Tuesday, October 29, 2013


    The weather has turned a little colder here at home on Salmon River and the grey days of November are fast approaching. The salmon fishing is pretty much done and it's time to put the boats and gear away for another year. This is a busy time of the year for us. Putting boats up and storing gear, rods and all the related equipment The seasons overlap for a short time in the spring and fall and it just seems there is hardly enough time to get geared up for the hunting but we always seem to manage.
    The 2013 salmon season was certainly an improvement over last season. It was a  good year for the salmon because they had lots of water but the catching was very trying for most of the season. The water stayed high for most of the season and when we did get good fishable water, we were fishing over stale fish that were black as a boot especially towards the end of summer and into the fall. These fish that have been in the system for some time are very hard to catch. This can prove exasperating for guides and sports alike but if you fish salmon you know what the deal is on these great fish. I had the pleasure of  fishing with Malcolm McCormack for a day on the Cains River this fall and I asked him if he ever got mad at the salmon and he said yes but only for a moment. I told Mac I once got so mad at these finicky salmon that I quit fishing them for ten years! I still fished spring salmon but I snubbed the brights just as they had snubbed my feathery offerings. After a test of wills that lasted ten years I finally gave in to the salmon and was drawn back to its waters. The thrill that this fish provides when you do hook one is not easily forgotten. I guess that must be the reason I started fishing them again because they proved to me once more this fall that they haven't changed their ways. The following photo is one of Malcolm and his lady friend Elva S.
 I really enjoyed my day out with Malcolm on the Cains River. The fishing was tough but Mac's stories of his years on the river and the many sports he guided staved off any boredom that threatened to slip in. One story that I found quite interesting was the crippled lady whose husband had a lodge at the mouth of the Sabbies River that Malcolm guided for a few years. He said she had to be carried in and out of the boat and special arrangements were made if she had to do her business. He said it was a tough job at times but she was a good sport and loved to fish and by all accounts she did quite well, hooking many salmon and trout on her outings with Malcolm. The next photo is one of Malcolm and Donna A. fishing the stretch of water in front of his families camps.
 We fished hard that day and there were fish showing everywhere but they were being very fussy about taking a fly. Three of us fished everything we had in the box but we didn't find a taker. I usually try to fish smaller flies over these dark fish especially when the water is at a normal level but even then you want to have some luck on your side if you expect to feel a tug. As I said,
we fished all day and never hooked a fish but after two or three hours Tommy K. of Blackville stopped in for a visit and said he thought he would fish a bit before going partridge hunting. I almost said he would be better off chasing birds but I bit my tongue. I'm glad I did. Tommy made about three casts and hooked a salmon right where all three of us had been fishing for hours. That's salmon fishing for you! It was great that someone hooked a fish and provided some entertainment for a time. Tommy landed the fish and released it quickly and was up over the hill and on his way bird hunting in two shakes of a dogs tail and never let on. I hope his luck held out while he was hunting partridge. The next photo shows Tommy landing his salmon.
 Although we finished the day fishless, I thoroughly enjoyed my outing with Mac and Elva and I told Malcolm that I wanted him to come and visit me sometime and I would take him out  on Salmon River and try for some pickerel.
    Mac told me he had never fished for pickerel and he wanted to know what flies to bring. I told him to just bring his salmon rod and I would have some flies he could try. I explained that big bushy dry flies worked well in the summer but at this time of year when things are cooling off,  it would be like fishing for salmon with bombers at this time. You might hook one but the odds were against it. I told Malcolm I would have a spin-cast outfit with the necessary hardware for back-up so we were good to go.
    We took a short boat ride from my place and pulled into a cove and I cut the motor and slowly paddled in towards where the weed beds should have been. I say "should" because the high water had flooded the area since the last time I was out. I told Mac that this would make the fishing a little tougher because the fish would be scattered and harder to target but we would probably hook a few. Malcolm tried his salmon rod for a bit but wasn't having too much luck so I said let me try the salmon outfit and he could try the spin-cast. I made a couple of casts with that big orange dry fly and a pickerel rocketed right out of the water and swallowed that fly! I could hardly believe it! I could see that Malcolm was getting excited after seeing the way that fish took and it wasn't long before he landed his first pickerel.
 We fished away and I told Mac some of the local history of the area and we continued to hook fish over the course of a couple of hours. Malcolm caught three or four and I caught a few so we did quite well under probably the worst conditions for fishing pickerel. That's one thing about pickerel fishing-you can usually hook a few if you are persistent. Here is another photo of Mac landing one.
 I got a kick out of fishing pickerel with Malcolm. He really likes to fish and he commented to me that it was as much fun catching pickerel as it was catching a grilse. That's something coming from a dyed-in-the-wool salmon fisherman! I told Mac he would have to come back next summer when the fishing slows down for salmon during the dog days of summer because that's when the fishing is best for pickerel. He said he would be back again for another round next summer and I'm looking forward to getting out with him again.
    The moose hunt went well for those lucky enough to draw a tag this year. The weather co-operated for the most part and although the kill was 3331 moose,  down by 216 animals overall from last season, it was still the second highest tally historically. Unfortunately, none of our crowd drew a tag so we were shut out but there were still some nice bulls shot in our area. The number of moose registered in Chipman was down slightly this year but there was still a good tally at over fifty animals. I didn't get any photos of local moose this year but I did scavenge a couple of photos from a hunting forum of two monster bulls taken in zone 6 in the northern part of the province. The first photo is of a tremendous bull with over thirty points and a 66 in. spread. It scored over 200 B&C points.
 The next bull was taken in the same zone although in a different area. This bull was also over 60 in. also
 I believe this bull scored less than the other because it had a weaker left side but it was still a true New Brunswick trophy bull moose. Our moose herd is doing well and the numbers are holding steady and increasing in some zones. One alarm bell that has been raised is the number of young moose taken by bears recently due to an increase in their numbers. The number of bear sightings and encounters has risen dramatically the last year or two due to rising bear numbers and less non-resident hunters coming from the south. There is certainly no shortage of bears around our area and they are becoming pests in many areas by tearing camps apart and hauling off garbage, strewing it all over and making a big mess. Most residents don't bother hunting bear because they don't like the prospect of eating one, so many times they get passed over in favor of other species. Non-residents are advised to choose their outfitter and guides carefully because some areas have been pounded quite hard over the last few years and while there may be good numbers of bears around,  there may be few trophy sized bruins left. It is getting quite expensive to bait and hunt bears now because of the price of fuel. It makes it harder to travel farther in search of those big boys that most hunters want. We are lucky in that regard because if you look at a map you will see our hunting area borders large tracts comprising thousands of acres of wilderness that hold many trophy sized bears. Nearly every bait site we have seems to have at least one old boar over 300 lbs. and many times there will be an old female that is the same size. I don't have any recent trail cam photos because the bears have destroyed a few expensive cameras on us but if you look back at previous posts you can see the calibre of animals we have in our area.
    The duck hunt was a bit of a disappointment this year because of the high water flooding the meadows but Jamie and Dallas managed to get a dozen or so ducks with their group on the first day. In conditions such as these the flooded meadows don't grow duck food like they usually do and this causes the ducks to come inland to feed in beaver ponds and small marshes where the food has a chance to grow. I follow reports from the Grand Lake area and lower Saint John River and the information was the same across the board. Poor shooting and fewer ducks in the bigger meadows. This situation has improved with the colder weather getting some migrating ducks moving in. A couple of hunters who frequent Grand Lake Meadows said they have had their best hunts in the last week with new birds coming in ahead of the cold front dropping down from the north.
    As predicted, the grouse numbers seem to be down a bit this year. Many hunters are seeing birds but they are flushing wild. This is indicative of older, more wary birds rather than young of the year dumb ones. The spring nesting season for grouse was wet and cold so this could be a factor as to why there may be be less birds around. Some hunters seem to be getting more spruce grouse than birch and the only guess I can make is the habitat they use had offered more protection during the critical nesting period. The hunting should get a bit better now with the leaf cover pretty much gone. For some reason, woodcock numbers seem to be good this year and the flight birds are here in abundance. If you have a good dog now is the time to be hunting them.
    The rifle hunt for white-tails starts this week and all indicators hint at higher deer numbers this year. This should make it a little easier to find a deer with hard horns to harvest. I say "should" but we all know how tricky those bucks can be. In our area of the four lakes district we are definitely seeing more deer than in the previous half dozen years. Ken and the boys are all set up and ready to go after some nice bucks that have been spotted the last few months. A lot of this early pre-rut hunting is simply setting the stage for the rut when those big boys get running around chasing does with their tongues hanging out. That's when our crew gets real serious about hunting big bucks and it has paid dividends over the past several years. We have taken some nice bucks in the past if you check the photos in previous posts. As I said before, the bears have been destroying our cams on a regular basis so I don't have any pictures for this post but we are watching several nice bucks in our hunting area. The next photo shows a great New Brunswick buck that was taken in the southeast by an archer that has hunted this buck for a few years now. I don't know of any greater accomplishment than taking a trophy buck with archery gear and this hunter did it in spades. This 11 pt. dressed out at 240 lbs.
Wild turkeys have been at the forefront in hunting news with several new chapters being formed in New Brunswick. This is good news for all hunters in the province and the sooner the government recognizes the fact that these birds are here to stay the sooner we will have a season. The numbers I have heard bantered about is around 1000 birds in the province. An old friend of mine has been releasing birds for about ten years now and we have thriving flocks all around the Grand Lake area. These birds are from wild Pennsylvania stock and seem to be surviving and spreading from our observations. We are also getting birds migrating from the state of Maine. This is a good news story and many hunters are excited about the prospects of a future hunt for wild gobblers here in New Brunswick.
 This is a nice flock sunning and feeding on the side of a mud dump from a few years back in the Midlands area.
    I am finding some nice vintage pieces of outdoor related items in my travels. A lot of the stuff I pick up displays well in a man cave or camp and smaller items such as this wall pocket depicting a trout can be bought at a very reasonable price in todays market place This wall pocket is marked Japan and dates to the late 50's or early 60's.
 The next item I found is an aluminum serving tray that has been etched to depict Canadian game birds. I would date this item to the 60's.
 Finally, I am including a photo of a magazine cover from my extensive collection of vintage outdoor magazines. I collect these old magazines based on the eye appeal of the subject and the condition of the cover. I also try to buy ones that feature the date prominently so the viewer knows the age of the magazine at a glance. I thought this cover was timely since deer season has just started and most hunters would love to get a deer like this one in their sites.
 This magazine is seventy-three years old and is in great shape.
    Time has a way of slipping by quickly and before you know it spring will be here again and all the outdoor activities that go on at that time of the year will be upon us once again. If any sports would like to come and hunt or fish or sight -see with us just give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. I will personally help you arrange a visit to our beautiful part of New Brunswick. You can stay at the  Pioneer Lodge http://www.pioneer-lodge.com/ in Cumberland Bay or the Queens County Inn here in town. Visitors can also look into local rentals or bring your own lodging with you. I always recommend staying at the Pioneer Lodge because of the great atmosphere and the world class food served up by Barb Neumann. I can help you plan any visit to our area according to your budget and your wants. This will ensure your visit will be a happy, successful and safe one.
    This is Dale Bauer saying " Happy Trails to You.....Until we Meet Again!"


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