An old fishing friend, Jim Lukens, and I went spring fishing on the Miramichi for three days this last week. After a rough start with very high, ice-filled water that made the river essentially unfishable for the first week or so of the season, spring fishing has been fairly good. In fact on the way home we stopped at WW Doaks where Jerry told us that one party that has been coming for many years said that this year was among the best catches that they have had…
Our own experiences weren’t nearly as good as that, but they weren’t bad either. It did seem this year that those who were willing to troll did much better than the boats that were anchored and casting. We witnessed that first hand. Maybe it has always been the case, but it has seemed to me that in other years we caught fish on a par with folks who were trolling near us. In any case I was very glad to see that the fish were there to be caught.
The catches came from up and down the river. I stopped by Keith Wilson’s in Mcnamee on the way home Friday, and found that he was very happy with the fishing. Keith was busily taking reservations on the phone while he had a fishing couple sitting in his office who were checking in for the weekend. Byron Coughlin of Country Haven was busy too, and we saw his guides out all over the river in the vicinity of Blackville. One CH guide that Jason Curtis knew told us early on Thursday afternoon they had already hooked 14 salmon, though quite a few of them had gotten off. Another said that they had landed 7 on Wednesday morning alone. It was good to see a lot of happy people. Now if we could just have an uptick in the salmon returns this year I think there would be a lot more smiling faces. There is some good reason to hope for it as we hear that the capelin population is on a bit of an uptick, and the improved catches – even though outside of their agreement to limit catches – of the Greenland fishery may herald better returns for 2019 than we have been recently experiencing.
The progress of spring this year on the Miramichi seems a bit confusing. This is the first time I have been there in May when there were no swallows flying around the field at Campbell’s, and when there were no peepers in our pond. The peepers, though, started after the warm afternoon on Wednesday, and this morning as we got ready to leave there were freshly arrived tree swallows checking out the nesting boxes.
Usually, too, we see lots of deer day and night in the fields between our camp and Anderson’s. This year, though, I saw only one deer crossing the driveway. Jason Curtis said the local deer had a reasonable winter, and that the fields contained many of them up until a couple of days before we arrived. As they eventually do every year, when the time is right, they just melt back into the woods.
As I walked out the door to leave camp this morning I noted that the daffodils in our little garden were only about an inch out of the ground. I’m sure that will change quickly now, and when I get back up in about 2 ½ weeks I expect that the foliage will be starting to open up and spring will be very evident.
For those of you who knew Wade’s Fishing Lodge and stayed there, I sadly report that the dining room caved in this year from ice and snow. The cabins and dining area really haven’t been used for some years now, and if they aren’t past the point of no return they are beginning to look it.
Here is a little collection of photos I took on the trip. If you click on a photo it will enlarge and the focus will be much better.
Thanks Brad. As I think of July, my Polyanna streak is working. Your report helps.
Your report is like a breath of fresh air, Brad, and nice to see those famous names again. Regards to Jason C.
Henry – I know that most of the Scots just shake their heads with a level of disapproval at angling for kelts, but as you know it is a very long winter along the Miramichi. Even though it was May there was a frost every morning I was there. For guys like Jason Curtis and Eddie Colford – head guide at the Black Brook Salmon Club – this is a chance to start to enjoy their river again. The first bright fish historically begin to run the NW Miramichi is just a couple of weeks. It won’t be long now. Brad
Yes I get that with the ‘black salmon’, Brad. It is undeniably part of Miramichi culture. Certainly it is a valuable indicator of both the state of the river and let’s face, it, salmon stocks. Looking forward to news of the fresh’uns of course, as we all are. I go again 3 weeks tomorrow this side of the Atlantic. That’s the river Nith, and two of our rods had three springers of 12lb, 12lb and 15lb between them a couple of weeks ago, so fish in the river.
Have trips in both June and August, both times a gamble, but we take what is available…and hope for rain……in August……always a good time no matter what happens, as you well know…..my 30 something year on the river,wouldn’t swap it for anything……
Thanks for the comment Mac. One of my observations for my relatively few 17 years on the river are that the June fishing the last few years is actually a bit more dependable then it was for a while in the early 2000s. Even though the runs were bigger then we had several Junes when it was very hard to find any fish at all. Recent Junes seem to consistently have some nice fish. There aren’t necessarily a lot as in 2011, but last year we had a some level of action on virtually every trip after about the 12th of June. I just love fishing the river in June, and if you connect with fish they will be the finest of the season.
Nice report Brad as always but though i would point out that the Fishermen in the Tracker Boat His name is Mike Price from Weston MA He started fishing for spring salmon on the Miramichi in 1962 & has been returning every spring since For Many years a guest at Tom Boyds fishing lodge then Black Rapids & the last 15 years with us at Country Haven So much traditions among so many of these spring salmon fishermen most of them in 50 years have never even tried summer or fall fishing but love nothing more than the Spring on the Miramichi .
Brad, I was celebrating my 70th birthday at Country Haven this year on the 25th April, I managed to boat my limit of 10 salmon, my best day ever on the Miramichi. A great birthday for sure and many thanks to my ghillie and friend Darrell Warren for putting up with me again. Bunny flies rule!!!!!
Thanks for the comment Bill. It is indeed nice to see some good spring fishing this year. Next year, god willing, will be my 70th, and it will come two days after the end of the 2020 season. Thanks for the flies!