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Bon A(d)venture - Day 2
Two days fishing in Bon Aventure
Glenn the owner of Salmon Lodge and Camp Bon Aventure showed up last night. We sat in the couches all of us as daily reports evolved. Glenn told that Danish salmon angler and guide Henrik Mortensen was staying at the Salmon Lodge with some friends. The Salmon Lodge has been there for many, many years. An old building with lots of atmosphere collected over several decades and settled right at the river bank. Henrik was there just to relax and enjoy himself.
He was also there in June with his film crew to make new DVD's on salmon angling - we will get back to this later on the Global FlyFisher.
Today I had the B4-zone/beat. Glenn told me that the salmons had been there for a long time, so the fishing would probably be difficult. On the other hand I had very good fishing the first day. Besides, today would be short as Wayne would take me all the way back to Gaspé at 4 pm, so he could get back to some other place and pick up the last bigger group for the season. Actually, he would be picking up people most of the day and night. I am happy I am not retired.
Matthew got a day off and John was finally approved for guiding by himself. I had the honor of being his first client. He picked me up 7:30. My waders and clothes were dry and my memory cards emptied and ready for yet another day.
We made it to the ZEC, got the license and then drove for more than an hour. Finally we were there. Much more remote. No other people around. No summer cabins. Just me, John and an osprey, which glided silently down the river looking for brookies and small salmon.
I assembled the rod as we talked about bow hunting, which is popular over here, about the camera and about what to expect for to day. John was also a bit skeptical about the potential catches. He did not expect me to catch anything and that was not to create a bad atmosphere - that was just a realistic guess.
It did not really matter... that much... The nature at this place was fantastic. The first pool was deep green and gin clear. Five salmon, two close to one meter or three feet in length were moving around the pool or just staying at the same place.
I thought we should let them alone as they were just there for themselves and did not need to be disturbed by yet another angler.
We continued downstream wading in the low water until we reached a small island. Crossed the river to the left, walked through the forest and got down to the first pool.
John was ready with the camera. We made the super-short-introduction-to-more-advanced-features-on-a-Nikon-D80-course and John was tuned in. The pool was quite deep with a nice flow.
To get the fly down I changed spools and put on the one with the floating line with the Sink III head. The leader was shortened and a Green Machine tied on. It looked great in the water and dead drifted nicely. I fished the whole pool and nothing happened. Just as expected. We took a small break and I tied on another small white fly. Nothing happened.
Not a fish jumped - but they started to as they did yesterday around 10 o'clock. That encouraged me, and I was pretty confident that it would not take long before I would hook the first salmon of the day.
I was wrong.
I fished the pool, the hotspot once, twice, three times and then I felt the take from a rock! Sometimes they take the fly gently and sometimes they grab it hard when the fly comes too close. This one was hooked well and I had to go downstream to regain my fly.
- I told you, John said, It would not be easy today. He lit a fire as he thought that would make a nice foreground in some photos with me in the background. He collected wood as I thought about how to handle this non-catch-situation. It was hard to come up with something really brilliant as I had never fished for salmon before and I did not know this water at all. I tied on the Sunray which was succesful yesterday. If that did not work John suggested that we tried a huge Bomber.
Not fair but fun
A brookie started rising for small insects so maybe a Bomber would rise a salmon? I decided to leave the Sunray on and started from the very top of the pool. When the fly reached the hotspot I felt a take and then - the first salmon of the day was a reality. It cruised around, but I managed to get it out of the hot spot and fought it in the upper part of the pool. A nice fish. John was happy, that he finally had something different to take photos of - not just me casting...
The salmon was released and got back into the water. Even though the water was more clear than tap water and I could follow the fish, the colors almost made it disappear. If I would fish these waters more frequently, I had to train my eye. Blind fishing could be successful and that was proved in the next cast. John thought I was making fun when I yelled "OPAAH!!" and the rod bend. He put down the camera but quickly grabbed it again when a salmon jumped at the end of my line.
The fight was done quickly. So was the release.
Two fish! John was surprised. So was I. Under these conditions it was good to get one fish and two was just terrific.
I cast again. No fish. I mended the line. Pulled... waited. No. Not a take.
The Sunray was sent across the river and met the surface with a small "Plop!" It drifted, started to come across and at the same spot where the two other fish was seduced by its eely, vibrating, black wing.
Are you kidding? John did not believe what he saw. Three salmon in four casts? That was not fair, but at least it was fun.
What a day! We had a short break. Relaxed. looked at the water. John suggested, that we fished another pool. Not that this one was not productive, but to show me something else.
I agreed and we walked downstream. The B4-beat was quite long. On our way we passed another great looking pool, but Johns experience was that they rarely hooked a salmon there.
We walked further downstream. Stopped and stepped down the steep bank. As we left the wood behind us four white tails on the other side raised there heads, jumped, and ran to hide. I discovered them too late. What a photo to have. Four whitetail deer drinking water not far from us. Well, some pictures are still not saved on memory cards.
This pool did not have this calm flow as the others. The current was much harder and the surface white and wild. The casting was done easily using normal overhand casts and the flyline suited the rod well and vice versa. I fished the white water but I did not have the same confidence as before.
However, this water gave some new opportunities and a different way to fish. The fly sought every square inch of the first 10 meters or 30' but then I became less systematic and just fished where I thought a fish would be.
A fish took the fly. It felt heavier, fought better - maybe because of the current, but then I could see it was in better condition and less colored than the the first three. John entered the water and now used two cameras. Mine and the underwater camera which all the guides carry to provide photos for their clients and the lodge.
It was a beautiful fish. Steel gray, strong - a real fighter.
Time was running and Wayne had kindly asked us to be at the camp so we could leave at 4 pm. It was close to 2, so we decided not fish anymore but head back to the car. Maybe we would give the bigger fish in the green pool a shot with a dry Bomber and then have short tail-gate party.
The fish were still there but again I did not want to disturb them. We had a nice fast-lunch. Too fast actually but we had to get back and I prioritized fishing over eating (that only happens at special occasions).
We took the long way back to the camp. John talked about his life, being a guide and his career as a mechanic. Fishing and bow hunting as well as cars. He also had an Oprah-story as someone in his neighborhood had been yelling at each other all night - mainly because the wife had left her husband as she fell in love with her husband's father years ago, and the child the husband thought was his, was actually his fathers. Gosh! I was confused too. Even though it was tragic for that small family we could do nothing but smile at the whole situation and mankind in general.
At the camp, Wayne was already waiting. I packed my stuff together really blitz-fast. Said goodbye to John and Glenn. Glenn assured, that if I wanted to come back, I was more than welcome.
Did I enjoy the trip? Yes, I did. Two perfect days. Perfect accomodation, nice food, nice people and company and lovely weather and fishing. I had nothing to complain about - even though I tried hard.
I hope get some days of fishing in 2009 - maybe three... or five days.
More about Camp Bon Aventure and salmon fishing
You can take a flight to Montréal and then to Gaspé. Wayne the driver will pick you up and take all the way to the Camp Bon Aventure or Salmon Lodge.
If you've got a private jet, you can land on the on the runway connected to Camp Bon Aventure. This is also allowed if you get there by helicopter! Yes, the camp caters to some wealthy anglers!
The camp is located close to Grand Gascapedia, Petite Gascapedia and Bon Aventure. The staff is very helpful and will do what it takes to make you enjoy your stay.
Camp Bon Aventure is a modern house. Internet makes it possible to stay online if you are not too tired after a great day at the water. It has every modern facility.
Salmon Lodge is close to 100 years old and a really old house. It is charming and you can feel the atmosphere from hundreds tales, told by anglers fishing and fighting salmon for a century.
The season goes from June to September. August is a good month to experiment with the dries.
Bon Aventure is one of the clearest waters in the word. Salmon and grilse are the most common but occasionally you may hook a brookie. It stays clear even during heavy rains.
Petite Gascapedia is also very clear. Salmon and even big brook trout are in the pools.
Grand Gascepesdia is not as clear as the others and becomes milky and colored when it rains. But it is in this river you will see 20 kilo or 40 lbs. salmon - and it is not even a rare sight. Rare is a fish of that size landed, but if you never try...
A single hand #7-8 9'-10' will handle most of the situations. A light double hander will drill the bigger fish.
Bring a selection of shooting heads and a floating shooting line:
Tapered nylon leaders and tippets in 0.40 - 0.30 mm or 2X-3X.
See our fly suggestions below.
I used a ½ inch Sunray most of the time but other flies will also work.
Please note, that weighted flies are not allowed - and that includes metal cone head flies.
A camcorder might be useful but bring a good digital compact or DSLR will do. Bring an underwater case as well. Underwater photos add another dimension to your collection, and the clear water makes this a perfect place to shoot them. The guides carry underwater cameras too but they are not DSLRs which gives better picture quality.
Bring a cap (GFF - if you got one), lip balm, and a fleece as it might be cold and rainy and maybe even frosty in the late season.
Read more about Camp Bon Aventure and Salmon Lodge here.