Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Four Days On Glen Emma

At 7:45 on the morning of June 25, 2006,  I arrived at the Glenn Emma Camp on the Matapedia River on the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. I drew #54 in the November lottery and picked the four days allowed. During my first visit to the Matapedia in 1980 I had the great fortune to get that certain feeling of the valley. There was something that called me back year after year, and now I understand why.

At 9:15 I had been through Angus Pool and already raised six fish, hooked two and landed a fifteen pound rocket. The one that got away Tarponed out of the tail of the pool, jump after jump straight down through the rapid below, deep into my backing and then my line went limp. This was the best hour and fifteen minutes of Salar I had experienced in many years.  My memory of that morning is stitched to my forehead as if I can see through a third eye.

The rotation rules at Glenn Emma are a wee bit complicated to understand at first. You can be in line for the best or something not quite the best. I hit the jackpot.

Glenn Emma fishes ten pools per session with one rod per pool.  If you land a fish in the morning session, you can not fish that pool for the evening and must move in a set rotation. A bit upset, yet not complaining, I was moved to sector 5 for the evening hours. My mind was on what I lost and not what I could gain. During the afternoon the sport in Milnikek Pool, the greatest of all pools on the river, made his limit. Now the person in sector 4 was called on the walkie talkie to move on down to Milnikek. As that angler made his final catch at 7:30, I could now move down into the famed waters. I landed my second and limit fish for the day after about 10 casts. A dime bright twelve pound fish. Now I get it, and I full well expected what was to come.

On day two my natural rotation was to sector 4, as I did not hook a fish there the day before. The highlight of this zone, is a great pool called Elm Tree. Spectacular ledge water with deep pockets and runs. We saw only one fish and could not get it to take. Again there was the calling of the radio in a French machine gun like voice, Milnikek, Milnikek, Milnikek is open. We slid on down.

That afternoon in this incredible water I raised more salmon than I had in the last ten years. I have fished on some of the best waters of the Gaspe, but nothing has been as magical as the waters set before me for these few days. By 8pm I was at my three fish limit with a bright beauty of 20+ pounds. We released her from the grip of a size 6 hybrid Black Dose. I slept well.

The next morning my natural rotation placed me in, yes that's right, Milnikek Pool. The weather was very different that day and the barometer was keeping the fish down. I had my chances to dries and wets all morning without a hook up. The rain fell hard and muddied the waters up stream out of the Causapscal, the Matapedia's main tributary and home to the largest fish the system holds.

The second half to the day found the river settled and clear yet started very slowly. Not until my trusted guide Guy Raymond said “the black dose" at exactly 8pm. Polling into expert position and pointing to the exact location of experience Guy said, "right there". One cast into the slick where Milnikek Stream enters the pool and we were fast to the largest fish of the trip. Twenty minutes of fight and we released a 25 pound beauty.

My fourth and final day was on a pool called Kennedy. Natural rotation, got it now.  A very long pool with different aspects of fast and slow water top to bottom. I managed to raise a few fish as well as bungle a take to an orange bomber. This was a no emergency day with little pressure. A day I simply enjoyed the fishing and the memories of the six fish that came before. I also wonder if my luck, possibly exhausted, will ever call me back to Milnikek.  Make sure you get your November 1 draw tickets for Glenn Emma.  I don't think the chances are very good to get three days on Milnikek but I would be happy for just one on Angus.

Right now the Matapedia is dancing in my head.  This is a Salmon fishers Salmon river at it's best and should be on every one's bucket list.  Go now!!!! The run is on.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hat's Off On North Conway's Saco River

The Saco River should be a destination for any angler who wants to have a complete New England fly casting experience.  My first visit was in the summer of 1973.  It's really simple.   This is New Hampshire's Beverkill, Battenkill and Ausable in the minds eye of a fly casters dream.  The beginnings of fly fishing in New England can be felt by those who what to experience the lore of the river.  She flows crystal from the Presidential Mountain Range for some 134 miles to enter the Atlantic at Saco, Maine.

I saw many very large browns cruising one of the pools I fished.  Some locations had only brook trout in the ten inch range but what they lack in size is made up in quantity.  They traveled in packs.  Yesterday was a very hard fishing day as the barometric pressure and higher than desired flow made for a hatch free day.  To say activity was low would be an understatement.  The highlight for this time of year is the spinner fall late in the day.  No hatch means no spinners.  I did manage three good browns and five brookies all on Light Cahill Wood Duck Emergers.  They had to be twitched and slowly stripped just under the surface.

You can walk the entire two and a half miles of the fly fishing controlled section to see all pools.  The land is private and locals ask for our civil awareness to keep the area clean.  The area is shadowed by the White Mountains and has the look and feel of the great outdoors at it's best.

By itself, New Hampshire does a fine job with stocking the river as the indigenous brook trout can not compete with angling pressure.   The added bonus is the tradition and understanding in North Conway that the health of the river, as a fishing and canoeing waterway, is vital.  The state gives permission for a controlled stocking in addition to it's investment.

 Bill Thompson, the owner of North Country Anglers writes, "In what has become an annual rite of spring the members of Saco Valley Anglers Trout Unlimited have once again stocked the Saco River with trout. Saco Valley Anglers have been doing this for over twenty-five years. The annual event came about do to the efforts of two of the founding members of the trout club Dick Surette and Dick Stewart. Dick Surette was always fond of saying: “Most clubs stock trout in private ponds for the exclusive use of their members, our club puts trout in public water so that anyone may fish for them”. The stocked fish are in addition to the trout stocked by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. The trout are paid for by funds raised by club members at their annual auction." 

If you are fishing Saco for the first time, I suggest you hire a guide.  You can also make part of the day going to the Ellis River for some quality rainbow fishing.  If you want the best of the fishing, you will not want to spend your time searching. 

The one thing that is hard to deal with is the canoe and kayak hatch.  This river is more heavily traveled as we get closer to July especially on week ends .  If you want to go, go now!


If you want to know more about the Saco then please Email me at flyspoke@gmail.com

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Let It Rain, Dear Lord, Let It Rain

Yesterday, I made the trip to a favorite river in central New Hampshire.  This being my fourth attempt this year, I arrived to find the river was not stocked and looking as low as I have ever seen in early June.  Every place I go the water is seriously down and very warm and feels like the middle of July.  I changed location and did manage a reasonable day releasing 15 rainbows from the Pemigewasset.  All stocked fish and straight from the hatchery right down the road that fell for olive leaches and wood duck flies.

The Pemi is the main flow that feeds into the Merrimack River.  Early in it's history the Pemi was a thriving Atlantic Salmon run.  I sometimes catch myself feeling sorry for not having the opportunity to have been there then.  Salmon and Shad traveled the Merrimack to Franklin where the Winnipesaukee River enters.  At this point all the Shad went up the Winni and all the salmon continued up the Pemi.  With the headwaters high up in the White Mountains, the river flows through some of the most rugged land New Hampshire has to offer.  The area I fish, in Bristol, is boulder laden and not the easiest to navigate.   This is also the home of the state record rainbow at 14 pounds.

Right now, without wanting to travel into the North Country or North Woods your best bet for trout is on the Pemigewasset.  This vast area will hold many anglers and does have a substantial quantity of fish.  Native and stocked Brook Trout as well as stocked rainbows are available. Who knows, you may even hook into that eighteen pound Atlantic Salmon broodstock that was put in this spring.

So back to the rain.  Hopefully today we are seeing a bit of a change in the weather.  The rain is falling hard right now and the temperatures look like they will be lower for the next week.  We need to have some substantial precipitation in order to get things back to normal for the season.