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 Post subject: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 9:18 am 
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Joined: December 3rd, 2001, 1:00 am
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Location: N44.88305* W68.67206*
Just got back from my annual trip to Canada – here’s the story.

The Plan

My objective was to drive the North Shore of the St. Lawrence, en route to NE Canada, and do some whale watching & scouting for kayak access points along the “Whale Trail” - once I got to my destination north of there, I would board the northern-most train line in eastern North America, which is also owned by 3 local Indian tribes and get off between the last 2 stops, with my kayak – from there I would paddle across a large lake and head 30 or so miles up a large tributary, explore 12 tributaries of that river and assess the fishing potential of the area.

How It Went

Even though the trip was pretty rigorous, it was like a Royal Caribbean cruise compared to last summer’s trip, just because I was paddling a fast, comfortable, durable kayak that allowed me to transport my gear without humping it around on my back - it went better than I could have hoped – I knew the train ride would be a special feature and it ended up being one of the best features because of the amazing people I met – that part will be the topic of its own post…
I spent my first nite in the woods in a local’s camp and crossed the lake early the next morning – I picked off a couple of pike on the way across – when I got to the mouth of the river, called Upeshteshkau Shakaikan in Innu, I noticed a sow bear and her cub cruising the beach – as I paddled up to them they scurried upstream then came out on shore to cross the river right in the center of some rapids – the sow made it across OK but the cub got swept down thru the rapids – he was hollering like crazy for his mother – finally, he was able to make his way across he was greeted by his anxious mother and they headed off into the bush when they saw me again – the trip was off to a good start!
I know of 3 or 4 canoe trips that have occurred on this river and 2 of them explored 2 of the tributaries – other than that only a handful of locals spent any time up there – about 2 miles up I found a defunct weather observation station inside a primitive log structure & about 10 miles up I found an abandoned camp – according to the camp log it was last visited in April of 2016 – I couldn’t figure out much else because all the entries were in French or Innu – at the far point of my paddling, at the base of some big rapids I found a campsite that was used by one of the canoe trips, along with an intricately carved walking stick planted in a pile of rox at the base of the rapids – those were the only signs I saw of human activity up there – no other humans were seen for 10 days – I was on 1 map quad for the whole trip and only 2 bodies of water on the whole map had names, the river I was on and the lake I crossed – every time I turned up one of those tributaries, to borrow the words of Plutarch, “I was in a land without a footprint, where I was the only living soul…” – and up those tributaries I found some wondrous sights – unmapped, unnamed waterfalls and deep, dark pools where the fish had never seen a fly before – about 25 miles up river I came into an extensive burn area, at least 500 square miles – the landscape took on a stark majesty that was other-worldly – suddenly I went from northern boreal forest to sub-arctic tundra – I could go up on a mountain top and seen every feature of every hill for dozens of miles in every direction, it was truly awesome – I spent 2 days at the base of the “Great White Rapids” and hiked 4 or 5 miles further up into the watershed, where I found the best tributary of the trip. On my way back down stream I stayed at the abandoned camp and re-visited “Trib 2” – I explored all the tribs on foot, so I prolly hiked 30 miles or so during the course of the trip – when I got back to the big lake I was a day ahead of schedule so I did some poking around and think I may have found an archaeological site – found what appears to be worked chert stones – stand by for confirmation – the last 2 nites I was in the woods I stayed at the camp I was in the first nite – I devoted my last day to systematically going over the lake and trying to figure out where pike hang out and how to catch them. The next day the train was 2 hours late again, which up there, is apparently right on time…each year, 2 weeks after I head up there, I head back over the same road thru the same scenery, but I’m always a different person when I come back – that wilderness is a truly transformative place…the ride home was pleasant & uneventful.

The Fishing

Since the big lake, the main stem river and the lower ends of all the tribs were fully colonized by pike, the trout fishing in those areas was negligible – all of the tribs contained at least some trout but only 2 of the 12 I explored had any notably good trout fishing and even those trout were not big by local standards – 16 or 17” were the biggest brookies I got on the 2 best tribs – on most of the tribs, the brookies, no matter the size, were exceptionally gorgeous, slab sided, hump-backed beauties – on the other few, the brookies were identical to Maine small brook trout. The pike fishing, on the other hand was outstanding – the largest one I landed was 38”, at least my second biggest measured pike - unfortunately I wasn’t able to gain any notable insights into catching them other than they seem to prefer chartreuse to red – as long as I was fishing bouldery drop-offs it didn’t seem to matter if I was in the middle of the lake or around the edges or whether I was on the windward or leeward sides of islands- generally speaking, where there was one, there were more – at one spot, I caught 5 pike on 10 casts – about 5 pm my last day on the lake I declared my last cast and headed toward the camp in front of a storm – I had landed only 3 pike that day up till then – as I passed the shoal where I got my first pike of the trip, I decided to stop for a few casts – an hour and a half later, I had landed 6 pike and my arm was about worn out so that’s when I called it for the trip… For the most part I only used 3 flies, all in size 4 – a Marabou Mega Mickey for pike and a Royal Wulff and an Orange Marabou Muddler for brookies – I used an 8’ leader tapered down to 0X – I couldn’t recommend the trip based solely on the fishing, but overall it was a fabulous outing…

The Gear

Old Town Castine Kayak – this was the star of the trip – fast, durable, light and roomy – the only other kayak I would prefer for this trip would be an Old Town Adventure XL – about a foot longer and a few more amenities.

Waders – my wife got sick of hearing me bitch about how no waders fit me, so for father’s day she got me a pair of Aquaz waders from CustomFitWaders.com – they performed well – they’re light weight and fit well.

Rod – my 9’, 4wt Orvis Clearwater rod performed beautifully until I broke it – then my Cabelas Stowaway 6 piece, 8’-4” (2” short because I broke that one too) 4wt rod, came off the bench and finished the trip in great form.

Reel – my newish Reddington Zero reel – it’s a large arbor, C&P reel that is lighter than any LA reel I know of – it handled the trip very well but the clicker is a bit noisy – I’ll be working on that…

GoPro – very early in the trip the GoPro turned itself on in my jacket pocket several times and wasted 2 batteries, so I didn’t get much video…

Wading jacket – my LL Bean Pac-Lite wading jacket performed very well – it’s got a few quirks but it kept me dry and warm…

Damage/Loss/Injury Report

Simms Rock Creek wading boots and my Eureka Zeus tent reached the end of their useful lives on this trip -they served me well and didn’t owe me anything when they expired – R.I.P.

Orvis Clearwater Rod – tip was snapped during a dicey launch from a ledge into fast water – thank goodness for the Orvis warranty.

Impaled finger with sz 4 muddler – while I was scouting the mouth of a trib for a campsite with my rod in hand, I slid down a steep bank and when my rod butt hit the ground, my hand slid down the rod and I got the muddler right into the meatiest part of my right ring finger – weird thing is, the hook was thru the hook keeper before it went into my finger, so my rod was essentially hooked to my finger – with my left hand, I managed to cut the leader, shave the head off the muddler, remove the fly from the hook keeper and extract the hook using the “loop of line” method.

3 punctures in waders – fixed nicely with Loon Products UV wader sealant – that stuff has saved my butt several times!

All in all, a pretty low-incident trip.

Some Numbers

Miles driven: 1783 – fewest in many years
Travel time: 21 hrs up, 24 hrs back
Train travel miles: 144 – round trip
Maximum train speed: 31 mph
Gallons of fuel burned: vegetable oil – 107 diesel fuel – 4.64
Costs: Diesel – 14.58, Fishing license & magazine 17.62, train tickets – 172.92 (kayak freight was 3/4 of the expense) gift for camp owner – 15.20, Rod repair – approx. 50.00, Total: $270.32 USD

And now for some humor (I’m almost done):

First some genuine Newfy humor… A financier from Toronto got fed up with the rat race in the city and decided to split from the program, buy a camp in the remotest area of Labrador he could find and spend the rest of his days fishing. On his first day out on the river, this guy comes paddling from upstream and the following conversation ensues:
“Hey, what are you doing here?!”
“Oh, I live about 5 miles up river and would like to welcome you to the neighborhood”
“OK”
“And it just so happens there’s a party going on tonite and you’re invited”
“Yeah?”
“Yeah – there’s going to be lots of drinkin, then there might be some fightin, then there’s going to be sex!”
“Wow! That sounds great! Who’s going to be there?”
“You and me…”

And one from Stephen Wright – “Last week I took a road trip to Canada – when I pulled into Canadian customs, the officer asked me “do you have any guns with you?” – I said, “Well…what do you need?””

Thanks for listening!

“Why would I want to go someplace where someone else has already been?” Roald Amundsen


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 9:20 am 
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Location: N44.88305* W68.67206*
A few more pics...


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 9:22 am 
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Location: N44.88305* W68.67206*
And a few more...


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 9:23 am 
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Location: N44.88305* W68.67206*
Just 2 more...


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 9:50 am 
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Joined: September 28th, 2003, 12:00 am
Posts: 2616
Brian,
As always have been and always will be great TR. Sounds like it was a great trip. Followed your movements by “All is well” nightly updates. One thing that has been baffling me. You went up the river, then you came back down the river the next night. Then back up higher the next day Then to your outpost for a few. Couldn’t understand the drop- back. Anyway as always obviously a great time.

Ron

Any salmon?

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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of something that is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 5:51 pm 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2001, 1:00 am
Posts: 3312
Location: Vassalboro, Maine
Once again, the #1 T.R. of the year! Good pictures-both in your post and in my mind of what I "saw" in your report. It occurs to me...what do you do for food?

Hutch

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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 8:06 pm 
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Joined: September 28th, 2003, 12:00 am
Posts: 2616
"what do you do for food?"
Innu UBER Delivery "Its the best in the bush."

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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of something that is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

Sir John Buchan


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2018, 9:09 pm 
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Joined: August 28th, 2002, 12:00 am
Posts: 1348
Location: Standish, ME
WOW - just plain WOW! There was NO good reason to miss the Don Lynch Floatilla - but this was damn legit. You sir, are legend!


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 4th, 2018, 6:32 am 
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Joined: April 1st, 2010, 10:35 am
Posts: 291
Location: flatland and Vienna Me.
Fantastic report, you take it to the limit every trip!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 4th, 2018, 6:35 am 
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Joined: February 14th, 2007, 1:00 am
Posts: 1362
Location: New Hampshire
Very nice! I have been waiting for this one and it didn’t disappoint.

Glad ur home safe and sound.

38” pike on a 4wt.... ha!

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"Fishermen...spending their lives in the fields and woods...are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation." - Thoreau


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 4th, 2018, 7:06 am 
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Joined: October 29th, 2007, 12:00 am
Posts: 413
Location: Vassalboro Me. USA
Wow..
That is some awesome country Brian and some fine fish
Thanks for a great report

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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 4th, 2018, 2:11 pm 
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Joined: May 11th, 2010, 12:11 pm
Posts: 427
Location: Maine
Brian, when I was a youngster, I couldn't wait to read "Field & Stream"; now-a-days, I can't wait to read your exciting trip reports.

In my youth, for eight summers, I was a Maine guide and wilderness trip leader. Rather than just doing the Allagash, St. Croix, Moose River, Penobscot, etc, I wish, like you, I had explored some of the remote parts of Canada. Even though it was thrilling for me to discover unblemished back wood's beaver dams, often filled with hungry brookies...and find both historic (logging era) and prehistoric (indigenous) antiquities, that was all small scale, compared to your discoveries.

Brian, you have definitely taken wilderness tripping to another exciting level...certainly, if you ever decide to...book worthy or film worthy.

Not sure what you are using for a camera, but I don't think I have ever seen more colorful brook trout.

Thank you, Sir, for another exciting trip report; I am already looking forward to your next one!


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 4th, 2018, 9:01 pm 
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Joined: May 9th, 2004, 12:00 am
Posts: 22
Location: Southwest Harbor
Always look forward to this report, and it never disappoints.


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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 4th, 2018, 9:51 pm 
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Joined: December 3rd, 2001, 1:00 am
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Location: N44.88305* W68.67206*
Thanks guys!
Ron - I figured you might be scrutinizing my movements - I think the issue you noticed was when I sent out a message before the end of the day just to mark my furthest progress up into the watershed, although the next day I made it a few miles further...
Hutch - I eat nothing memorable - granola & coffee for breakfast, GORP & snack bars during the day & tuna & ramen for supper.
Woods Special - speaking of movies, keep an eye out for my follow-up report on the people I met on this trip - they really made it special & unique...
Tight Lines!

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 Post subject: Re: Canada T/R
PostPosted: September 5th, 2018, 12:39 pm 
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Joined: May 8th, 2011, 8:20 pm
Posts: 115
As others have said, I have come to really look forward to this trip report. Epic stuff. I saw the subject line and author and couldn't wait to sit down to lunch for a good read. You really have a way of taking the reader to the places you've been to and give them a feel for the experience. And I get a kick out of the way you describe the experience, like Forrest Gump (in the best possible way) meets Jeremiah Johnson. Ha!


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