Rolling Through the 2014 Season

Yet another angling season in Labrador, our seventeenth, is well under way. After the past several summers with unusual weather (last year being our most trying), things are pretty normal here in Labrador west. Wind, of course, but no “three-day blows”.  Rain in just the right amounts to keep the river levels up and the water temps in the mid-fifties. And the dancing between angler and brook trout has been more than merry with many new beautiful partners. Kev, Frances, Judy and the boys are all back for another season with one new guide, Ron, hanging out down in the Guides’ Camp.  Pilot Gilles Morin is again in the Beaver’s left seat dropping small groups of adventurers into all our fun little pockets of streams and glides.

Life at Three Rivers is sweet!

 

Gone North for Char

Gone North for Char

Kev and I guided an author, a filmmaker and a West Virginia chemist up to the splendor of northern Labrador for a day’s char fishing.  Perhaps the most beautiful spot ‘on the Labrador’.

Tony's 1st Char

Tony’s 1st Char

Cowboy Coffee Against an Ancient Tamarack

Cowboy Coffee Against an Ancient Tamarack

Char Wins Grinning Contest

Char Wins Grinning Contest

Back on the Woods River, Kev and I stand at the ready while the Sage covers rises.

Casting Stimmies to Risers

Casting Stimmies to Squaretails

Author's Speck to Hand

Author’s Speck to Hand

Most importantly, our first four weeks of guests have enjoyed this lively and warm-hearted enclave we call our summer home, miles out here in a wilderness of an uninhabited northland. Songs and joking. Tempting foods and favorite beverages. Long evening discourses where we share our values and learn about one another’s dreams. Such are are the underpinnings for memorable days on the water – slow-motion dances with mermaids.

Once again, wringing the most (and the best) out of each beautiful Labrador day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Some Mid-Polar Vortex News

Spring is on the way!

OK, maybe not next weekend.  But my hunch is that it will get here and bring with it mud,  black flies,  fiscal cliff row, green grass, open water, the Masters and escapes to pastoral places.

Apple Blossoms

Apple Blossoms, Dandelions

Two Wild Anglers

Two Wild Anglers

All of us at Three Rivers are excited for the coming year. As noted earlier, this will be Kev and Frances’s last summer with us and we intend to make it our best year ever. We’ll celebrate in all sorts of fashions:  old friends returning, a passel of new guests, major improvements to the camps, and mostly, a harmonious group effort to fully dissolve ourselves into the wilderness setting and relish all the ‘fruits’ therein.

Cloudberry (aka Bake Apple)

Cloudberry (aka Bake Apple)

Brook Trout (Labrador Red)

Brook Trout (aka Labrador Red)

So we’re calling out to friends both near and far, that the torch is being passed to a new generation and we want you to drop your routines and become a participant in our history.

We are booking more heavily now than in any year passed.  We have a few choice openings so check them out and see if one or more fit your schedule:

June 20 – 27, 2014 – four rods;  June 27 – July 4 – full; July 4 – 11 – full; July 11 – 18 – full; July 18 – 25 – full; July 25 – August 1 – four rods; August 1 – 8 – four rods; August 8 – 15 – full; August 15 – 22 – two rods; August 22 – 29 – two rods; August 29 – September 6 – four rods.

As my friend Bill S. remarked, for most of us, “. . . the train has long left the station.  It’s not too late to jump on board.”

We’d love to have you up to share the best take on Labrador fly fishing.

Think it over. No regrets.

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Groovy Solstice

Christmas is a-coming. The reindeer are headed north to the pole.

 

“Christmas is a-coming and the geese are getting fat.”  And the reindeer are headed north – to the pole, I presume. For duty.

Elf Leadership Team

Elf Leadership Team

The elves are harried, up against an almost impossible deadline.  But their immediate supervisors have a plan, AND determination.

Nights are amazing, but very, very long.

Nights are amazing, but very, very long.

The long nights will afford Santa that extra time he requires to get his work properly accomplished.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

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Want the Good News First? Or the Bad?

We’ll go with the good first, else you might not read down to it.

Season sixteen came and went, like so many events in our lives that we plan for, dream about, relish in the moment. Then, like a whisper, they’re over and gone. ‘All summer long’ sounds like a good hunk of time, twelve weeks or so, plenty of days to enjoy warm winds, laughter and outdoor pleasures. But every first evening in camp, at least for the past few years, Kev, Frances, Judy, the boys and I sit on the back porch and remind each other that “before you know it, the boats will be hauled a-shore, the windows will be boarded up, and the season gone.” Season sixteen flew by for us, ‘the crew’. But it was sweet as ever.

I truly hope that our guests don’t feel their experience in camp moves at that same quick pace. I wish for them all a drawn-out, lingering string of wilderness days filled with the kinds of adventure and grace that invade all their senses and clear their minds’ clutter;

evenings celebrating with kindred spirits;

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alone times with thoughts and skills.

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warm conversations and catching up;

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and common bonds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

surprise_sm

As noted earlier, 2013’s weather tested us all. Guests hunkered down in warm, water-proof gear, their backs to the bitter winds. It rained an awful lot and the river beds were overflowing. The cabin stoves glowed all summer and Kev burned more firewood than in any three previous seasons combined. Guides’ skills and stamina was consistently tested. (They passed brilliantly). And our pilot, Gilles, performed miracles.

But rare was the day when we didn’t fish, even when temps dropped below freezing the the sky belched snow.

I’ll save the ‘big fish’ glory shots for later, because the adventure they brilliantly represent is truly only a fraction of the TRL experience. I know, I know, with out the fish, no one would come. But there is so much more to be enjoyed in our world, in our secluded corner of Labrador.

*******

And now the bad. Well, sad really. But happy, too.

Kev and Frances Barry announced on the last day of camp that next season, 2014, would be their last year with Three Rivers Lodge. They’re retiring. They have recently moved their home from Wabush back to their childhood community in Newfoundland, back to family and friends.

Frances

Now I could get despondent, slump over in a chair  or kick the dog. Think ‘woe is me’ thoughts, or maybe even doubt the future of TRL.

Then I say to myself, “What would Frances do?”

I have personally witnessed this lady take the full force of adversity on many occasions, and never once has she become unraveled, angry, or even lost her smile and sense of humor. What a rare soul. All that work for all those years. All those decisions, guidance, examples set. Grace under fire.

Kevin

No, I am counting my blessings and those of the hundreds of friends Kev and Frances have made through the years. I’m happy for them and for all of us who love them. They are the spirit of Three Rivers Lodge and

all of us who have enjoyed their company are better folks for having known them.

So 2014 will be a celebration of all that makes us unique and inviting, especially Mr. and Mrs. Barry.

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Woolly Bears

(Yes, woolly bears, not buggers.)

Road Warrior

Road Warrior

A Vermont State trooper pulled me over yesterday on a country road leading from the farm to town. He was professionally cordial when he asked for my license and registration. Compliant and affable, I asked what the problem was. Seems he had observed me ‘weaving’ on the road, even crossing the median strip a couple of times, and suspected that I might be driving ‘under the influence’. As he ran my numbers on his cruiser’s  computer, I sat behind the wheel looking outwardly calm and patient, but inside I was dreading the routine of taking my first field sobriety test.

When he approached my truck to return my paperwork, he said “Before I ask you to step out of the vehicle, could you please explain why you were driving so erratically?”

“Woolly bears,” I answered. “They’re all over the roads and I was doing my best to keep from squishing them.” When he grinned, I thought, “Uh oh!”

But handing over my license and such, he laughed and noted that he had been dodging them as well, never having seen so many of the critters on the byways. “Have a good day, sir,” and he was gone.

He was right!  I have never seen so many of the cinnamon and black caterpillars in all my years. But then this was my first fall driving the back roads of Vermont and I figured that this was just the perfect “bear”environment.

As I continued to town and during my next several drives, I observed the pavement carefully as I dodged hundreds of the furry critters. But I saw no smashed ones.  Not a single one! (My thoughts drifted back to my childhood days in east Tennessee, walking to school with my brothers, and the dozens of flattened frogs we saw on the country roads. If they had dried sufficiently in the southern sun, we sailed them at each other like frisbees!)

Apparently, other Vermont drivers have the same compassion for the woolly bears as I do. Now there’s a breath of optimism for the human spirit.

(I doubt I’ll be so kind next week to the partridge!)

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Camp Weeks 2, 3 and 4 – Weather!

To paraphrase Steppenwolf, ‘God damn the weather man!’ While many of you down in the States are sweltering under the summer heat and dodging thunderstorms, we are almost half way through our coldest summer in the past sixteen years. And the cold isn’t the trying factor. Wind! Every day, day after day, the winds have howled from all directions. We are averaging 20 to 25 mph winds every day and a few days have seen winds steady at 40 mph. Sitting here in the cook lodge on this the last day of our fourth week, I’m looking out the window at ‘seas’ of about three feet with white caps and spray blowing onto the front porch.

High Seas on Crossroads Lake

High Seas on Crossroads Lake

We have our guests tucked away today in the smaller streams up-river in hopes that they can get out of the blow a bit. We are fortunate to have a wide variety of waters and a float plane to drop anglers into the more sheltered streams.

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Big Fish on Little Creek

Big Fish on Little Creek

On July 1st, Canada Day, the temperatures in Labrador City/Wabush were 28 degrees Celsius ( about 85 F.).  Here in camp, just 147 miles northeast of the towns, what started out to be a beautiful day quickly deteriorated into a winter storm.  Temps dropped to 28 F. and snow blanketed the Woods River for about four hours.  Anglers (all but Roger who was in a more sheltered stream) came back to camp at 1:00 pm to warm their hands and melt the icing on their rod guides. But all our fisher folks have stayed strong and well prepared for this summer’s windy challenges. So far, there have been no fishing days lost to the weather’s fury.

Oh! Canada Day

Oh! Canada Day

So what’s the good news in all this cold, wet, wintry mess? The below normal temperatures and consistent rainfall have kept the rivers’ waters fresh and cool and well up into the ‘normal’ range. Despite the testy fishing conditions, the catching has been top-notch. Our corporate group, here for their eleventh year, enjoyed their best fishing ever. Many fish in the 6+ pound range were landed and days a-stream as well as evenings in camp were lively with hoots and hollers.

Hunk o' Brookie

Hunk o’ Brookie

Preacher's Trout

Preacher’s Trout

#1 Male

#1 Male

While we’re hoping for a break in the weather for comfort’s sake, we will keep the winds at our backs, our hoods up and enjoy the healthy fisheries. And we’ll seek our refuge in the comfortable camps warm with wood fires, share stories around the dining table heaped with delicious meals and laugh the evenings away in the tilt, scattered with interesting libations. There’s no kinder place on this earth to welcome home the ‘sailors from the seas’.

Day's End over Crossroads

Day’s End over Crossroads

Posted in Around Camp, Fishing Reports, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Notes From Camp – Guest Week #1

“Cold enough to freeze ya!” Frances sputtered standing next to the wood stove. Same 6:00 am greeting every morning.  Thirty degrees this fifth morning of the summer of 2013. Where IS summer?!?

The water pipes froze overnight and ice slicked the rain puddles and quiet coves. But the sun was shining!  It has been raining, sleeting, hailing and spitting snow for the past week, tolerable until you factor in the four day blow we’ve had.  Winds have been steady at 20 – 30 mph with a few gusts that shook the dining lodge. At last nights dinner, breakers were hurling spray onto the front porch of the cook lodge.

Through this wintry summer’s week, guests have bundled up and faced the elements. JoAnne, long time friend and guest, brought her fishing buddy Mike this year and they have not missed a minute’s fishing despite the cold. JoAnne has been hooked fast to dozens of trophy brookies and last Saturday, enjoyed her ‘best day ever’ at TRL.

Simon Scoops JoAnne's Brookie on PJ's

Simon Scoops JoAnne’s Brookie on PJ’s

One of 'countless' brookies

In winter cap, JoAnne holds one of ‘countless’ Saturday brookies

Mike has been out on the lakes giving the lakers and pike fits. Yesterday afternoon he landed fifty plus fish in the afternoon, then dropped down to the rapids and took three brookies over five pounds.

Teeth Showing

Teeth Showing

Despite the wintry weather, there are encouraging signs that spring will arrive. Most of the snow banks have melted, the one gift from the wind and rain. Buds and tiny red cones have appeared on the spruce. Birds are nesting, one little couple in the boat house.  Smart they are, and dry as a bone. The tamaracks and willows are showing their leaves and catkins hang off the alders (sniff, sneeze).

In contrast, last year at this time, it was high summer and berries were beginning to ripen. We are at least four weeks behind the past two seasons, but probably only a couple behind the norm. All sixteen years’ springs have been unique, not unlike each jeweled brookie that our guests dance with in summer. Well, some years in ‘winter’, too!

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