Monday, June 20, 2016

Kayaking and Camping at West Branch Musquash

This past weekend, was the Father's Day weekend and one my wife had requested 'off' so she could work on report cards.   So with lots of sun in the forecast, I packed up the kayaks full of camping gear took the kids and we headed into West Branch Musquash.    This lake is a wonderful body of water full of islands with lots of sandy beaches.   Parts of the area are dotted with cabins, but for the most part, the side of the lake we were on was nothing but unspoiled wilderness.

Having kids for the weekend on a trip like this meant that there might not be a lot of time for me for fishing.    I did bring a rod for each of the boys, and 2 for me, along with lots of smallmouth gear, but I am honestly a terrible smallmouth fisherman, so I wasn't really holding my breath on catching a hog.

In addition to fishing gear, I wanted to be sure I brought everything I reasonably could to ensure the boys had a great time.    If I brought them out and made them fish the entire time when they really wanted to so something else would be counterproductive in the long run.    So each of my boys were equipped with swimming gear, and three water guns.    Along with the fun of camping and exploring a few islands, there was lots of fun activities to keep the boys busy!

Rowan took the Ocean Kayak Tetra 10 Angler kayak, while Fynn was paddling the Ocean Kayak Trident 13.   I kept in line with the Ocean Kayak brand and rode on the Big Game 2 which has an impressive 650lb capacity.    Between the three of us, we were able to pack everything we could need with space left over!

Getting to the launch a little after 6:00 PM on Friday, we didn't have time to do much more than paddle out and pick out a beach, set up camp and cook some hot dogs over  the fire.    Saturday morning I make sure the boys had breakfast and then left them to play while I went out to try to catch a fish (always with the camp within eyesight).    Fynn had a whistle that he could use should he need to get my attention.

With no fish biting, I came back, got the boys together and we paddled out together to explore some of the lake they hadn't visited yet.   Fynn did do a little fishing, but the most fun on this part of the trip was the kayak water gun fights they boys had.

After getting back to camp I had the boys do some kayak safety training.  Each of them jumped out of their kayaks and then got back in on their own.   For them to know what it feels like to be out of the kayak and to be confident they can get back in is a vital safety skill.   Both of my boys have been in swimming lessons and love the water, but now I feel certain that if they were to fall out they would not panic and get themselves in more trouble.    Next time out, I'll have them try to actually flip the kayak over and see if they can flip it back upright before getting back in, and then have them work together to do it.    The water was a bit too cold to have them give that a try this time around.

Unfortunately the wind picked up in the afternoon and the forecast called for very strong winds overnight and through the next day, so that forced us to pack up a day early to head back home.   Despite only being there for 1 night instead of 2, we still had a great time and are looking forward to a return visit, perhaps this coming September before school begins.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rowan's the Man at the 2016 shad derby

Yesterday my son Rowan, friend John (IPop) and I left town at 6 AM to make the drive up to Chipman, NB to take part in the 12 Annual Shad derby.   This is a somewhat low key event, typically drawing 20 - 30 anglers but a ton of fun and put off extremely well by a great group of dedicated anglers.

Based on Salmon River, it is ideal for people in canoe or kayak or even a small boat with a light motor.   The river can be a little shallow in places depending on the water levels and the currents typically are not too strong.   Yesterday, after a heavy rain a couple days prior, the water was up a few feet higher than normal and the current was running pretty strong in spots.    When the fishing is on, people can catch a lot of shad here, however, for whatever reason I never end up on this river when the fishing is on!

Most of the participants in the derby were 40 years of age or older, and there was just the one kid - Rowan.   At 5 years old, he was the youngest to ever participate in the derby and he make his Dad pretty proud through the day.   While Rowan didn't catch, or really even try for any shad, he did cast out his hook baited with worm through the day and catch several yellow perch and chub.   There was a secondary contest this year with medals as the prize for perch and chub which Rowan wanted to do well in.

After 8 hours on the water, both Rowan had landed a half dozen or more each of chub and perch, while I landed a few chub, one or two perch and a trout.   No shad though!  I only witnessed two others catch a shad the whole day, and overall I think only 5 people caught shad.  It was believed that the rain and higher water levels really played havoc with outcome.   Oh well, there is always next year!

The event itself is wonderfully run.   There is a great breakfast at the hotel in Chipman, donated by the hotel owners.   After bacon, eggs, and registration, everyone headed out for the river, about a 20 min drive to put into the river for around 10 AM.   Along with several others we put into the river at a place called 'Big Forks' and fished for about a 3 km stretch down to the end point of the event, ending at 6 PM.   There those who caught shad had their fish weighed, and we reported our perch/chub catches (honor system or photos) for the secondary event.   Then one of the others there gave me a ride back to pick up the Jeep and trailer.    Once everyone was back on shore, the catches evaluated and such, everyone headed back to the hotel for prizes to be given out.

The Town of Chipman was gracious enough to sponsor the event this year and awarded Rowan with a special prize of $25 for being the Youngest Angler in the event.    Rowan also placed with his perch and chub and won a raffle prize, so he was absolutely thrilled with the whole thing.   Everyone there though was really proud of Rowan and very much impressed as they witnessed him navigate the river, catch fish, and outside of some tangles I helped him with, was completely self-sufficient through the day.   Of course, no one was prouder than his Dad!

I volunteered to help with the event for next year by putting together a webpage and Facebook presence for them.   Hopefully we can help it grow a little and get more people out to appreciate the great hospitality and fishing there is in the Chipman area.

Oh, an as an aside, on the drive back from the event to the hotel, we spotted two rare wood turtles crossing the road about a mile from each other.  We stopped and helped the second one get across to safety.   Pretty neat to find creatures like this in the wild!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This weekend: 12th Annual Monte Farrel Shad Derby!

This weekend is one I have had circled on my calendar for a few months now!   Up in Chipman, NB they are having their 12th annual Monte Farrel Shad Derby.   This is an event I have visited twice before with my friend IPop (John Cail) and despite not catching any shad, and dealing with a lot of rain one time,  I have had a great time on both occasions.

My first trip there, was prior to me having ever landed a shad before, so I was quite green and didn't really know what I was doing.   I did hook into two shad that day but lost them both as I tried to bring them in way too quickly.    The second time there, despite the wonderful sunny weather, all I could catch were chub and yellow perch (and lots of them!).

This time however things will be different!   I've already landed close to 20 shad this Spring in my kayak and feel much more confident in my ability to both hook and land these challenging fish.   As well, I'll be bringing Rowan with me, who at 5 years old, is hoping to land his first shad and solo in his own kayak.   If he can accomplish that, will then it will certainly be something to remember!  If nothing else Rowan will catch lots of the smaller fish and have a great time doing so.

In addition to the shad derby, they are adding a new separate event this year, that being a mini-multi species contest.   I am not exactly clear on the rules but I think people would simply photograph their biggest of each species caught, and the total length would then be used to determine the winner.     Anyone who doesn't place well enough in the shad derby to win a prize there would be eligible, so I suspect this one is aimed primarily at the kids.    There is a separate $5 entry fee and a medal to be awarded to the top three, with proceeds going to the Canadian Tire Jump Start program.

If you are interested in coming to Chipman this weekend, here are all the details of the event as posted on the forums:

Where: Salmon River
When: Saturday June 11th, 2016
Breakfast: Queen’s County Inn from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Tournament Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. All participants  must be registered by 10:00 am June 11th, 2016
Designated Waters: From the Mouth of Little Forks to Rte # 10 Salmon River Bridge, Chipman.
Fly, Spinning and Bait casting rods are only means of capture.
Prizes: 100% Cash payout 1s t, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place. All prizes to be awarded at the Queen’s County Inn at 7:30 p.m. must be present to win draw prizes.
Limited to First 50 entries only
One cash Prize per angler
Cash prize amount to be determined by the number of entries. Total weight of two shad to qualify.
Weigh in at 6:00 p.m.
Entry Fee: $20.00 - Breakfast Included.
Shad Derby Admission Compulsory & Mini tournament (Optional);Yellow Perch, River Chub entry Fee $5.00

Register at Goodwin’s Fly Shop (36 Willow St., Minto) or by Contacting Ralph Goodwin (327-6231) or Sam Daigle (385-2298)  OR ANY Questions e-mail (

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sturgeon fishing with Newfoundland Sportsman

This past October I had the pleasure of hosting Newfoundland Sportsman as they visited to fish for shortnose sturgeon for the very first time.   Here is the episode that aired just a couple weeks back, nationwide on NTV!

A big thank you for support for this project goes out to the province of New Brunswick, the Shadow Lawn Inn, and Pure Fishing. as well as Rob Dekany for his service and boat for two days.

With all the other fantastic fishing and hunting possibilities offered within our province, I am sure Dwight and his crew will be back to film more adventures in the coming years!