Monday, December 31, 2018

2018-END OF YEAR REVIEW

 
As 2018 comes to a close, I was reflecting back on what was different from recent years in the outdoor world in the Grand Lake area and I was struck by how little things had changed. In some instances, that was a good thing. In other areas, not so much.
   The year started off with what I thought was one of the best ice fishing seasons in years. After just one thaw early in the year, there was lots of ice and good weather right through to the end of the season in late March. I spent a lot of days on the ice and I had great luck fishing chain pickerel near home and occasionally at the Key Hole on Grand Lake. I usually don't bother going all the way to Indian, French, or Maquapit Lakes simply because there is great fishing closer to home. A lack of snow fall made for some easy travelling and I didn't even bother with a shack just because the weather was good and I had the luxury of being able to pick my days. Here is a video from last season. I thought this fish was a lot bigger than it was. Just excited, I guess!


The biggest pickerel we got this past year through the ice was one my son Curtis caught. It was 24 inches on the board. We released that fish to be caught another day. Here is a photo of that fish.

 If fishermen practice hook and release, the fishing stays good all season. On smaller bodies of water such as the ponds and coves on Salmon River, the catching goes south very early in the season if fishermen keep too many pickerel. I hear the arguments every year. Oh, the limit is ten pickerel. I only kept six. Well, if you keep six and the other ten guys that fished that day kept six or more, that adds up to over sixty fish out of one small area. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what the fishing is going to be like in a very short time. We have seen this exact scenario being played out over the last few years and it's really frustrating. If any fisherman takes more than two pickerel a day, you are either a moron or a pig. Please don't be either of these!

    The 2018 New Brunswick salmon season was nothing short of disastrous. I don't believe in sugar coating any of my reports and this is how I see the past season. The spring, summer and fall fisheries were all plagued by a shortage of fish and terrible weather conditions. How could that possibly add up to even decent fishing? If DFO doesn't get a handle on what's happening with this fishery, we may well be seeing this great sport in it's death throes. Striped bass are having a huge impact on smolt survival. Global warming is also having a negative impact on our cold water species. One bright spot is Greenland agreeing to be bought off to cease their annual rape of our fish off of their coast. This will allow more large spawners to return to their home waters. Hopefully, we will soon turn a corner on this issue before all is lost.

Striped bass have exploded in both numbers and popularity and last season was another fabulous one on the lower Miramichi River and the Gulf coast. With numbers approaching one million fish, sportsmen pursuing this species had lots to cheer about. We had very good fishing every time we were out and reports were positive right across the province, Most of the tidal rivers had good runs and as I've already said, the Miramichi had tremendous numbers. Too many really. Steps are being taken to reduce their numbers such as increasing the daily limit to three and allowing natives to have a limited commercial fishery. These are good steps but lets hope the pendulum doesn't swing too far the other way. One fault of DFO is their slow response to changing conditions. Keep a close eye on this situation.Here is a video clip of my buddy Jake Doherty landing a fish on the Miramichi River. We both got a limit of fish in the upper slot bracket. A bonus of this species is their delicious table fare. This next photo shows my three fish limit for the day.

Native brook trout on inland waters continue to do well but sea trout on the Miramichi and her tributaries have taken a huge drop. The Cains River run failed to appear and many fear it may be lost. Stripers are the most logical problem but the annual trout derby in Redbank is seeing a lot of trout being taken out of the system each year. This could be hurting the population to some extent. Hopefully, as the high striped bass numbers are being addressed we will see our sea trout numbers rebound. Keep your fingers crossed on this issue.

Our black bear numbers remain stable for now and success rates remain high for non-residents. The fall hunt is usually a little more unpredictable but if you start early and  have a consistent baiting regime, good results are almost guaranteed. One of the biggest problems at our deer sites is keeping bears off of our bait. Bears will push deer off of a bait because they have a habit of staying right on the bait and the deer will just find other feeding areas. Sometimes this situation takes a positive turn when a nice boar shows up like this one did. It's hard to get pissed when this happens!
We have a two bear limit in New Brunswick right now and I can't say I am a fan of this situation as it stands. I think the hunt would have been much better if the season was split with one bear in the spring and one in the fall. This would have benefited the outfitting industry and controlled the population in a more fitting fashion by reducing the number of bears shot recklessly just because of hunters knowing they can get another tag if the first bear is too small for their liking. Perhaps DNR will see how a change to the hunt such as I've suggested would benefit all concerned in the near future. Time will tell.

Moose numbers remain steady over much of the province but there is cause for concern. This years hunt was held during a period of excellent weather. Cool days and frosty nights made for great calling conditions and many nice bulls were taken in all areas of the province except for the extreme south. Kill numbers were up slightly in the north but down a bit more in the southern half to give a slight decrease in the kill overall. I find this concerting because the weather conditions were near perfect yet there was an overall decrease in the kill. This tells me that the moose population has slipped in the southern half of the province and this fact has been borne out by our sightings during our travels in our hunting zones in the central part of the province. Hopefully. DNR will make the necessary adjustments to address this fact when allotting tag numbers for the southern zones for next year. Here is a photo of a tremendous bull taken in one of the northern zones.
This bull had 26 points and a 63 inch spread. 

If there is one place where New Brunswick's  DNR has failed miserably in it's mandate as managers of wildlife, it is in the care (or lack of) our poor deer herd. How bad is it? It's that bad that the DNR/government won't even release the kill numbers in the same calendar year! This past season was also the first one I can remember where we had snow that stayed for most of the season. This should have optimized the kill numbers but that didn't happen. This situation borders on being criminal and I don't make that statement in jest. I'm being serious. New Brunswick's former deer biologist quit in disgust and pointed the finger squarely at the culprits who are to blame. Still,. government refuses  to act on any recommendations put forth by their own people and the wildlife federation. To act in this fashion is unconscionable. I'm not going to point fingers. I don't have to. The cat is out of the bag. Every deer hunter in this province knows what the problem is and who bears the blame. Things had better change soon or there are going to be a lot of old style politicians standing on the side lines twiddling their thumbs while their newer, younger comrades are seizing the day. We seen the beginning of this scenario being played out in our last election. The status quo will no longer suffice and sportsmen across the province are exercising the power of their vote. I say good for them! It's about time!
     We had a grand total of eighteen deer registered at our local station this past season. I can remember when we had successive kill numbers of over one hundred deer just out of the Harley Road area back in the 80's. What a sad state of affairs! Brooke was the only one in our group to take a deer although we had some misses and close encounters. Here is a photo of Brooke's buck taken a few days into the season.

I hope this post doesn't come across too negatively because I am an optimist by nature. I think things can and will be better in the future if we all work hard and remain vigilant in our care for our wildlife. This should be a labour of love for all sportsmen in our beautiful province and I truly believe we are up to the task.
I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year from our crew here at home on Salmon River and we hope to see you in the coming year!

Until then, this is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You....Until we Meet Again!'

Sunday, November 25, 2018

DEER HUNT 2018

    The 2018 deer hunt in New Brunswick got off to a roaring start that included something not seen in years. We had snow during the first week and that snow stayed on the ground in the northern half of the province for the first two weeks of the season. Temperatures stayed on the cool side with many nights below freezing. Deer hunters took full advantage of the weather and hit the woods in droves. Social media has been showing several nice bucks taken so far and again this year, lady hunters have taken their share.
    I started writing this piece weeks ago but my computer died and I had to get set up again. For someone who is challenged in that department,it's easier said than done. I had a lot of photos on my other hard drive so I had to gather up a few I had left on my cameras. I'll continue to edit this post as I gain access to the saved material on the old hard drive.
    As I was saying, every year more and more ladies are participating in New Brunswick's annual deer hunt and many of them are having good success. Jamies girlfriend, Brooke, took a nice buck early in the first week. This was Brookes second buck since she started hunting a few years ago. This buck had good mass and was a nice, solid New Brunswick buck
 Wes wanted to get his picture taken with Brooke because he got quite a kick out of her getting the first deer in our crowd (and what would turn out to be the only deer).
 This next lady is no stranger to white-tail hunters in New Brunswick. Over the last few years her big bucks have been appearing on a regular basis,usually early in the season. Once again, Sonia G. of Fredericton tagged out early in the hunt after taking another big buck. That's three in as many years that I know of. I guess that's why her husband calls her "the Queen of white-tail hunters" in New Brunswick! Here is her 2018 buck.
 This next lady hunter took a real brute of a buck. Look at the mass on that rack!
 This young lady also took a real nice mature buck.
 This next lady took her first deer that just happened to be a big 10 pt.
 Here is another lady hunter with a nice mature New Brunswick buck
 Finally, this young lady took her first buck which had 8 pts. and dressed out at 160 lbs. That's a 2.5 year old deer. This highlights the potential of the bucks in our white-tail herd. We just need more of them!
 Here is a photo of a buck that was weighed in at a big buck contest this past season. This beautiful buck further illustrates the terrific genetics in our deer herd and the potential to grow world class bucks. This buck weighed 135 lbs. dressed and was 1.5 years old.

 I want to congratulate a young lady from southern N.B. who hunted hard to take her first bear during the fall bear season this year. Kelsey M. hunted hard this fall but was having a hard time getting any bears to hit consistently. There was an abundance of fall forage this year and that makes baiting fall bears a hit or miss proposition. She was starting to fear she wouldn't get it done before the season ended but after some good advice and a "never give up" attitude, she harvested her first bear and it was a beauty. Here is a photo of Kelsey with her bear.

 Although baiting fall bears can be erratic. we always get some nuisance bears at our deer baits. Dallas had an average bear stealing his bait at one spot A nice bear showed up at one of Jamies baits.and when a nice boar like him comes in,it's hard to say that's a bad thing! We'll be going after him next spring when our hunters from Germany arrive. Here are some photos of that bear.



 Ken, Jamie, Dallas and myself were all very busy this fall and we all spent a limited amount of time in the woods this deer season. Dallas fired at a dandy 10-12 point buck that was with two does but he never touched him. Jamie was chasing a nice 9 point he had on camera but couldn't lay eyes on him in the daytime. Jamie also passed on a couple of small bucks. Here is a photo of the buck Jamie was chasing this fall.
Kenny watched a spot on the Harley Road on and off for two weeks but couldn't catch a buck crossing. I had some small bucks coming in but I wasn't there. Here are a couple of small bucks that were on my camera.
 This little buck had spikes about a foot long.
 I also had a doe and a button buck at another location. I was surprised that I didn't have any bigger bucks at the two baits I had in that location because last year there was a couple of nice 6 and 8 pointers at these baits. 
    Preliminary figures indicate a slight decrease in the overall kill in the province in 2018. The numbers increased slightly in the south but the northern half experienced a sharp drop. This was enough to put the kill into the negative zone. What is disturbing about these numbers is the fact that there was snow present for pretty much the whole season in the northern half of New Brunswick. I can't recall a season like that in all my years of hunting. That being said, there was still some beautiful bucks killed this year in some parts of the province. The farm country around Sussex produced some real studs again this year and one bow kill during the gun season was outstanding. Here is a photo of that buck. 
 This buck should score high in the archery section of the New Brunswick Record Book.
As usual, I plucked some of the big bucks that stood out off of various groups on social media to include in this years deer hunt blog. This first buck was a heavy weight with 10 pts. and dressed out at 240 lbs.
 Here is a photo of a farm buck taken late in the season that has it all.
 This next buck also came from farm country in the southern half of the province.
   Please note that these bucks were all taken by NB residents from various locations around the province but primarily on private ground in the southern half of New Brunswick. 
In summation, it is evident that our deer herd is struggling to survive on Crown lands in New Brunswick. It's also quite clear that unless we change the way we manage our Crown lands, our deer numbers will remain low. I have written about what should be part of a recovery plan in the past and these suggestions have also been forwarded to the DNR. This was part of a survey conducted by DNR a few years ago. All that came out of it was a study of the herd to find out what everyone KNOWS is wrong. It's ridiculous to think in this day and age that professionals don't know what the problem is. The problem is mismanagement. Period. I will leave it up to my readers to figure out who is mismanaging our Crown lands to the detriment of deer and other species. 
Any recovery program must address the spraying of hardwoods on Crown lands This important food source provides much needed browse for deer.Conduct specialty cuts wherever feasible. Shrink the size of clear cuts  Implement food supplements such as planting clover on any open areas like log yards or clear trails. Plant cedar along all waterways to increase the buffer and provide food and shelter for deer. Finally,the coyote population must be kept in check, especially during the winter months when the herd is most vulnerable to these predators. These suggestions are doable and wouldn't necessarily be that costly. I feel strongly that if these suggestions were followed, we would see a dramatic increase in our deer numbers. I hope the will is there and these things come to pass in the near future. Our deer herd depends on it.

I didn't spend as much time in the deer woods as I wanted this year but I did get to spend some quality time with my youngest grandson,Jack Now, Jack is nine years old and has been fishing with pretty good success for a couple of years. When hunting season came around this fall. he asked me to take him deer hinting. I said I would but I explained to him that hunting wasn't like fishing. I knew he thought that nearly every time you go out,there's shots fired and game killed. I also think he thought maybe he might even get a chance to fire the gun if all went well. I told him right off that his hunting education would be an on-going journey and not to get ahead of himself. His reply was "I'm nearly ten years old!". I said "I know." Kids always try to get ahead of themselves and I was determined if he wanted to hunt, he'd have to get the basics down first. We went out a few times and I think he was starting to understand where I was coming from. We had a great time! He says he's all ready for next year and I promised him there might be a little more action next year. He gave me the thumbs up so he's all in! Here is a short video clip I made of Jack during one of our hunts last fall. Jack wanted me to say that he also saw some moose tracks and a nice flock of turkeys, just for the record. OK Jack.

Our ice fishing season is just around the corner and we will be out there as soon as we get some good ice. We have good success on pickerel and perch in a few different locations. The Grand Lake system is huge and underutilized but we've been fishing it for decades and I like to think we have some great spots and killer techniques. Please contact me if any anglers would like to fish with us this winter. Please note that any ice fishing trips are subject to weather conditions. Safety first always!

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


Thursday, October 4, 2018

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 quite dry and hot and as we ease into fall we are finally starting to get some rain and cooler nights.
    You know it's hot when even the pickerel refuse to bite and that's exactly what happened this August. Normally, we have great fishing for pickerel later in the summer but this year it was just too hot for too long. That's not to say we didn't get any fish. What I'm getting at is instead of having days of 15-20 fish, we were catching less fish, more like 6-12. I'll admit that even catching numbers like that is still pretty good fishing. It's enough to keep things interesting and keep the most ardent fishermen from getting fevered up! Pickerel fishing at this time of the year in low water conditions is something everyone should experience at least once. These fish are really aggressive this time of the year and many times the fisherman can see the fish moving quickly on the lure and quite literally parting the water in their effort to connect with the lure. I've seen more than one good fisherman strike prematurely during that initial rush instead of hesitating for a few seconds before striking. As I've said, it's pretty exciting. One particular day comes to mind as I write this. I took long time salmon guide Malcolm McCormick out for a half day of pickerel fishing a few years ago. Now old Malcolm had guided for fifty years or so on the Miramichi and Cains Rivers and had caught and landed countless salmon and grilse. By the end of the day, he told me that catching pickerel was as much fun as catching a grilse. He got quite a kick out of the savage attack of the pickerel when he got a strike. It was the first and only time old Mac ever fished for pickerel before he passed away a few years ago. Here are a couple of photos of Mac landing two of several pickerel that day.
 I liked old Malcolm and learned a thing or two about salmon fishing from him during the short time I knew him. If any reader would like to hear more about old Mac McCormick, just click on this link http://hargroveandbauer.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-bite-hunt-and-vintage-outdoor-stuff.html .

    I managed to get out a few more times with my good friend Jake Doherty before the season ended and we landed a few nice fish like this one.
 Jakes pickerel was taken near Salmon Harbour. This area has been producing some nice fish this year along with a couple of species we don't see very often. Here is a photo of me with a fish I landed late this summer.
Smallmouth bass are starting to show up in numbers as well as the odd striper. These fish are being caught while fishing for other species and I'm sure we will see more of these fish as the sport  continues to grow in our area. Here is a photo of Adam M. with a nice smallmouth he took this summer while fishing the harbour area.
 Adam also caught a small striper earlier in the year at the same location. A friend of mine who rents out his cottage on Grand Lake told me his guests were catching schoolies right off the dock. This is great news for the Grand Lake area and our fishery is only going to grow as we move forward into the future. Jemseg has been producing some nice stripers over the last few weeks. Fishermen seem to be having the best luck after dark while fishing live eels and mackerel. Here is a photo of a nice one caught last week by Captain George Palmer at 4:00AM. This striper was 37 in. and over 20 lbs. Nice fish Captain!

    I wish I could be as positive about the state of the salmon fishery but unfortunately there isn't a lot of good news to report. The only place that seems to be getting any fishing is in the lower part of the main Southwest Miramichi River. This part of the river always fishes better during years of low water and there are reports of some fresh fish coming in on the tides but many fear it is too little and too late for decent fishing up river and on the Cains. Salmon fishing has experienced a serious decline in recent years and some drastic measures must be taken or all could be lost. It has happened before. Just look at what happened to the Saint John River and other Bay of Fundy Rivers. I always look forward to fishing the Cains River in the fall but I don't think it will happen this year unless we get some water before the season ends on Oct.15th.

Our waterfowl season is well under way and Dallas and Jamie set up for geese on Parkhills Bar on the first day. They only got four geese and said that another group hunting across the river from them had about the same shooting. I don't believe in inflating numbers when it comes to hunting and fishing and our area is experiencing poor waterfowling this year. Ducks and geese must have water and the drought this year moved most of the birds in our area out to the big water around Grand Lake. If we can get some water,we may get some decent shooting for migrating northerns as the season progresses.
    There are good numbers of grouse in our area and one of our government agencies is looking for hunters to turn in hearts from birch and spruce grouse for examination to see if any Lyme disease is present. There are some woodcock around but drought conditions have made local birds a little scarce. Hunters will be looking for migrating birds as the season progresses this month.

Another moose season is in the books and although we didn't have any tags this year, we always have fun seeing how our friends and folks from away make out during their hunt. This years hunt had cool weather and a full moon which provided excellent conditions for hunting New Brunswicks' largest big game animal. The overall kill was down 8% and the registration station for our area in Chipman was down 15%. That being said, there were still some great bulls killed in our area and in the northern zones, in particular.  Here is a photo of one of the largest bulls taken this year. This trophy moose was killed by a hunter in one of New Brunswicks northern zones. It had 26 points and was 63 inches wide. That's a monster!
 This next bull was taken in Kent County which is a little closer to home. This moose had a very distinctive rack with a beautiful colour
 Last but certainly not least is another great bull harvested this season in the northern part of the province. This trophy bull had a spread of 58.5 inches.

These bulls are representative of the top tier bulls taken each year in New Brunswick. The quality of the trophy bulls taken here in New Brunswick is undeniable.
    The biggest bull registered at our station was killed by Martin Beers in zone 13 near Salmon River. Estimated weight of this old warrior was 920 lbs. His rack had 11 scorable points with boards rounded off considerably. it was felt that this old bull was going downhill but it was still a great trophy. No photo for this one but he's here on the scoreboard at number 3.
 This next shot shows the results of the 2018 New Brunswick moose hunt.
 Another banner year for moose hunters here at home and right across the province.Lets hope this trend continues into the future.

Ken and I have started setting up our deer stands and we are seeing signs that our herd is growing a bit. The southern end of Grand Lake has a thriving deer herd but access is difficult. We have been setting up on Crown land near these expanding herds with good results..As usual, bears are hard to keep off of our deer baits but we take it all in stride. Many times we find trophy sized bears at our deer baits and it's hard to consider that a bad thing. Our area is crawling with bears and it's just a fact of life you are going to get some at sites set up in archery season. Later in the deer season, the bears are starting to den and the problem isn't so severe. I will have some trail cam photos of some of the animals we will be hunting in my next post. Please check previous posts for photos of some of the quality animals we have in our area.
   I want to wish my Canadian readers a Happy Thanksgiving and if any Sport would like to hunt or fish with us, please contact me through the channels provided.

This is Dale Bauer saying " Happy Trails to You.....Until we Meet Again! ".
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Thursday, August 23, 2018

SUMMER 2018--HOT AND HUMID

    This summer was a very nice one for visiting tourists and beach goers but it was, once again, a terrible summer for fishing and many outdoor activities. If memory serves me correctly, this is back to back years of low water and hot days for sportsmen in New Brunswick. Salmon outfitters, in particular, have had an awful time of it and many are struggling to stay afloat. If not for American dollars invested in many of these camps, the damage would be much more extensive and obvious to folks who rely heavily on this influx of money during the salmon season.It's pretty hard to make any money if the river is unfishable, as it was in consecutive springs or if the river is shut down during the summer months, as it was this summer. Add the striper controversy to the weather problems and you have a recipe for disaster.After a hue and cry from the salmon establishment, the Feds finally caved in and granted a limited commercial harvest for natives on the lower Miramichi River. I think this was the right move because striper numbers have exploded and were expanding into territory that had not been seen in modern times. This habitat just happens to be historic salmon and trout pools in the upper reaches of the Miramichi River system. I just hope that this new commercial fishery doesn't go too far and ruin the new sport fishery that has developed for stripers over the last few years. Time will tell the tale on this new situation and I will be keeping my fingers crossed on this one. Here is a photo of me with a limit of stripers from this spring.
    Usually, when things warm up and the salmon fishing slows down, pickerel fishing comes on strong. Not this year. It was very hard to get a good bite going this summer because it was even too hot for the warm water species! It is mid August as I'm writing this piece and things are just starting to cool off enough to put the fish and fishermen back in the mood. Water temperatures have moderated and a nice raise of water has brought water levels back to an acceptable height on the Miramichi and here at home on Salmon River.I guided a couple of Westerners at the tail end of this hot spell and they caught a few fish but we had to work for them. Ryan G.of  Red Deer, Alberta was out for a half day with myself and a friend, Jake Doherty. I think Ryan landed three pickerel, while Jake and I added a couple more. Here is a photo of Jake with a nice pickerel.
 
Jake and I also fished the 1st Annual JDI Fishing Tournament. This tournament was held during Chipman's annual festival and was a big hit with all the participants. There were good cash prizes in several categories as well as a nice canoe for the draw prize. Jake and I landed fish in three categories but unfortunately we didn't make the winners circle. I did get drawn for a $50 gift certificate which was great. I can see this tournament really taking off in the future after the sponsors get a couple of bugs worked out. Here is a photo of two of the pickerel we registered during the tournament.

 I also landed a nice smallmouth bass during the tournament. This species has been appearing more and more in recent years and the talk is already going around that this species will be added to next years tournament. I caught this fish while jigging a worm and spinner through a deep hole looking for perch. I thought I had hooked a good white perch and was surprised when the bass exploded out of the water right beside the boat. Here is a photo of that fish.
 I also spent a nice half day on the water with a beautiful lady from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Kristin F. was here for a week and she loved her time spent fishing and site seeing on Salmon River. Here is a photo of me helping her land a pickerel after she broke off a huge pickerel that I estimated at over two feet long!
 She was accompanied by my son Curtis and he landed a couple of nice ones during the same trip. We left from my house and I joked that Curt could probably catch one right off of my shore before we left in the boat. Sure enough, after a couple of casts he brought a respectable pickerel to hand. Here is a photo of that fish.
 Later on, we fished one of the pickerel beds nearby and Curt landed a nice fish that taped out at 23.25 inches. Pickerel this size put up a great fight and it takes some skill to keep them out of the weeds and lead them to the boat. Here is a photo of that fish.
 This is a trophy sized pickerel in any waters and Curt caught a few this size while he was out. The next evening Kristin wanted to go out again because she was awestruck by the beautiful scenery and the abundance of wildlife. Curt took her out once again and he landed another good pickerel that she got a short video clip of. Another trophy sized pickerel. These sized pickerel aren't caught every time out but there are enough of them to keep things interesting. We can usually land a few and rarely strike out. Kristin thanked us and said she would return and next time she would bring her Mom and Dad. Hope to see you next year Kristin!
    Salmon River is beautiful during the summer and fall months and there are so many photo opportunities it's hard to take it all in. Here is a photo of Kristin taken on the beach near the pickerel beds she was fishing.
During the warm weather this summer, I travelled a lot during the evenings after things settled down and the temperature started to drop a bit..It was more about the scenery and visiting friends on the river than it was about the fishing but I always caught a few. Here is a short video clip I took near Stewart-McLeod Park which lies between my place and Chipman.

    Fall is fast approaching and we will soon be putting out our deer and bear baits. This is a great time to be out in the woods, scouting and setting up cameras and blinds. There seems to be a few more deer around our hunting areas and the bear population remains strong. Hopefully, the weather will co-operate and not get locked into a hot spell like last fall. The first couple of days of the moose season last year were almost unbearable and many successful hunters were left scrambling to save their meat. Preparation is the key to saving your moose meat (or any other big game animal). Get your game dressed quickly and into cold storage. If you have the option to hang your meat for a week, all the better. I find ageing the meat for 7-10 helps tenderize it and improves the flavour. Although we don't have any moose tags this year, we still have fond memories of our hunt last year with Brad Doherty and family. Brad took a nice bull and the meat was delicious! Hear is a photo of Brads bull.
 

If any sports or vacationers want to spend some time on our waters or travelling our hunting grounds in the Grand Lake area, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. We will put a nice package together for you!

Until next time, this is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You....Until we Meet Again!"

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE....

    It's been a while since I've had a chance to sit down to put my thoughts on line and that's no small wonder! This spring has been nothing short of a natural disaster for folks living on the Saint John River and in the four lakes region and, unfortunately, I was affected at my place near the head of tide on Salmon River. I was forced to leave my house and live in Chipman for five weeks after being overwhelmed by high water, combined with near gale force winds. If you have never gone through something like this, be thankful! It's not just the human component to be considered here. I have a kennel with five German Shepherds and two aquariums of fish. The dogs had to be moved and kennelled at a neighbours place and I lost one tank of salt water fish. At least there were no human causalities in this disaster and we are grateful for that. I ended up with five and a half feet of water in my basement . That level was only nine inches from the main floor. I didn't think it was ever going to stop raising. The camp had two feet of water in the main floor and had to be stripped out to the four foot level and redone. Aside from my personal collection of picked items, the camp really suffered the most structural damage.
    Although I suffered personal losses, my house and buildings are still standing and I am back at home. That's more than a lot of folks have going for them right now. With over two thousand homes in the affected area, many homes and cottages were totally destroyed or in a bad state of repair and remain unoccupied.
    The flooding started in Fredericton first and gradually made its way into the Grand Lake basin and the lower Saint John River valley. The following series of photos show the level of devastation caused by the 2018 flood.
 The communities of Sheffield and Maugerville were quick to follow with extensive flooding all along the old Trans Canada highway.
 This old church has seen a few flood events over the years.
 As you can see from these photos, the flooding was severe and widespread. Any communities located along water ways connected to the Saint John River suffered similar fates. The village of Chipman located on Salmon River was an isolated community for a couple of weeks, with only one road out of town through the Bronson woods. This next photo shows DiCarlo's store on Main Street at the height of the flood.
 The next photo shows Irving's planer mill in Chipman trying to hold back the flood waters with heavy sand bagging.
 Although this event caused a lot of damage, it was nice to see neighbours and whole communities pulling together to get the job done. There are always individuals who stand out in these situations. These people are many times just regular citizens who happen to have big hearts and a strong sense of community. One of these individuals is Marcus Harvey of the Maugerville area. With several flood events under his belt, Marcus was a strong advocate for the residents of his area on the Saint John River that were devastated by this years flood. His running dialogue on FB during the flood was both entertaining and informative. He also tried to keep peoples spirits up with his own brand of comic relief. Marcus was recently invited to old Government House at the request of the Lieutenant-Governor to be recognized for his good works during this years flood disaster. Here is a picture of him at home during the 2018 flood.
 I guess the moral of this story is " If life hands you lemons, make lemonade!"

    Even though we were all affected by this flood, we did get some time on the water to chase stripers on the lower Miramichi River. This fishery is nothing short of  phenomenal and I would encourage anyone who loves fishing to try to get a day on the water when the spawning run occurs in the spring. Upwards of one million fish run up the main stem of the Miramichi to the Red Bank/Cassillis area to complete their spawning ritual. With this many fish gathered in large schools in this area, it's pretty much a given there will be some takers. These stripers are very sensitive to water temperature and the ebb and flow of the tides.Fishermen who do their home-work should do well whether fishing from shore or on a boat.
    The first trip I took was with a group of guys from the Chipman area. George Palmer was the Captain on this outing. Leonard Lemon, Eddy Speakman, Jr. Campbell and myself rounded out the crew that day. We put in at "the enclosure" and spent the day fishing around Beubar Island. We mainly trolled but we did anchor a few times and casted to areas we thought held fish. Nearly all the fish we caught that day came by trolling along the shore line. The boys all used different baits but the top bait for the day was Savage Gear sand eels. This is THE proven go-to bait for stripers on the Miramichi. Pink seems to be a favourite colour amongst the fishing fraternity who frequent this area.The first photo shows George with a small striper.
 The next photo shows me with a small striper.

 Here is a photo of Jr. with another small striper.

 Most of the fish we caught that day were under legal size and had to be returned to the water. The next photo shows Eddy with one of the fish he caught that day. 
 Eddy is a well known sportsman who lives in Chipman and he has caught some nice stripers over the years. He has been fishing the striper waters in Jemseg, Gagetown and Grand Lake a lot and has some good success. His best striper to date was thirty plus pounds and he has caught many smaller than that. Please keep in mind that the Saint John River system usually produces bigger fish but hook-ups are way less than on the Miramichi River at spawning time. Eddy is a good guy to have on any trip because if something goes wrong,"Mr. Fix it" will have you up and running in no time. Thankfully, we didn't need any of his skills on this trip. The next photo shows Cap'n George with a keeper sized fish.
 I want to thank George for putting this trip together. It was a lot of fun and it gave me a nice break from the flood and all the extra work and stress that inevitably goes along with an event like this years disaster  Here is a photo of the fishermen who were fishing the channel that day. Everyone was catching fish.
 That's the beauty of this fishery. You don't necessarily need expensive equipment or a boat to get into some terrific fishing. I see young and old alike catching fish in many places along the shore. Another thing I noticed was that there seemed to be as many females fishing as there were men both on shore and from boats. I think that's a good thing!
    After having a great day out with George and the boys, My good friend Jake Doherty asked if I wanted to accompany him for an afternoon of fishing stripers . We debated taking a boat but in the end I suggested we just go to the Red Bank/Cassilles area and just fish from shore. I knew a few spots and Jake had never caught a striper before so he was pretty pumped at the prospect of catching some. We tried a couple of spots with no luck but then we struck gold in our final spot. Jake hooked a fish on his first cast and it was non-stop action until dark when we left.
 The fish we caught on this trip were larger, with many well within the slot limit and lots that were bigger and had to be returned. The next photo shows a couple of guys from Moncton who were fishing near us.
 The young lad on the left caught a lot of nice fish and helped retrieve lures for us a couple of times. Good job boys! Jake and I ended up with a limit of fish and the fillets were delicious! Here is a short video clip of Jake landing a striper . The next photo shows a nice limit of stripers from that trip.
 I want to mention a guide who has done a lot to promote striper fishing in his community of Red Bank and the lower Miramichi River in general. Norman Ward is considered the "go to"guy for stripers in the Miramichi. Not only does he produce fish for his clients but he freely shares a wealth of knowledge to beginners and seasoned veterans alike. Hats off to you Norman for a job well done! Here is a photo of Norman with Donna A.'s first striper.

    Chipman Fish and Game held their annual youth fishing tournament earlier this month. I was there with my grandson Jackson and a friend from Doaktown with her son Ben. This year J.D. Irving sponsored the tourney and provided a nice first prize for the draw. The complete camping outfit was worth over $2000 and was won by a young lady angler from Minto. I have to admit this was the first time I can remember getting skunked at a tournament but that's exactly what happened. None of us landed a fish. i couldn't believe it! I even moved around a bit trying to get a bite. No way! I guess that's why they call it "fishing" and not "catching". That's what I tell myself anyhow. Here is a photo of the food stand at the campground.
 The next photo shows Ben getting his prize from the JDI volunteers.

 At the same time that this tournament was being held, there was a pickerel tournament on Indian Lake which is part of the Grand Lake system. I didn't get many reports but I know that Will Redmond was top angler of the day. The three best fish of the day were all over 25 inches, with Will's winning fish coming in at 25.5 inches. That's a nice pickerel and represents the upper limit for this species in our waters. Here is a photo of Will with his winning fish.
 This isn't Will's first rodeo and he is well known in fishing circles in the Grand Lake area. Good job Will and nice fish!

    My friend Erika Betts from Princess Park recently got a picture of a turkey in the Ripples area. She also suffered the effects of the 2018 flood at her home. Erika gets some great wildlife shots and she doesn't mind if I use them as long as I give her credit for her photos.
 The next photo shows Erika with what she called a grumpy old toad. 
 Thanks again Erika Betts of Princess Park on Grand Lake. Erika is a multi-faceted artist who never disappoints, no matter what genre she expresses herself in. She does great tatoos by appointment. Don't hesitate to give her a call if you're in the Grand Lake area.

    In closing this bit of blog, I would be remiss if I failed to thank my friends and neighbours for all the help and offers to help during our recent flood event. It made our journey through this disaster a lot less traumatic and stressful. You know who you are and you know I mean it. I want to also thank folks who tried to contact me during this time frame for their patience and understanding. Things are starting to get back to normal here at home on Salmon River and our outdoor activities and my correspondence will carry on as usual.

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

MID-WINTER REPORT FOR GRAND LAKE AND AREA

    This has been a typical Maritime winter so far here at home on Salmon River. We had a short January thaw that caused smaller streams an...