This is the time of year when our thoughts are often focused on shopping lists and to-do lists, rather than getting outdoors, but we should all make sure that is one thing that is on all of our lists. Time spent outside, no matter what you’re doing – hunting, fishing, hiking, boiling up, or at the wood – is a remedy for much of what this hectic time of year has in store for us.
For those days, and there will be many, when the weather keeps you house-bound, make sure your November/December issue of the Newfoundland Sportsman Magazine is on your shopping list.
And speaking of shopping, a subscription to our magazine makes an excellent stocking stuffer. Click here to tick a few names off your list.
Most memorable morning fishing Great Rattling
By Darryl Feener
What do you get when you combine a tranquil canoe paddle, a mouthwatering shore lunch and a backdrop of cascading falls illuminated by a breathtaking sunrise on an early July morning?
What you get is an awe-inspiring morning of Atlantic salmon fishing at the mouth of Great Rattling Brook with the amiable Corey Samson.
Corey is native to Peterview, and like so many fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he lives, eats and breathes to become one with nature. Growing up, Corey spent all his spare time trouting and hunting the backwoods of central Newfoundland.
It was 10 years ago when he was introduced to salmon fishing by a friend of his, Glenn Brent from Northern Arm. Glenn took Corey under his wing and is directly responsible for igniting his relentless passion for salmon fishing. Since then, Corey has paid it forward for numerous other would-be anglers, including his Dad and his young son, Brett.
Corey’s fly case is decorated with many colours and patterns, however his favourite flies are the Artillery (with a hint of crystal flash), Red Butt Blue Charm, along with his very own concoction called “Corey’s Dicky Bird.” This custom-made fly was tied for Corey by his fishing buddy, Chris Humber. The feathers on the fly were used from the tail of one of Corey’s roosters and the fur was taken from a moose that his wife Stephanie shot several years ago. Oddly enough, this combination of materials has been proven on numerous occasions to entice the most reluctant of salmon.
I met Corey a few years ago through work, and since then many conversations have pursued, mostly centering on moose hunting and salmon fishing. During one of those engaging conversations, Corey noted his favourite salmon fishing location was Great Rattling Brook, and given the close proximity to our family cabin, we decided to hook up for a morning to try our luck.
Full of anticipation, we met at the turnoff at Max Simms camp on the Bay d’Espoir Highway at 4:30 a.m. on July 3, 2019. After a 10-minute drive down over a well-maintained gravel road, we launched the canoe. Passed down to Corey by his grandfather, this 15’ 5” craft was purchased at the old B & B Sports store in Grand Falls-Windsor. For well over 50 years, this canoe has served his family well on numerous leisure, hunting and fishing expeditions.
After we loaded our gear into the canoe, it was a relatively quick paddle to the mouth of Great Rattling Brook, a major tributary of the Exploits River. The canoe offered ease of access versus a 30-minute trek through a heavily forested area and over sharp, slippery rocks. As we approached our destination, other anglers were already occupying pools on the opposite side of the brook, but we were the first to arrive on this side. This being my first time fishing the area, I relied heavily on Corey’s local expertise.
After a few instructions from my guide, I began to navigate the slippery rocks, waist deep in fast flowing water. Corey sensed my weariness about wadding in turbulent water, so he provided a much higher level of security by escorting me out into the river to the hotspot known locally as the “Outside Pool at Max Simms Camp.” What a guide, eh? I have to say, the older you get, the more cautious you become when wading in heavy current waters while maneuvering over slippery rocks. Felt-bottom boots, a sturdy walking stick and a secure belt to keep the waders tight around your chest are a must.
Corey labeled this pool “the best one in this area.” Feeling very appreciative of his generosity and sportsmanship, I tied on and began casting Corey’s Dicky Bird – he really has to change that name – into the pool. It was more of a question of ‘when’ vs. ‘if’ I would rise a salmon. As the morning progressed, other anglers arrived and each carved out their own watershed in hopes of hooking a powerful salmon.
After an hour or so, my legs were feeling a little strained from the pressure of the water’s current, so I decided to go to shore and take a break. Scanning this beautiful area, I quickly learned so much more about these pools and the experienced fishers who worked them. Clearly, there was so much to learn as salmon were hooked in the most unlikely of places.
A large part of the charm for fishing new areas is getting to know the local fishers and – through their guidance – learning how to fish each pool, along with the recommended flies to use.
Characteristic of true sportsman, these anglers displayed a high level of positive river etiquette. I was pleasantly surprised that each was more than willing to give up their secrets, especially to someone who writes for the Newfoundland Sportsman magazine.
One thing I discovered in a hurry with these anglers was that there is a huge following of this magazine. One fellow said, “I often keep my magazine for a time when I know no one will interrupt me. I love reading the insightful and entertaining stories and viewing the photos from all over Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of all, the stories featured in the Newfoundland Sportsman magazine makes me feel connected with like-minded people.”
After a break, I again picked my way back out to the pool. This time, salmon were much more active. Perhaps fresh fish were moving in.
Several casts later, I finally had my first rise of the morning, which sent my heart rate into arrhythmia. I quickly gathered my line and cast to the same spot, where this time my fly was hammered with a vengeance by a salmon which simply had enough of the repetitive torture of Corey’s Dicky Bird.
The hook-set drew the attention of many as my Hardy reel sang out from a long run of twisting and jumping. Eventually, though, the hook lost its grip. By this time, Corey was alongside and he continued to offer me lots of encouragement. As we were chatting, I gathered the line and with the very next cast, another salmon staked its claim on my fly. I couldn’t believe it, after two hours of fishing with no rises, I hooked two salmon in just two casts! This time, however, after several aggressive runs, the fish slipped into the net… 62 centimetres of sterling silver! Oh baby! After a few pictures, we cleaned the salmon and placed it in the cooler.
“Time for a lunch,” Corey said. “My wife packed a lunch for us.”
In short order, tea was boiling, and on our rock table was a meal fit for a king. From Corey’s homegrown hens, their mashed eggs were heavily layered in the middle of Artisan bread roll, complimented by Vienna sausages, and for desert, homemade jam-jam cookies.
I was thinking, how much better can this day possibly get?
In the background, Great Rattling Brook Falls cascaded on the rocks below and salmon could be seen making every effort to leap and conquer this formidable obstacle. The setting was simply off the charts.
Enticing a salmon to your fly is always exhilarating, but more often than not, it’s our interaction with other anglers on the river that can make or break our day. So the next time we head out to try our luck on one of our pristine, wild rivers, we should all try to model high standards of positive river etiquette as displayed by Corey.
Inviting someone new to a river or providing words of wisdom and encouragement to those who are already there, goes a long way in creating a lifetime of memories.
A few days after this trip, I received a text from Corey: “My son Brett is 7 years old and he just hooked and landed his first salmon at Northern Brook on a Green Machine. The salmon was 47 cm and it was the first time I ever cried on the river.”
The March/April Cover features Lenny Boone of Corner Brook who hooked and released this 28-pound Atlantic salmon last season at Steady Brook Shoals on the Humber River
(Photo by John Butt)
Photo of the Week
Kim Enserink’s first big game animal – a trophy stag caribou – was harvested on opening day of the 2019 season in Middle Ridge. Send us your photos for your chance to be our Photo of the Week and win a free subscription to The Newfoundland Sportsman. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org