Saturday, September 17, 2011

Excitement on the Cains River

Hooper Pool-Cains River, NB

I usually fish Canada in the fall, but I decided to go up in July this season. I have a few stories to tell, but the final day of this trip was a unique one for me. The Cains is best known as a supreme river for autumn salmon. My friend Marc had some intel that a fresh run of fish was entering the river. Folks at the fly shop told us, "I dunno, it's a little early for the Cains..." We might have been foolish to continue with our plan, what with fish being caught all over the Miramichi system. Something drew us to the Cains and thank goodness it did! 

We hit the the meat of the summer grilse run in the Cains. I think we missed a lot of fish because they seemed to be tearing right through the pool, radars set to upstream. Despite all the hit and runs, I still managed to hook three fish, while rolling at least a dozen others. The water was rising, which is not good for the take, but there were so many fish coming through, we still managed to get pulls each time through the pool. There were three other anglers there and everyone caught fish that day. 

I experienced a first which, at least to me, seems like a total oddity...

I had just hooked and lost a grilse above the hot spot of the pool. The fish took a #6 Shady Lady, but spit it out while airborne. As I reached the hot spot, another grilse rose for my Shady Lady. I let the swing terminate and cast it again, throwing an upstream mend in the line to slow down the drift. This time, TWO grilse rolled on the fly! I have learned to stay calm while working a potential taker, but I could feel my heart beat a little faster when that second fish rolled. 

I let the swing finish and I rested the two grilse while I tied on my #10 Sugerman Shrimp. I cast and let the fly swing briskly through the pod of grilse. No dice...I threw it again, this time slowing down the swing. Almost immediately, a grilse leaped out of the water when the fly passed over him. A couple seconds later, a second fish rolled for the passing fly. A second after after that, a THIRD grilse rolled and then grabbed the fly! All three fish rose in different directions. My heart was really beating now! I had a fresh fish on, but seeing three fish rise in one swing almost unnerved me. Around the time the fish was hooked, it began to pour...

Fish on!

After a spirited fight, I landed the grilse and Marc snapped a picture. The fish was squirming and I wanted one more pic, just in case. Unfortunately for me, after removing the fly from his mouth, the grilse wiggled from my grasp and fell back into the river. He quickly sped off, but swam the wrong a giant crescent-shaped arc, then beached himself! A self-beaching, unhooked salmon was another first for me. We got a better pic and quickly released him. He splashed water into my face as he made his second getaway, this time successfully. 

Grilse #3 on swing-Photo shoot, take 2

From the rise of the first grilse, to the second release of the grilse that was finally hooked, I will never forget that series of events. Part of the reason I love Atlantic salmon fishing is the utter unpredictability of it. Of course, most of the time is spent NOT hooking fish. That much is very predictable, especially in North America. When one finally decides to take, damn near anything can happen. I think the mystery is what attracts me the most. 

This trip to the Cains has been on my mind lately, as I just finished tying a box of flies for a customer's upcoming first Atlantic salmon trip. He will be fishing the Cains in early October. If he experiences even a fraction of the memorable events I witnessed that day in July, I'm sure he'll be hooked for life, too. 

Cains River Fly Box - Autumn 2011

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