In the Beginning,. . . and Now

At some point in their visit, most of our guests are curious about the beginnings of Three Rivers Lodge. Did we “discover” this Woods River? Was there ever another camp here? How did we ever find such a remote fishery?

So here’s a quick history.

Through the several friends I had made during my visits to Labrador as a traveling angler, I heard about this fertile river that was “too far from town to become a viable angling destination”. On this site, a father/son team – the Woolfreys – built a small camp in the early 90’s. The son was a pilot and had his own float plane making the transfer of materials and guests “affordable”. When the son lost his life in a road accident in 1994, the father lost interest in the project and a few years later, offered for sale the lease and the camp that sits upon it. We made an offer in early 1998.

The Woolfrey Camp When We First Arrived

The Woolfrey Camp When We First Arrived

In the springs of 1998 and 1999, we flew in 72 Otter-loads of materials and equipment and built the camps as they remain today.  The two buildings on the right of the pic below are the two original Woolfrey buildings, expanded and renovated.

Our Summer Home

Our Summer Home

Nineteen years have slipped past now since ‘the big push’ and the strengths (longest English word with only one vowel, by the way) that this endeavor was built upon have proven their worth and grounded the founders’ faith:  stewardship of the rivers, safety and comfort of our guests and staff, and a sporting, family atmosphere that consistently smooths any wrinkles that nature may toss our way.

Week after summer week we are treated to smiling guests who yarn on with their stories and find new ones here to spin for the rest of their days. No better stories were ever collected than in the first week of July this season. We had, as per normal, eight fine anglers in camp including a group of four ladies whose passion for fly angling inspired the camps.

Carroll's Speck

Carroll’s Speck

Carroll, Janine, Susan and Mary brought a level of joy that brightened the rainiest of days and lifted spirits for us all. Expert anglers, they devoured the challenges of the brookies’ toughest puzzles.

An Armful for Janine

An Armful for Janine

These old Woods River brookies can be moody at times, especially the big ones. Patience, a willingness to change flies, quiet observation, and relentless pursuit are the skills fine anglers bring with them. And, as payback, the brookies will hone those skills for the attentive angler.

Emile with a "net-long" slab

Emile with a “net-long” slab

It was our good fortune to have spent a week with the girls and with the other equally accomplished sports folks this summer. These stories, old and new, are the “gold” that we TRL’ers mine each summer. The glow that keeps this old dream thriving.

Enough Said

Enough Said

 

 

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Season #19! (Beginning to feel like a good, long while)

FACEBOOK SCHMACEBOOK! We’re all lost in the ‘hand-held universe’! Yes, I’m lost guilty, too. Didn’t think it would happen. Ever! But as one of our past guests told me, “Social media is 95% of your exposure these days.” Seeing that this fellow’s created and sold three ‘start-up’ marketing firms, he got my attention. I caved. But as shame surely fades, I’m hopeful that some good will come of it.

Hence, fewer blog posts, more thumb-tapping at my I-phone.

Season Nineteen, and a different hat for each memorable year.

Season Nineteen, and a different hat for each memorable year.

Today it’s raining here in Labrador and I am moved to post a new entry. So moved not only by the dreary weather, but by the peaceful hour I spent yesterday reading through the TRL guest book, starting at the beginning. 1998 – no blogging, no social media, a scarce email here and there. Got me to thinking of the thousands of hand-written letters and notes I once scribbled, stamped and slipped through the mail slot. Couldn’t help noticing that our early guests used to write as well, and write beautifully of their observations and Labrador memories in the guest book. And in cursive, for god’s sake! (Now, they snap a pic and post on Facebook.) With each passing season, the entries became fewer and shorter. Last year, only five guests (out of 85) took on the bother.

Times, they are a-changin’, for sure. But I like to think of this fishing camp of ours as stuck in the “old days, olden ways”. Same sweet faces, same warm cabins, the same old generator humming in the back field. Even half our guests are returning friends. ‘Stuck in our old ways’ is a good feeling for me and our returning guests as well, I think – a source of contentment, perhaps even pride. This wilderness scoffs at modern invention and I think we’ve managed to find an suitable arrangement with both.

Scott, Kevin, JoAnne, Don, Rob, Charlie, and Dave, our 1st week’s guests, converged on the dock this past Friday. Our summer has begun with excited faces – hand-shakes with the newbies and dock hugs for our old friends. ‘Put your arms around me and just leave them there.’ (as Bill Morrissey sang) Weather was perfect for the first three days, but today the Labrador odds caught up with us. Supposed to rain the rest of the week, not near enough, however, to dampen TRL spirits.

“. . . geese in flight, and a dog’s bite. Signs that might be omens, say I’m going, going. . .”

I don’t put too much stock in omens, but this morning after the anglers were well on their way to the fishing holes, Frances, Judy and I were having a bite when we heard a rustling in the Tilt, the sitting room just off the dining lodge. We peeked around the doorway to see a goldeneye duck rattling around in the fireplace. The fire screen had her jailed to the front and the firebox to the rear. She frantically wing-whipped soot about the room as I swung open the side of the fire screen. She hopped out and into the wood box, then ran through the door that Judy held open, headed for the light. When the duck took flight for the water’s edge, Sam, my younger golden, leapt off the porch in full chase, hauling up just short of the lake’s edge as the frightened girl fluttered into the gray mist. (action to fast for pics, Facebook fans).

Minutes later, we heard a thunk on the window and swung open the door again. There on the deck sat a medium-sized bird that had sought entry into the Tilt through a closed window.

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused

So Frances picked it up and wrapped it in a towel, and nested it then in an umbrella chair on the front porch. It spent a cozy hour there righting its double-vision, then flew away none the worse.

Nestled Birdie

Nestled Birdie

Not sure of it’s species, but it had a large beak not unlike a grosbeak of some sort. Perhaps some of you can identify the mystery guest.

Back to omens, we saved two of Labrador’s wild creatures in one ten minute span as camp begins. Can’t think of a better way to kick off the new season.

I hope to put a few entries here through the summer to keep those scattered few of you who still check in here a bit interested in our Labrador adventures. Might even file a fishing report or two.

But if we miss you here, check us out on Facebook!  :-)

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The Fly Fishing Show Season, 2016

In January, after the “calm” of the holiday season, the Fly Fishing Show circuit begins. The tour began with the Denver, CO show last weekend, and it went beautifully for patrons and exhibitors alike. (This weekend hosts no shows leaving us free to watch the “best” weekend in NFL competition).

Marlboro, MA is the next stop the weekend of January 22, 23 and 24. The next weekend, January 29, 20 and 31 finds the Show in Somerset, NJ.

For me, the best of the shows is meeting friends I have made through the nineteen years of hawking fly fishing trips to Labrador. In each show, we see dozens of former and prospective guests who have become far more than acquaintances over the years. In Denver, we signed up a dozen new prospects for the 2016 season, many of whom I had spoken with over at least a ten year period.

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, for the fly angler, the shows offer an escape for the imagination into the warmer days when we will all be delighted by the seductive waters that we love. Shows offer new gear, old standards, good books, artists with their treasures, and folks like me who have, for one reason or another, taken fly fishing to the “professional” level. In all cases, you’ll find some interesting people and exciting conversations.

Look for this booth, and the talking face behind those glasses.

Look for this booth, and the talking face behind those glasses.

If you are interested in discovering Labrador, you’ll get no better opportunity to get all your questions discussed in detail, first hand. A jaunt to a wilderness destination can seem formidable and committing to such a trip comes with some trepidation. Let’s talk it through at the show!

Ol' Mr. Brookie says "COME TO THE SHOW"

Ol’ Mr. Brookie says “COME TO THE SHOW”

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A Fly Angler’s First View of Labrador

Bill Dzilenski stepped off the turbine float plane and hoisted a large gear bag onto our newly renovated dock. In that bag was a strong fly rod and a good camera. And he spent the following seven days wielding both tools with enthusiasm and grace. After our season ended, Bill sent me a letter with a thumb drive enclosed. He wrote “My visit to Three Rivers was stellar. A lot of age-old dreams came true, and the trip continues to grow on me. Enjoy the pictures.”

Holed up in a farmhouse on Vermont’s first snowy day of the winter, Bill’s images have improved  my humor considerably. So I’m moved to share them with you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First Evening in Camp

Calm Day on the Water

Bluebird Day on the Water

Pic of a Pic of a Pick

Pic of a Pic of a Pick

Bill and his guide flew up to a little “rattle”, a Newfy term for a lively creek. Pilot Gilles circled, checked out the landing zone, then dropped into a broad reach of the river.

Checking for Rocks

Throttling Back

A Sweet Creek, and

A Sweet Creek, and

A Crazy Fly, adds up to

A Crazy Fly, adds up to

Another Successful Release

Another Successful Release

Mid-week, Bill spent two days at the 5th Rapids Outpost Camp.

High on an Esker

High on an Esker

Where He Fished Until Dusk

Where He Fished Until Dusk

Fished Hard, Until His Guide Byron Was Red in the Face

Fished Hard, Until His Guide Byron Was Red in the Face

Almost as Red as His Quarry's Belly

Almost as Red as His Quarry’s Belly

Some Days Were Brisk

Some Days Were Brisk

Some Quiet

Some Quiet

But All Days Were Filled With Small Wonders

But Each Day Was Filled With Small Wonders

Ripe Moments,

Ripe Moments,

And New Friends

And New Friends

“I’ll end this letter here,” Bill wrote, “as I could go on endlessly. Suffice it to say that I can’t wait to return. It may be a year or two, but I’ll look forward to seeing it all anew.”

Posted in Around Camp, Fishing Reports, Trophy Brook Trout, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Here Comes (or there goes) Another Year

Yes, one year come and gone from my personal allotment. Probably from yours, too. Years are moving faster, for sure. I suppose it’s up to each of us to make them sweeter. (As my mom used to say, ‘It’s your little red wagon and you’ll just have to pull it’.) Despite best efforts, that’s no guarantee, however. Challenges come along as they see fit. Some are just a nuisance, and we experienced folks have learned to bob and weave through that thicket.  Others come in hard and sudden. And ask what we’re made of.

For eighteen years, nurturing Three Rivers Lodge has been my aspiration. The Labrador journey has had its nuisance thickets, and land-mines, but it has brought me together with more fine folks than I could shake a stick at. And I hope all of you who have blessed my years – you river-loving, long rod waving, out-in-the-boonies kind of folks – enjoyed your 2014 thoroughly, and that each of you has great aspirations for 2015.

Winter Cones

Winter Cones

For 2015, I plan to spend the winter spreading the Labrador gospel, spend the spring knee deep in camp logistics (and in some favorite Maine rivers), and the summer with my fly fishing friends in our little corner of the great northern forest.

Boughs

Boughs

I will be at two Fly Fishing Shows in January. The Denver, CO Show on the 9th through 11th and the Marlborough, MA Show on the 16th through 18th. (Will miss the Somerset, NJ Show this year due to a mix-up with the Fly Fishing Show folks.)

Please come to one of these venues for a visit if you can.  It’s said that the shows are a lot the same from year to year, but they offer a fine escape from the winter blues and you’ll just never know what interesting experience/person you may bump into. (You can always bring a cup of hot, black decaf to my booth and shoot the bull for a spell!)

In between the chores and commitments, I’ll be scouting the woods of northern Vermont by day, sitting beside a wood fire by evening, planning in each moment just how to make the best of my little plot of Vermont acreage. And in all these sessions, be with my two companions, old Bear and spunky Sam, doing my darnedest to give them back even half the joy that they bring to my life.

"Squirrel!"

“Squirrel!”

So Happy New Year to you all. Let’s make this new one our best.

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WIFI, or Not

The previous blog entry (re: the new boardwalk) was first written the end of June when camp was in full session.  But our WIFI was so spotty that the effort (and three subsequent ones) was lost when the service failed.  Throughout the season, our connection to the big world was off and on – mostly off. Very frustrating, to say the least. (Oh! the words that were hurled at the big dish that is mounted on the west side of the dining lodge.)

Of course we called the service provider and from that first moment, their staff put us on the wrong track.  They ‘pinged’ our dish on three occasions and said that it was properly positioned – almost 100% reception.  So we looked for errors in all the other possible equipment components and connections. We ordered and bought two new transponders, a new modem, checked all the wiring, rigged and re-rigged the gear, and still, the service was mostly off. Yes, we had it occasionally, especially early mornings. But when it was needed, gone.

Towards the end of the season (and the end of our patience), we said ‘screw it, let’s move the dish.’  So we loosened the bolts and pushed upwards.  Perfect reception. For the last week of the season!

As mentioned earlier, I had lost so many blog posts to vapors that I gave up trying from camp. Home now, settled, and off to Idaho to visit my new granddaughter, Piper Graham. So let the posts resume.  I’ll get a good report out on the 2014 season very soon.

Appreciate your patience.

 

 

 

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Anatomy of a Boardwalk

As it has for the past fifteen years, a new season begins at TRL when a DCH3 Turbine Otter delivers Kev, Frances and a small crew onto the old dock, just hours after the Spring sun and warming winds have taken the ice off the lake.

Plymouth Dock

Plymouth Dock

Winter has retreated to the north of the Labrador for now, leaving only a few drifts as evidence of the vast coldness that, for eight months, covered our corner of the boreal forest. The willows and alders have yet to bud and tamarack trees have just begin to push out new needles.

Spring Thaw

Spring Thaw

Within 24 hours, Kev and the crew have the generator up and running, the water lines re-attached, and the boarding removed from the camps’ doors and windows. A tidy path is cleared through the snow drifts so supplies can be carted from the dock to the cook lodge.  Frances and Judy stock the pantry shelves and clean the kitchen areas top to bottom.

The cold winter winds have done their usual damage – rocked the cabins off their proper footings and this year, even removed a window from the four man camp.  (Better wind than bears!)

Wind and a Window

Wind and a Window

When the rest of the crew arrives a few days later, chores turn into projects. Our 2014 primary task is replacing the aging, rotting main boardwalk that connects the guest camps to the cook lodge. To its credit, it has endured fifteen years of weather extremes, thousands of foot poundings and the endless munching of the few bacteria we have up this far north.  Gone, it is, and dangerous to boot.  And so begins the task.

The Dismantling Begins

The Dismantling Begins

Dave gets it all started with the removal of the four-man connecter. Guides Anthony, Byron and Ron take to the woods in search of suitable saw logs.  They scour the far shorelines for stands of larger tamarack, fell the victims and drag them to the water’s edge. When a boat load is cut and limbed, they tether them together behind the Lund and haul them slowly up the lake and into the cove nearest the sawmill.

Ron, Byron and Anthony Drag Logs from the Forest to the Mill

Loggers Drag Butt Logs from the Forest to the Mill

Out behind the camps, the sawyers begin to move timber from the lake’s edge to the sawmill where they will be sliced into two inch slabs.

Michel and Kev Heave To

Michel and Kev Heave To

Up onto the Sawmill

Up onto the Sawmill

Slicing and Dicing the Tamarack

Slicing and Dicing the Tamarack

The new treads are cut at 2 inches thick to withstand the weather and traffic that they will endure for the next fifteen years. We have used thinner cuts in years past. Though we get more slabs per butt log, the thinner boards tend to weather and break more quickly.

Simon and John - Three Days in the Rain, Sawing Logs

Simon and John – Three Days in the Rain, Sawing Logs

New Rails, New Tamarack Treads

New Rails, New Tamarack Treads

Trans-Camp Rail-Setting

Trans-Camp Rail-Setting

A crew of eight men make tireless daily progress.  Rails are laid and leveled and the tamarack treads fitted and nailed fast. Foot by foot, the new boardwalk takes its place as the main artery of camp traffic.

Camp Dog Bear Inspects Completed Work

Bear, senior camp dog, inspects completed work

2014 is a fine year for TRL.  All the weeks are booked full and the many guests will be walking the new surfaces, stopping often to photograph sunsets, visit with one another, and take in the surrounding wildness.

Rounding the Bend

Rounding the Bend

Chalk lines are snapped along the edges of the newly laid lumber, cut-lines for the chain saw that will trim the walkway into a uniform width.  Scrap ends are collected and saved for firewood that will fuel the many wood stoves that warm the cabins.

Snow-Cooled

Snow-Cooled

Lingering snow banks chill the end-of-the-day rewards. Calloused hands grip cold cans to whet well-earned thirsts. Then dinner! And perhaps a card game if the muscles are still up to it.

After the project is complete, we stroll the new walk and take inventory.  Total of 385 boards cut from from 130 trees.  2310 nails driven. Eight men, six days – three of rain, three of sun. Project Complete! – just in time, a day before the first guests arrive.

Next years projects will include building a new dock and replacing the ‘back’ boardwalk that connects the dock with the dining lodge. How we look forward to another beginning! One board at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

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