While staying at Country Haven Lodge Henry and I were joined by James and Jonathan Paterson who drove up from New York to fish with us. James and Jonathan have fished all over the world with me, and I was looking forward to spending some time with them on the river bank,along with the harsh banter and ribbing that would take place as well! Jonathan had caught a lovely fish on arrival of about 22 lbs on a bomber, and risen another on the dry fly as well. James and Jonathan also chose to fish with their 14′ 9# rods and actually found it remarkable easy to cast the bombers on them, so it just goes to show.
We left the lodge that morning by boat from directly in front of the lodge with Jeremy and Ken Vickers who would be our guides for the day. Jeremy and Ken are third generation guides on the river and have spent their whole lives fishing it, guiding on it, hunting on it and leading the life of a riverman. After a short run of maybe 15 minutes or so we arrived at Crawford pool, a lovely run that we would fish from both sides. On arrival fish were moving everywhere, and at one point I counted four jumping within 30 seconds. Needless to say that does not mean you are going to catch one, but it does mean there are fish in the pool in greater numbers meaning your chances of hooking a taking fish are very much increased. Today I followed the Patersons’ example and fished with a two handed 14′ 9# rod.
On the second run down James hooked a lively grilse of about 5 lbs that was particularly acrobatic on the dry fly, so honour was restored and Jonathan could not give him quite as much grief as before. Some fish had been jumping just above the rapids that we had been fishing below, and being the adventurous sort of character that I am…. ahem…. I decided to put a wet fly on and wade above and see what I could tempt. On the third cast I hooked a good fish that attacked the small green butt Black Bear as it came careering across the V of the pool above… but needless to say I failed to hang onto it. After the deep disappointment and the obvious vocal sympathies and abuse of those I were fishing with it was time to head back to the lodge for some fantastic home cooking.
Normally in the afternoon everyone takes a break, has a sleep or relaxes before going out again at about 4 pm. However all of us had developed a serious taste for the Canadian Coffee know as Tim Horton’s. Henry had been mentally drinking their French Vanilla Cappuchino all morning, so as we were intending to visit the Miramichi Salmon Museum and Doak’s Fishing Tackle in Doaktown we made a little expedition to appease the craving. I know it sounds daft, but it really is that good!
For the evening session we split up again, and Henry and I headed off to Shelley’s pool with Jeremy. This time I insisted that Jeremy fish as well to increase our chances, and as anyone knows the best way to learn is to watch the guide fish his home water as they invariably catch something. This was to be no exception. Shelley’s is a little further up river than Ted William’s pool, but below the Orr pool. Having walked down the bank we were again greeted with a simply stunning piece of fly water. A lovely glassy stretch punctuated by some delicious looking riffles created by nicely space boulders producing some lovely lies. There was hardly a breath of wind and the evening was warm and calm. As I fished down Jeremy came in behind me and began fishing. He was throwing a long line at 45 degrees, but fishing with a small brown Bomber. The fly would fish for a couple of feet on the dead drift before he would pick it up, move down and recast all in the same movement. After no more than 10 casts there was a bulge out in the current, the rod shot up in the air as he struck, and the fish launched itself into the air. A lovely grilse of again about 5 lbs. He was quite dark and beginning to develop a kype, or “Hook Bill” as they call it over there.
I started fishing again, and fish were showing across the pool including a fish of 25 – 30lbs that tried to jump but could not lift its vast bulk out of the water and end up waking like a submarine. I persisted with the Bomber as I REALLY wanted to catch a fish on dry. It may not be as successful as wetfly, but it is incredibly exciting. Jeremy hooked another fish, a little large this time so I went down and played net man for him. At least Henry had something to take some piccies off as I was failing to produce the goods! Another fascinating day on this huge watershed, and time to head home for dinner. Barbecued steak tonight…