Monday, January 30, 2012


    The big chill has finally settled in here at home on Salmon River and many sportsmen have hunkered down beside the fire,preparing to ride out the rest of the long winter months ahead. As far as New Brunswick winters go,this winter has been a pretty good one,in terms of temperatures and depth of the snow pack. For many of the hardier sports out there,the fun is just beginning now that the lake has about a foot of ice and there is just enough snow to run a sled.
    Jamie Urquhart,Kens nephew,has had his hands full this winter looking after a new litter of Golden Retrievers. Ken and Jamie decided to breed their two gun dogs,Maddie and Dixie,in hopes of establishing a good line of hunting Goldens to put to work on future hunts. They ended up with ten nice pups with both light and dark coats that should have the hunt in them.Both Maddie and Dixie are hunted on a regular basis and have proven themselves in the field. Ken and Jamie are asking $600. for their pups and if you are looking for Golden Retrievers with good conformation and strong hunting instincts,then please give me a call or shoot me an e-mail if anyone is interested in these pups. The following photo shows Dixie and the pups at three weeks of age.
 Golden Retrievers require a gentle hand when training because they are usually intelligent and eager to please so the trainer must control his or her emotions when training this breed in order to achieve success. In some show bloodlines of Golden Retrievers,the hunting instinct has been diminished because of the emphasis being put on conformation for the show ring rather than hunting ability for the field.Ken and Jamie went out of their way to acquire dogs whose parents were working hunting dogs and in working the parents of this litter,they are instilling that drive to hunt into the pups.Of course some pups will be better than others but with some encouragement at a very young age,these pups should all be eager to retrieve birds if properly introduced.One other comment I would like to make is to tell any would-be owners or trainers of this breed to make sure to introduce gun fire to this breed of dog very gently because of their high sensitivity and penchant for being easily startled. If the sound of the gun is associated with something positive,such as food for example,then the dog should respond to the sound of the gun going off in a positive manner.This is what the hunter wants to strive for if he wants a happy,productive hunting companion.
    The ice in Salmon River is at a depth of 12 in. in the coves and most of the main river down to Grand Lake. Most of the smaller lakes in the Four Lakes area are also at a similar depth,as is Grand Lake. This year the ice fishing started off a little slow because of mild weather and shallow ice but now that the ice has built up to a safe level some sports are getting out with their shacks to such places as Goat Island and Cox's Point. These two spots are popular year after year for such species as smelt and white fish but the catch usually includes burbot,yellow perch,land locked salmon and several other species that live in this habitat. The common theme between these two spots is structure.This structure draws smaller bait fish for food and protection and this in turn draws the more predatory fish that the ice fishermen are targeting. Most fishermen fishing out of permanent shacks will also put out a chum bait. Ken and I always use a chum bait at our shacks and we feel it increases fish activity around our fishing spot.
    The fishing has been very good on Grand Lake since the ice reached a safe depth and most of the shacks are reporting good catches of smelt and white fish. It seems the white fish have returned this year after last year when there was a noticeable difference in the catch numbers. All the sports I talked to thought this was a good thing since many of them will keep a fish or two for the pan. White fish have a nice delicate white meat that many find absolutely delicious,myself included. Not far behind white fish is the burbot or fresh water cod in terms of favourable flesh for eating.Traditionally,fishermen in this area will cube up fillets of bubot and make fish and chips with it. I can tell you from personal experience that this dish is mighty tasty! The burbot bite has been pretty good with most shacks catching at least a couple per day. The smelt fishermen are catching between six and twenty-five per day with some white fish mixed in as an incidental catch.Many years ago,when I first started ice fishing on Grand Lake with my uncles,we would always fry up a pan full of smelts in our shacks for lunch and wash it all down with copious amounts of our favorite beverage and a good time was had by all! The following photo is one taken from Cox's Point looking across toward Goat Island and Whur's Beach. Ken is checking burbot lines outside his two man shack at Cox's Point. On years with very little snow, like this year,it's easy to get on the ice at the lighthouse.If you click on the photo,you may be able to see some ice shacks off to the left that are located at Goat Island. As you can tell from this photo,there is miles of hard water to fish on Grand Lake that isn't being utilized. The next photo shows me with a nice smelt in the four man shack. This is a photo of my son Curt with a couple of nice yellow perch taken from one of the many coves and bays on the lower Salmon River.
    The pickerel bite has been very good so far this year on French Lake,Macquapit and Indian Lakes. There is usually some good perch fishing to go along with the pickerel fishing and the two species many times go hand in hand.Set lines with live minnows for the pickerel and hand lines for working the perch. This technique has made for many a good day ice fishing at any of the afore mentioned lakes. There are usually a couple of pickerel tournaments each winter with around fifty participants competing for a top prize of about $500. Smaller prizes are awarded for second,third and fourth place finishers. The winning fish are usually in the range of twenty-four inches,with an occasional one up to twenty-eight inches. The following photo shows me releasing a small pickerel taken from McLeod's Pond.
    The salmon fishing fraternity lost one of its most ardent members this past week with the passing of John Sharrock of Chipman. John loved to fish salmon and sea-run brook trout and he was a regular fixture at his spot under the Cains River bridge on Rt.123. He would set up his chair so he could rest between  casting sessions trying to intercept sea-trout in the spring or fall run salmon later in the fall and John caught his fair share of fish. Whenever I would meet John fishing under the bridge,I would always make it a point to ask him what fly he was fishing on that particular day and he would always respond with the same answer."Oh,I"m fishing the BLT" and I would respond"You mean an LT Special?" and he would say "Ya,you know,bacon lettuce and tomato!".John loved that fly and that is the fly he invariable used when fishing the Cains River. Johns high pitched,raspy voice hollering encouragement up and down the river will be missed by many.Rest in peace,John. The following photo shows John at his spot on the Cains River on one of his last outings before taking sick. 
    On a lighter note,this is the time of year when many people like to keep the bird feeders filled and get great pleasure watching the different species of birds visiting the feeders during the cold winter months.
 This photo shows some birds at my feeder in front of my house on Salmon River.I get a good variety of birds at my feeder such as goldfinches,sparrows ,chickadees,woodpeckers and the red and grey squirrels. On cold winter days,a bird feeder can provide many hours of enjoyment watching the antics of the visitors looking for a treat to carry them through the long New Brunswick winter. One visitor I particularly love to see is the pilated woodpecker. This large woodpecker must have mature trees in its habitat to supply it with the insects that make up this large birds diet and my place has lots of mature trees,so they are regular visitors,many times appearing as a pair,swooping from tree to tree in the constant hunt for food. Many times a birder will be alerted to its presence by its jungle-like call echoing through the forest.The call is quite unique and once you hear it,there is no mistaking the species making that loud  call that these birds make when communicating with each other. The next photo shows a pilated woodpecker on a large tree in my front yard.  Many sportsmen have been hunting coyotes with varying degrees of sucess in the Grand Lake area and across New Brunswick. We have found coyotes very hard to call in with any consistancy and most times we will set up a bait to watch,hoping their hunger and curiosity will get the better of them and cause them to come to the bait during daylight hours.Some hunters will call at a bait using howls and barks rather than prey calls. I had a close encounter with a large dog while sitting at the computer writing this blog. I heard a ski-doo out on the river and when I looked out I saw a coyote run up onto the island as the machine passed by. After the ski-doo carried on up the river,the coyote must have seen the duck decoy I have set up with its wings beating furiously in the afternoon wind.He immediately trotted across the ice towards the decoy but when he spotted the house he veered off and hit the shore and took off up a trail through the woods. If I had been a little more prepared,I wouldn't have had much of a problem to pick him off.That's the thing about coyotes,you have to be set up and ready to take the shot because they are quite shy and won't stand around too long if they sense anything wrong,especially the mature ones. Nova Scotia has implemented a bounty on coyotes and this seems to be working very well in knocking the coyote numbers down in that province. This system must be ongoing each year or else their numbers will rebound quickly. I can guarantee you,if you go after these critters every year,eventually their numbers will be low enough their impact on the deer herd will be negligible. This is what we should be striving for as sportsmen.We are never going to eliminate them but we can certainly manage their numbers to allow our deer herd to expand,especially in the northern half of the province.
Finally,I had mentioned in a previous blog about acquiring a magnificent painting done by the late Moses Weaver.The painting hung in a smoke filled room for many years,so I had it cleaned and brought back to its original state. I am very happy with the results and I will hang this great painting in my living room for now but I will sell it at some point in the future. Moseys paintings and carvings are becoming harder and harder to find because many of the works he did went to the U.S. Visiting American sports who were guided by Moses often took paintings and carvings with them when they returned back home and Moseys grandson,Sheldon told me that the bulk of his artistic work is scattered across the States,so I feel very lucky to have acquired this piece. This painting was done with acrylic enamel on hardboard. Moses also custom made his own frames and the end result was a large folio of two bull elk fighting in a meadow.If you look can see a hunter approaching in the background and I like to think Mosey painted himself into the picture. I say this because the hunter is wearing a brown stetson hat and Mosey got a new one every year. The painting is quite large at twenty-four inches by forty-eight inches.The following photos show the painting and the signature Moses used on his paintings. I will be selling this painting for $2800 and I will offer it to the Weaver family first,since they have been gathering up as much of Moseys work as they can find in recent years. I hope my readers enjoy this mid-winter blog and be sure to give Ken or myself a call or send me an e-mail if you are looking for a day out in the Grand Lake area.We have lots to offer outdoor enthusiasts in our scenic location. Until then,this is Dale Bauer saying 'Happy Trails to You,Until we meet again!


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