Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Scenes from the Delaware, June 2020

H: The big D. She's never boring. Even when I'm not actively fishing, there’s always so much to see and entertain. Behind the scenes on the Delaware. A few pics and videos from the past month. My first time uploading video so bear with me re: any quality issues.

Up close and personal with newly hatched dragonflies. 😎

Close up of a newly hatched dragonfly

Deer crossing at home pool.

Found the motherlode of caddis fly casings.

Struck the caddis fly casing motherlode

I have almost as much fun observing the mayflies as I do fishing.

A March Brown takes a stroll on the NRX. The first big bug of the season besides the golden stones.

Green drakes are the fairest of them all. đŸ˜

Green drakes on the Delaware

One evening at home pool, I was just too distracted to fish. Toads were getting frisky. Males were singing their hearts out. They were swimming and splashing all around me and there was toad spawn everywhere!

Toad and toad spawn

Toad spawn at home pool.

The views never get old (East, West, Main). 

East Branch of the Delaware

Evening on the West Branch of the Delaware before the fog rolled in.

Main stem of the Delaware

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Here we go, again

H: So, it only took a Pandemic and a few months of self-isolation to get me writing again. I have to say, it feels good. My recent case of the Salar blues had me thinking about a short Atlantic salmon trip I took with a good friend 2 years ago. After almost 4 years of silence, is there anyone still out there reading this? Regardless, here we go, again....

I fish too hard. A few close friends have told me that. Never when Im trout fishing. I typically have 70 days a year on the water for that. While trout fishing, Im a woman of leisure. When dry fly fishing for trout on my home water, the Upper Delaware, I might spend a whole afternoon on the river barely making a single cast, and thats ok. 

But the 14 or so days a year I go Atlantic salmon fishing or steelhead fishing, its true. I fish too hard. I switch on like a machine, change gears, and transform into an anadromous fishing fanatic on a quest. LOL. Can you blame me? Its my pilgramage, my hajj. By machine, Im referring to the no holds barrred commitment needed to make the thousand casts sometimes required to catch these fish on the swing. I will cast and cast and cast till my stripping fingers are cut and raw. 

But there's nothing mechanical about swinging flies for atlantics or steelhead with a spey rod. Its an art as well as a science. Its like music but youre trying to feel and learn the rhythm of a river, a place in time. Anyone who has spey cast knows, when you find that rhythm, everything feels connected. You, your flyrod, line, and fly are one with the water, the air, the whole freaking universe. Seriously! Its like a flawless performance of Beethovens 9th with the Spey rod, my instrument of choice. (No, Im not on anything while writing this ;).

2 years ago, I took my friend Kat up to the GaspĂ©sie for some salmon fishing. She was scheduled to tie at the ASFI (Atlantic Salmon Fly International) in New Brunswick so we decided to fit a few days fishing in beforehand. Timing wise it was a little too early for the Bonaventure and Petite CascapĂ©dia. The water was still very cold and few fish were in the rivers. But a few days fishing is better than none. I was scheduled to drive out West the day after I returned from the ASFI with Kat so this was my only shot. 

Kat has fly fished for atlantics in Scotland, Ireland, Norway, and Iceland but this was her first trip to the GaspĂ©sie. She and I go waaayyy back. I met her 10 years ago at the Julianas Anglers Fly Fishing School and we became good friends shortly afterwards. She was one of the instructors at the School and I was a newbie. Back then, the School and the Club was very active. I recall there were 20+ women at the School the year I attended. They broke us up into groups based on experience level: the brookies, rainbows, and browns. I was a brookie, the greenest of the green. 

Kat is one of the nicest, toughest, and most independent-minded women I know. Shes a talented tyer (she ties in hand) and an accomplished angler, a true Renaissance woman. Wed traveled together for fishing before but it was always with a group. The first time was a 4-day camping trip on the Deschutes where we both caught our first West coast steelhead. The second was to the Bahamas for bonefishing but that was about 6 years ago. Passions get muted and priorities change. While I had become a somewhat hard core Spey angler, Kat had been traveling to fly tying shows abroad, squeezing in some fishing when she could.

She told me about the last time she fished for salmon. It was in Ireland. She stayed at a beautiful historical castle which served 3 gourmet meals a days and had a small salmon stream running through its property. She would fish a couple of hours on the stream during the day, but so far, shed had no luck. Dont get me wrong. Im not opposed to sleeping in castles or savoring gourmet meals. But ever since I learned to fly fish, the fishing has always come first.

The ZEC catch books, not that theyre 100 percent accurate, showed 1 fish caught on the Bonaventure since the season opened and 1 on the Petite CascapĂ©dia caught a couple of days before we arrived. I had entered us into the draw for the Grande but we were not so fortunate. With only 4 days to fish and conditions being far from ideal, I knew it would take luck, hard fishing, most likely both, to catch a salmon. To increase our chances and for Kat to see as much of the rivers as possible, we hired guides for 2 days. 

J-P Tessier searching for salmo salar on the Bonaventure

Our first day on the Bonnie was with J-P. It was cold and wet with heavy mist covering sections of the river. Great steelhead weather but not ideal conditions for trying to spot salmon from a canoe. Kat was far from optimistic about the fishing. She said to me in her best brogue, “The Irish have a saying. When the mist comes over the mountain, the salmon ne’er do bite.” In other words, you might as well head to the PubI had two grabs that day but no hookups. I think the water was still too cold to get these fish to do much more than mouth a fly.

Kat swinging flies in mist at Run-a-pit on the Bonaventure

Our second day was spent on the Petite. I’d never fished the Petite before but Kat won Sector B in the draw so we decided to take it. We spent most of the day at 1 pool. Kat was struggling with her casting but Frankie, our guide, gave her some good tips. He even let her borrow his Rage line for the rest of the trip. Once again, I had a salmon grab my fly. This time, in my excitement, I committed the dreaded trout set and it over before it even began.

Hyun casting on the Petite Cascapedia

Our third day is one I won’t soon forget, but not because of the fishing. We were renting a small chalet next to one of the Open Water access pools on the Bonnie. Kat had some work to do that morning so I walked over to the pool and made a couple of passes. It’s a popular and productive pool so it wasn’t long before I was joined by several anglers. Kat showed up just before noon. She was followed by a group of 5 anglers. One of them was a fellow classic salmon tyer headed to the ASFI, Sasha, a friend of Kat’s. Accompanying him were 3 Canadian anglers and guide, Marc LeBlanc.

I started tying flies right before my first salmon trip to GaspĂ© 5 years ago. Some of the first flies I ever attempted to tie were hairwing patterns created by Monsieur LeBlanc including the picasse. Here was the man himself—soft spoken, with twinkling blue eyes, sporting a gloriously flamboyant handlebar moustache. 

Marc LeBlanc with a box full of salmon candy

I had wanted to head upriver to sector C in the afternoon, to the place where I had those grabs but Kat looked very happy and in her element. We took over the access picnic table. Bottles of Irish whiskey and Scotch emerged from fishing packs and coolers. Canadian beer flowed freely. Kat even drove back to the chalet to get cheese, salumi, and more libations. We spent the afternoon talking, laughing, drinking, eating, and NOT fishing.

Kat and the boys at Malin

Monsieur LeBlanc was very charming and gracious, as well as a consummate flirt, LOL. He opened up his fly boxes, metal candy tins outfitted with foam, to show us his flies. Inside were beautiful and colorful candy for the salmon. He shared stories of how some of his creations came to be and gave both Kat and I our pick of flies. There were some fancier salmon flies in his boxes but my eyes were drawn to the Royal Picasse—a special tie of a very simple but brilliantly effective fishing fly. Kat chose the Out to Lunch (pictured below), a great high water fly. 

Marc LeBlanc and his Out to Lunch fly

Marc also shared memories about the early days of Quebec salmon fishing, of fishing with Lee and Joan Wulff. It wasn’t till the afternoon light turned gold and the air cooled that we finally got around to fishing. With 10+ anglers at the pool, we would each probably get 1 full pass depending on the pace of the anglers. 

As the magic hour approached, the salmon began to stir, and a couple of fish announced their presence at the tail of the pool. When magic hour arrives, a lucky angler in the right position (in this case, the pool’s tail) has a great chance of hooking a salmon. The lucky angler turned out to be Kat’s friend, Sasha. Granted he took his time going through the run, taking baby steps down to the tail. But no one really minded. We were all happy to see a salmon brought to net. I think it was the third salmon caught on the Bonnie since the season had opened.

Magic hour on the Bonaventure River

Of course that day would be Kat’s fondest memory from our trip and she has told me a few times,You fish too hard. I too enjoyed that day on the Bonnie, hanging out with the guys and meeting Monsieur LeBlanc. It’s never been only about the fishing. I enjoy every facet of being on a river including the comaraderie of fellow anglers. But if I had to choose between hooking and fighting a big beautiful fresh hen.... Hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Rainbow's End

H: Home pool is home to some of the biggest and prettiest rainbows in the Upper Delaware river (honestly, I'm not at all biased :). These past two months I've been very fortunate to catch some real beauties.

Usually I can catch them on dries through the end of October. But this fall, the releases from the Cannonsville reservoir have been so erratic that the dry fly fishing has been hit or miss, mostly miss over the weekends. I've seen the river jump from a bare bones 500 cfs to 2300 cfs in a matter of days. It's been a crazy yo-yo rollercoaster ride for these poor trout and all the other creatures that call the Upper Delaware home.

So I've gotten into the habit of taking my trout spey rod down to the river, along with my dry fly rod, to swing streamers. It's turned out to be a successful tactic. I can cover large amounts of water (my home water is pretty big) and when the releases are especially large, I've been using sinking polyleaders and big flies. Plus, it's gotten me ready for steelhead fishing.

Here are some rainbow highlights from the last couple of months.

Caught my biggest rainbow trout to date on the Delaware. She barely fit in the net!
Caught my biggest rainbow to date on the Delaware. She didn't fit in the net. Of course my phone battery dies after a quick photo LOL.

Another rainbow trout that just fit in the net.
A gorgeous rainbow that just fits in the net. Photo: M. Chapple

The beauty of these Delaware rainbow trout just blows me away. Another stunner!
A real stunner. The beauty and power of these Delaware rainbows never fails to blow me away. Photo: M. Chapple

A gorgeous double rainbow on the Delaware river
A double rainbow afternoon on the Delaware. Just being on the river to see this would have made my day.

Another beautiful rosy cheeked rainbow trout from home pool on the Delaware
Another rosy cheeked beauty from home pool.

Releasing a beautiful rainbow trout on the Delaware. See you later Ms. rainbow!
See ya later Ms. Rainbow!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A welcome home present

H: It's pretty hard coming back from atlantic salmon fishing in the Gaspésie. I've truly fallen in love with her beautiful landscapes, pristine rivers, and wonderful people.

But returning to the flygirl shack always feels like coming home, especially when the Delaware gives me such a gorgeous welcome home gift :).

Thanks Big D!

A gorgeous brown trout from the Delaware river.
A gorgeous brown trout from home pool on the Delaware river.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Labor Day Weekend Salmon Adventure

H: Wow, it's been a few months since I've posted anything. My apologies! I'll try to catch up in the next few weeks, at least post some pictures if nothing else.

To start, here's a trip report from my last atlantic salmon fishing adventure for 2016.

I went back to the Gaspésie for a long Labor Day holiday weekend. I hadn't planned on going alone but it worked out that way. I texted a couple of fishing friends up there to see if anyone could fish with me. I've salmon fished by myself before but I didn't relish the thought of trying to land a huge salmon by myself (always the optimist :). I entered the 72- and 48-hour draws and waited. As luck would have it, I got drawn for both the Grande Cascapedia and the Bonaventure.

According to Claude, it has been one of the worst fishing years on record for the Boni with salmon returns the lowest in 30 years. Like most places in northeastern North America, they desperately needed rain. I religiously read weather forecasts for over a week before the trip but it changed daily. One day there'd be some rain in the forecast, then the next day, none. I realized whatever happened way up in the stratosphere or out over the oceans, would happen, and there was nothing I could do about it. So, I stopped checking until the day before to pack accordingly. I was going, rain or no rain.

I was especially excited to fish the Grande for the first time! I'd seen so many pictures of monster salmon being caught there all summer long on social media. It was actually one of these pictures that I commented on in Facebook a couple of days before the trip that would change the course of my trip.

David Bishop, who I met at the Sherbrooke spey forum earlier this year, posted a picture of a huge buck he landed on the Grande. When I commented and mentioned that I'd be fishing Pools XYZ in the Lake branch (which I'd won in the draw), David replied that he might be able to get me on the main river and to call him. Within minutes after reading this, I got in touch! :)

Super excited about my trip, I could barely sleep a wink the night before. I drove into the city at 6 am so I could leave directly from work at 2 pm Thursday afternoon. Without traffic, it would take 12.5 hours. Well, there was plenty of rush hour traffic in Massachusetts and I ended up driving 14+ hours, not including stops for food, gas, and oh, yeah, being searched at the border.

I arrived at the border crossing a little after midnight the following day. I guess the female officer in the booth thought my story about driving 14 hours from NYC to the Gaspésie by myself to go salmon fishing for a long weekend sounded a bit fishy LOL. I was asked to pull over while she and another officer conducted a fairly thorough search of my Subaru. But once the male officer opened one of my gear bags, found 4 fly boxes, and exclaimed in surprise that there were lots of fishing flies inside, the search went a lot faster.

I certainly didn't need the extra 20 minute delay at the border, but I took it in stride. Heck, what's 20 mins out of 14 hours? The general theme for the weekend would be "just go with the flow...." I only had 2 days fishing planned (the Grande on Friday and Saturday). I wasn't sure where I would fish Sunday and I had yet to decide if I was fishing or driving back on Monday. For those who know me, this is rather unusual. I'm normally the type of gal who likes to plan things out.

Somehow I drove into the early morning hours and didn't pull over till after 3 am. It was slow going in the middle of moose country and I needed to be alert. I hoped to get an hour of sleep in the car. I reclined the seat and shut my eyes for maybe 30 minutes before realizing it was futile. Despite being completely exhausted, I just couldn't fall asleep. I picked up a grande cafe at a 24-hr Tim Hortons and drove into Quebec. Shortly after 6 am, I arrived in the Baie des Chaleurs, just as the sun was rising.

A beautiful sunrise on the Baie des Chaleurs, Quebec
Not being a morning person (except when fishing), I enjoyed watching the sun rise over the Baie des Chaleurs, Quebec.

I pulled over to admire the beautiful sunrise, took in the fresh sea air, and snapped a few pics before driving the last leg to the Cascapedia River Society where I was meeting David and his son Dylan at 7:30 am.

Dylan arrived as I was brushing my teeth in the parking lot and David followed shortly afterwards offering me a cup of coffee which I gratefully accepted. We picked up our passes and drove up to Middle Camp to meet up with Daryl, my guide for the day. All I knew about Daryl was that he was a little bit rough around the edges but an excellent guide.

Salmon outside the Cascapedia River Society, Quebec
Outside the Cascapedia River Society, Quebec

We started our day fishing right at Middle Camp. David and Dylan took a canoe to a nearby spot where Dylan ends up catching a small salmon. I fished right out front at home pool. I could tell Daryl wasn't sure what to make of me. He asked for my spey rod, tied on a fly, pointed to a spot and said I should start fishing from there. "Cast as far as you can," he said. He watched me cast, suggested I quarter further upstream, and that was it. He was the strong, silent type and I appreciated that. I was too tired to make lots of small talk. It's been years since I've fished with a guide. It's mandatory to use one on the main river. I must confess, I enjoyed having him tie on my flies and occasionally carry my fly rod :).

Daryl, Dylan and David Bishop, on the beautiful grounds of Middle Camp on the Grand Cascapedia, Quebec
Daryl, Dylan and David (left to right) on the beautiful grounds of Middle Camp on the Grand Cascapedia, Quebec

Honestly, I'm not sure how I made it through the day, let alone that morning. I was literally a walking and fly fishing zombie. At the next pool, I hooked a nice salmon. It started to slowly register in my foggy brain that I had a salmon at the end of my line when it leapt out of the water and came unbuttoned. David and Daryl both looked at me like a complete newbie, saying ever so politely, "you need to lower your rod when a salmon jumps." I didn't bother replying that I was operating below 50% mental and physical capacity. The mid day break couldn't come soon enough.

During the break, I stopped at the IGA to get some groceries and went to check into my cabin on the Petite Cascapedia. Unfortunately, housekeeping was in the process of cleaning and my cabin had yet to be cleaned from the previous tenant. I looked longingly at the bed and thought ever so briefly of napping on used sheets.... Instead I made myself a light lunch, opened a bottle of wine, sat on the porch and just chilled.

I thought about the salmon I had hooked earlier and how lame it had all been. What happened to the girl who was so excited to fish the Grande? I swore that if I was lucky enough to get a second chance, I would NOT f**k it up. I got back in my car and drove to the Camp. I was 20 minutes early so I waited in the car and tried to nap.

Dylan Bishop hanging out with sweet lovable Forrest on the Grande Cascapedia.
Dylan Bishop hanging out with sweet lovable Forrest on the Grande Cascapedia.

By now, Daryl and I had gotten to know one another and built a rapport. I was casting terribly and talking to myself all day about it. But he was always encouraging and patient with me. I guess exactly what a great guide should be. We fished a couple of really tough spots that day. It took every ounce of concentration (the little I had) to maneuver from rock to rock to cast without stumbling and cracking my skull. Daryl warned me to be careful and mentioned a girl he had guided who had done just that. Oh yeah, and there was maybe 3 ft of casting space behind me to form a D loop. I was running on fumes.

We ended our day at a beautiful spot. David and Dylan went upstream while Daryl and I fished a long nice looking run. I went through it twice with different flies without seeing a single fish or having a single grab. Daryl suggests we go up to where David and Dylan are fishing. Then we hear a loud excited yell and realize they must have hooked or landed a fish. We hiked up to join them just as they are releasing the biggest salmon I've ever seen in the flesh. It was a monster!

With Dylan done for the day, I'm up. As I'm getting ready to fish, a salmon jumps out of the water towards the tail of the pool. The adrenaline starts to kick in. I'd swung my fly maybe a dozen times when a salmon comes up from the depths to take a look and swirls by it. Dylan mentions that it had done that to him as well. Daryl comes over and says he wants to change my fly. He puts on the secret fly and says I should cast and swing it exactly like the last time. Somehow I was able to execute my guide's command, and sure enough, fish on! This time, I made sure the hook was firmly set and I was ready to do battle and bow to my salmon if it decided to go airborne.

Me fighting my salmon on the Grande Cascapedia with Daryl, Forrest, David and Dylan as my cheering squad :)

It was a strong fish and a great fight. I'm not sure where the energy, and more importantly, the focus came from—adrenaline I guess. After 5? minutes, my salmon was brought to net. Thanks David for netting my salmon! To everyone's surprise, it was a bright, fresh run fish, a September blue back. It even had sea lice on it! A handsome buck.

David Bishop and Hyun with a salmon in the net, Grand Cascapedia, Quebec
Daryl was all ready to tail my salmon but David had a net. Grande Cascapedia, Quebec
Portrait of a unicorn (atlantic salmon :) complete with sea lice. Photo taken by Dylan Bishop. Grande Cascapedia, Quebec
Portrait of a unicorn :) with sea lice. Great photo taken by Dylan Bishop. Grande Cascapedia, Quebec
Hyun with a handsome September buck salmon and great guide, Daryl, from Middle Camp. Grande Cascapedia, Quebec
Me with my handsome September buck and great guide, Daryl, from Middle Camp. Grande Cascapedia, Quebec

There was plenty of daylight left but I was happy to end it early. I wanted to settle into my cabin, eat a big hearty dinner, and more importantly, get a good night's sleep. I said goodbye to Dylan who was leaving for Montreal to start University and thanked David and Daryl for an unforgettable day. I was fishing the Grande again the following day, but with Neil Houlding as my fishing partner. Turns out adrenaline takes a while to get out of your system. Despite complete exhaustion, I didn't fall asleep till around 11 pm. But 7 hours of sleep was a luxury!

Early next morning, we picked up Neil's pass and drove up to met our guides at Middle Camp. Daryl would be my guide again! Even though you and your partner don't fish side by side, you must both fish the same pool. Usually one starts up top and the other further down. Having never fished with Neil before, I didn't know what to expect. I knew he was a great spey caster as well as a super nice guy. He also calls me madam :).

Well, it turned out Neil and I have different fishing styles. Being younger and having fly fished for only 6 years (2nd year salmon fishing), I'd gladly hike 10 miles to a pristine pool to catch a unicorn. Neil being a little bit older, wiser, and having fished for many more years, believes in conserving his energy and fishing opportunistically ;).

I wanted to return to the pool where Dylan and I had landed our salmon the day before but Neil had no desire to go. Too much of a hike he said. Oh, well! We still had a great day on the water and saw a few fish, but unfortunately neither of us hooked into anything except a few pretty sea trout. Mid day break was spent on the Grande. Neil had packed us a picnic lunch which we enjoyed riverside followed by a nap next to a warm fire. Thanks for fishing with me Neil! And thanks again Daryl for guiding me! Hope to see both of you again next time I'm up there.

Neil Houlding taking a mid day nap by a nice warm fire on the Grande Cascapedia.
Neil taking a mid day nap by a nice warm fire on the Grande Cascapedia.

Later that evening, back in town, I listened to a message from the Bonaventure ZEC saying I had won Sector E for Monday. I've heard stories about the beauty of Sector E and there were bound to be fish up there. But it requires an ATV to access the upper pools plus it's pretty isolated—not exactly a place you want to fish alone for the first time. I'm not sure what to do.... I could fish the Nouvelle? Boni open water? Petite open? I decide to sleep on it and make a decision in the morning. I had till 9 am to pay for my water.

After a big early breakfast I decide I'm going to stay and fish Monday on Sector E of the Boni. I get in touch with J. P. Tessier, a local guide who I've met a couple of times. He has an ATV plus a canoe and is well equipped to take you fishing just about anywhere :). Turns out he's free so we make plans to meet early the following morning.

So, now I had plans for Monday, but still didn't know what I was doing today. After washing up, I decide to take a short nap. 3 hours later, I wake up. Yikes! I drove 14 hours for a long weekend of fishing. Damned if I was going to take it easy today. There were salmon out there just waiting to take my fly :). Since Boni open water was close by, I decided to get a half day fishing pass.

I get to the Boni shortly after 3 pm and head to a pool I had fished by myself last fall. There's a car parked in the lot and a tent set up on far bank but I don't see anyone fishing. As I'm gearing up, two anglers come out of the tent and cross the river. As they get closer, I realize it's two women. I wave and say bonjour. It's great to see other women salmon fishing! They wave back before heading to the car and driving off.

As much as I enjoy the comaraderie of fishing with friends, I relish the times when I fish alone. It's hard to describe the zen and intangible connection you feel with your surroundings. Not long after I start swinging, a salmon announced its presence in the middle of the run with an acrobatic leap. I took my time fishing down to it, covering every inch of water methodically. I was finally casting well and reaching the far bank with my fly and leader turning over perfectly. If the salmon was a taker, it was definitely going to take my fly.... :)

Well, it didn't—at least not on the first pass. I fished out the run, went back to the top, changed flies, and swung through one more time. Second time and second fly was a charm. She took it! She was a leaper, a graceful ballerina. I swear she jumped and pirouetted at least 6 times if not more! As I'm fighting her, I'm also playing out in my head, how to land her by myself.

But not long after I hooked her, a car door slams. The two female anglers I'd seen earlier had returned. I asked if they could tail my salmon for me and they gladly agreed. As I tired her out and brought her closer one of the anglers went into position to tail it. Just before she attempted to grab the leader, I yelled out, "please don't grab the leader. I will drop the fish towards you. Just grab hold of the tail." She understood and with her help, I landed my second salmon of the trip. It was a lovely hen, just starting to change into her fall colors. Thanks again Marie of Bonaventure for tailing my salmon and for the photo!

Hyun with a beautiful salmon (hen) from the Bonaventure. She was a jumper!
My Boni saumon. She was a jumper! Bonaventure river

Needless to say, I was on cloud nine. I could have stayed and fished the run again but I left it for Marie and her friend and wished them both luck. It was only 4:30 pm so I did a little reconnaissance for my next trip and checked out a pool I've never fished before. There was one other angler there. I made one pass and called it a day.

Sector E

Sector E turned out to be just as beautiful as I've heard. The Boni becomes more intimate the further up you go. Riding the ATV to the top pools was an adventure with the warm breeze in your face, the sweet intoxicating smell of pines.... Riding while holding 2 fully assembled rods, including a 13 ft. spey rod through the very narrow trails was a bit challenging. They should consider making rod mounts for ATVs ;).

The beauty, color, and clarity of the Bonaventure river will never cease to amaze me. A gorgeous pool in Sector E.
The beauty, color, and clarity of the Bonaventure river will never cease to amaze me. A gorgeous pool in Sector E.
J.P. Tessier on the ATV. Riding on it to the upper pools in Sector E was an adventure! Bonaventure River
J.P. on his ATV. Riding on it to the upper pools in Sector E was an adventure! Bonaventure River

The previous 3 days had been on the cooler side. Unfortunately, my last day had bluebird skies and super warm temps (over 80 degrees). It would have been great to wet wade except for the bugs. They were relentless and they always love me, even with repellent on. I had to cover up from head to toe using the hood of my hoody and my buff as a face mask.

We only fished 3 pools in Sector E but we fished them hard—both swinging flies and drifting dries. I had one salmon chase and grab my stripped fly at one pool in the morning but couldn't get a hook set. That was pretty much it till later that evening when a feisty grilse took one of the salmon flies that I had tied, which was definitely satisfying.

Several atlantic salmon hanging out in the clear waters of the Bonaventure River.
How many salmon can you spot? Unfortunately, none were takers. Bonaventure River.

J.P. Tessier by the fire. Bonaventure River
J.P. built a lovely fire to help keep the bugs away once it got cooler. Bonaventure River

I've never caught a grilse before or seen one close up in person. They are super cute with their pointy faces. I tried tickling its belly to get it to relax so I could scoop it up with one hand, but I'm going to need some more practice with that maneuver :).

A cute Bonaventure salmon grilse. I love their pointy faces.
A cute Bonaventure grilse. I love their pointy faces.
Hyun releasing a Bonaventure salmon grilse.
Hope to see you again when you're all grown up :). Bonaventure River.

There was still an hour+ of daylight left but I was content. I'd had an unbelievable weekend—a sweet grilse to top off 3 and a half days of amazing fishing. Plus, I had a long drive ahead.

I thanked J.P. for a great day and hit the road a little after 8 pm. I hoped to cross the border before taking a nap in the car but that didn't work out as planned. Less than two hours later, I was struggling to keep my eyes open and on the road. I was once again in moose country and that was dangerous. I pulled over in a semi rural/suburban area and parked by a big field. There were a few houses nearby, one just down the road. It seemed safe, quiet, and secluded. This time around, despite being pretty cold, I had no trouble falling asleep.

About an hour later, I awoke to the sound of knocking on my window and a bright light shining into my eyes. There was a policeman standing outside the driver's side window with a flashlight in his hand. As I became more awake, I noticed there was a pretty light show outside. I uprighted the seat, fumbled around for the car key, and turned the engine on so I could roll down the window.

He asked for license and registration. Still half asleep, I again fumbled around looking for both before handing them over. I thought, oh great! I'll be asked to get out of the car and it will be searched again LOL. I asked him if I'd done anything wrong? He replied he had been dispatched to check out a possible stolen car. I explained that I was driving back to NYC from the Gaspesie after several days of salmon fishing. That after a long day of fishing I was too tired to keep my eyes open so I pulled over to take a short nap.

He peered into the back of the car with his flashlight—wet waders draped over the back head rest to dry, muddy fishing boots on the floor, half disassembled fly rods.... He asked if I had had any luck. I replied rather excitedly, "yes! I landed 2 salmon and a grilse!" He smiled, returned my license and registration, and suggested I take more than a short nap before driving back since there had been several moose sightings recently. I thanked him, went back to sleep, and woke up 3 hours later. Feeling refreshed, I resumed my 11-hour journey back home.

When I think about the weekend, logically, it all sounds so crazy!

But, it was soooooooo worth it! :)