Miramichi Report Mid-Winter 2017


Looking downriver at Keenan’s on the left and Campbell’s across the river. Jan. 2017


Smelt shacks Bowdoinham, Maine

As you can see by the pictures it is mid-winter on the Miramichi and my home in Maine. The amount of snow and temperatures have been more or less in line with the long-term average, but with the active storm pattern there have been several periods of really cold temperatures broken by warm spells.  This sort of unremarkable weather has had the benefit of not creating any big raises of water, and that is good for keeping down bank erosion and washing out the salmon redds.  There were decent numbers of fish in the Miramichi last fall, and we can justifiably hope for good spawning results.

It does in fact feel good to be able to say that it is mid-winter. We are now only 90 days away from the start of the spring salmon fishery, and only 120 days away from the time when the first bright fish will arrive in the Miramichi.  I hope you are getting ready!

I’ve been through my tackle, cleaned lines and ordered a replacement or two, cleaned metal surfaces of reels and rods with a toothbrush and WD40, lubed the reels, and waxed the rod surfaces. I’ve sorted through my flies, and made a tying list which I’m only partially through.  I’ve got trips to the River Naver in Scotland during March and the Varzuga River in Russia at the end of May.  These trips have given me a few excuses to tie some additional tube fly patterns.  It is amazing how universal the black, red, and orange colors of the Willie Gunn fly pattern are in the salmon world.  I think that I would feel quite confident on any salmon river at any time with just an assortment of WGs – though of course I will have many more flies with me.


The Willie Gunn Salmon Fly

There are a number of events coming up that will also help make the rest of the winter fly by. Among these are The Fly Fishing shows.  I usually stop by the Stripers Forever booth at the Marlboro, MA show, and I spend 3 full days working at their booth during the Somerset, NJ show.  This is a really big one, and has just about everything under the sun when it comes to fly-fishing.  Atlantic salmon fishing is well represented there with booths by outfitters from all across the salmon’s North Atlantic range, as well as tackle retailers, fly tiers, and folks who deal in the books, art and antiquities that salmon lore is steeped in.  I always come back from Somerset with a bag full of goodies and some fresh ideas for the new season.

Perhaps the watershed moment of the winter season for me is the Burlington, MA dinner and auction that will be held by the Miramichi Salmon Assoc. in 2017 on Saturday February 4. The MSA was founded by members of the recreational fishing community to rid the river of the commercial fishery – particularly the nets – that were strangling the fish.  Thanks to those efforts the Miramichi has gone from what was perceived as a grilse river to one with a very healthy percentage of large salmon.

It is my belief that we are in the midst of an important transition in the salmon conservation world. The folks who founded the MSA back in the 50s are mostly gone now, and their children aren’t getting any younger.  Salmon fishing has gone from catch and cook to catch and release, as the salmon are forced to cope with their various problems – almost entirely caused by us.  The MSA continues today to do an important job of watching out for our river and its fish.  The dinner in February is the major fund raising event held in America.  It is also a great and important time in the salmon calendar.  One of my friends called last night and talked about how much he enjoys this evening each year.  The atmosphere of the entire event oozes Miramichi salmon culture.  Many of the lodge owners are there along with some of the top guides and most hard-bitten fishermen.  There are flies, art, fishing trips etc etc to bid on and old relationships to maintain.  I have a whole set of acquaintances that I usually see once a year at this dinner.  If you love Atlantic salmon and live in North America, this dinner should be on your must attend list.

To get your tickets here is everything that you need to know:

The 63rd Annual Boston Dinner to support MSA will be held Saturday, February 4th, 2017 at the Burlington Marriott, Burlington, MA.

This year the Boston Dinner is honouring our very own Director and Past Chairman Vince Swazey so we hope many of you can join us to pay tribute to this very special man. Dinner tickets are $175 each or $325 per couple. Please order your tickets by contacting Kate Flanagan at kate@miramichisalmon.ca or 506.622.4000; or Linda Guild at msa@guildassoc.com or 781.397.8870.

I hope very much to see you there.

Brad Burns







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