Thursday, April 5, 2012

In Pursuit Of Salmo Salar

Angling the day away has it's rewards.  Getting out there makes me feel alive and I love the reflection I go through for days after.  Having a long week end adds a substantially heightened emotion because you can lock into a location and have the time to figure out what is needed for success.  I have also stayed at some very high quality lodges where your every need is taken care of and you and your guide spend the day on private water.  These trips to places like Toms Brook on the Restigouche, Camp Brule, Salmon Lodge and others have been memorable indeed.  A week during the fall season in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia can be spectacular.

The most number of days that I have fished Salmon  in a row has been ten.  I spent these days on some of the most important rivers in Quebec and for a number of those days the locations were legendary.  The rivers included York, Dartmouth, Grande Cascapedia and Matapedia.  If these were the only rivers available to me in the world I could be happy.

Right now there are a number of us who have booked into lodges, won the lotteries for water access on the rivers in Quebec or are using the vast access to public water that is available all through Eastern Canada.  The dates are locked and extending a trip means working with  public pools, seventy two and forty eight hour draws.  The first thing to do, no matter what you have booked now, is to create an information pack of every name, address and phone number that would have relevance.   I have been on more than one adventure when something happens and you must shift gears.  Torrential rains that had trees flowing down the Miramachi, in New Brunswick, once moved my week to Quebec where the rain caused the fishing to explode. You can watch the river flow for a while and go home or move quickly and save the week.  Over time, we all make friends and associates.  That list can be your personal life saver.

When I travel to a certain destination my equipment and fly selection is carefully prepared for the conditions that are expected.  I wait until the last two days before leaving to check the river flow and up coming weather.  I make phone calls to find out the exact situation and then set my gear to match what I have learned.  Then, I pack everything else in a separate bag as you just never know what might be needed.   Extra rods, reels, lines, flies, leaders and cloths.  Rods and reels break and lines wear out.  Having extra gear can save time and money.

Not all trips need to be planned far in advance.  Some of the most memorable have been a reaction to favorable conditions during the shoulder times of the year.  I once called Ron McWhirter, at Camp Brule during September, and being an honest camp owner he said I should not come.  "There are fish in every pool and they are not taking well at all".  I noticed that a reasonable rain was forecast for the next day and decided to go for a three day spur of the moment trip. Fish in every pool is all I needed to hear along with a change in weather.   I was guided on public water of the Petite Cascapedia by Ron's son, Andrew, where we were able to land two fish each day.  I fished both wet and dry fly and had a great time as the freshet had made the fish active.  I was lucky to have read the conditions correctly and just as important is the skill to read the conditions in the opposite direction and not go.  This of course is no easy task.  That time on the Marimachi when the trees were flowing in the chocolate brown current could have been switched from home had I had the proper system in place to know what was expected.

Of course having the ability to make these kind of decisions takes many years of experience as well as the knowledge of many rivers.  Keeping every bit of information written as well as photos of each trip will help you maintain a library.  I scan the old photos to have in my computer and have draws filled with pamphlets and maps.    A great source for information has been the back issues of the Atlantic Salmon Journal.  I have the entire collection back to the very first issue.  The people and conditions change but the basic information that gives you the ability to make decisions does not.

So, this season In Persuit Of Salmo Salar, save and savor the experience as if it were history.  You are building your own personal experience that will give you the ability to make a switch if needed.


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