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!"

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 ...