Saturday morning, I headed off at 5:00 AM for a 1 hour drive to Colinet River. It's only 75 KMs, but moose activity is heavy that hour of the day, so slow driving is necessary unless you wish to take a chance on one of those 800+ lb animals rearranging the front of your vehicle and possibly ending a good day, maybe your life.
This is a scheduled salmon river, but with the salmon season closed, this river is still open for Sea Run Browns, as long as you follow regular salmon fishing rules (I.e.: posession of valid salmon license, barbless hooks, etc). The possibility of catching trout was only a bonus, my main reasons were to familiarize myself with the river (never fished there before) and to get some practice on fast water techniques.
I got to the river by 6, just as dawn was breaking and without having enough light to safely climb down the bank. The sky at this point threatened to prove the forecast of a sunny day wrong, but I trusted the "weather Gods" and forged ahead.
Shortly after that, waders were donned, vest was checked and on, rod was assembled, and I was off.
At this location, the river is very slow, fairly deep and about 120 ft wide. It is close to the mouth where it meets St. Mary's bay, so heavily affected by tides. It was easy walking as the tide was about bottom low because of an extremely low tide.
Walked slowly upstream, picking and choosing my areas to cast, but not seeing any sign of fish.
I reached the lower end of Island Pool just as the sun was rising and the sky was getting bright.
As I paused to get the camera out of the vest, I realized how beautiful this place was, and how quiet.
There were no sounds except for the birds waking and the water tumbling over the rocks, and across the river, the faint sound of a stream.
Looking downstream, I could see a clear line in the light morning mist of the sun illuminating the west side of the river while the east was still in deep shadow.
Looking upstream, I could see heavier mist, with the same separation of light and dark shadow.
I stayed where I was for a while, not casting, just enjoying the scenery and the morning wilderness sounds, 'till the sun was over the trees.
Luckily, this is a place where people respect the environment. Except for an unfortunate ATV (we call them "Bog Bikes" here) trail up the side of the river, there's nothing in the way of garbage and trash to scar or mar the landscape, not even a cigarette butt. Except for the wide trail up the side, the only thing that wasn't natural was an eel net (I should have taken a picture of that set-up).
A couple of hours after this, I had reached the upper extent of my planned travels up the river to a wide pool with a nice mixture of fast and still water, a nice place to practice mending. I tied on a # 10 Silver Doctor, not really expecting to hook anything. I just figure a dry is the best was to see how your fly is reacting to your mending efforts and the activity of the currents. I did this for about an hour, and as I was ready to work back to the car, I eyed a fellow fisherman working his way up the river. I stayed where I was until he crossed at the small riffles at a small island. I hooked the fly to the "keeper" and started wading down as quietly as I could. As I neared the island, he came back across to the side I was on and walked up, introducing himself. He asked how the fishing was, and I said slow, but still a wonderful morning. He asked what I was using, and I told him. The look of wonder on his face prompted me to explain I was a noob, and spending time practicing fishing in faster water.
After I told him I'd never been on this river before, he told me where the good pools are, and where the "less obvious" hot-spots are. He then opened his fly box and handed me a fly that he said works great on this river. He said he ties all his own flies and it's been years since he'd used a store bought fly. As etiquette would go, I opened my box and asked if anything I had would interest him in return. He politely declined.
I don't know what the fly is, maybe some of you folks will recognize the pattern, or maybe it's something of his own creation.
We parted shortly after that, wishing each other the best of luck. He fished down faster than I, and I just lagged behind, again practicing casting across & up, and across & down. I got back to the car at noon and headed back home.
Never hooked a fish all day. But the day was as close to perfect as you could get.
Again, I proved to myself, fishing isn't just about catching fish. Between the scenery, the sounds, the solitude (for the most part) and the knowledge I had improved my skills somewhat, made it a successful outing. Instead of bringing home something to go in the pan, I brought home memories and knowledge.
To me, there's no fish worth that.