This month being August, we can usually expect to get some hot, muggy weather with low water conditions in our streams and rivers. Not so this year. If anything, this August has been the opposite of a " normal " year. The weather was cool this month with enough rain to keep the local streams and brooks from getting to their summer low. This is good news for most species of fish especially cold water species like salmon and trout because this is usually the time of year when they suffer with warm water conditions. This month has seen a series of raises in the water levels in the Miramichi River and her tributaries, as well as the northern salmon rivers. Salmon fishermen should be jumping for joy but instead many are once again lamenting a lack of fish and poor fishing in our salmon rivers. This is a very serious situation and the outfitters must be feeling the pinch. News travels fast these days and sports won't book trips if the conditions are poor. They will go elsewhere or not at all but you can bet they are doing their homework before they spend upwards of $1000 per day to fish for Atlantic Salmon in New Brunswick or elsewhere, for that matter. I'm sure most of the outfitters were hoping for a good summer with lots of fish after the disastrous spring season. This summer is proving to be very slow for all participants of this " sport of kings ",from fishermen to guides and outfitters to fly shop owners, they are all singing the same tune. No fish....to speak of. One prominent outfitter on the Miramichi has been bantering about a radical solution to the poor numbers of Atlantic salmon returning to that watershed. His ideas have been met with mixed reviews on some forums, probably because it is a departure from traditional thinking but sometimes that's what it takes to make something work. This is a very complex issue but I do believe that science and lovers of the sport will prevail at the end of the day.
Every year at the start of fishing season for bright salmon I re-stock my fly box with some flies that have been lost or abused and this year I decided I should visit an old acquaintance from Minto. Being born and raised in Minto, I first started buying flies from Fred Dufour who ran a general store on the Ridge Road. The flies I bought from Freddie were the ones that came tied on a leader and were mounted on a cardboard strip. I loved to go with Dad when he got our order each week and I could always manage to pick up a fly or two to use on my favorite trout stream which happened to be a short walk from home. Grizzly Kings, Coachman, Royal Coachman, Parmacheane Belle, Montreal and Red Ibis were all part of my repertoire when stalking trout. After having great success with a small bucktail that looked very similar to a black nosed dace that I wore completely out, I decided to visit Ralph Goodwin to see if he could duplicate the fly. Ralph lived handy to Newcastle Stream in North Minto and tied flies out of a small shop beside his home. I was just a kid and Ralph wasn't much older but he tied me up some nice flies and I became a satisfied customer. Ralph has been fishing salmon and tying up a storm ever since those early days of my boyhood. Ralph is both an expert tier and salmon fisherman and his expertise has been noticed by the Ledges Inn in Doaktown and Ralph has been guiding and tying for them for the last few years. Ralph has tied a few originals with great success. The Belly Dancer and the Mintonian are two of Ralphs patterns that he developed over the years. I hadn't seen Ralph in years but he still remembered me. After catching up on what we had been doing lately, I started picking out some flies that Ralph had on hand. The next photo shows Ralph at home in his shop.
Although the salmon fishing is off this year, Salmon River was very good this month for both pickerel and white perch. We had some great fishing for white perch this year and I think a person could still get enough for a feed. They seemed to stick around longer this year, for some reason. The water in Salmon River has been unusually high this summer and as I write this it is about 2.5 ft. above normal. That can sometimes make for some hard fishing conditions when pursuing pickerel. We use our standard set-up to start out but if it gets tough, we have a couple of tricks that will usually get us some fish. Pickerel are such fierce predators that they can usually be coaxed into taking something.
We were happy to once again have Sgt. Ryan Cains come down from CFB Gagetown on New Brunswick Day to fish with us. This is the third year he has fished with us on New Brunswick Day and what a day he had! My son Curt loaded the boat up and they headed up river to a couple of hot spots and they caught a lot of fish. Sgt. Cains said it was his best day of fishing-ever! Curt told me that they landed twenty or so pickerel and lost that many again. He said it started a little slow but then they really started hammering it. This is a photo of Sgt. Cains landing a nice pickerel.