Honouring Miramichi Guides, Boiestown to Half Moon

Boiestown to Deadman Camp, July 12-15, 2009 #1

July 12, 2009

(7:30 a.m.)

The sky was laced with heavy clouds as Josselyn Estey, Lew’s daughter, and Vincent Swazey from Boiestown helped us get the canoes and equipment to the Cache in Boiestown. We lugged our supplies and gear from the vehicles to the canoes where everything was packed with care in order to establish the proper trim and canoe balance. With rain threatening we finished loading the canoes and then took several photos of Josselyn and Vince signing our river map. We also made a short video with a farewell message.

To commemorate our trip up river the Highland Society of New Brunswick at Miramichi provided us with New Brunswick pins and a piece of Miramichi tartan to give to the people we met along the river. We gave Josselyn and Vince each one and at 7:14 a.m., Lew nosed his 17 foot canoe out into the current of the Main Southwest Miramichi River. I followed close behind in my 20 footer.

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Gus, Lew, Josselyn Estey and Vincent Swazey at the Cache at Boiestown

The first short stretch of river was fast water. Immediately it looked like things were going to get off to a pretty rough start because when the fast rushing water caught the nose of Lew’s canoe it swung it downriver. Being a master with the canoe pole Lew quickly recovered the runaway canoe and got her nosed into the current once again. This time there was no mistaking who was in control.

The river also made an attempt to drag me with my canoe downriver, but I was fortunate to be able to recover and straighten the 20 foot canoe into the current drift before it had completely swung. With the end of my canoe pole firmly anchored into the river bottom gravel I gave a strong push and the canoe responded by dancing over the rushing current and into slack water above.

We had only poled a couple of kilometers when the rain clouds greeted us with a watery welcome to the Miramichi. It forced us to pole to shore to don our raincoats.


Gus and Lew several kilometers upriver from the Cache at Boiestown 2009-07-12

(11:30 a.m.)

East of the bridge in Hayesville we watched an unsuccessful angler make his way to the south shore in a short blue canoe. When we reached the spot where the canoe was docked we took up a conversation with the man who identified himself as Mike Munn from Porter Cove.

Mike was a joy to speak with and it didn’t take long before he began relating his connection with the Southwest Miramichi.

“I was born right in this area. My house is right over there.” Mike pointed in the area of a house on the hill behind him.

We quickly learned Mike is the son of the late Harvey Munn.

“My father was a Federal Fisheries Officer who retired in 1984, but he also was a guide. I started guiding when I was sixteen. The year after I started guiding the government made it mandatory in the books that you had to be eighteen in order to get a guide license.”

Lew told Mike that he was only 14-years old when he began guiding in Nova Scotia. He then added that in 1976 he was running the river from Half Moon to Boiestown when along the way he met a guy named Munn who was with another chap named Abernathy. What was interesting about the couple that day was that other than their canoe and fishing rods their gear consisted of 22 cases of beer.

Before Lew could tell Mike more about the encounter with the guys Mike stated the two were his brother Tony and a friend named Dale Abernathy. He told Lew that they stayed a couple of nights at the Pines below Clearwater Brook where they caught a few good fish. Mike was also quick to add, “Believe it, or not, their both still alive.” The statement brought a roar of laughter from both Lew and I that echoed along the banks and valley of the river at Porter Cove.

“The biggest fish I ever caught was a thirty pounder”, said Mike. “I hooked one in that pool right over there, on the other side of the river, that would have been forty pounds. I had on 10-pound Maxima leader but he just jumped and jumped and jumped until he cut the leader off with his jumps and twists and turns.

There used to be a picture, in a camp down at Porter Brook, of a fish that was caught in this area in the 30’s, or 40’s and that fish weighed 60 some pounds. That was a big goddamned fish. I seen George McKay get one out of ’er in Porter Brook one fall thirty years ago that was 50 pounds. He sold it to an old sport for a hundred dollars.”

“The fish go up that other run on the far side of the river”, continued Mike. “The pool over there is easier to wade in and I like to fish it with a dry fly, although the Butterfly seems to be a fly of choice.”

Our conversation with Mike was soon interrupted by the shout from an angler who had come to the pool with several others on the opposite side of the river. “That’s Randy Campbell”, said Mike. Lew and Randy had met before and when the shouted conversation between them revealed to Randy that we were poling our canoes to Half Moon, Randy jokingly offered to join us, providing we could get him back home before the weekend. He declined to follow through in coming with us when Lew told him there was no guarantee we could make it back on his schedule.

“The height of the water is good for this time of year”, said Mike. Its good for canoeing and its good for the fish coming up too.”

Lew joked with Mike by telling him that if he could lasso one of them big salmon he was going to use him to pull him all the way up to Half Moon.

We thanked Mike for joining us and then had a quick snack on blueberries and cheese before setting off again on our pole up river Honouring Miramichi Guides, Boiestown to Half Moon 2009.

Lew, Mike Munn and Gus at Hayesville, N.B.

Mike Munn Signing Map 2009-07-12

(1:37 p.m.)

The female voice from in front of the Rapid Waters Camp was soon identified as that of Isabelle Loughead. She was at her newly purchased camp with son Terry when they noticed the two green canoes inching their way toward her Home Pool so they decided to investigate. When Isabelle learned it was Lew and I she was excited as she remembered Lew from fishing trips of the past when he used to visit there with his old friend Magnus. According to Lew, “Those were the days when we could handle getting loaded and bouncing off the walls.” Isabelle expressed her excitement for Lew to visit with her again at any time to fish the Home Pool and to show her how to fish it as she hadn’t yet had a chance to do so.

When Isabelle and Terry heard about our mission they quickly made their way to the shore line where we greeted each other with laughter, hugs and handshakes. Isabelle and Terry hadn’t heard about our planned trip up river, but were very excited about the reason for our trip. After we met there was a sharing of “what-have-ya-been-doings’” on the past.

I first met Isabelle when she was curator for the Atlantic Salmon Museum in the early 1990’s. She helped me with the presentation of “Where The Rivers Meet” The Fly Tyers of New Brunswick, which Budd Kitchen and I were displaying around the province.

Before leaving they signed our river map and we took some photos. There was also an invitation to join them down the road for a fish at the Home Pool. Isabelle was very happy that we put the acknowledgement signs for Miramichi Guides on the sides of our canoes.

We gave them pins and tartans and bid farewell as we told them we were eager to meet Mervin Green and his guides at the Salmon Brook Salmon Club before dark.

As we shoved our canoes away from shore we laughed at the sight of the ends of our canoe poles and how much they had broomed from forcing them against the river bed. The ends of the canoe poles looked like miniature majorette pom pomes on the end of a long pole. Little did we know at that time that the brooming of the canoe poles would be a common occurrence and would require special attention if we intended to push our canoes through much of the rushing water of the upper Miramichi.

Lew, Isabelle Loughead with her son Terry and Gus at Rapid Waters Camp

Isabelle Loughead Signing Map 2009-07-12


(3 p.m.)

The GPS showed that we had poled 11.6 kilometers from the Cache in Boiestown. When we stopped to lunch on the shoreline opposite Fareweather’s Camp, Lew told me he’d poled this stretch of river when he used to come to fish at the camp with friends. Most of the ones he traveled with came to drink. Since that time the camp became run down and in need of repair. Lew figured we were only a quarter of a kilometer short of Stoney Run, or Hayes’ Bar. “There’s one stretch of long dead water to pole once we get past the settlement upriver”, said Lew.

Before pushing off we bailed the canoes, and trimmed the broomed ends of the canoe poles. Lew told me he felt good and wanted me to know he felt in good enough shape to continue.

“I’m gonna get us some lime juice and yer gonna be glad I bought it. It’ll take the place a liquor any day”, said Lew.

In the next breath Lew was cursing because he had convinced me to leave the tripod behind. He wanted to call his daughter to bring it up to us, but I was able to convince him that we would be fine without it.

When I told Lew I was going to get us something to eat he complained that I had just eatin. I told him that a big body needs a lot of food and water to keep going and that I had to make sure I was drinking plenty of liquids to keep from dehydrating.

Lew mixed the lime juice with a bottle of ice water. After handing me the bottle I quickly took a big drink and found it to be really refreshing. Lew said the secret of mixing it the right way is to add a little lime juice and then shake it like a son-of-a - - - - -. He told me how his father used to holler for mother to bring him the lime juice whenever there was a hot day. His father used to tell him that if it was a hot day and you want a “pick me up” you take some lime juice and “wind it right to ya and fore ya know it yer ready to go.” I had to admit the drink was extremely refreshing.

We had a feed of crackers and prepared canned tuna.

Lew told me the old guys years ago would take their empty cans and throw them, but Lew made it perfectly clear there would be not littering by us.

“You be careful if ya go ta mix some lime juice on yer own cause one of them look-a-like bottles has something a lot stronger than lime juice in it.

As we ate our lunch I told Lew that I didn’t think we took enough groceries. Lew stated that the way I was going through them we would have to go back to re supply. I then told him I was a big person who needed a lot of food to keep me going. It didn’t help when Lew said he didn’t need very much to keep him going.

After eating we continued poling upriver until 5:13 p.m., where we met Bob Norrad fishing at Spud Brook. Bob told us he had seen some salmon and had a couple roll for his fly. We also learned Bob was a river guide.

Bob told us we were about a mile from Salmon Brook. Before we continued our journey we took a few photographs with Bob and got him to sign our map. In exchange we gave him tartan and a pin.

It was after 8 p.m. when we reached Salmon Brook Camp. As we neared Salmon Brook we saw two bald eagles feeding on a big salmon on the north side of the river. As we went to shore in front of the camp we met a guide, who told us that they had some sports in, but weren’t catching many fish. We also learned that Mervin Green had just left for home, but they would call to see where he wanted us to set up camp.

There ain’t much left in me right now and I would sleep right under this canoe right now. When we reached Salmon Brook it was after 8 p.m. We were dead tired as the push to the Salmon Brook Camp was 18 kilometers, and that is enough upriver push for one day.

Bob Norrad, Lew and Gus at Spud Brook

Bob Norrad Signing Map 2009-07-12


Lew poling somewhere between Spud Brook and Salmon Brook 2009-07-12

The guide returned with a message that Mervin was on his way back to meet with us and would be here before long. Mervin told us that we could set our camp a short distance from camp and within minutes
we had the canoes unloaded and our tent pitched, we were tired.




From Boiestown to Salmon Brook Camp on July 12, 2009 we poled through:

Boiestown Islands Mir. Salmon Ass. Inc.

Schoolhouse Bar Burnt Land Brook

Cache Pool The Mill Run

Burnt Island TAXIS RIVER (964 Meters)

Charlie Green Camp Joe Sullivan Camp

CLEM’S ISLAND (1.9 km) Brown Pond

PORTAGE ISLAND (3.3 km) Stephen Camp

Portage Pond Vince McCloskey Camp

Kenmore Camps Duff Brook

McKeil Bar McKeil Island

Fairley Pool POWER LINE (5.6 km)

Bill Vaughan Camp Prices Bend

STANDISH BROOK (6.2 km) Ansel Brook Pool

STRONGBOW ISLAND (6.6 km) Porter Brook Lodge

Porter Brook Pool PORTER BROOK (7.2 km)

BLOOMFIELD RIDGE BRIDGE (7.5 km) Harvey Munn Camp

BLOOMFIELD RIDGE (7.7 km) Weldon Moir Camp

Ralph Norad Camp Gartley Clark Camp

Rapid Waters Camp Fred Boyd Camp

ISLAND (9.7 km) Stanton Camp

Vaughan Calhoun Camp Murray Calhoun Camp

Clair Ross Camp Palmer Brook

Dead River Lumber Camp Bradford Camp

Gregory Green Camp Johnson Camp

Adams Pond Willard Waye Camp

Haysville Hoben Camp

BRUCE BROOK (11.9 km) John Page Camp

Hunter Pool Carmody Pool

McKEIL BROOK (12.9 km) Ed Munn Pool

HAYES BAR (13.3 km) Hayes Brook

Bob Stoddard Camp Spud Brook Pool

SPUD BROOK (14.2 km) New Hole

TUG TOWN (14.5 km) David Dickson Camp

Grilse Hole Stickney Pond

Betts Pool Calhoun’s Camp

Salmon Brook’s “Pools” SALMON BROOK (17.4 km)

GPS Data Recorded at Deadman Camp on July 15, 2009

Distance 45.1 km

Average Speed 1.2 km hr.

Elevation 158 meters

Accuracy 9 meter

Moving Time 21 hrs & 17 min

Stopped 17 hrs & 4 min

GPS Data at the bottom of Three Mile Rapids on return from Deadman Camp on July 15, 2009

Time of Day 4:04 p.m.

Distance 53.3 km

Average Speed 1.3 km hr.

Elevation 130 meters

Accuracy 7 meter

Moving Time 22 hrs & 26 min

Stopped 17 hrs & 16 min

GPS Data at Trout Brook on return from Deadman Camp on July 15, 2009

Time of Day 5:44 p.m.

Distance 60.6 km

Average Speed 1.5 km hr.

Elevation 112 meters

Accuracy 6 meter

Moving Time 23 hrs & 32 min

Stopped 17 hrs & 49 min

From Salmon Brook Camp to Rocky Brook on July 13, 2009 we poled through:

Dungeon Pool McCluskey’s Camp

Tug Ledge Pig Brook Pool

PIG BROOK (18.5 km) McBean Brook

Clark’s Hole Sand Pond

SAND POND BROOK (19.7 km) Lower Birch Island

Birch Island Pond Birch Island Pond

Barns Pool New Hole

BIRCH BROOK (21.0 km) Pond

Rocky Pond Trout Brook Pond

TROUT BROOK (22.7 km) FALLS BROOK (24.2 km)

Upper Birch Island Dodge Island Pond

Rocky Brook Rapids Rocky Brook Pool

ROCKY BROOK (27.3 km)

From Rocky Brook to Gaspereau Island on July 14, 2009 we poled through:

Grey Ledge Pond Sisters Rapids

SISTERS BROOK (28.4 km) Pilot Rock Pond

Three Mile Rapids B. Colter Pools

Ranger Pool Loggie Pool

Line Pool Phoebe Island

Camp Pool Grilse Hole

Salmon Rock GILMAN BROOK (32.2 km)

Gilman Brook Pool GRIFFIN BROOK (32.5 km)

Rocky Bend Lower Pool

Rocky Bend Rapids Rod Bent Camp

Home Pool Upper Pool

From Gaspereau Island to Deadman Camp on July 15, 2009 we poled through:

Pond Slaughter House Pool

Lower Pool Studdard Camp

CLEARWATER BROOK (35.9 km) Clearwater Brook Pool

Clearwater Island Lazy Pond

Sutters Pond New Hole

Flat Pond Pool Norrad’s Camp

Al Deisenso Camp DEADMAN BROOK (38.7 km)

Deadman Pool Deadman Camp