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Trout Can’t Hide at 33% – Island Park Reservoir

blog-Aug-26-2015-1-island-park-reservoirSay the word reservoir to a trout fly fishermen and they run for cover like cutthroat in the radar of an osprey.  Mention furthermore that the reservoir is only 33% full and they envision a dried up cracked earth desert.  Personally, I love fly fishing the reservoirs simply because I know I’ll have a body of water to myself.  That’s not easy to experience these days.  And if the body of water is at 33% full, which is about where Island Park Reservoir water levels are right now, it means the fish will be easy to find.

 

blog-Aug-26-2015-2-grub-stake-island-park-idahoEasy to find they were at Island Park Reservoir (IPR).  We awoke on the banks of the Henry’s Fork this morning to warm temps and overcast skies.   We could have ventured back down in the Ranch with such perfect Trico conditions but these conditions make lake fishing equally as excellent.  After coffee and breakfast sandwiches took the edge off, Tim Brune, Ben Smith and his friend Joe and I set off of for IPR with two boats.

 

blog-Aug-26-2015-3-island-park-reservoirThe houses along IPR seem strange.  They’re so far up from the water’s edge it isn’t pretty.  The Henry’s Fork has been sending lots of water to central Idaho for farming irrigation which is why IPR is so low.  We can only hope for big snows this winter to help bring water levels to where they need to be.

 

blog-Aug-26-2015-4-flyfishing-island-park-idahoWe motored up the lake for about twenty minutes and slid into a bay that was productive for Phil Rowley and me last month.  I was fishing my new 6-weight Winston Boron III Plus and three small leech patterns.  A dark color with a bead head on the point then five feet up, a tan bugger dropper and up top the same small burgundy colored leech that worked when with Phil.  Half way into the first drift I landed the first scrappy lake rainbow.

 

blog-Aug-26-2015-5-tim-brune-flyfishingThe fishing stayed consistent all day long.  Brune and I went back and forth netting fish for each other.  I saw Ben land a few.  Fishing was so good that I changed from leeches to nymphs solely to change things up to keep the day interesting.  On my third cast pulling nymphs I hooked a crazy fighting rainbow.  He ran and did these funny half jumps.  He changed direction during the fight like I had never seen.  It turns out I had two fish on and naturally they were fighting each other.  Thanks to strengthy 0X SA Flouro I landed both fish – one about 15” and the other an easy 17”.  Not bad.

 

I’m Cubs crazy more than normal this summer so we left for home so I’d be on my couch with a Sierra Nevada in hand for first pitch.  That meant we hoisted the boat on the trailer about 5 PM.  It was a great two days.  Next on the agenda is Blackfoot Reservoir to introduce Gary Eckman to his first mirror carp.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Humbled on the Henry’s Fork

blog-Aug-25-2015-1-tim-brune-henrys-fork-riverAt 1 PM Tim Brune and I headed for a day and half adventure over around the Henry’s Fork.  Along the way I phoned my Blackfoot Reservoir Carp Classic Tournament partner Ben Smith and he was quick to join in on the fun.  Ben moved to West Yellowstone this spring and guides for Trout Hunter.

 

We met at the Last Chance parking lot on the Henry’s and took our time rigging up for an evening walk in the Ranch.  We took our time because it was 90° – a bit hot for huge cunning rainbow trout.

 

blog-Aug-25-2015-2-tim-brune-railroad-ranchThere was almost nothing happening in the Ranch tonight.  While sitting on the bank enjoying a beer I spotted what I thought was a big fish.  Neither Tim nor Ben saw him.  It took twenty minutes later for him to rise again.  He was indeed big and again I was the only one to see him.  This time I slammed my brew and got in to position.

 

blog-Aug-25-2015-3-mahogany-dunAs always the first presentation is most important.  While Ben and Tim watched I got the clever rainbow to eat my Thorax Mahogany dun (the first Mahoganies are just showing) but I farmed him (to farm a fish is to absolutely screw up an easy opportunity to catch him!).  That wised the speckled giant up and after two more hours of trying to get him – I walked away.  His rise pattern went from once every twenty minutes to once a half hour.

 

blog-Aug-25-2015-4-flyfishing-the-henrys-forkLeaving that fish may have been a mistake because between the three of us we never had a shot at a big fish again.  That being said, had I stayed on him till dark and not caught him would have driven me insane.  Tim, Ben and I were skunked on the Ranch this evening but I can assure you we’re not the first!  We caught up at the Trout Hunter tonight and are sleeping behind the bar on the river.  Tomorrow we’re gonna throw our hat in the ring on Island Park Reservoir.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Unseasonably Cold Temps put a Freeze on Fishing with Nieces

blog-Aug-17-2015-1-flyfishing-wyThe forecast wasn’t great going into Monday night for my brother Greg and his family’s visit.  A drop from the 80°s to the low 60°s was predicted in Jackson, Wyoming for Tuesday and Wednesday.  That means even colder at our family-favorite camping spot up the Gros Ventre River.  And the forecast didn’t lie.  For the last 48 hours I’ve been buried in layers and even sported my fleece hat at night and my ears are ringing from the wind.

 

blog-Aug-18-2015-2-montana-currierGreg and I see each other about three times a year if we’re lucky.  He doesn’t fish at all so we generally visit around the campfire.  Monday night we put away some beers and stoked the flames on the fire till 1 AM.  Staying up around the fire was the better option than freezing in my summer bag in the back of the Explorer.

 

 

 

blog-Aug-18-2015-3-flyfishing-wyoEarly Tuesday as the sun peeked through the smoke (we have lots of forest fires) my nieces Sammy and Montana and their family pal Chase began to stir with their pink Ross Fly Fishing Outfits glowing in my sight.  Despite being in the low 50°s they were ready to give the Gros Ventre a go.

 

blog-Aug-18-2015-4-flyfishing-with-kidsGive it a go we did but it didn’t last long.  Wet wading was cool to say the least and cooperative fish were hard to find.  Young Montana had three small whitefish eat her fly.  They’re not easy to stick because of their tiny mouths and of the three she managed one to her feet but he flopped off before she was able to smile with him.  As soon as that whitey retreated all three kids asked if we could go back to camp, put on some layers and climb a mountain.

 

blog-Aug-18-2015-5-mountain-climbingThere’s a great mountain near camp we hike every year.  I love the hike as it takes only around two hours to go up and down.  And the view up there, which gives you over 20 miles of winding river to see, is stunning.  Some years, and this was one, we kick back up top and take the view in for at least an hour.  We froze however because the wind was galling at about 25 mph!

 

blog-Aug-18-2015-6-camping-in-wyomingTuesday evening entailed a monster feast of chicken, steak, corn, potatoes and a heap of healthy vegetables to go along with another night of celebrating around the fire.  Regardless of weather it’s always fun around a campfire with good food.  We were a bit tired from last night so we hit it around 11.

 

blog-Aug-18-2015-7-sunset-in-wyGreg, his family and their friends headed out before noon today.  He and his wife Kerry need to return to work on Monday so they have a long drive back to Massachusetts.  Before they left I took Montana out fishing in front of camp and she caught one more whitefish and a cutthroat.  Montana and Sammy are getting good with the fly rod and next year I’m hoping to take them on their first float trip.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Bonus Brook Trout Time at McKenzie River Lodge

Photo by "Bill" of Ninja Media

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

With the plane not coming till midafternoon to return Granny and me back to society there was time to fish.  For the first time the skies were blue in every direction and there was no wind.  The joke here at McKenzie River Lodge was that today was THE day of summer.  After breakfast Andrew (I made sure he brought this rod) and I headed down to Pools One and Two.  I needed to hold one more monster brook trout.

blog-Aug-8-2015-2-jeff-currier-flyfishing-labradorI was dry fly or die and I put on a Parachute Adams size 14.  My plan was to watch Andrew pick up a few fish and photograph them in the water with my polarized filter, but Andrew was far from ready and I couldn’t contain myself and waded out ahead of him.  On my second cast, fishing close to the bank in a foot of water, a respectable ouananiche salmon sipped my fly.

blog-Aug-8-2015-3-ouananiche-salmon-labradorI’ve lost all but one of the good size landlocked salmon this week but those lost fish were on the swing with a streamer.  If there’s one thing I’m good at its dry fly fishing and I knew I hooked this guy solid in the snout.  As every ouananiche salmon has, this one went ballistic spraying water like fireworks on every jump.  He stayed busy enough that he tired quickly.

blog-Aug-8-2015-4-jeff-currier-fishing-landlocked-salmonFor a dry fly, this is one heck of a salmon.  Had Granny come down with Andrew and I she’d have been proud.  The truth is that the salmon, including big ones, take the dry flies well.

blog-Aug-8-2015-5-brooktrout-fishing-in-labradorAfter the salmon I caught four more hefty Labrador brook trout.  I only needed one but they were too cooperative.  At noon sharp Andrew and I reeled it in and my fishing in Labrador came to an end.

blog-Aug-8-2015-6-jeff-currier-fishing-labrador

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

This was an INCREDIBLE trip.  Yes, I knew there were big brook trout in Labrador.  But I never understood how magnificent they really are.  Until you hold one and see their size, amazing colors and look one eye to eye, you have no idea.

Photo by "Bill" of Ninja Media

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

Once again, a very special thanks to Paul Ostiguy and McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge for giving Granny and I this unbelievable opportunity to fly fish in Labrador.  If you’re ready to go be sure to contact Paul at the McKenzie River Lodge website or feel free to Contact me to hear more about the trip.

blog-Aug-8-2015-8-fishing-labradorHere are a few more photos from fly fishing in Labrador!  Enjoy!

blog-Aug-8-2015-9-bushplanes-in-labradorWhat?  No spins in the Beaver!

blog-Aug-8-2015-10-landlocked-salmonOuananiche also known as the landlocked salmon.

blog-Aug-8-2015-11- Mckenzie-river-labrador

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

Fly fishing the McKenzie River on Pool One.

blog-Aug-8-2015-12-flyfishing-in-labrador

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

Granny with yet another hawg brook trout!

blog-Aug-8-2015-13-terminator-brook-troutOne last peek at the “Terminator”.

blog-Aug-8-2015-14-jeff-and-granny-currierGranny is the “Ouananiche Queen”.

blog-Aug-8-2015-15-fishing-labradorSo long from incredible Labrador and McKenzie River Lodge!

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Landlocked Salmon at McKenzie

blog-Aug-7-2015-1-granny-currier-paul-ostiguy-labradorWith so many brook trout of dreams this week, today, our last day, was all about ouananiche, better known as landlocked salmonPaul Ostiguy, owner of McKenzie River Lodge, our friend and the man responsible for bringing Granny and me to Labrador was able to join us on the quest.  This was fitting because Paul’s favorite fish is the ouananiche and he knows all the places to look for them.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-2-paul-ostiguy-mckenzie-river-lodgeOur target area was the McKenzie River, only today we’d venture the furthest down the McKenzie we’ve been.  Till this point the Funnel Pool was the furthest we’ve traveled down.  You might remember, to get to the Funnel pool took three hikes and three different canoe rides.  Today the Funnel Pool would be where we started fishing and only the halfway point to the final pool we’d fish.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-3-jeff-currier-flyfishing-landlocked-salmonOur weather was sunny skies but brisk and windy.  Conditions were exactly like an October day in Idaho.  Everything felt right for fishing and I could hardly wait to get started.  The Funnel Pool was good to us earlier this week and I was certain we’d nail a few here.  Granny went through first and came up empty handed.  I waded in and fished where she didn’t reach and was blanked as well.  This brought on some concern because when the salmon bite isn’t on they can be nearly impossible to catch.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-4-flyfishing-mckenzie-river-lodgeFrom the Funnel Granny and I waded downstream to the next pool while Paul and Andrew walked the canoe down through a shallow rapid.  At the bottom we boarded again and paddled downstream several bends.  We came one of Paul’s favorite pools, Warren’s Rock.  I kicked back while Paul and Andrew guided Granny into position to start swinging the fly.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-5-flyfishing-for-ouananicheIt didn’t take my lady long before the hooting and hollering started as a respectable salmon tail walked his way across the pool.  Granny seems to have this swinging thing dialed.  I grabbed the good camera and eased my way out.  This fish was a fighter and I thought he was going to rip between someone’s legs and break her off.  The battle took a good few minutes and perhaps five jumps before the salmon hit the net.

 

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-6-granny-currier-&-paul-ostiguyAlthough the ouananiche wasn’t huge the catch told us something.  Our fear of salmon lockjaw was out the door.  Granny and Paul posed with monster smiles then told me it was my turn.  I simply said, “Nope”, and returned to the bank.  I wanted to see just how lucky my girl could be.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-7-flyfishing-labrador-for-salmonI’m not sure how Granny does it but while I lose almost every salmon I hook while swinging a fly, she has a perfect record.  It wasn’t two minutes later and the water erupted again in the tailout.  This was a larger ouananiche and I heard my Ross Reel screaming and saw my Bimini Twist line to backing connection leave the rod.  Two days ago the other guest, John, lost a fly line to a salmon because of a poor knot.  There’s no fear of failure with a properly done Bimini in the backing looped to a whipped loop in a fly line.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-8-landlocked-salmonGranny eased the big landlocked back upstream with precision.  The idea is not to tick them off so bad that they continue down which in this case was a rapid.  They don’t like to leave their pool if they don’t have too and if you fight them right you can fight them in the pool you hook them in and land them there.  Granny did it again!

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-9-ouananiche-salmonGranny continued swinging where she left off.  I stepped up the top of the pool and wouldn’t you know hooked and lost a beast.  I just don’t have the touch of hooking them well and I should’ve stuck to my druthers of having Granny run the pool again.  We swung flies thoroughly for one more pass then Paul said it was time to hit his favorite ouananiche pool on the McKenzie River.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-10-flyfishing-for-landlock-salmonWe continued downstream and swung a few spots unsuccessfully before arriving at Paul’s favorite, Berry Flat.  Once again I stayed back and followed Granny remaining ready to take pictures.  The first good pool she swung provided no luck but in the next one she hooked up bigtime!

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-11-salmon-parrWe knew right away this was a big salmon.  My new Winston 6-weight was heavily bent and the salmon didn’t jump.  When a species of fish that normally jumps gets hooked up and doesn’t jump – it’s usually a big one.  It was a good two minutes of bulldogging before Granny lifted the salmon to the surface for Andrew to net.  It was a brute.  Unfortunately Andrew took a swing and a miss however he caught a small salmon that Granny’s salmon spit up.  The juvenile was eaten only seconds before Granny’s fly was eaten because the mangled fish was still alive.

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-12-granny-and-jeff-currier-in-labradorWith the large ouananiche now aware of the net and his trouble the strength of his fight picked up dramatically.  The landlocked made up for not jumping early in the fight which was good news because now he started to tire.  Soon the salmon was in the net and Granny and I have us a nice pic for the den!

 

blog-Aug-7-2015-13-McKenzie-River-LodgeWe fished a little more but travel back upstream was going to take longer than our trip down.  We’d had an epic day so at 3 we headed back.  Surprisingly it wasn’t too grueling and we made the lodge in a couple hours.  As a tradition, we had a last night celebration that included gargantuan steaks and some fine red wine.  Paul and the McKenzie River Lodge staff know how to treat their guests!

 

Photo by "Bill" of Ninja Media

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

Making the celebration even more of a celebration was hearing that the plane coming to pick us up tomorrow wasn’t going to arrive until 2 PM.  What this means is that there’s time to wander down to Pool One and Two one last time.  Stay tuned.  It aint over till it’s over!

 

 

A special thanks to Paul Ostiguy and McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge for bringing Granny and I to Labrador!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Labrador – The Best Brook Trout Fishing on Earth

blog-Aug-6-2015-1-flyfishing-for-pikeOn a brutally cold morning for August, even up here in Northern Labrador, Andrew, Granny and I and Ninja Média’ man alias Bill made our way back up Andre Lake from McKenzie River Lodge to the Come Back River.  The boat ride to the Come Back is much longer than yesterdays, pushing 1 hr 20 min.  To break up the wet ride, 45 min in we stopped to toss big flies at northern pike.

 

blog-Aug-6-2015-2-pike-on-the-flyI had phenomenal northern pike fishing back in June.  The piking was so good that the random 30” pike this week here in Labrador hasn’t gotten much of my attention.  But for Granny, she’s all about them.  And it makes perfect sense.  I didn’t realize it but she hasn’t pike fished in more than ten years.

 

blog-Aug-6-2015-3-jeffcurier-simmsfishing-productsAndrew stopped the boat at a narrow cut where Andre Lake meets Montgomery Lake. Montgomery is about a foot higher in elevation and a stiff current exists as the colder lake pours into Andre.  The area is shallow and there’s lots of weeds.  We were sheltered from the waves and wind but I can assure you it was still cold as a witches butt in January!

 

 

 

blog-Aug-6-2015-4-pike-fishing-in-labradorGranny grabbed my 6-weight Winston Boron III Plus.  A 6-weight may sound light for pike but these new Winston rods are ideally for saltwater fly fishing and their lightweight and stiff action make it so the 6 can handle Labrador pike.  Granny chucked her first cast, stripped like a mad woman and came tight in seconds.

 

blog-Aug-6-2015-5-labrador-pikeI had Granny rigged with straight 30lb fluorocarbon and wire shock tippet so she was able to put the heat on these pike.  She landed the first pike with ease and on her next three casts landed three more with the biggest being 30”.  It’s strange to me that the pike fishing isn’t a bit more highlighted here in Labrador because it’s very good.  Although the pike we caught this morning were small by pike standards, I’m certain that if we focused on them we’d find a few good ones.

 

blog-Aug-6-2015-6-labrador-brook-troutAfter a half hour of piking around, Andrew made it clear that we’d want to maximize our time at the Come Back River as it’s full of McKenzie River sized brook trout.  We reeled in and crossed the small Montgomery Lake then into a tiny bay and to the mouth of the Come Back River.  I hopped out and cast a Yellow Sally into a current seam I couldn’t resist and landed a proper brook trout to start the day.  Labrador brook trout fishing was about to become no less than insane!

 

blog-Aug-6-2015-7-granny-currier-flyfishing-labradorToday was undoubtedly the best day of brook trout fishing that Granny and I have ever experienced – HANDS DOWN.  In fact I don’t see how we could ever beat it.  It wasn’t like we caught them every cast and it wasn’t like we didn’t need to work for them.  But we caught over twenty huge brook trout!  The fishing was so good that we’re going to end our brook trout fishing today.  And tomorrow, our last day, we’re going on a full on hunt to catch ouananiche salmon.  Stay tuned!

 

blog-Aug-6-2015-8-flyfishing-in-labradorA special thanks to Paul Ostiguy and McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge for bringing Granny and I to Labrador!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

The Terminator – A Giant Brook Trout from Labrador

blog-Aug-5-2015-1-flyfishing-mckenzie-river-lodgeIt started out cold and drizzly for our twenty minute boat ride half way up Andre Lake this morning to where we anchored our canoe at the mouth of the Quartzite River.  The ride speaks of how deep in the wilderness in Northern Labrador we are.  There are no houses or any signs of man for that matter from McKenzie River Lodge onward.

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-2-hiking-labradorFrom the mouth of the Quartzite River we hiked exactly twenty minutes over the lichens, through the black spruce forest and willow bogs till we hit the river again.  By now the sun was partially out and I could see the Quartzite is small and fast – my favorite type of trout fishing water.

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-3-chernobyl-antAfter watching a couple big hook jawed brookies suck down my Stimulator last night I’m determined to fish mostly dry from here on out.  I’m sure I’ll see a fish here and there that won’t eat my dry and I’ll streamer or nymph them but for the most part, its dries only now.  I stepped up on a rock and dapped a colorful Jackson Hole special Chernobyl ant over a turbulent run.

 

 

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-4-brook-troutYou’d never suspect this little river would hold big brook trout but the first fish that rose to my fly was a monster.  Unfortunately I didn’t see him as I stupidly was looking at my footing rather than my fly and heard Andrew shriek.  By the time I caught on and set the hook it was too late but Andrew says a 6lb brookie with blue spots the size of dimes came up and ate my foam creation!

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-6-jeff-currier-flyfishing-labradorI picked up a good one on my next cast anyhow.  He was by no means a 6lber but a fine brookie for sure then Granny and I took turns hoisting in several from that run.  Most were smaller than those of the McKenzie River but larger than brook trout anywhere else on earth!

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-7-mckenzie-river-lodge-labradorI was on the prowl for more, wading straight upstream and hitting every piece of fishy water I could when the sun disappeared and the thunder started.  Then came a serious flash of lightening, enough that I returned to my pack and ditched the rod for my rain jacket.  It was just in time – the rain came down hard.

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-8-fishing-in-labradorWhen the lightening relaxed we made a beeline back to the boat and headed for the lodge before Lake Andre got too rough.  It appeared a line of storms were coming.  The ride ended up not being too bad and the rain was light so we went straight to Pool One on the McKenzie where we fished the day we arrived.  Little did I know but a very saltwater-like experience was about to occur.

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-9-brook-trout-fishing-in-labradorGranny and Andrew stood in Pool One and I walked down to Pool Two.  I was fishing two dry flies, a Stimulator on the point and a small Chernobyl as a dropper.  A very respectable brookie sipped my Stimulator.  It was a gorgeous take where only the tip of his snout came out.  I hooked him well and began to play him when a small ouananiche grabbed my Chernobyl dropper.  Both salmonids were on and the larger brook trout dragged the insignificant salmon along.  That’s when another even larger brook trout showed up.  He was there to eat the salmon.

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-10-landlocked-salmon-fishingThe arrival of the large carnivorous brookie excited the brook trout I had on sending him at rapid pace for the middle of the river.  The larger brook trout threw a rooster tail as he chased along completely focused on catching the salmon (which was about 12”).  I kept tight and in doing so my salmon lifted out of the water and was hanging off my Chernobyl dropper kicking and screaming for his life.  Like a tiger shark nipping on a seabird the predator brook trout stuck his head out of the water, as if standing on his tail, and nipped at the salmon.  He wanted to eat him so bad but could barely reach the tail!

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-11-jeff-currier-in-labradorThe salmon danced based on the pull of the brook trout I had on and went in the water then lifted out several times, each time with the larger brook trout chasing and nipping.  Finally the fish-eater brookie couldn’t take it any more and leapt completely out of the water and grabbed the salmon taking him down with him.  Remarkably the salmon stayed hooked and now I had two big Labrador brook trout and a salmon on my Winston 5-weight LS at the same time!

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-12-jeff-currier-&-andrew-murphyI must have let out a yell because now I could hear Andrew hollering above in in disbelief.  He saw my entire adventure unfolding.  But seconds after I had three fish on the salmon came loose from my Chernobyl.  He actually escaped from the jaws of the brook trout as well, but only for a second.  The small ouananiche jumped like a mullet four times heading for the shallows.  The problem however, so was the brook trout and he caught the salmon at my feet.  He held him sideways in his vice grip mouth then right before my eyes turned him and swallowed him whole.  Andrew yelled down, “that brook trout is the Terminator!”

 

I landed the one brook trout.  During the crazy carnage event the rain started to fall.  Granny asked to return to the lodge so we all waded to the boat and went.  Andrew and I kept the waders on and sucked a coffee and waited for the rain to lighten.  A half our later we returned to Pool One and Two.

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-13-flyfishing-in-labradorNaturally I went directly down to Pool Two in search of the Terminator.  I found him exactly where I left him.  And he wasn’t full.  He moved side to side like a fighter jet appearing to be eating nymphs.  Sticking to my druthers, first I tried a dry.  He paid no attention.  Then I tried a streamer.  The fish imitation seemed logical and he took a look but not with much interest.  Last, I put on a Frank Smethurst stonefly nymph and went into sight nymphing mode.  On the first presentation I watched his big white mouth open and set the hook.  Terminator on!

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-14-jeff-currier-brook-troutI won’t elaborate about a fish battle but I’ll tell you the Terminator put on the best fight of the week so far.  He was a wise old char and unlike most of these fish, he left his pool and ran straight down through the fast water and rapids.  He is the one and only brook trout that has taken me to my backing!

 

With the help of Andrew I landed the alligator jawed brook trout 200yds below where I hooked him.  He was a massive brookie, perhaps slightly larger than the one the first night.  And his colors, shape and attitude go without speaking.  The Terminator is one of the coolest and most badass trout of my life!

 

blog-Aug-5-2015-15-brook-trout-releaseAfter dinner tonight Andrew and Simon went out to try some dry fly fishing on the lake.  I went with but rather than dragging my rod I dressed warm in fleece and brought three Molson Canadian Lagers and watched the northern skies change color and remembered yet another amazing day in Labrador.

 

A special thanks to Paul Ostiguy and McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge for bringing Granny and I to Labrador!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing Labrador for Ouananiche Salmon

blog-Aug-4-2015-1-mckenzie-river-fly-fishing-lodgeIt was a gnarly storm through the night.  Heavy rain pummeled our cabin at McKenzie River Lodge and wind shook the walls.  Granny got up at 2 AM for something and I heard her mumble, “I’m not fishing in this crap”.  I’m not sure anyone would’ve but to our good fortune at 4 AM the storm ended and when I stuck my head outside at 6 things were shiny and wet but a beam of sunshine lit it’s way through the thick layers of clouds.  We experienced a “perfect storm”.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-2b-ninja-mediaAfter breakfast Granny and I loaded the canoe to head further down the McKenzie River with our guide Andrew Murphy.  Along with us today was film maker Guillaume Lapierre alias Bill of Ninja Média’.  Bill is filming a segment for the Canadian version of the F3T and will generously let me use some of his photos throughout the week.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-2-lichens-and-mushrooms-of-labradorThe clouds were threatening but in areas I could see blue patches.  We anchored our canoe where we did yesterday by Pool One then hiked for ten minutes through the taiga forest then came to a slow wide part of the McKenzie.  Here we launched a stashed canoe and proceeded across the lake-like section for a few minutes, parked and got out to hike some more.  You can’t believe how beautiful the forest floor is with all the stunning lichens, mushrooms and plants.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-3-jeff-currier-flyfishing-in-labrador

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

To break up the trek we stopped and fished Mouse Hole.  Simply because of the name I took my new 6-weight Winston Boron III Plus and put on a mouse on a short leader and twitched it across the pool several times.  I’d love to get a brookie this way but instead the furry animal fly went untouched.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-4-vladi-trzebunia-fliesAndrew had Granny step in to nymph the run.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen Granny toss a nymph other then sight fishing to a huge brown trout in New Zealand.  I laughed as she argued with Andrew about the idea.  She agreed to nymph in dry fly dropper fashion and would only use one of our good Polish friend Vladi Trzebunia’s nymphs.  Andrew was perplexed at first but when he saw the Vladi flies in her box he could hardly decide which of the gorgeous flies to tie on.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-5-granny-currier-labradorWhichever Vladi fly Andrew chose it was a success.  Granny mended and got her nymph deep into the Mouse Hole as if she nymphs all the time and instantly hooked up.  So far these brookies aren’t making big runs but they’re stubborn and the fight goes like this:  First they refuse to leave their spot.  Then they run upstream and back down to the deepest part of the pool and try to hold.  You must muscle them in order to get them to give in.  Granny had her another average McKenzie River Labrador piggy brook trout!

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-6-flyfishing-in-labradorThe skies cleared and the black flies came out as we walked another ten minutes down the trail to yet another stashed canoe.  Once again we launched and motored through a lake-like part of river and just before it returned back to river we beached and got out.  We were about to swing for salmon on the Funnel Pool.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-7-brooktrout-fishing-in-labradorOnce again, I stepped back and watched my girl work the pool.  She doesn’t cast a mile but does a great job of methodically fishing the seams close to the bank.  Just like a pro she swung the run, took two steps and did it again.  She covered the pool impeccably.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-8-flyfishing-landlocked-salmon-in-labradorHer fly was an olive sculpin concoction Andrew tied up with lead eyes.  At the tail of the pool she hooked up and an ouananiche spiraled in the air then ripped upstream and leapt again.  Granny stayed on him and fought back with my green stick.  Moments later Andrew scooped up the salmon with his net and Granny had her second salmon in as many days.

 

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

After the success of Granny I stepped in and fished the middle of the pool to the far side swinging a purple bugger.  I should have paid better attention to Granny’s technique at fighting ouananiche because I hooked three and landed none.  Two got off on the first jump and the last one was hooked well but must have been a lunker because despite my putting the heat on him he managed to saw me off on a sharp rock.  I had to completely redo my leader.

 

Photo by "Bill" of Ninja Media

Photo by “Bill” of Ninja Media

Fishing was slow for the next hour or so.  We walked downstream and fished a spectacular looking run, first swinging for salmon than prowling for brookies but came up empty handed.  All the time however we were resting the Funnel which proved to be home to several salmon earlier.  Resting it paid off because when I hit it on the way back I finally kept an ouananiche on and landed the largest landlocked I’ve ever caught.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-11-brook-trout-of-labradorDay two was another magnificent one.  We each landed a salmon and on the journey back I popped three big brookies on dry flies.  Though there was no hatch these three fish teased up nicely and I plan to get more serious with the dry fly for the rest of the week.

 

blog-Aug-4-2015-12-paul-ostiguy-mckenzie-river-lodgeThe evening was nice back at the lodge.  The sun came out strong and it appears we should have good weather tomorrow.  The only bad thing about the sunny warm night is it brought out the bugs in motley force.  Our best defense was smoking Paul’s cigars outside the lodge.  Tomorrow we’ll drive halfway up Andre Lake in the canoe and hike up a different river called the Quartzite.

 

A special thanks to Paul Ostiguy and McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge for bringing Granny and I to Labrador!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Made it to McKenzie River Lodge in Labrador

blog-Aug-3-2015-1-de-havilland-beaverWith the Otter Seaplane down Labrador Air Safaris brought in a 1954 De Havilland Beaver to fly us to McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge.  I was comfy with our replacement plane being that I lived off a Beaver much of June on the Selwyn Lake pike trip.  Unfortunately with the smaller plane not all of us could fly in together.  Instead Granny and I flew in with John, a lodge guest from Maine, and heaps of gear while Paul Ostiguy, his son Dave and a film maker named Guillaume Lapierre (Bill) of Ninja Media flew in later.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-2-flyfishing-labradorFor once since we arrived to Labrador it wasn’t raining and although cold and cloudy, we were cleared to fly and left the hotel for the Beaver promptly at 8 AM.  We weighed in and took off utilizing our chance to fly.  Like much of northern Canada the landscape consisted of lake after lake and on every inch of ground between the trees were blankets of lichen.  There’s so much lichen between the trees that it looks more like fresh powdery snow than a composite organism.  The flight north to McKenzie took 1 hr 25 min.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-3-mckenzie-river-lodge-labradorAfter a smooth landing on the lake we were greeted at McKenzie Lodge by fishing guides Andrew and Simon.  They led us up a plank boardwalk to the lodge.  Our plan was to get settled later and get on the water ASAP.  We met the chef “G” and he made us a tasty brunch of chicken soup while giving us the rundown.  Then the guides told us what to expect for our afternoon of fishing.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-4-McKenzie-River-lodgeMcKenzie River Lodge is located overlooking Andre Lake in the untouched wilderness of Northern Labrador.  It took seconds to realize you’re in an amazing place.  The lodge is clean and cozy.  Sleeping cabins are separate and hold up to three anglers.  Granny and I tossed our bags into the Brook Trout cabin being we both have goals of catching the biggest brook trout of our lives.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-5-fishingguide-andrew-murphyOur guide is twenty year old Andrew Murphy from Bromont, Quebec.  Andrew will guide us all week.  You’d never know it after today, but this is Andrew’s first guide job.  He met Paul about five years ago at a fly fishing club and stayed in touch.  Paul says right out of the blue Andrew hit him with a request to be a guide at McKenzie earlier this year.  Without experience Paul was reluctant to hire him but knew what a great kid he is and he gave him a chance.  All I can say is that had he not told us this was his first guide job we’d have assumed he’d been guiding for years.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-6-granny-currier-simms-fishingThere’s only one hitch that goes with fishing in Labrador, and that’s slippery rocks.  Andrew advised me that my Simms vibram sole wading shoes needed cleats added.  I always bring my cleats with me and as I set up the Winston’s Granny screwed some cleats in for me (it turns out the wading isn’t too difficult).

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-7-flyfishing-mckenzie-riverWhile most our fishing this week will be wading, our means of transport from place to place are these classic oversized and motorized canoes.  They’re neat boats all made of wood.  One of the reasons for them is they’re easy to drag up and down shallow rapids.  It’s a good thing Granny and I stay in reasonable shape to help with this!

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-8-flyfishing-for-landlocked-salmonBeing today was essentially a half day; we fished on McKenzie River pools near the lodge.  Before arriving at them, there’s a deep channel connecting Andre Lake to the McKenzie River with a sweeping current and a few holding rocks for ouananiche salmon (landlocked salmon).  Andrew suggested we swing a few flies through to see if we could get lucky.  I kicked back in the canoe and watched Andrew guide Granny through her first experience swinging a fly.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-8-flyfishing-for-ouananicheIt didn’t take but three casts before a salmon went airborne and I heard my Ross Reel singing.  My new Winston Boron III Plus was bent and Granny bubbled with excitement.  I reached for the camera and followed the battle.  One of the reasons I love fishing so much is that I caught landlocks at an early age in New Hampshire.  Their amazing acrobatic fight addicts anyone to angling.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-10-granny-currier-salmon-fishingThis ouananiche didn’t disappoint.  He jumped several times and ran Granny up and down the channel before Andrew finally got the net under him.  The beautiful salmonid wasn’t big for the McKenzie but anywhere else you’d do a back flip over him.  This was Granny’s first ouananiche!

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-11-jeff-currier-flyfishing-labradorFishing didn’t get worse like it so often does when it starts so fast.  We arrived at Pool One on the top of the McKenzie and I tossed a black sculpin pattern into the tail of the run.  I stripped twice and came tight.  I could see the colors immediately.  I had a fantastic brook trout and landed him fast with my 0X tippet.  We were a half hour in and Granny had an unexpected landlocked salmon under her belt and my first brookie already rivaled my biggest ever.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-12-flyfishing-for-pikeFishing came down to earth after that brookie but we each picked up a few more of the dazzling char over the next couple hours.  After we thoroughly fished one side of the pool we waded across to the other.  Granny, who was into her “swinging” of the fly now, swung it right into a pike.  There’s lots of current here and you wouldn’t expect the toothy predator to appear but she landed him and I snapped off a few nice pics.  By the way, Granny was lucky once again because we were brook trout fishing and naturally didn’t have any wire tippet to the fly. This pike was strangely almost toothless.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-13-labrador-brook-troutGranny retired to the canoe at the end of the day.  Andrew suggested I hike with him down to a pool they call Ledge Rock where they’ve caught several brookies up to 5lbs this season.  It was some of the fastest water on the stretch and I wasn’t feeling confident as my sculpin ripped through the pool.  But as my fly hit the water on one of my last casts of the day I hooked up.  I knew right away this fish was big and even better, because he didn’t jump I knew it was a massive brook trout.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-14-jeff-currier-flyfisihing-labradorBrook trout remind me of cutthroats in that they rarely jump but can throw their weight around more than other trout.  My fish used all his tricks to keep us from seeing him.  He stayed deep and ran up the pool and down the pool and eventually burrowed down into the deepest part of the pool.  I hoisted on him hard knowingly taking a chance at breaking him off or pulling my fly loose.  But I trusted my gear and knots and soon Andrew was digging with the net.  This time for absolute certain, I had the largest brook trout of my life!

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-15-labrador-brook-troutToday was the first of five days and already our goals of catching the largest brook trout of our lives have been fulfilled.  Based on Andrews experience this season, the brookie at the end of today will likely be my largest.  We didn’t weigh him but he probably tops the 6lb mark (pics never do a fish justice!).  It was an astonishing fish, not only for his size but his extraordinary colors.

 

blog-Aug-3-2015-16-McKenzie-River-Lodge-LabradorWe just finished a nice dinner family style in the lodge and the minute we finished heavy rain started and we all ran to our cabins.  Now we have huge wind along with the rain.  We’ll see what tomorrow will bring . . . .

 

 

A special thanks to Paul Ostiguy and McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge for bringing Granny and I to Labrador!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Bad Luck and Another Night in Labrador, City

blog-Aug-2-pm-labrador-cityI’m sorry to say we didn’t make it to McKenzie River Lodge and we are right back in the same hotel we were at last night in rainy Labrador City.  Things were looking good.  We went to the airport to meet Paul Ostiguy arriving from Sept Ilse.  But on one short flight – Air Canada lost his luggage.

 

In any normal situation, lost luggage gets delivered by the airlines a day or two later.  But we’re flying in to a backcountry lodge on a private seaplane charter – the airlines won’t charter a plane to deliver luggage.  Paul decided to send us to McKenzie without him and he and his son would fly in to the lodge a few days from now.  Paul drove us to the seaplane air service and we got all ready to fly.

 

Our plane, the Otter, was out dropping other anglers off at another lodge.  We waited and waited for it to return and take us.  Well, unfortunately it never made it back as it had an overheated turbine and couldn’t return from wherever it was.  At 2 PM we were told we couldn’t go and got rescheduled for tomorrow weather permitting.  Yikes!

 

It’s a real bummer but when you travel you never know what might happen.  These bad luck deals are rare but when they happen you take a deep breath and hope for the best.  We have me, Granny, Paul, his son and three other clients all on standby for tomorrow.  We just had dinner and a few beers and now I’m watching Sunday night baseball.  I seriously doubt I’ll be in this hotel tomorrow night but rather at McKenzie River Lodge catching brook trout!

 

I don’t think we have internet from here on out so day by day accounts will post starting August 9th.

 

A special thanks to Paul Ostiguy and McKenzie River Fly Fishing Lodge for bringing Granny and I to Labrador!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing