Monday, September 20, 2010

Salmon Are Like A Box Of Chocolates

I'm back far too quickly from the long week ends trip.  The colors are changing, the temperature is down and the river is just full of salmon this year.  Every major holding pool has fish in the upper river.  The lower pools are not doing well at all.  Seems like the heat and low water of August pushed the fish that would stay in the lower pools higher up river.  As the season gets closer to spawning time new fish will arrive and some will drop back to the place of their birth.

The Matapedia is a Salmon fishermen's river.  Understanding the conditions takes the time to learn what the possibilities will be.  In my thirty years of angling there it still can take me a little bit of time to unlock the door.  This trip was no exception.

Over the past two weeks the night time thermometer has already hit 32 and the valley has had it's first frost.  The river was reading 51 degrees in the morning and only making it to 55 degrees by the afternoon.  The dry fly fishing I fantasized about was not going to happen.  I did try but there were no takers.  The smallest fly that was working only needed to be a size six.  This was a bit larger than I expected.  The fly of choice turned out to be the orange shrimp patterns like Alley's Shrimp, Pot Belly Pig and General Practitioners.  I hooked three fish on my Orange & Black and all Orange Generals.

If you were to look at the statistics for Matapedia you would find that in a great year like this the average is 1 fish for every 4 rod days. Most years you can expect to fish for six days per salmon.  Then look at the statistics and you will see that right now the average is running one salmon for every two days.  Very good indeed.

The river will fish well right now through the close at the end of the month.  If you have any questions on the Matapedia and surrounding area please sen me an email.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Love Quebec, Matapedia Bound

So right now I should be sleeping.  No can do because I am finishing packing to go to Matapedia and possibly over to Matane if needed.   The water is up and the river is out of this August's issues of high heat and the lowest recorded river height in history.  The Matapedia turns catch and release today, the locals will be in the woods hunting and the crowds of spring and early summer are gone.

This past June and July the Matapedia had it's best start in fifty years.  The fish were large and entering the river every day.  Sadly, I missed being there due to work and family responsibilities.  So, I am going to go for three days in September.  I have had a mixed bag of September fishing in past years but what I have noticed is that when the water has been revived with rain and cool nights the fishing can be wonderful.  I have had more than one three fish days in September on a number of Quebec rivers.

There are two ways to be successful.  The first is to use very small wet flies.  Size 8-12 tied sparsely.  You make your presentation so that the fly can dangle in the current as much as possible.  I then try to twitch the fly back in very short one to two inch strips.  This style of salmon fishing can be very tedious and at the same time a killer  for fish that have been in the river for a while.

The second and my absolute favorite way to fish Salmo Salar is dry fly.  You make quick casts on short drifts.  Pick up, lay down, pick up, lay down.  Look at the river as it is a big piece of graph paper.  Cover every one foot square from bottom to top.  Make the fly pop on the water and don't be afraid to make a commotion.  Most times the fish will come up and slap the fly.  If this is happening stay with the same fly in smaller or larger sizes.  They say in Quebec that the large bomber is for attracting the fish, the small bomber is for catching the fish.

My head is spinning, my equipment is squared away, I have all new leader material, my flies are in great condition, well sorted and arranged.   Three two handers are packed and each with multiple reels and lines.  I think the timing is right and I am filled with anticipation.  I have been on more Salmon trips than I could ever remember and I still feel like a kid every time.  Wish me luck!!!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Heaven In October, They call It Margaree

For me the Margaree River on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia represents the end to my North American Atlantic Salmon season.  This is not a consolation prize.  The Margaree valley is so wonderful that just being there is magical.  The bonus of some large chrome is the cherry on top.

There is one very important factor that must be in play to make the circle complete.  A flush of water.

The river has two separate and distinctive runs each year.  There is a summer run in June and July that has been on the increase over the last few years.  These fish spread out over the entire river and receive steady angling pressure.   They will be very dark by the time October rolls around.  The fall run is made up of some very beautiful wide shoulder fish that will start to trickle during the first week of the month.  It's a nice steady increase of water that is important to this time.  I have seen the run hold off until later in low water years.

Some Margaree veterans say that you should wait as late as possible in October.  This year I am pushing the time back three days.  I have but four days to fish and want to make the best of the timing.  Most years you have a choice.  The second week of October will afford decent weather, sometimes down right perfect but there is a strong possibility that the fish don't show.  The third week the fish seem to like but the weather can snap to a winter feel over night.  I have experienced warm sun and light winds as well as snow flying sideways and the worst of conditions.  A fire and hot soup is advised.

The river is all public from the Big Intervale bridge down to the sea and offers very different challenges.  Make sure you drive up and see the area.   I bring three two hand rods.  15'/10, 13'/7 and 10'3"switch/8.  In October the rules require single hook that is barb free or pinched.  I use many different sizes of flies from size 6 to SunRay size tubes.  A big #2 Mickey Finn will do the trick on most pools.  You will want to have the color purple in some marabou collar flies and I strongly recommend the Ross Special.

I am giving this information and advise because I have never felt crowded on the Margaree.  Some of the pools can get a bit tight but there are so many places that can hold fish it is hard to cover but a few over a weeks trip.   The mix of people are the best you will find anywhere.  Please send me an e-mail should you desire any further information.  I think about the Margaree for the full twelve months waiting for the next trip. I call it  "Heaven In October"

Monday, September 6, 2010

What If?

What if?  Yea, what if you had to fish for a full year with just one fly pattern in any size needed.  What would your choice be?  I would choose the Pheasant Tail.

I have caught all sorts of fish on this fly.  Trout, Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead have all taken the pattern.  There are just so many different variations possible it seems like the choices are endless.  This photo is of some size 16's with brown hackle for legs.  I tie with burnt orange 12/0 Georgio Bennechi thread.

Frank Sawyer first tied the patter to imitate Baetis found in the chalk streams of England.  This simple and drab fly was tied using only the Pheasant tail for tail, body and wing casing with peacock hurl for the abdomen.  There was no tying thread but only fine copper wire.

For Steelhead I tie the fly on a size 8 to 12 Caddis style hook and will make the abdomen of different colors.  Chartreuse, bright blue and red will all work at different times.  Also the fly can be tied as an egg sucking Pheasant Tail.  It seems egg sucking anything will do well in Pulaski.
For Atlantic Salmon I use an up eye Salmon iron with the tail a bit longer.  Any size will work just fine depending on water conditions.  The photo is a size 6 heavy iron hook.  Try dead drifting when the fish have been in the river for a while with a size 12.  A little twitch might do the trick.

Use your imagination with this fly.  It will surprise you in all the forms it can take as well as all the different kinds of fish that will bite.