Fishing Friends – two friends and I just came back from three days of fishing on the Main SW Miramichi at Campbell’s and Kennan’s Pool in Blackville, New Brunswick. The short of it is that fishing was slow. We did see fish each day, but we actually hooked and rolled less fish than the week before. The difference was that this time we did put one in the net.
Kent Mohnkern, on his first ever trip Atlantic salmon fishing, was the lucky angler who fishing with guide Jason Curtis put his fly in front of what turned out to be an estimated 22 pound salmon holding on a lie right in the middle of the river. The fish rolled at that fly as well as three others before finally taking aggressively a #6 lime colored green machine tied by Blackville native Ashley Hallihan. Ashley’s green machines are clipped to an unbelievably thin profile so they track a little lower in the water column. This particular one also had a short tail of krystal flash fibers. (click on any pictures to enlarge fully)
Shortly after hookup Jason steered his Sharpe canoe to the bank and the three of us followed the salmon about 600 feet downstream before finally netting it.
I was photographing Kent whose hands were quite visibly shaking as he repeatedly muttered that he had never been connected with such a fish before. After removal of the barbless hook the big salmon rested only seconds before swimming back out into the river. What a thrill for everyone involved! Be sure to watch all of the short video above to see the great jump, and turn up the volume to hear the excitement in their voices.
While we found the fishing at Campbell’s slow, our neighbors up at Hershey’s Club a mile or so upriver had one on each of the two days that we skunked out, and three on the day that Kent got his. That’s salmon fishing, but it indicates that maybe there were a few more fish around than you could prove by us. We did see other fish each day, and Thursday afternoon we watched a fair number of grilse move through pool. These were the first grilse that we had seen in 2017, and we took it as a good sign to see a number of grilse coming like this more than a week before the first of July. There was a horrific wind that day which made casting somewhere between very tough and impossible, but still, knowing how aggressive those grilse would be, I persevered and vainly anticipated a strike on every cast.
On Monday the 19th while I was driving up from Maine Jason Curtis accompanied the Miramichi Salmon Association biologists on a trip to stock “first feeding fry” into the Cains. This is a program dear to my heart, and one that I think is quite successful. ASF regional director Nathan Wilbur and I were talking about this last weekend, and while it is anecdotal we both think the number of salmon holding during the summer in the lower sections of the Cains River – below Sabbies River – has increased in the last few years. It would be impossible to know what to attribute this to with any certainty, but removing beaver dam spawning obstacles and stocking fry in areas of low parr counts over the last 5 years has to be helping. The fry stocked now are only about an inch long, and are spawned from last fall’s wild parents captured as broodstock, spawned out, and then released. The fry are being introduced at the height of summer’s bounty, and should have an optimal chance for survival, plus they will grow totally wild. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to make a tax deductible financial contribution to this continuing effort.
Last week I reported on the odd season we were having, but as they have a way of doing things are now coming together. We found hatched turtle shells on the shore, saw a few more insects, caught a gasperaux – river herring – on a green machine, and had a pair of bluebirds settle into one of our nesting boxes that the swallows had not filled.
Water height and temperatures are normal for this time, and the forecast is for slightly below normal highs to run into the first week of July when the first big run of fish should hit the Miramichi. Let us keep our fingers crossed for good conditions.