On the Cains


On the Cains is the story of the Cains River: its fish, fishing pools, camps and lodges, and the men who spent their lives fishing, guiding and outfitting on its waters. (read more below)

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The Cains River is the largest tributary of the Southwest Miramichi. The fishing and history of The Cains and Miramichi Rivers is inseparably linked. In many ways it was the development of week-long Cains River float trips by outfitter W. Harry Allen and his extended family of Wades and Allens that started things off at the turn of the 20th century. This is true for not only the Cains, but also the Miramichi area around the famous Black Brook.

On the Cains is the story of the Cains River: its fish, fishing pools, camps and lodges, and the men who spent their lives fishing, guiding and outfitting on its waters. There is more too, chapters on how, when and where to fish the Cains, flies to use, and what modern day outfitters provide fishing opportunities on the Cains.

On the Cains is filled with historic material, and boasts approximately 400 different photographs and illustrations, most of which have never been published. You’ll even get an in depth look through the private camp logbook of Seabury Stanton, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, hard fisherman, and important friend to the local people. Stanton’s notes describing over 30 years of the river’s best fishing – 1938 to 1970 – are fascinating.

In addition to the fishing, On the Cains discusses the history of the river itself from its geological structure, use by the aboriginal populations, and settlement history by both the French and English. We trace the ownership of the principle salmon pools on the river from the original Crown grants down to the current day. Many of the pools are illustrated in the book with drone photography, and illustrations by NY artist John Rice depict the routes down the Cains used for over a hundred years by guides like Charlie Wade, John Brophy, and Gary Colford.

The author, Brad Burns, is well-known in both Atlantic salmon and striped bass fly fishing circles. In 1995 Brad wrote his first book, The LLBean Fly Fishing for Striped Bass Handbook. The book is still highly regarded by saltwater fly fishermen. On the Cains: Atlantic Salmon and Sea Run Brook Trout on the Miramichi’s Greatest Tributary will be Brad’s fourth book.

In 2014 Brad wrote the very well received book Closing the Season which is still available through this website. In many ways On the Cains takes up the story where Closing the Season left off. In this latest book you will find a more in depth history of many of the fishing pools, outfitters, and personalities that are also referenced in Closing the Season. Copies of Closing the Season can be purchased at a 50% discount if acquired at the same time as orders are placed for On the Cains.


“Since On the Cains arrived here, I have been there with you, and enjoying the hell out of it. What a fine job you have done!. You have a rare ability to transform statistics, which can be boring, into lively conversational form and thereby, making essentially overwhelming material into very enjoyable reading.
What an incredible amount of research you have done. How did you ever keep it all organized so you could find what you wanted once you started writing? I’m impressed. And what a colorful history it is. Makes me want to turn back the calendar a hundred years and see it then.”      Jerome “Jerry” Robinson Author and Bird Dog Expert

“Three quarters through “On The Cains” What a magnum Opus, a colossal amount of research. Those first poor souls who had to try to make a go of it up there didn’t have a prayer. A short growing season, no roads, no railroad even if they did raise a crop to ship. It’s a good thing they could turn to guiding “sports” to make a living, because I don’t think you can make a living off the land unless you can sell ice and snow. After they harvested all the big timber, there probably was not much left other than for firewood. You probably need 16 cord of wood to get through the heating season. That’s one tough place to make a living! BUT A GREAT READ! ”                                Kent Mohnkern Yarmouth, ME

“Finished your Cains masterpiece last night. So much research and documenting can only come from the heart. I wish I met you 50 years ago. You are so much a part of what you’ve written; I was in your shadow through some of the text; I lived there in real time. Thank you so much for bringing all that history forward for so many to appreciate and enjoy.”
Marc Cabot co-owner Cabot Hosiery Mill “Darn Tough Socks”

“Brad Burns has written a beautiful tribute to a magnificent river and its undaunted inhabitants. This is an instant classic that will be fawned over a century from now.”

Monte Burke, Forbes Magazine writer and NY Times best-selling author

“Among my best childhood memories are trips with my father to secret spots on his beloved Cains River. Brad Burns’ immersive exploration of this treasured tributary awakens bygone voices, unravels current mysteries and weaves a compelling narrative sure to elicit a new generation of unforgettable adventures for his readers.”

Jerry Doak, owner W.W. Doak and Sons Ltd.

“The Cains is the most important tributary on the most important Atlantic salmon river in Canada. It is a river that “gets under your skin” in a variety of ways that defy easy description. Brad Burns’s On The Cains eloquently describes the spell that is cast by this river on the hearts and souls of anglers who fish there. It is a love affair with a river, the fish that live in it, and the people who reside there.”

Topher Browne author Atlantic Salmon Magic and Spey Casting Expert

“Brad Burns is to be commended for his passion and enthusiasm for preserving the history of Atlantic salmon fishing on the Cains and Miramichi Rivers. On the Cains brought me back to the days I spent at Wade’s Fishing Lodge with my father Herb Wade, and my grandfather Charlie Wade. These memories now will be kept alive for future generations thanks to Brad. The legacy left by Charlie and Herb Wade will not be forgotten.”

Dr. David Wade

“The Cains River is a very important tributary of the Miramichi, and with it’s cold water seeps it will continue to be an important river for salmon and brook trout into the future as we face the challenges of global warming. Brad does a wonderful job of describing the river, its pools, the fish and man’s historic and present-day pursuits of fishing for them. This is an important reference for anyone wanting to fish or know more about this great river.”

Mark Hambrook President Miramichi Salmon Associatioin

“Usually overshadowed by the mighty Miramichi, Brad Burns gives the Cains its rightful place as a storied salmon river in this thorough and enjoyable history. An absolute pleasure to read.”

Ben Carmichael Fly Fishing Blogger and Environmental Writer

Additional information

Weight 2.3 lbs
Dimensions 9.9 × 8.3 × 0.9 in

224 pages


Burns Fly Fishing (2015)