Monday, January 29, 2018

THE BIG CHILL---THEN THE THAW!

Now that we are into the heart of our winter season here at home on Salmon River,I can only say that the weather has been a real roller coaster. Earlier in January, we had a prolonged period of 2-3 weeks of brutally cold weather with an accumulated snow pac of around two feet. The local deer herd was starting to struggle a bit and it was starting to look like it was going to be a rough winter this year for them. Then came the big thaw. A mid-winter thaw is something most Maritimers are accustomed to but this thaw was accompanied by a 40-50 mil. dump of rain that caused havoc throughout the province including the Grand Lake area. Flooding and power outages were widespread across the province. Most of the smaller brooks and streams overflowed their banks and the ice was running in the larger streams and rivers. The brook that runs beside my house washed out the Rt. 123 highway and is now under reconstruction. This has caused a detour once again to get into Chipman. It's a bit of a pain, especially after having detoured all summer but I guess Mother Nature is calling the shots in this instance.Here are a couple of photos of the flooding that occurred.
 I just chose random photos but most places in southern New Brunswick got the same mess.
    
    One blessing that came out of the big thaw was it took nearly all the snow away. This has given our deer herd a chance to rebound after the rigors of the rut and positive results are being seen in many areas, especially in the southern half of the province. Bucks that were run down after the rut have been able to put some weight back on and this will pay dividends later on towards spring. Here are a couple of photos of some deer in the Douglas Harbour area on Grand lake.
 There was three groups of 12-15 deer in each group and they all looked to be in good shape.
Another positive thing for the deer is the small amount of snow enables them to better avoid their number one predator, the coyote. I don't really like calling them a coyote because bush wolf would be a more appropriate name. These deer killers can get big. I pulled this photo from a trapping site just to show my readers what a 60+ lb. coyote looks like. If one happens to get the right genetic mix, they can get even bigger.
 A pack of coyotes this size can decimate a deer herd in one winter if they can get them when they yard up. I'm hoping as winter moves along,we won't get too much snow. If this happens, we will see a nice increase in our deer numbers here in the Grand Lake area.

The ice fishing fraternity has been out in full force this month. The first leg of the Tri-Lake Ice Fishing Tournament was held recently at the Key Hole. There was a pretty good turnout but I wasn't one of them. My son and I got down there and when I pulled the auger off of the truck I noticed the gas line was cut in two. We tried a quick fix but it didn't work so we headed back to Chipman and fixed the line properly. We then decided to go to plan B because it's an hour drive from home to the Key Hole and the tournament was already started. We headed to a nice honey hole near home and pounded down seven holes and rigged them all up with rods. Through the years, I have developed a system for ice fishing pickerel that works well for us. Live minnows are the best bait but they aren't always readily available.That's why we usually use cut bait but when doing so, you must use the right technique to stay in the running. I don't want to give too many secrets away but an absolute must is keeping the bait active.
From the reports I got, there wasn't any real big fish registered at the Key Hole but there was a few fish caught. A buddy of mine from Minto tied for first place with a 21.25 inch fish. I believe they caught ten pickerel in total.  He also registered a perch and catfish. Shaun was fishing with his daughter who was celebrating her birthday and from all reports, they had a great day on the ice. Here are some photos of their day at the Key Hole.


 Shaun S. is an avid fisherman on or off the ice and he usually has good success during his fishing trips. Well done Shaun!. The second and third legs of the tournament are coming up next month as well as the kids tournament at the Key Hole. This tournament is sponsored by the village of Minto and is very popular with the locals. Please check with the village of Minto web site for details.
    As I said earlier, the tournament was a wash for us but our backup plan worked out great.Here is a short video of us getting started in the morning.  

 After getting the holes dug and lines rigged, it didn't take long to start catching fish. I caught the first one which was also the smallest one of the day. It looked to be around 12 in. As the morning progressed, we caught fish at regular intervals and just before lunch Curt landed a nice one. It was 24 in. on the board and that's considered trophy size in these waters. Here is a short clip of Curt measuring his fish.
 We had a good lunch and took a short break to get warmed up a bit and then we hit the ice again. The fishing was good right up until we decided to quit for the day. They kept biting and we kept pulling them in. What a great way to spend a day with my son doing something we both love! Here is a photo of Curt with another 24 incher he caught later.
 I caught my share of fish too. Here is a photo of me with a smaller one.
 Curt had his dog there with us and he liked following us around when we checked the lines.
 Curt and I ended up landing 15 pickerel  in the 5-6 hours we fished. We only lost three at the hole. All of our fish were released except one smaller one that was bleeding from the gills and couldn't be revived. I'm a strong believer in hook and release and I'll talk a bit about that later in this post.

    The following week-end Curt was celebrating his birthday with a special friend who was visiting from Ontario. I last seen Anne when she was visiting during the past summer and we got her out fishing and she landed her first pickerel. It was a trophy sized one and I think she got hooked on pickerel right then. Curt asked her if she was interested in trying some ice fishing and she said she would love to. The temperatures were mild and with the weather co-operating, we set out for the day.
    We went back to the same location Curt and I had fished the previous week. After drilling seven holes in the same location as the previous week, we rigged up rods for each hole. We were catching fish before all the holes were rigged up! Here are some photos of me with some of the fish we caught.
 It turned out to be another busy day on the ice. The fish were coming at regular intervals and soon Anne caught her
first fish while ice fishing and it turned out to be the biggest of the day. Here is a photo of that fish.
 We didn't measure it but we estimated it to be around 22 inches. That's still a nice fish. Curt and Anne even had a double header at one point. You know the fishing is good if that happens! 
 The fishing was good right up until quitting time. We landed 10 fish and had a few more strikes. I was top rod for the day with 5. Anne landed 3 and Curt got 2. I think Curt was just giving us a chance because he was top rod the previous week with 8 fish to my 7 including two 24 inchers. That's good fishing on any body of water
    The popularity of ice fishing in the Grand Lake area is on the rise and it's a great family activity. Sometimes it's a couple of fishing buddies or it could be a small village set up for smelt. Years ago, there was a small community of up to fifty shacks set up near Goat Island on Grand Lake. For several years fishermen caught lots of rainbow smelt, whitefish and burbot. Gradually, the catches started to fall off and interest started to wane. Erratic weather patterns and lack of support in general caused the collapse of this yearly gathering. I think this year there is only one ice shack at Goat Island. I witnessed this as it happened and there are other fishermen who will attest to this fact. Grand Lake is the largest lake in New Brunswick. If  this lake can experience a decline in numbers then just think what happens in a small body of water or pond. Numbers of target fish can quickly become depleted especially with bigger fish that take longer to mature.One thing I  would like to mention is the fact that heavy stocking of land-locked salmon has occurred over the last few years and I'm sure this species will start turning up more in the future.
 I always like to tell the story of the retired gentleman from Bouctouche who used to come to Chipman and fish yellow perch. I would stop and chat him up whenever I seen him fishing and the first couple of years he had great success. Many times he took home his limit. I even wrote a blog entry about this guy showing him with half a 5 gallon pail of perch. http://hargroveandbauer.blogspot.ca/2008/03/ice-fishing-coming-to-close.html As I said, everything was good until the third year and then the bottom fell right out of the fishing. After several trips to Chipman with poor catches, I caught up with him one afternoon as he was leaving. He said he was very puzzled as to why the fishing was so poor after successive seasons of great catches. He had several theories why this had occurred but over fishing wasn't one of them. He really didn't get it. This was an educated man who should have been able to figure it out but he didn't. That was the last time I talked to him. I find that situation really sad and that doesn't bode well for the overall health of our local fisheries. The fun is in catching them. Period. If they aren't there, you can't catch them. Do any of you think we would have caught ten pickerel the following week-end after catching fifteen the previous week-end if we hadn't released them? I can tell you right now we wouldn't have caught that many, maybe two or three. I apologize for the rant but this point must be emphasized. PLEASE PRACTICE HOOK AND RELEASE! 

    We are at the mid point of our New Brunswick winter and I want to remind any non-resident hunters that this is the time to put your name in for the moose draw. The entry dates are from Feb. 5 to April 30. http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/Wildlife/MooseNonResidentFactSheet.pdf Bear Hunters who want a guaranteed tag are urged to enter the upcoming draw which opened Jan.22 and runs to Feb. 28. http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/Wildlife/BearNonResFactSheet.pdf

I like to receive feed back so don't be shy. If anyone has any questions about booking a hunting or fishing trip with us just give me a buzz through the channels provided. We do it all and we have good success doing it. Just check out the blog entries from the last ten years. Time flies when you're having fun!

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













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