Friday, February 26, 2010

An Angry Lamprey

I went over to check out the Lamprey after the big rain. I'm standing
over the gauge that is reading 3460cfs. The river will fish well at

Sent from my IPhone

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Fly Tying Tip 102

When buying natural materials have a magnifying glass with you so that you can look at the very tips of hair and feathers.  There are great differences in material quality.  Learn to recognize the best.  You will save money and produce better quality flies.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Salmon River

I spent the last three days on the Salmon River in Pulaski New York.  There is so much to love about this river and at the same time you can find a lot that is a bit too gritty.

The history is just amazing as the namesake of the Salmon River is the mighty Atlantic Salmon.  At one time this was a very productive fishery with great quantities of Salmon being netted for commercial value.  The fish never went beyond the boundaries of Lake Ontario.  At some point, Alewives were allowed introduction to the Great Lakes.  The Alewives have thiaminase, that when eaten adult female fish, cause the newly hatched Salmon to have a high mortality rate.  It is recorded that thousands of fish were taken in single nights in the pools close to the town of Pulaski.  Today the Atlantic Salmon is making a comeback from eggs from the Penobscot River in Maine.  Fish as large as sixteen pounds have be angled and the runs are getting larger.

I have fished this gem from the past a number of times.  Mostly during the winter floating from pool to pool by drift boat and bottom bouncing with  nymphs and egg imitations.  On this occasion we went to give a go at winter swinging with two hand rods, larger marabou and bunny leach style files and foot warmers in our boots.

As conditions were not very good, we suffered the fate of winter and did not land a fish.  A few takes and one decent fish I had on for about thirty seconds until my barb free hook fell out.

We found fishing pressure to be light for the most part.  I did see a number of fish taken by the spin boys and center pins bottoming egg sacks down through Schoolhouse Pool in Altmar.

In March we will fish the creeks and then in April, as the fish are making their way back to the lake, it will be back to the Salmon.  This becomes a much better time to swing as the water temperatures start to raise and the fish get more active.


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Friday, February 19, 2010

Ricky Took The Benz

A number of years ago when I was younger and stronger, I booked a week of floating the upper public pools on the Matapedia River in Quebec. The photo is of Cullen's Rock Pool taken on that journey. My favorite time to be there is on Ste Jean de Baptiste celebration day, June 24.

The reason for this is simple. The last week of June represents the end of the doldrums between the first run in late May and the start of the quantity season. Also the night before there is a great party and the locals want to sleep late for some reason. Fish of all sizes from very large to Grilse, one sea winter salmon, will run under normal water conditions. It is also a time before the warmer days of July are dominant.

First, you must get the 400 pound, 26 foot Gaspe Boat up the river. This is made simple if you have the correct trailer. As no motors are legal above the Saint-Alexis-de-Matap├ędia bridge, the pick and poll method is the means of travel and direction.

On this particular day Ricky Gray, my competent guide, and I were running the river in segments. We needed to stop and drive the car ahead of our river travels. Not the easiest or best way to do this but sometimes you do what you must to have that certain dream experience.

Well, it was time to get the car. Ricky had never driven a Mercedes Benz and for that matter I had never polled a Gaspe Boat. So Ricky went for the Benz and I was to move the boat down to the next pool. Ricky asked, "Are You Sure? He wasn't confirming my willingness to let him drive my car.

I now can tell you for absolute certainty that your guide works harder than hard for his money. Polling a 26 foot canoe down a moving salmon river in late June is as hard as anything I have ever done. When I realized that things were not going well it was just too late to turn back.

I almost lost the poll twice, once to the point of snapping it and vaulting me out of the boat as the current continued. My hands were starting to bleed, the boat was picking up speed and the only thing I could think of was to drop the killick in mid current. The good part was that the water was not deep and Ricky managed to walk out into the river and pull me to safety.

Conclusion: I'm happy that Ricky had fun driving the Benz and I promised myself that I would never try to poll again. Treat your guide well. They are not paid a great deal of money for the service provided.


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feels Like The First Time

When I placed a post on the Maine Fly Fish Forum about having an informal get together with fellow two hand casting anglers, my intention was to do just that. I did mention that all skills were welcome and I would have some rods with set ups available to try.

I was really happy with the way things turned out. Five forum members did show up to give two hand casting a try. None had ever held a two hand rod before.

The writing was on the wall, the answer was as plain as the nose on my face, the Pope is a Catholic, something about bears and I was going to be the instructor. Perfect!!!

I started out with a brief history of traditional Spey, Skagit and Scandi casting giving a demonstration of each style and a number of different casts. I had my rods with me and set them up with the different lines.

I did my best to have each angler learn and preform a few different casts. By the time we finished all were able to make circle casts, double Spey and Perry poke. One in the group was comfortable with the Wombat cast. All were proficient enough to fish from river right or left and be successful. All would be fine casters if we spent a full day on the river together.

I hope the forum five were happy with their teacher. I learned so much in having this experience and came away with a very positive feeling. I do hope that it will not be the last time I do this.


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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Road Ends At Meat Cove

Q. A question from B.

I found your blog today through and thought I'd drop a line.
Being from Western Massachusetts, I fly fish the Westfield and Swift for stocked rainbows mostly.
I went last year, for the first time, to Pittsburg NH for three days - great time in mid June.
I'm a frequent contributor on the Massachusetts Anglers forum under the name xoxo.

This year my wife and I plan to visit Prince Edward Island. I noticed some of your photos were of the Margaree on Cape Breton. I wonder if you've had any experience fishing PEI and what advice you might offer? I've heard there's a salmon run in June, and plenty of speckled trout (brookies) some of them sea run.

All suggestions are welcome.

On a side note, back in the early 60's the folks who introduced me to fly fishing took me to the Gaspe a couple of times. We fished two ponds reclaimed for brook trout - called the Falls Gully Fish and Game - some where north of New Richmond. We had a great time - and were told as we crossed the Cascapedia and Bonaventure they held great salmon - though we never got to fish for them. Your slide show brought back some memories.

Thanks for your reply. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tight lines and best regards

A. My e-mail reply

Thank you so much for your e mail. You have some great rivers in western Massachusetts to fish. I do love the Deerfield, Swift and Millers.

I have fished on PEI during July and the fish were running. The principal river on the island is the Morrel. There are other rivers there that have regular fall runs. The Morrel is a very small stream and you are fishing in the bushes most of the time. They say if you are not leaving flies in the shurbs you are not fishing correctly. The salmon will come out from under overhanging branches to take your fly. There are a few places that do look like traditional runs.

The best person to talk with is Dwayne Miller who can be reached through ( Dwayne knows his island and knows Cape Breton very well. He can be hired as a guide and that would not be a bad idea. If you go to the Nova Scotia Fishing Forum or he posts as Salmonchaser. If you speak with him please do mention me and my blog.

In the 60's when you traveled to the Grande, Bonnie and Petite the rivers were completely private. I have fished out of one of the Vanderbilt properties that owned the entire Petite Cascapedia at that time. I will be on Gaspe starting in late May, late June as well as some time in July. We two hand cast the rivers and travel as much as possible by Gaspe canoe.

The best piece of advise I can offer, is to take your wife around the Cabot Trail and get out and hike on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Go to Meat Cove. Stay in Beddeck and enjoy the mussels. I now go to the Margaree valley every fall and absolutely love the place. It is the closest I can get to the my Scottish Highlands without crossing the pond.

Have a great trip,


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Monday, February 8, 2010

I Shall De-Barb

Today, I am paying a bill to my local hospital. We already know all the usual reasons for fishing barb-less, but this payment has given me the impedes to create a new fly tying doctrine.

When I felt the hook sink deep as possible into my finger I just felt so stupid. Here I was sitting at my fly tying bench bending down and picking up a hook off the floor. Nothing unusual, but this time the hook was stuck in the rug and then solidly deep into me. The little voice of prayer said "oh please be one of the ones I pinched. Please just slide out. Oh please!" No, no such luck.

I pushed and I pulled and I spun it in all sorts of directions but could not extricate myself form the size 14 light wire micro barb. If anyone is wondering, they really do hold well.

So now I have a set of fly tying commandments. Rules that are set in stone for my safety and the safety of my family. Say them with me.
  1. I shall purchase hooks without barbs as much as possible.
  2. I shall have only one hook out of a container at any time.
  3. I shall immediately pinch the barb off any hook I take out.
  4. I shall keep all dressed flies safely in containers and fly boxes.
  5. I shall do a magnet patrol after every fly tying session.
I have had to remove hooks from myself four times and my dog once over the last forty years. He gave a tooth to my fly fishing obsession.

I will gladly trade a few lost fish for safety at home and safety in the field. It's the smallest biggest thing I can do. Consider the bill paid.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Quebec The Beautiful

Q. A question from K
I saw your post about fishing for Atlantic Salmon in Quebec.

Is a guide required when fishing the Gaspe like York River.
I would like to do a trip up there in August...never been there before, any info is much appreciated...places to stay etc.

A. My e-mail reply
For all of Quebec a guide is not required. That said, if you are not experienced in an area, I highly recommend the use of a guide for a part of your trip. Do you speak French?

August can be a very tricky month for fishing at the tip of Gaspe where the York, Dartmouth and St. Jean rivers are located. These are June-July rivers and can be very hot and low by that time. In August you can have very good sight casting with dry flies. The best person to talk with is Anne Smith from Quebec Sporting if you what a quality guide experience for reasonable cost. As lodging in motels for these areas are easy to come by, I might play it by ear. I have taken ten days and started at the tip of Gaspe and worked back to Matapedia.

The fishing there is run by a Z.E.C. (Zone of Enveriornmental Control) There is open public and 48 hour draw water available through the Z.E.C.

A good second choice for the beginning of August, I go every year, is to River Matane and Matapedia. The Matane has a late run that is moving in July with the best being the first two weeks of August. It is 50 miles of public pools that are very accessible. They call the Matane the " The Salmon Fishing School"

The Hotel Metropole is located in the heart of the river at pool 28 that is called Petite Matane. If Matane is not in good shape the Matapedia with lots of public water is available 45 minutes away. Great Dry fly fishing as the sun goes low behind the hills.

Low end cost with river access, lodging and food will be about $150.00 per day.

I have paid as much as $1000.00 per day for guided private water.

When you get closer to making a decision, and done some research, let me know what you are thinking. We can narrow down to the equipment and flies you will want.

All the very best,

Monday, February 1, 2010

On Friday, February 5th, I will be at Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop as one of a number of fly tiers. The purpose of this get together is to make flies that will be donated and used by a great organization called Casting For Recovery.

Also, I am personally asking for fly-a-thon donations on the number of flies that I will tie for the two hour period between 5pm and 7pm. After all, how many can I whip up in such a short period of time. Please send an e-mail to( with your per fly commitment. All donations will be given directly to CFR.

I'm really happy to be a small part of this program and thank the good people at Eldredge Bros. for the forum.


Climate And Atlantic Salmon

For a few years I have been watching the data collected on the climate of the North Atlantic Ocean and the relationship to my favorite angling experience. I know I have touched on this before but feel the subject needed further explanation.

As each of my precious Salmon seasons have passed there have been so many reasons talked about for the deterioration of the species. I have heard about ice bergs, dams, pollution, seals, sea lice, netting, Catch & Release, catching too many, logging, fish farming and on and on and on..........

In my opinion, there is no greater threat to many species on earth than Climate Change. Without getting political and looking for a reason why, I would like to examine two scientific calculations that prove difficult to disregard. After all, there has always been Climate Change.

North Atlantic Oscillation(NAO) The charting of this scale is used as a yearly, month to month condition in the surface climate of the North Atlantic Ocean. There are great fluctuations in the current NAO grapf. Please note from this graph that we have experienced a substantial negative condition starting in October of this year. For Atlantic Salmon, cod and other cold water species negative is a good thing. This has accounted for the extreme cold conditions that have been experienced in Europe this winter. Also note that the graph position today is almost neutral. Where the current condition goes will make prediction of what the abundance and size of Atlantic Salmon for the 2010 season an easy task. A negative season in NAO equals greater abundance and size due to food availability. Currently Scotland is experiencing three times the number of rod angled salmon than the ten year historical average on the River Tay. This is the earliest open season for Salmon in the world and started on January 11.

Atlantic Multidecatil Oscillation(AMO) This longer term measurement is used by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) to have a forty year average change in the NAO. This is the true scientific calculation for what has happened to the King of Fish over time. The overall gradient change is warming.

My Conclusions

1. Salmon abundance is a year to year calculation
2. Salmon abundance is a decade to decade calculation
3. The AMO indicates a warming trend over the last forty years
4. Salmon stocks have declined over the last forty years
5. The NAO had a negative average position over the last five years
6. Negative NAO improves the food source for Atlantic Salmon
7. Salmon stocks have improved over the last five years
8. The NAO has been in a negative position from October 2009
9. I'm feeling pretty good about the 2010 season
10. I'm not hopeful about the future

As I write this I can't help but feel that I have lived through the time of our greatest decline. Any sportsmen knows that there is a change in the air. I plan to make a difference today.

Please let me know what you think of this post.