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Total Carp Eclipse

August 22, 2017

 

It was early to bed early to rise after the Total Solar Eclipse yesterday.  Then today Granny and I took the family to Blackfoot Reservoir for a night of camping and carping.  For years this annual camping trip has steered up the Gros Ventre River but I felt it was time for my nieces and nephew to see what a big fish looks like.

 

It was the usual, a beautiful August day.  There was hardly a cloud in the sky.  The temperatures hovered in the high 80°s all day.  It was perfect for carp however the past few days must have been windy at Blackfoot Reservoir.  The water was extremely off color and it was impossible to see the fish or even their feeding mud trails.  Our only option was to fish blind and hope.

 

The kids have their own fly rods.  Ely has a colorful 71/2’ blue rod and the girls have the same in pink.  But these rods have no chance conquering the pull of a Blackfoot mirror carp.  This meant I provided the gear.  Because I was essentially guiding four kids (it ended up only three because my 15 year old niece wasn’t into it), I was a bit nervous having four Winston rods rigged.  Instead our arsenal included only two Winston’s, a 5- and 6-weight along with a spin rod.  I thought the spin rod would be great for them but instead they tangled the line beyond repair.  I guess this was their way of saying. “We don’t like spin fishing Uncle Jeff!”

 

Carping with the fly can be slow and in no time Ely dropped out.  It was just the girls, 10 year old Sierra and 13 year old Montana.  They both have a life history of never giving up when it comes to fishing.  Hours went by without a bite.

 

But then, as it always does, it happened.  Who cares if I was the one casting and stripping, the girls were wading by my side when the small carp struck.  I handed the rod to the nearest niece which happened to be Montana.  The fight was on.

 

If you haven’t caught a carp on fly yet I’m not sure what you’re waiting for.  The fish species snobs are really missing out.  It took the girls a mere 15 seconds to ask “Why don’t we always fish for carp Uncle Jeff?  This fish is huge!”  After about five minutes of coaching I stepped from the water and asked Sierra to help Montana land the carp so the mirror carp could be their prize together.

 

The young ladies would fish together deep into the evening.  I let them do their thing which included falling in the mud and undoing tangles.  But you need to learn some things on your own.

 

We adults settled into our camp chairs and beers just fine.  My brother enjoys his campfires so he tended it with the same enthusiasm I have walking a saltwater flat.  We ended the great day with a feast.

 

 

August 23

 

I sprung from the back of our explorer early this morning.  I was surprised to see thick clouds and rain to the south of us.  Knowing my family was leaving after breakfast I prepared some early morning coffee then woke Sierra and Montana for fishing.

 

More surprising than the rain were the trout feeding voraciously on emerging Callibaetis.  I quickly rigged a size 6 Grand Hopper like it was an indicator and put a gray Hare’s Ear Nymph three feet below and stripped them at a snail’s pace.  I stuck a couple and handed the rod to the girls but they never got one all the way in.  Then out of the blue, a monster mirror carp ate the Grand Hopper!

 

I like handing over the rod to the kids but it took me a half a second to realize the kids were no match for this fish.  My fly line sizzled off the reel fast followed by 50 feet of backing.  So fast I had to slap myself – where am I?  Then it was all I could do to hoist and turn this beast back towards shore.

 

The kids were asking for my Winston.  Sierra had waited so patiently to reel in a carp like her cousin Montana did last night.  But I made a decision – this fish had to be landed so the kids could see what a big carp looked like.  We were running out of time.  I kept the rod and told Sierra she was in charge of grabbing the golden fish and carrying him up the beach when the time came.

 

From my hopper to my nymph was 3X Scientific Anglers Flouro but to my Grand Hopper was 0X.  0X is amazing stuff and it was time to put the heat on Mr. Mirror.  In less than five minutes on my 5-weight Boron III I had the giant carp grounded on his side.  One nice thing about Sierra – when you ask her to do something she gets it done!

 

I made the right choice being sure to get this hefty carp in rather than let the kids have at it.  No doubt they were in awe that such fish exist in Idaho.  After some fantastic photos the kids up righted the carp in the shallows and gave him a nudge.  Seconds later all three were doused by the rooster tail the massive carp left on his return to Blackfoot Reservoir.

 

It was mission accomplished.  The kids got to see a spectacular creature they are sure never to forget.  After the family left Granny and I hoped to fish ourselves but the rain came and that’s useless for sight fishing carp.  We headed home.

 

I’m not sure if I’ll get out again this week.  As usual, I be packing.  Next week I’ll head for Costa Rica to be part of an amazing Castaway Films project titled – Atlanticus.  Stay tuned for what is sure to be another action filled week of blogs!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Total Solar Eclipse from Victor, Idaho

The hype for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse started in 2014 here in the land of the Grand TetonsTeton Valley Idaho and Jackson Hole Wyoming were in the path of 100% totality.  All hotels within 100 miles were booked three years in advance.  Locals were renting their homes for ungodly amounts of money.  No doubt we were to be inundated by millions of people for this once in a zillion year event.

 

Well good news folks – millions of people didn’t come to Teton Valley. Sure, it was busy.  But isn’t it always busy in August?

 

Of course, with all the buildup businesses were prepared for the onslaught of people.  Some of the restaurants here in Victor, Idaho limited their menus.  This messed up my dinner plans with family one night.  And much worse, greedy gas station owners jacked up their price .40 more cents per gallon.

 

Regardless of how many people really came to Victor for the Total Solar Eclipse, Granny and I were prepared for possible challenges.  Our gas tanks were full and we had plenty of food and beer to enjoy the phenomenon.  Best of all we had my brother and sister and their families.

 

 

Though my brother suggested we watch from the Gros Ventre months back, Granny and I kept the family right here on the property of downtown Victor.  This way we wouldn’t have to deal with traffic had there been millions of people.  Plus we wanted to celebrate.  And when it comes to celebrating there’s no place like home.

 

The actual Solar Eclipse started in Victor at 10:16 AM.  To be honest, I thought I knew exactly what to expect and so did most people I talked to.  The thing is though, I’ve never been through one of these nor had anyone I talked with.  The experience was quite different.

 

First of all, when the eclipse started I expected it to begin to get dark.  Instead the light change was hardly noticeable even though you could easily see the moon blocking out the sun.  I’d say it didn’t start to become darker until at least half the sun was blocked.

 

When ¾ of the sun was blocked, it still was by no means dark, but there was a strange light across Teton Valley.  It wasn’t like going into sunset like I anticipated.  The lighting was just plain bizarre and photos don’t accurately tell the story.

 

When we were five minutes from totality is when it finally got darker.  It’s plain and simple – you had to be here.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

 

At 11:34 AM the totality occurred for more than two minutes.  I’ve seen and experienced many things around the world but I promise you, the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse completely blew my mind!

 

The moon was wholly and perfectly blocking the sun.  There was the glimmering white glow around the dark circle.  As you stared in utter awe you began to notice some planets as bright as in the night sky and then the stars.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and nor could anyone else.  All bird life went silent and cheers echoed throughout the valley.  Once again, unexplainable.

 

The last insane unexpected thing that happened was the drop in temperature.  Victor went from 80° to 60° in less than five minutes.  Then it took at least an hour before the heat came back.  Getting cold makes total sense but putting on a sweatshirt at noon never crossed my mind.

 

I made sure to be home for the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.  My smartest move in a long time.  I know everyone around the US experienced this marvel, but if you weren’t in the 100% totality zone you missed out.  Once again, this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing the Pine River in Michigan

Dave Barkman and his wife Amy started D-Loop Outfitters in 2012 based in the heart of Michigan’s Manistee National Forest.  Their business includes the comfortable lodging we’ve used the last few days, a fully stocked fly shop and a guide service permitted to guide the waters and forests of the area.

 

Dave guided this area many years before D-Loop became his own business.  Terry Wittorp has known Dave since his early guiding days and they’ve become excellent friends.  Today Dave took the day off to take us fishing down one of Michigan’s treasured trout waters, the Pine River.

 

Originally the Pine River was a tributary to the Manistee River where we’ve been smallmouth bass fishing the last two days.  Now a reservoir separates the two.  Above the reservoir the Pine River is considered a top trout fishery.  We launched Dave’s drift boat around 10 AM and pushed off and drifted under the highway.

 

It’s truly a spectacular little river.  Where we started was scarcely wide enough to maneuver the drift boat and there was barely enough room for a back cast.  Most of this upper river gets fished by wade fishers and casual kayakers and canoers with spin rods and lures.  Gradually the Pine widens enough to dig the oars and hold a boat.

 

Dave told us before we even left for the river, “The Pine is either on or it’s not.  There’s no in between.”  Well, wouldn’t you know, we hit the Pine when it was off.  Other than one small rainbow and a few of these colorful little brownies our trout fishing wasn’t happening.

 

But when I’m fishing, every outing brings a little of the unexpected.  First of all, Terry caught a largemouth bassDave has never caught a largemouth on the trout fishing section of the Pine.

 

The next odd occurrence, Dave sees about one pike a year on this section.  Sure enough, I tossed into the perfect brown trout lie only to stick a pike.  With no steel leader this was like yesterday, try to gently lead the toothy critter into the net before he knows he’s hooked.  We succeeded and this turned out to be one of the prettiest northern pike I can recall.

 

The fishing my not have been great but it was another fabulous day.  There’s certain places I fish on this earth that I know I’ll return to – the Pine River is one of them.  Not only is this river one of the most beautiful but I can see the potential for some huge wild brown trout.

 

It’s been a wonderful four days here in the Midwest.  A very special thanks to Terry Wittorp who made this all happen.  Now it’s time to head home and hunker down for the long awaited solar eclipse.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Worlds Ugliest Pike Wins the Day

We got smart today up here in the Manistee River Country.  One of the guys bought nine thick juicy steaks along with potatoes and veggies for our dinner tonight in case we get off the river late.  Last night we limped through no open restaurants when we got off.  There’s no way we hungry fishermen could do it again.

 

We launched the boats half way through the stretch we floated yesterday on the Manistee River and pulled out about three miles below where we pulled out last night.  Though our fishing was by no means red hot yesterday, smallmouth are moody fish.  I compare them to brown trout.  Just because yesterday was a slow day doesn’t mean today will be.

 

One of the guys, Don, was so confident he tossed out a bet of $50 per boat for biggest and most fish.  All species counted.  After the shuttles were complete our three boats pushed off casting hard in hopes to win a little cash.  Two hours in, we had the first meeting of the minds because no more than a few tiny smallmouth bass were landed.

 

Fishing was tough again.  Perhaps it’s the beautiful weather.  Maybe it’s the August doldrums.  Slow fishing happens on every river in the world.  Best plan of all is to keep right on a casting.  That we did and I pulled in the first “chunker” smallie for our boat of 14”.

 

Our three boats hung together most of the morning.  Andy, Jeff and Don were team Amish Trout.  Amish Trout is actually Andy’s Fly Fishing Outfitting business based out of IndianaCheck out his website and you won’t believe some of the fishing he offers.  These guys caught on fire and soon had eight fish to our four including a 14 incher to tie our big one.

 

Watching the Amish boys tear it up lit a fire under me.  At first that didn’t help much.  Somehow even fishing behind us they continued to rack up numbers.  They got it up to ten fish to our four.  That’s when I punted and put on one of my all-time favorite trout flies, the Red Winged Chernobyl.  The first bank I twitched it down put this perfect specimen 16” smallie in the net.

 

Terry, Steve and I began to rack up some numbers of our own.  While most the smallies we caught were only 10-13” – they counted – and honestly, on the topwater flies – any 10-13” fish are a ball no matter the species.

 

Soon our boat had 13 fish and numbers wise we were only a couple behind the Amish boys.  Our third boat was far behind.  But, each boat now had a 16” smallie so big fish title was up for grabs again.  As evening set upon us Terry and Steve worked off the front of the boat with the biggest bass poppers they had in their box.  I fished from the back of the boat with my standard two streamer rig.  We were in search of that big fish.

 

My point streamer was a size 4 copper and gold flashy Kreelex.  I had hopes that the flash might attract a hook up with a steelhead or salmon.  I knew a 30” steelhead would win big fish with ease – if I could land it.  But out of the weeds came a pike.  With no steel leader landing this toothy fish seemed grim.  But my 0X SA Flouro withstood the short battle.  Instead of a glamorous salmonid, I posed with the ugliest pike in the world!

 

That long ugly pike won big fish.  It was a laugher for sure.  And we tied Amish boys with 17 fish in each boat.  Big fish put us over and Terry, Steve and I took the money.  The small wager among friends made for a fun day.  We pulled the boats out at 9:30 PM and headed back to the D Loop cabins for an amazing dinner.

 

We ate steak and sipped good wine until 1 AM.  When with friends, going to bed on time is always hard because it’s so fun hanging out.  I got some exciting news tonight as well.  Dave Barkman, owner of D Loop Outfitters offered to take Terry and I to a float down the Pine River.  The Pine is a top trout river in Michigan.  I’m looking forward to this amazing treat!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Smallmouth Fishing the Manistee River

The Manistee River in Michigan is likely best known for its steelhead and salmon fishing.  But the rage of fly fishing for smallmouth bass is flowing strong throughout the Midwest.  To many, the Manistee River is king for smallies.

 

After giving my full day seminar yesterday down in South Bend, Indiana, Terry Wittorp and I and seven friends drove straight north to Wellston, Michigan.  We spent last night here in the comfy cabins of D Loop Outfitters and today we floated on the Manistee River.

 

Along with all the goods for yesterday’s seminar I packed my Winston Boron III Plus 5- and 6-weight rods along with a small box of smallie flies.  Although a Clouser minnow nearly guarantees a smallmouth bass under any conditions, I couldn’t wait to tie on a Ben Byng hard bodied popper.

 

With nine of us this was a three-boat trip.  The scene reminded me of the end of the year party I have with my old boys of Grand Teton Fly Fishing on the Wind River in Thermopolis each November.  We had heaps of beer and food and one common goal beyond the fishing – have a great time.  After some organizing and a massive breakfast we pushed off around 10 AM.

 

To describe the Manistee River as beautiful is an understatement.  Compared to a western trout river the Manistee is slow moving and its banks are covered with hardwood trees and flowers.  Its edges have rows of aquatic weeds and there are sunken logs throughout.  This gorgeous river provides perfect habitat for smallmouth bass.

 

We had huge expectations but fishing started slow.  I racked up three tiny largemouth bass (unusual on this stretch) and between all three boats only about three less than average sized smallmouths caught before noon.  It was a head scratcher trying to crack the code with different colored poppers and streamers.  I stuck to my druthers and kept my same popper popping.

 

Finally, I dropped my fly in the right spots and picked up a couple decent smallies up to 14”.  Terry’s friend Steve nailed a nice one of his own.  It was good to have some action but clearly the guys were surprised not to find a few bigger fish.  Then, despite the flurry of hungry bass, the Manistee smallies turned completely off and not a fish could be found.

 

I’ve learned there’s a universal move anglers make when fishing is slow whether in the Yellowstone Country, a saltwater destination or here in Michigan.  If guys are truly about having fun – you take a break and eat, drink and have a laugh together.  When things didn’t pick up much by 3 PM we anchored the boats side by side and crushed a few tasty Michigan brews and delicious snacks and shared some stories.

 

Late afternoon turned to evening and everyone got serious.  This is when big fish generally happen whether its trout, pike, crappie or in today’s case, we were hoping it would be smallmouth bass.  Here the evening light lingers and the scenery on the Manistee came to life.

 

Terry, who rowed much of the day, took the front of the boat and went to work with one of his own green poppers.  I stuck with the popper but downsized it to a size 8.  No doubt the bite returned and we each picked up a few small smallies.

 

The highlight of the day came around 8:30 PM with the last glimmer of sun squeezing light through the trees.  It was a great looking spot and Terry’s and my poppers weren’t six feet apart gurgling along a deep bank.  His got slammed hard and he went tight.  As I watched his hook up unfold the same happen to me.  A couple minutes later we were posing with double trouble!

 

You should know by now for me it’s not how many big fish I catch but rather how much fun I had with the people I’m with.  My first adventure on the Manistee River was a fine one.  We ended up pulling the boats out in the pitch dark after 10 PM.

 

We were starving and craving that “after fishing all day burger”, but all restaurants and bars in Wellston were closed. It’s Sunday night.  Instead we returned to our D Loop cabins and ate tomorrow’s lunch snacks.  Terry opened a couple bottles of good wine. It’s now a little after midnight and time for bed.  Tomorrow it’s back on the Manistee.

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

A Full Day of Fun for St. Joe River Valley Fly Fishers

John T. Law photo

It was a fun day down in South Bend, Indiana delivering a full day fly fishing seminar for the St. Joseph River Valley Fly Fishers.  The weather was beautiful.  There were a few clouds but hardly any wind and a comfortable temperature of 80°.  We had a wide variety of students ranging from beginners and intermediates to men, ladies and kids.

 

John T. Law photo

The day began by entertaining the 40 students for 45 minutes with “Four Seasons of the Yellowstone Trout Bum”.  This PowerPoint presentation always gets the blood flowing.  I needed it.  We began at 9 AM sharp which for me was like 7 AM.  From there we headed outside where I gave my “Fly Casting 101” casting demonstration.

 

John T. Law photo

When I give full day seminars everyone brings a fly rod.  After my demo about 30 of my students spread out on the lawn and worked on their casts.  Some of my students already know the basics so they helped me work with the group.  I’m pleased to say everyone had the basic overhead cast and false cast down wonderfully.

 

John T. Law photo

The organizer for the big event and longtime friend, Terry Wittorp, had the grill going while I was teaching.  At noon sharp the bell rang and we reeled in the casting class for a scrumptious pork tenderloin lunch.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that most fly fishing clubs do it up right at the meetings that I speak at.

 

After lunch I broke into knot tying class.  I’m always amazed how much folks enjoy this.  Even the intermediate and advanced anglers like knots because I teach how to rig two flies.  While many have a way of doing this I think the way I teach it works best.

 

My full day seminars generally include five presentations.  After knots I demonstrated “Tricks for Casting in the Wind and the Double Haul” then went back inside for one more PowerPoint presentation.  I like to blow everyone out of their seats with “Fly Fishing Through Midlife Heaven” to end the day.  Beginners especially can’t believe all the amazing species and destinations there are out there in the world.  Today I showed pics from Tanzania, India, Sudan, Guyana and a few polar bear and Arctic char photos from last week up at Ungava Bay.

 

John T. Law photo

After I finished Terry and I along with seven other club members headed north – north to Wellston, Michigan where we’ll smallmouth bass fish on the Manistee River.  We stopped along the way at the famous Barski’s Restaurant and Bar for burgers in Baldwin.

 

Keep on movin.  Life in the fast lane is fun!

 

If you need a guest speaker at your club contact me for a full day seminar or a one-night presentation.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

A Full Schedule in Indiana and Michigan Starts Now!

As always, it’s hard to leave Victor in the heart of summer.  The yard is cozy.  I’ve been growing a hummingbird flower garden for years and it’s finally stunning and I have hummers buzzing around like mad.  We also have two bird houses with clutches of tree swallows just about to leave us.  It’s been an awesome summer.  But once again, I’m headed out of town.

 

This time I’m on my way to South Bend, Indiana to deliver a full day fly fishing seminar for St. Joe Valley Fly Fishers.  I’ve spoken here several times over the years and it’s a great group of folks. I’ll start off with “Four Seasons of the Yellowstone Trout Bum”, then teach “Fly Casting 101”, “Knots”, “Casting in the Wind and the Double Haul” and end it with a bang of a PowerPoint, “Fly Fishing through Midlife Heaven”.  I’ll also be delivering this fly box to a friend.

 

After my seminar I’ll head up to Michigan for three days of smallmouth bass fishing with Terry Wittorp and other friends.  Should be a fantastic few days!

 

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

The End of a Great Adventure at Inukshuk Lodge

It was a cold night but it didn’t snow.  We woke up to the same drizzle we went to bed with.  It didn’t look like a fun day to go fishing in northern Canada but the wind had settled at least enough we could fish from the boats.

 

High tide was at 2 PM.  This meant we could put the boats in around noon as long as we made it back by 4.  Not a long day but sufficient time to make it at least to Duck and Bird Island where we had most our luck earlier this week.  I went with Burt along with Paul and his daughter Marisa.

 

Once we got on the water it turned out to be rougher than we thought.  We were exposed and there was enough wind to make the boat ride uncomfortable and big enough swells we had to keep our heads on tight.  Remember, two minutes in the frigid waters of Ungava Bay and you’re dead.

 

It took us about 40 minutes to get to Bird and Duck Islands.  There were diving birds everywhere and we saw a bait crushing blitz of birds and seals a mile out to sea.  It’s a shame it was too rough to investigate because no doubt there was a school of big Arctic char pushing the sand lances to the surface.

 

It was too windy to control the boats for fly fishing so we made a call to park the boats on the lee side of Bird Island and fish hard for a couple hours from shore.  There are bird nests everywhere mixed of terns, sea pigeons, gulls, scoter ducks and eiders.  You had to be careful where you stepped in order not to cause any damage.

 

Although the calmer side of the island was inviting, no doubt the rougher water attracts the most fish whether on a lake at home or here on Ungava Bay.  After we walked to the windy side we sort of laughed then got down near the water and started blind casting into the wind.

 

We fished for about an hour and a half.  Right when we got there Paul hooked and fought a fish right to the edge of the rocks.  He said it wasn’t big and looked like a sea run brook trout.  His bent rod was enough to have six people fishing their butts off.  But the closest we came to hooking another was when I had a sea run brook trout of my own nearly beach himself chasing my flies on the hang.  Unfortunately, I did not close the deal.

 

A thick fog moved in.  The wind steadily increased.  Soon we had to pull the plug.  Back to back fishless days were in the books for everyone.  It wasn’t for the lack of effort.  The weather simply didn’t cooperate.  We headed back to Inukshuk Lodge.

 

 

 

Despite challenging weather that in turn hurt our fishing, this visit to Inukshuk Lodge in Nunavik Quebec has been incredible.  If more experiences in life make you richer, than I’m likely to become the financially poorest billionaire on the planet!  I’m proud of this and continually have to ask myself –  Is this really happening?  Thank god it is.

 

Tomorrow begins the long trip home.  I’ll travel from Inukshuk to Kuujjuaq then to Montreal.  I’ll overnight there then Monday fly to Atlanta then Salt Lake City then into Idaho around midnight and home at 1 AM Tuesday.  It will be good to get home but it’s only brief.  Wednesday night I’ll be delivering “Tricks and Tactics to Catch More and Larger Trout on Streamers” for High Country Fly Fishers in Park City, Utah.  No rest for the wicked and I’m glad about this too!

 

A special thanks to my friend Paul Ostiguy the proud owner of McKenzie River Lodge in Labrador and Inukshuk Lodge in Nunavik for bringing me along on this incredible adventure.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Tides, Motors & Huge Waves Hinder Fly Fishing at Inukshuk Lodge

Boat fishing wasn’t meant to be today.  First of all, high tide wasn’t until midafternoon meaning we couldn’t launch the boats until 11 AM.  And we’d need to be back by 3 PM before the tide got too low to beach the boats.  Then we had a problem with Burts boat.  The bilge pump was left on and it killed our battery.  Last, the swells were huge.  Simon and the Wildcats Fly Fishing boys went out for a mere 10 minutes and came back rattled because they took a wave over the bow.

 

We suspected a day of fishing from the rocks before bed last night so no big deal.  At 9 AM we grabbed our rods, a 308 rifle (polar bear precaution) and hopped on the four wheelers.  We didn’t go far.  Only to the place where the Inuit’s shot the polar bear the day we got here.

 

The tide was low and beginning its inch a minute rise.  Not only do you watch for incoming swimming polar bears that want to eat you but this incoming tide can sweep you away or trap you from shore so fast your head will spin.  We had to be extremely on our game.

 

Simon and I separated from Burt and the Wildcats boys.  Not on purpose.  We simply were willing to put ourselves in a more dangerous location than the others.  Dangerous in that we’d literally only be able to make ten casts before we’d have to run from the tide for high ground.  Then we’d do it again and again.  We fished this way for the next three hours right up till high tide had us pushed back on the mainland.

 

This kind of fishing is exhausting. Concentrating on how not to stupidly die from getting swept out into the North Atlantic and the constant watch for a starving polar bear will do it.  What’s really grueling is when you cast relentlessly and don’t touch a single fish.  While the rest of the guys quit a couple hours in, Simon and I fished six hours – not an Arctic char, sea run brookie or even a shorthorn sculpin to save the day.

 

I had fun despite my first skunk of the trip.  It was an exhilarating experience surviving the incoming tide and feeling to the heart the realistic danger that polar bear could pop up on me at any time.  It was nice to rest and hang around camp with the guys tonight.  Ludo prepared a pork tenderloin that was amazing.

 

It’s a cold 33°.  Its drizzling again and borderline sleet.  But we just put down Ludo’s fantastic meal.  Crank the gas stove, I’m gonna sleep well tonight.  Tomorrow is our last day.

 

A special thanks to my friend Paul Ostiguy the proud owner of McKenzie River Lodge in Labrador and Inukshuk Lodge Nunavik.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

Flyfishing Nunavik from Inukshuk Lodge

It cooled down overnight.  Then at around 4 AM the rain started.  I’ve been getting up before 7 each day but the rain kept me zipped up in my mummy bag on my top bunk dreaming of Arctic char.

 

The other reason to stay in bed was that the first high tide of the day wasn’t until noon which means we couldn’t launch the boats until 10 AM at the earliest.  We took a leisurely morning around camp.  During that time the rain stopped but was replaced by wind.  We had to break out the map and find a place to fish that was close and somewhat sheltered.  We also had to fish near camp because staying out all day wasn’t an option because the next high tide isn’t until 1 AM.  Within two hours of high tide is the only time we can launch or pull out the boats.  So today was only a short four-hour excursion.

 

It turns out there’s an unnamed river that pours into Ungava Bay a mere couple miles away from Inukshuk Lodge.  We took the whitecap smacking boat ride there and it was a beautiful spot.  We all got out and fished.

 

Simon and the Wildcats Fly Fishing boys made a few quick casts at the lake then went for a hike upstream which began with some rough bouldering and bushwhacking.  I opted to skip the hike and fish the stream mouth.  I landed several of these gorgeous brookies.

 

We went back out on the main ocean and it was rougher than when we left camp at 10.  It was so windy that fly fishing from the boat wasn’t feasible.  Burt suggested trolling but I wasn’t up for that so after we scanned for polar bears I hopped off on shore and started casting from a high rock on a point.  Both other boats did troll around in sight of me mainly to help keep watch.

 

The water was crystal clear but it was still hard to see into it with the smashing waves.  All I could see was a fast drop so I let my flies sink for at least ten seconds each cast.  Then I’d sort of strip and jig it out of the depths and up the edge of the rocks on the drop.  I thought I saw a flash from the deep where I estimated my flies to be but didn’t feel a bite.  I sped up my retrieve and there he was.  A big Arctic char and right near the surface he surged and devoured my purple egg sucking bugger.

 

This was a fight!  I was balancing in a precarious position to begin with.  The char took off like a bat out of heck.  This was the first fish of the trip to take me right to the edge of my backing.  I’m sure this fish was strong from all the splashing waves and heaps of oxygen.

 

By now Burt saw me hooked up and he carefully maneuvered the boat close enough to communicate.  He wanted to know if he somehow had to find a way to park the boat and help but I already saw place to slide the big char in for a landing and told him I was ok and asked him to shoot some pics.

 

I had a lot of confidence in my plan to land this char by myself but things got hectic.  The char was hooked on my dropper and my point fly was trailing behind.  As I lifted the fish to slide him up my point fly got stuck in a rock.  The fish had his chance to escape but when he took off back out to sea he unsnagged my point fly giving me full control again.

 

The next time I brought the Arctic char close I made my move swiftly and was soon holding him proudly by the tail.  This is a nice one of about 8 lbs.  This fish was less silvery then the char we’ve been catching and more colorful.  This is likely due to being near the river mouth where perhaps this char has recently been in freshwater.

 

By the time I released this beauty it was time to return to camp before the tide dropped so much we couldn’t beach the boats.  It was a bummer to call it a day at 2 PM but dealing with these giant tide fluctuations calls for it.

 

We made an effort to fish from shore around Inukshuk.  So far no one has managed to land a fish from shore at camp.  I was feeling very confident I’d get it done tonight but a ton of seaweed drifted in and it was hard to strip a fly without getting hung up on it.  We all cashed it in late afternoon and enjoyed a night of relaxing around the fire.

 

The weather looks bad for tomorrow at the moment.  If we can’t take the boats out we are determined to land our first char from shore out the door of the Lodge.  Until tomorrow. . . .

 

A special thanks to my friend Paul Ostiguy the proud owner of McKenzie River Lodge in Labrador and Inukshuk Lodge in Nunavik.

Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

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