND LAKE, THE BITE AND VINTAGE STUFF

This month has been a beautiful one here at home on Salmon River and in the Grand Lake area.There has been lots of sun and the temperatures have been soaring for most of the month.This makes for some great days at the beach,but it has really taken its toll on the trout and especially the salmon.Atlantic salmon just can't take high water temperatures and they will seek out cold water refuges at the mouth of brooks and any cold water springs.The Salmon River has been holding at a good level and we haven't hit our normal summer low yet.Usually,in a normal year,when the salmon fishing starts to slow down because of low water and high water temperatures,Salmon River and Grand Lake and its network of lakes and channels is just starting to produce some good days for large pickerel and perch. Grand Lake is a very underutilized fishery with great potential for producing trophy fish of several different species. Along with the many different species,there are three that have both landlocked and sea-run varieties.They are salmon,gaspereau and rainbow smelt.Grand Lake has been the scene of lots of ice fishing action for many years now,with the annual ice fishing tournament helping to stimulate the ongoing interest in this popular winter pass-time. During the summer months,most of the fishing activity takes place on Grand Lakes satellite lakes,which include Macquapit,Indian and French Lakes,with French Lake being the most popular with fishermen who target pickerel and sometimes perch.As a youngster,we would sneak into the power plant at Newcastle Center and fish the hot water discharge where it flowed into Grand Lake and we had great success catching schoolie stripers and a variety of other species. We would fish them with a salmon rod and use spring flies by letting line out in the current and wait for the bite,which wouldn't be long coming.The security at the plant soon had enough of this unwanted intrusion and before long nobody was allowed to be anywhere near the facility and this fishery just faded away into obscurity.The plant is now decommissioned and the hot water tunnel is shut down,but the stripers are still in the lake somewhere. I think the main reason nobody fishes Grand Lake in the summer much is because of its size. It is twenty miles long and seven miles wide,making it the largest freshwater lake in eastern Canada.For this reason,many fishermen are intimidated by the sheer size of this body of water and without the proper gear ,most fishermen don't have much success on Grand Lake. The approach Ken and I use is to fish the same areas we have luck at in the winter and many times we find fish in these same areas.Aside from the fishing,there are still some very good beaches for swimming,especially on the west side of Grand Lake.One good spot is near Princess Park at what is called the Keyhole.There is a very good open beach at this spot and good fishing can be had on the lake side and also in the body of water called the Keyhole just across the road.The water from the Keyhole flows through a tunnel into the main lake and many different species of fish hang around this area.On the eastern shore of Grand Lake,your best bet to find a decent beach and some fishing is to go to Lakeside Park. This was a provincial facility but it was turned over to the private sector some years ago.The rates charged at Lakeside are in line with most other campgrounds in New Brunswick and there is not much open beach for swimming,so visitors will most likely have to patronize the local establishments to find a spot open to swimming.If you would like to do some fishing and don't have a boat,your best bet is to fish off one of several wharves in the area.The DNR uses these wharves when doing their stocking and many times good fishing can be had right in these areas.The recent stocking of landlocked salmon comes to mind and Ken and I seen lots of fish at several wharves on the lake.If you are a history buff,then Grand Lake has lots of different spots to explore while you are in the area.It would certainly help to have a knowledgeable guide to show you around the area and provide some background and interpretation of the local history.Grand Lake Meadows has been a point of interest on Grand Lake for thousands of years,first by the native Americans and later by the French,Dutch and English.The meadows were so rich in flora and fauna that the natives made annual pilgrimages during the summer months to take advantage of the bounty the Meadows provided.Indian Point,on the extreme southern end of Grand lake,was used to access the large marshes in the area and historians consider this spot to be the site of one of the largest native gatherings in the Maritimes.For many years,one local family gathered many priceless artifacts from the area before it became a designated historical site and some  excavation work was done until native burial grounds were discovered and all activity ceased.This area provided such a bounty to people that the first Europeans built a fort in the Jemseg area,close to the Meadows.The area was actually the site of many battles between the various nationalities trying to gain control because of the bounty held in the Grand Lake Meadows.One can only imagine the fish and wildlife that existed at this time in this location.Even today,this area is prized by duck hunters and fishermen.My most harrowing outdoor experience occurred off of Indian Point while duck hunting in the meadows as a young man.I was hunting with a good friend out of a fourteen foot canoe and on our return trip from the meadows to Indian Point ,the wind came up and since we were loaded down with our hunting gear,we didn't have much freeboard showing. We had to travel with the waves and landed far down the shore, but at least we made it.I can honestly say that was the most dangerous situation I have ever been in while in the outdoors and I'm sure my old friend Ron Gallagher would second that.Another historical point of interest near Indian Point is the grave site of Benjamin Franklin Tibbits,inventor of the compound steam engine.Ben Tibbits was a mechanical genius who was born near Grand Lake and as a young man he built his engine and it was installed in the steamer"Reindeer",which was launched in Fredericton in 1842.This engine was so sturdily built,it lasted for fifty years before being scrapped at a foundry. Ben Tibbits invention was a full three years ahead of any design coming out of Europe and the government awarded Ben the sum of one hundred pounds in recognition of his great work.These are just two examples of the rich history of Grand Lake and its adjoining waterways.I could tell many more tales about this wonderful area but I want to leave some things untold so I will have something interesting to tell any visitors who may come to the area and wants a guided tour.
This is a photo of me with one of the nice pan-sized brook trout that Kenny and I got earlier in the month.We fished two different spots and caught well over one hundred of these beautiful little trout. We were sure to pinch down our barbs so we wouldn't kill any unintentionally. Ken and I both agreed that a day of trout fishing like we had was as much fun as any fishing we have had,including salmon fishing trips. The places we fish receive very light fishing pressure,many times only from us,so there are lots of trout in these remote streams and beaver ponds to be caught and what these little guys lack in size,they more than make up for it by their sheer numbers and the non-stop action they provide! Here is another photo of Kenny with one of the brookies we got while on our trip earlier in the month.As I mentioned earlier in this post,the Atlantic salmon have been suffering greatly for the past couple of weeks and are only now showing signs of relief. The moderating temperatures and recent rainfall has been a godsend for both the salmon and the outfitters over on the Miramichi. I really feel sorry for those guys over there because for many of them,salmon fishing is the only game they play. That means if they can't fish because of the harsh conditions,they don't eat! On the other hand,they have paying customers waiting to fish the salmon that they must protect, so these outfitters must walk a very fine line. Most opt to limit fishing to the early hours of the morning,while the guides make sure if someone hooks a fish, they don't play it too long. Salmon anglers are, by nature,a serious lot and they understand just how fragile the salmon are when they are holding in warm water,so they are usually satisfied to get in a little fishing and just enjoy the fact they are on one of the most beautiful salmon rivers in the world! The big pickerel bite is just getting nicely started here at home on Salmon River. All the gaspereau are finally out of the river,so those big boys will start to cruise around looking for an easy meal. Kenny and I have come up with some lures and techniques over the years that ensures that we are into some fish most of the time. We always practice hook and release on these large pickerel because it takes a while to grow them to trophy size and we want to catch them as many times as possible.A good -sized pickerel in our area would be two feet in overall length and at least three and a half pounds.This is a photo of my son Curtis with a nice pickerel he got last year. We usually get some in this range every time we go out,when the conditions are right. I really like fishing pickerel and I can honestly say I don't prefer salmon or trout over the lowly pickerel just for the simple reason he can usually be coaxed into striking and there are lots of them in our area,so that means lots of hook-ups. After all,isn't that what greenhorns and pros' alike are hoping for? I know I can speak for all of us  here at home on Salmon River when I tell you we have a ball fishing for pickerel and if anyone is looking for a great day of fishing,just give me a call! The Striper bite has started early this year,as has been the case with most species this year.We got reports of large stripers entering the St John River system from the middle of June and later on. When you have seasoned striper fishermen breaking off fish while using fifty lb. braided line,you know darned well there are some huge fish being hooked.The striper fishery in the St.John river had been a well kept secret until the last couple of years.Before that there were just a few hard-core striper guys down around Reversing Falls in Saint.John. That all changed when the Fishin' Canada show filmed two episodes on the lower Saint John River and showed folks the nice stripers that could be caught in their back yards.The fishing forums also helped to spread the good news.Soon there was a whole new wave of eager striper fishermen and they started catching some nice fish, too! Two of these guys new to the striper game are Eddy Speakman and Corey Shirley,both of Chipman. They are old pals both nearing retirement and decided to take up fishing stripers last fall. They managed to get a couple of ten pounders and a nice one of twelve pounds. Now both of these gents are past presidents of the Chipman Fish and Game Association and Corey is also past president of the New Brunswick Fish and Wildlife Association. So its safe to say they are experienced fishermen,but I don't think either of them was expecting any big surprises when they decided to try the bridge at Jemseg to see if any of the big stripers that had passed through the falls two weeks earlier had made it up that far.From what I've been told,they didn't have to wait very long until Eddy got a heavy bite and was hooked up to a large striper.At one point the fish was actually towing the boat around! Eddy finally got it boated with some of Coreys help and when they got it on the scales, it topped out at thirty-eight lbs.! Not too shabby for the start of their second season! There have been stories like theirs up and down the river the last couple of years.Sometimes it's stripers and sometimes it's the muskie bite everyone is talking about. Both are smoking hot new fisheries here in New Brunswick and trophy fish can be caught in the middle of the city in downtown Fredericton.So expect to here lots more in the future about the striper and muskie fisheries. I have been collecting vintage outdoor memorabilia for many years now and I thought some of the readers of this blog might be interested in seeing some photos of the really cool stuff I have picked up through the years.I started collecting this stuff because I liked it but it soon got out of hand and I've been packing a lot of it away to sell when I retire.At least that's the plan.I know there are some things I will never be able to part with and the paddle Kenny made for me is one thing that will stay with me and be passed on to my son. Here are a couple of photos of the paddle he made for me a couple of years ago.
Ken has been working with wood since he was a youngster. His Dad,Wesley,was well known for the axe handles he used to make and I guess Ken just picked up on some of the stuff old Wes was doing.I mention to ken one day that i had to buy a paddle and I was discussing the merits of buying a cheap one verses spending some money on an expensive one.After much discussion, Ken finally proclaimed that he could make a paddle that was better than any I could find on the market.Now that's quite a statement to make,so I said you go right to 'er and I'll be the judge when you finish it. Ken invited me along to get his materials which he picked up at a cabinet shop in Minto.All he got was some strips of hardwood left over from the saws that was being discarded. He took the strips of oak,maple and birch home to his wood shop and carefully glued and clamped them together until he had a sturdy hardwood board that he sawed and worked until he had the shape of the paddle.That's when the serious work began as he carefully shaped that paddle until he had it where he wanted it.To finish it off,he burned scenes on both sides and burned my name in the handle.When this was done,he carefully applied six clear coats of lacquer over the whole paddle. The finished product was a thing of beauty,but I told Kenny I would never be able to judge how sturdy it was because it would never see water to take a stroke. Today,it occupies a prominent spot on my wall and stands as a testament to Kennys skill as a worker of wood. The other object in the photo with the paddle is a slab of burl with flame all through it. This will be the top for a beautiful table in the near future.I will be showing more photos in future posts of some of the other interesting objects I have collected and will have for sale in the near future.Although I don't plan on retiring for at least a couple of years yet,if anyone sees something they like,don't be afraid to contact me if you want to discuss buying anything you see here. Ken and I and the rest of the guides that work with us encourage you to send me an e-mail or give me a call to arrange to spend some time in the Big Woods of beautiful New Brunswick. It's all there for the asking! Happy Trails to you......Until we meet again!

GOODBYE SUMMER......HELLO FALL!

  Temperatures have finally started to moderate here at home on Salmon River and for most folks that's a good thing. This summer was...