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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