9th Jan, 12
It is now 4 years in succession for Grey River Lodge in providing it’s guests with better than average fly fishing action for our wild Atlantic salmon. Aided by very favourable water conditions, the run of fish was not only early and strong, but this continued for our entire season of operation. Seasonal fish totals were amongst our best ever, with almost 900 salmon being played, of which 473 were either landed or released. With just 45 guests, staying 5 days each, our average daily rate of hook ups per angler was 4.
The salmon run of Grey River was almost a carbon copy of the previous year. Our first guests for the 2011 arrived on June 13 and were immediately greeted with superb angling action, with the very best season opening fishing that we have ever experienced. Despite being located 11 km apart, both our lodges fished well right from the start, and in fact I am fairly confident that we could have begun our season 10-14 days sooner with decent action. Our mild winter, early spring and good water conditions likely combined to help provide such great returns this past summer.
There was time during our season when water levels were much higher than ideal, but our guides were still able to direct all guests to very good angling action. If there was one aspect of the 2011 season which did not correspond to 2010, it was the fact that the run did not taper off as quickly in July, even though water level was at times quite high. Some of our guides returned some time after our lodges had closed for the season and experienced excellent fishing in late July and even into August.
Another item worthy of note was the lack of older, darker fish among the catch of our guests, indicating that the salmon were moving through very quickly, continually being replaced by new arrivals from the ocean. While there were not more or less large fish than normal, the general size of fish was bigger than average, with a great many 5-6 lb fish.
At The Forks Lodge, this was the second year of our lodge imposed catch and release only period covering the first portion of our season up to late June. While some fish retention is permitted on Grey River, the vast majority of fish landed were released this year, allowing even more salmon to reach spawning stage. For example, of 312 fish landed by guests at The Forks Lodge this year, just 34 grilse were retained. There were the usual number of day hiking/fishing excursions, which provided the trip highlights for many, even during periods of high water. While most day trips involved travel up Salmon Brook from The Forks Lodge, there were also some memorable trips downstream, even as far as going all the way to the mouth of the river by canoe.
A wild one at the hot pool of the Higher water levels, such as we experienced this year, can make both travel and fishing more challenging on the Grey River system, but our guides were able to get all travelers into a reasonable number of fish even during periods of high water.
While Grey River Atlantic salmon are well known for their responsiveness to dry flies, 2011 provided even more than the usual percentage of action on surface presentations. This is also despite higher and cooler than normal water conditions for much of our season, which would usually favour wet fly fish fishing. Despite a summer of above average rainfall, our guests were not forced to spend long periods fishing in rain and wind, with most of the rain occurring during the nighttime, and wind really was not a problem at all. While temperatures were cooler than normal, they often did provide many very pleasant days for fishing. The usual amount of lodge maintenance occurred once again this year, such as boardwalk replacements and deck repair. There was also major improvement to the trail downstream from The Forks Lodge, now turning that experience into a very pleasant walk. The solar/inverter/battery power system now in place at The Forks continued to show it’s value and convenience in the 2nd year of operation.
All guests were treated to pleasure filled helicopter transport to the lodge over the NL wilderness, with frequent sightings of moose, woodland caribou and black bears. A highlight would have been sighting of about 250 caribou on one trip. There would also have been occasional viewing of these big game animals at or near the lodges throughout the summer. Once again this year, occurrence of helicopter flight delays were rare, with only one trip not being completed on the scheduled day, and that would have provided the last party at Salmon Brook Lodge an extra night at the lodge.
As usual, with our high level of guest satisfaction, a number of periods are already filled with repeat guests for the 2011 salmon fishing season at both our lodges. While the current level of interest in fishing dates for next year is quite high, there are some excellent periods still possible with prompt action. While large parties are much more difficult to fit into our available openings, there remain some limited options during our prime time angling period, but an early reservation is essential.