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My Life From River to River;

Posted 07-25-2011 at 01:27 AM by Hardyreels
Updated 07-25-2011 at 01:39 PM by Hardyreels

Every year trying to intercept the salmon as they travel up the rivers here becomes a sort of problem. Actually it's more of a fixation than a problem and it takes control of my mind and therefore my life every year. I'll try to say this so you all can relate to what has happened over the years.

I have lived in several places, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado and Alaska. The bulk of time was spent in Pennsylvania with just 2 years in Georgia, 2 in Virginia, and one in Colorado. While living in Pennsylvania I had a fishing buddy who went with me for 23 years. He never took the long trips to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine with me but in the 1990's he started going to the rivers flowing into Lake Ontario to our north to salmon fish. We also went for steelhead from the Ontario rivers to the creeks flowing into Lake Erie. Often we talked about how great it would be to live near one of these places so that we would know what was happening and would not have to show up cold turkey; not knowing what was going on until we were there. Conversations would drift to far off places like Goose Bay Labrador and we would talk about the huge Brook Trout they have up there. Steve would often say that he just wanted to go somewhere that he would get tired of catching big fish for the day. I believe he meant tired in the physical state not the mental state. Well I made it to that point, I do live in the middle of the action and I do get tired after a day of hauling in fish that can run average weights in the 13 pound size range. The thing about this is that it becomes almost an addictive activity. I am not trying to be passť In saying what I just wrote. I love to fish and have been fixated by water since I was a 4 year old boy standing on the side of the dirt road that led from our home on the foot hill slope of Bald Eagle Mountain in Pennsylvania down to the deep green water of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. I used to look at that river and imagine myself out there on it in a boat or walking along the shore and in those fantasies I would fish for the unknown that the deep green water must have held. The boyhood attraction never waned, it just grew along with me and I have spent my life as much as possible on and along the sides of rivers and creeks.

Here the winters are long and hard with no spring creeks for a fellow to go to for that all important time on the water. I get time on the rivers but they are frozen and I am driving a snowmachine to and from the Bush camp at Hewitt Lake. This isn't the "on the river" time I really need but sometimes the trip can be beautiful. When the spring breakup comes I am more than ready to fish but the fish are seldom easy to find. This past May I floated my favorite river for 5 days and 68 miles searching for any trace of a rainbow or steelhead but found only a few char. It was good to see the char come after my Nine Three and grab it but I was longing for something big, a steelhead was what I wanted but it was not to be. The char were all released with no formalities such as photos and I enjoyed being out there casting into the unknown for what might be ready to grab my fly. I find fish pictures very hard to do when traveling alone and feel silly when I try, they always flip flop and water ends up all over my lens so I just let em go. I did get hold of a couple in the 13 - 14" class so I was happy with that.

Here's what things looked like in May;

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My streamer, the Nine Three; I've been using the same fly for years and have not lost it. Eventually they come undone and I then need a new one. By the way, that's my Quarrow 9' 7 weight rod there boy, is that a sweet casting rod.

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

On the second morning of the trip Boss woke me at around 2:00 AM by sounding the alarm. I got out of the tent and we patrolled our little island where I had made camp but saw no imminent danger and we went back to the tent and back to sleep. It was cold at night dropping into the 20's and leaving everything frozen when you woke up. Having the MSR to get some hot coffee around quickly was a blessing for sure on those crisp mornings.

This was our second camp where Boss thought he heard something at night'

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While I was waiting for the coffee to perk I noticed something on the hillside across the river from camp to the west. I had the camera handy and looked through the 300 lens at it and was quite surprised at what I saw. At first I thought, 'that's a wolf', then I kept looking and saw that it was a Husky.

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

It just lay there in the morning sun but as we became more active it tried to get up and it appeared to be hurt. Eventually it came down close to the water and ended up falling down into the river. It was then that I knew I had to do something about it so I put my waders on and grabbed Boss's leash. I got over there to find that the dog had no visible injury and I figured it was just beat up from traveling through the bush. Where we were was at least 20 miles from any road and I would come to find out 35 miles from this dogs home. The dog couldn't move very well and just lay down once I got her over to the island and she and Boss did the sniffing thing. I was very happy that Boss is well behaved and trained so there was no aggressive action from him and our guest was so worn out that all she did was go back to sleep. The Husky had a collar on with info and I knew that I could get a cell phone signal once I went another ten miles down river where the land is flat. After breaking camp I loaded the raft a little different and Boss and I took our new guest along. I would later learn that this was her first big raft trip,by the time a couple days passed the Husky was enjoying the trip and was loading and unloading on command just like Boss so it was fun having her along.

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

Once I was able to make a call I found out that our new friend was a genuine Iditarod Sled Dog and a veteran of the run to Nome Alaska. Her name was Keegan and she was 14 years old. She had been lost for three days when we found her and no one had a clue as to how she ended up 24 miles down the river. I assured her owner that all was well and that I had plenty of food for an extra dog and would bring her with us to the end of our float. So for the next three days we had a friend, Keegan.

As we were traveling, the river has a spot where everything bottle necks down and smashes into the bank with a big logjam while making a 130* left turn. I call it 'The Boat Wrecker'. I've gotten real good at not getting into trouble on what is supposed to be a relaxing trip so I entered with my port tube leading and eased us through the turn. as we were exiting I spotted something in the back eddy and went for a look. It turned out to be a tackle box buried in sand in about three foot of water but it was a nice sunny day so I took off the shirt and after digging it out with an oar I reached in and pulled it lose from the sand. At first I thought it was empty but found that it held about 135 dollars worth of spinning lures, 4 Rapalla lures, a new fillet knife, needle nose pliers, a stringer, and a fish scale. The only thing that was rusted was the spring on the scale. So I took salvage rights on the tackle and cleaned it up and laid it out to dry. Keegan turned out to be good company and she ate like a horse. Those three days wandering in her old age had left her hungry so we shared both the dog food and the people food with her.

Here's some of the booty from the crash site;

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]
There was a whole lot more but I didn't get everything on pictures, somewhere around 60 lures in all.

Aside from the sled dog we saw lots of ducks and Yellow Legs. I should have taken more pictures but every time we got close to the flocks of ducks they would flush before I could get a good shot.

Golden Eye and Yellow Legs;

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

Now that I've finally written something about the early season float trip I will get to the current activities and you might begin to understand why I said I have a salmon problem in the opening paragraph here. I'm trying a new way to post these entries so that a two part story will show up in a top down format as opposed to the way they post with this program. If this works out you will find this entry at the top of the list and the second half under it. The program here only allows for so many words per post so I can't write a whole book here. See part 2
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Ard

    That is a good pic of Boss and Keegan on the boat together.

    Your addiction to fly fishing is well understood by me, if it weren't for the fact that they have been generating every evening, I wouldn't be here to comment on your post. lol

    Dave
    permalink
    Posted 07-25-2011 at 05:21 PM by littledavid123 littledavid123 is online now
  2. Old Comment
    cattech89's Avatar
    What a great story Ard. I agree with Dave, that is a great picture of the pups. I'm sure that she was more grateful than you will ever know.
    As always, your stories inspire me.
    Thanks for sharing and keep up the blogging.

    Seth
    permalink
    Posted 07-25-2011 at 07:18 PM by cattech89 cattech89 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Hardyreels's Avatar
    Seth,

    Thank you so much, I like to think of you guys as friends across the many miles that separate us all. Thanks to this forum and the technology we have at our disposal I feel like I can talk to all of you at once by writing on these threads. When fellows like you and others here respond to a topic this is what fuels my desire to tell what has happened to me here. I have a trout rod rigged and on the rack for transit to a nearby small creek tomorrow morning. I'll carry a camera and try to put up an article detailing the trip. I really want to go for some more salmon but the steelhead are coming with the sockeye into this creek and there is a chance I can bushwhack a few so trouting it will be.
    permalink
    Posted 07-26-2011 at 12:43 AM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Davo's Avatar

    Nice float Ard!!

    What an awesome float trip Ard!! All that time on the water plus the scenery and the fishing. Add in rescuing a new friend and finding sunken treasure. I am jealous my friend!!
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    Posted 07-26-2011 at 01:21 AM by Davo Davo is offline
  5. Old Comment
    milt spawn's Avatar
    Captivating story Ard, you are a true wordsmith. 14 is gettin' up there for a sled dog, nice that you could rescue her. Thanx! milt.
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    Posted 07-26-2011 at 09:43 PM by milt spawn milt spawn is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Hardyreels's Avatar

    Many Thanks;

    I am so glad that you guys enjoy these tales, your reading and comments are what keep me writing them.
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    Posted 07-26-2011 at 11:33 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is offline
  7. Old Comment
    mcnerney's Avatar
    Ard: Great report on your spring float, sorry the fishing wasn't a bit better, but having rescued the husky must have made you feel pretty good!
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    Posted 08-10-2011 at 02:42 PM by mcnerney mcnerney is offline
  8. Old Comment
    jpbfly's Avatar

    dog lover

    Had missed this story...first time I visit the blogs ...thanks to FyshIt was a great pleasure for me to read it and look at the pics.You're a talented story teller ArdThanks for sharing your adventures with us.
    permalink
    Posted 08-15-2011 at 12:41 PM by jpbfly jpbfly is offline
 












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