It was also a great winter for ice fishing on the back coves. Grand Lake proper was a bit of a hazard for travelling on this winter but there were fishermen that did very well. At least one group of fishermen had Great Luck on a lake that shall remain nameless and were getting multiple catches of several different species. The next photo shows some of the fish they caught. The biggest burbot that was caught by these fishermen was 30 inches and weighed 8 lbs. That's a lot of good eating right there! Note the bulging bellies on the bigger burbot. Also, the landlocked salmon is very healthy looking and has a nice bright sheen to it. The fish at the bottom of the photo are whitefish.
The bite was much better at the start of the season. Later on, the average size of the fish shrunk quite dramatically and the bite also died off. This can be attributed to fishermen keeping fish, especially the bigger ones. There's nothing wrong with keeping a fish or two for a feed during the season but when fishermen start keeping all the bigger fish each time they go out, the numbers and the size of the fish caught goes south. You see, it's just simple math. In any given body of water there are a finite number of fish occupying that space, The more you take out, the less you have. This is even more pronounced in the winter months on smaller ponds such as Mill Pond. This next photo shows one fisherman's catch laying on the ice up on the pond. When I asked him why he kept so many nice fish he said because he wanted to have a feed. He must have been planning on eating for a few days! Fishermen with this mentality are also quick to point out they are within their legal limit. They are also the first to moan and groan about how poor the fishing is. Go figure! Here is a photo of those pickerel. The largest was around 25 inches. Fishermen must learn to become more conservation minded with even the so-called "rough" or "coarse" fish. It takes many years to grow a two foot long pickerel but the fun is over forever after it's killed.
We have been patiently waiting for the April 15th opener and as usual we will be fishing black salmon on the Miramichi River. The minimal snow pack this year may lead to lower water conditions. This could make travelling by boat difficult at best. Personally, I like lower water at the start of the fishing season because it concentrates the fish in the deeper runs. Some of the best fishing can be had during these water conditions. We usually adapt our techniques for fishing this kind of water by either planning on a float trip so we don't have to use the motor very often or by picking a stretch that will allow for a limited amount of motoring to avoid wrecking props. The trick is to pick a stretch that holds good amounts of fish. It really helps to know the river and having previous experience fishing in low water conditions. It really isn't much fun for guides who have to weigh the safety of their clients against getting into good fishing areas. Believe me, I have had lots of experience fishing black salmon in high water while keeping an eye out for large sheets of ice that have the potential to sink your boat. I don't take any chances in these conditions. No fish in the world is worth risking life and limb over. This next photo shows me with a nice black salmon taken a few years back