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Bryan is a member of the Game Angling Instructors Association (APGAI - Salmon, Trout and Sea Trout), a member of the Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors (AAPGAI Trout and Sea Trout) and has the Salmon and Trout Association National Instructors Certificate (STANIC - Salmon, Trout and Fly Dressing). Bryan is also a Fly Fishers International Master Certified Instructor (FFI MCI) and Two Handed Certified Instructor (FFI THCI) and a licensed game angling coach (L2CCA/UKCC) providing qualified fly casting tuition and fly fishing for brown trout, sea trout and salmon on our north Devon rivers, rainbow trout on a choice of stillwaters and bass on the north Devon coast.
FFI MCI / FFI THCI / APGAI / AAPGAI / STANIC Qualified Tuition
The Miramichi New Brunswick - Atlantic Salmon Highway
The Annual UK Spey Week, Miramichi River
In late September every year I accompany a UK fishing trip to fly fish on one of the most productive Atlantic Salmon rivers in Canada - The Miramichi.
Included in this trip at no extra cost are double and single hand fly casting tuition and demonstration sessions.
If you are interested in joining us on this annual fly fishing trip then read on to find out more.
The Miramichi River
The Miramichi River, New Brunswick Canada, has earned the reputation of being one of the best Atlantic salmon rivers in Canada and one of the largest producers of Atlantic salmon in the world.
The Miramichi accounts for around half of all North American rod-caught Atlantic salmon. Over 30,000 salmon enter the river system most years, many of which are caught fly fishing with the majority returned.
The river is generally gin clear, with some colour after rain, and the features and character provide a mixture of fast flowing runs and steadier pools. Overall, wading is comfortable with many of the private beats being quite easy. As always, a wading stick is recommended and lifejackets provided if wanted. The river is a classic for casting with double handed rods. Long casts are not essential on most of the pools but you will certainly cover more fish and improve your chances if you can stretch the line out further on occasions.
Country Haven Lodge
Our annual salmon fishng trip is based at Country Haven Lodge at Blackville, situated right on the banks of the river. The lodge and cottages boast 'Canada Select' 4 star rated accommodation. The owner Byron Coughlan, his staff and guides are friendly and helpful and do everything they can to ensure the fishing, food and overall ambiance are first class.
Country Haven Lodge has eleven private pools, nine of which are on the main South West Miramichi and two on tributaries, the Cains and Renous. The lowest pool on the Miramichi is only 5 miles above the tide. Fish arriving at Country Haven beats have seen few if any flies. The lodge also has access to other beats on a leased basis and will fish public water if the conditions are more favourable there. As always, the main objective of the lodge is for its visiting fishers to catch fish and have an enjoyable fishing holiday. They do this so well that they get a regular 80% to 85% visitor return rate year on year.
The lodge and cottages are located in 100 acres of their private land on the banks of the river, providing river views from the accommodation. It is not uncommon to see eagles, osprey and beavers. You may even be fortunate enough to see an osprey taking a fish from the pool you are fishing. As well as fishing, other activities are available. Moose, bear and whale watching can be arranged as well as shopping trips. There is always a great social atmosphere at mealtimes and in the evening when the day's exploits are discussed.
We have visited Country Haven Lodge every year since 2008, arriving in late September when the larger late summer/autumn fish are running in as well as a good number of grilse. There are various international flight options. We generally travel from Heathrow to Halifax, Nova Scotia with Air Canada. On arrival we are met at Halifax airport and driven to Country Haven Lodge, stopping on the way for refreshments and to pick up any alcoholic drinks wanted for the week.
Our Daily Schedule
On arrival we have our first evening meal followed by a good night's sleep. Our daily routine starts with a full breakfast at around 7am to keep us going until lunch time. We are then met by our guides who take us off to our beats where they will advise on fly patterns, fish holding spots and where to wade and cast.
Around mid-day we return to the lodge for lunch, the main meal of the day. We then have a break until 4pm. The casting tuition and demonstrations are held during the break time for those who wish to attend.
At 4pm we head off with our guides again for the afternoon fishing session which ends around 7:30pm, when we return for the evening meal and get together before retiring for the night.
Casting Tuition and Demonstrations
For this one week of the year we offer our annual 'UK Spey Week' adding Spey casting tuition and demonstrations to the existing package of 7 days fishing, 4 hours each morning before lunch and 4 hours in the afternoon/evening each day. The tuition and demonstrations are provided by Bryan Martin and Brian Warrington, both APGAI qualified UK instructors, at no additional cost.
These daily Spey casting sessions are flexible and will cover the aspects wanted by the group. These can include double and single Spey, snake roll and various types of snap casts as well as overhead casts using a range of line types with both single and double hand rods.
Local professional guides who know the river inside out take you to the pools and guide all the fishing sessions. Their main objectives are for you to have a great time and catch fish. They will do all they can to get you in the right place with the best choice of fly. They are all competent casters and fishers so will be willing to demonstrate the best presentation and fishing methods for the pools fished.
Rods, Lines and Flies
For the size of the water, the natural choice of UK fishers would be double handed rods, 11ft #7 or #8 switch rods up to 15ft #10 depending on river conditions. Many of the Canadian and USA visitors, guides included, use single handed rods, 9 foot 8 weights being popular. However, seeing how efficiently the double handed rods cover and fish the water there is a growing interest by locals and other visitors in learning how to use the two handed rods.
The guides have their favourite fly patterns such as Green Machine, Black Bear, and Undertaker. Our home patterns also work well and it is worth giving Ally's Shrimp, Cascade, Willy Gunn and Silver Stoat a swim. Water temperature as always affects fly size and we mainly use size 10's and 12's as water temperatures can be in the high 50's and up to mid 60's by the afternoon.
Country Haven Lodge keeps a good supply of flies and the guides carry well stocked fly boxes. Local tackle shops also have a range of suitable flies. It is also well worth taking a selection of local patterns with you as well as some of your home patterns. Information on suitable patterns can easily be found from the web, bearing in mind that patterns and sizes vary throughout the season much the same as on our home waters.
Floating lines are mostly used and, except when fishing the dry fly, sink tips can be used to get the fly down to the fish. Intermediate tips are often the best option, the river flow and depth generally does not requiring anything heavier. The fish tend to show frequently so you don't have to dig deep to find them. Given the vagaries of the weather and river conditions it is recommended that a full range of sink tip densities are available to get the fly down where needed, remembering that weighted flies are not permitted. It is also worth taking a full sinking line or skagit with 'mow tips' or similar to cover any high water conditions that might occur.
The techniques used are no different from those on our UK rivers. Cast down and across the river, varying the angle to suit conditions, and then allow the current to swing the fly. A variety of retrieves can be tried during the swing before taking a few steps downstream and re-casting. The pools fished all have their own characteristics so it pays to vary casting distance, casting angle and retrieves to suit the conditions. The expert and experienced input from the guides is always the starting point.
Dry fly fishing is also a technique used on the Miramichi. The flies used are bombers tied on sizes 2 to 6 up-eye salmon hooks. Green, yellow, peach and black are popular colours. The technique is to drop the fly a couple of feet above a fish and then immediately cast back upstream once it has passed the fish. This is repeated several times until the fish takes with a large surface boil or just completely ignores. An immediate strike is required as any delay ensures the fish gets the opportunity to spit it out. Dry fly fishing is an occasion where a single-handed rod can work better than the double. Repeated casting, generally at relatively short range, and rapid striking are better suited to the single-handed outfit.
The feedback from our groups each year is always very positive and has included the following comments:
The 2016 Fishing Trip
The 2016 UK Spey week was a great one with good casting lessons and a lot of nice salmon landed. Throughout the week, anglers hooked 111 and landed 70 with the majority of them being Salmon, including three fish over 30lbs. This week was another good week of catches in a number of different pools from all the rivers we fish.
The major run of fresh fish was in the lower stretches of the Main Southwest Miramichi river system where Country Haven has the majority of its beats. Early in the week the fish were still traveling throughout the Main river system, as the water was still at a good height for running fish. As the week progressed and the water level began to drop the fish started to hold in the pools providing increased opportunity for great fishing.
A good number of Salmon were also landed on the tributaries, the Cains and Renous rivers. Higher water levels would have resulted in more fish caught in the tributaries but the advantage of Country Haven is that they have a good range of pools that fish well at different water levels.
As usual, our programme of spey casting and single hand casting instruction was well supported and enjoyed by all. The programme was organised to provide daily sessions including demonstrations, group and individual tuition.
As in previous years, the food, hospitality and professionalism of the guides and lodge staff were excellent. Our guides worked hard and yet again shared their experience and knowledge of the river and local environment. Successful flies were very much as in previous years, Ally's Shrimp, Cascade, Green Machine and Undertaker all scoring well. If you fly fish for salmon in the UK then you will find equipment, flies and methods very much the same on the Miramichi.
We already have interest in our 2017 trip, some returning from earlier years and others to experience their first visit. Where else can you get Atlantic salmon fishing on one of the most prolific salmon rivers in North America including professional fly casting tuition only a few hours away from the UK?
Of course, every year is different but our September week has shown good returns during most years and we expect 2017 and future years to continue to provide the good fishing experienced on the Miramichi.
So - another return to the Miramichi in 2017? - You bet!
If you want to join us in September 2017, CLICK Miramichi UK Spey Week 2017 FOR DETAILS.
Tel: 01769 550840
Bryan Martin has fly fished for Salmon, Trout and Sea Trout in the UK, Ireland and Canada for over 40 years. He is a member of the Game Angling Instructors Association (APGAI - Salmon, Trout and Sea Trout), a member of the Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors (AAPGAI - Trout and Sea Trout) and has the Salmon and Trout Association National Instructors Certificate (STANIC - Salmon and Trout Fishing and Fly Dressing). He is also a Fly Fishers International (FFI) Master Certified Instructor (MCI) and Two Handed Certified Instructor (THCI) and a licensed game angling coach (L2CCA/UKCC).
© Devonflyfishing 2017