35th Wffc Bih 2015

World Fly Fishing Championship 2019

Eagle River Salmon | Labrador

Eagle River Salmon | Labrador


(calm music) – Atlantic salmon, our
subject for this week. Sometimes conditions are ideal
and the fishing is great. Other times you’ve
got high water and the fishing isn’t so great. It’s those conditions we’re
going to deal with this week. I’m Bill Spicer, this
is The New Fly Fisher. (guitar music) [Ad Reader] The
New Fly Fisher has been made possible thanks to, Newfoundland and Labrador
Outfitters association. Orvis Sporting Traditions. Rio Products. Superfly, fly fishing made easy. – [Bill] On today’s
show, the new fly fisher crew
is in the northern region of Labrador on
the Eagle River system. The Eagle is 120 mile in length and meanders on the back
of the Mealy Mountains. Spectacular and pristine,
The Eagle River’s considered one of
the top Atlantic Salmon rivers in North America. Our destination
host this week is Dwight Lethbridge, owner
of Pratt Falls Lodge. From the onset of your visit, Dwight concentrates
on making your experience the best it can be. Our guide is Hedley
Angell, a guide for 26 years with the last 15
being spent at Pratt Falls. Repeat guests, who have
fished with Hedley, ask for him time and time again. I had previously
visited Pratt Falls nine years earlier and
had excellent fishing. But conditions were not the same as they were in the last visit. We ran into bad conditions
when we first got here. They’d had rain
for weeks on a time before we got here and the
water level went way up. That’s generally
not a good thing with salmon fishing
because it spreads the fish out, they’re
not as concentrated. Now as the week has gone
on, we’ve had good weather. The river levels dropping, so I fully expect the
action to pick up. Feeling overwhelmed at
the high water conditions, I think back the way
it was nine years ago. Good man, good man, yes, yeah! Man you don’t miss
the hits as far as– – [George] I know. – there’s nothing subtle,
nothing subtle about it at all. Yes, man. Oh, yeah. You can’t take your mind
off these fish for a second. – [George] Keep your
mind on the fish. Okay, okay, – Okay, yeah, oh he’s not ready, – [George] Oh, no, no, no. he’s far from ready. – And I got this one
near the surface. So that was kind of exciting and he’s going for a run now. Why that fish was here,
George pointed out, if you can see the riffle
just beyond my fly line, that’s where the fish was laying and this fish is going to come up in a second here and you’re
going to get a look at it. Oh, yeah. Decent fish, yes. Alright, this is great. Very very powerful fish
aren’t they George? – [George] Yeah, boy. At least it’s not a 20 pounder, that’s a much bigger fish. – Oh, yeah, then
you’re going for a run. (laughter) And you must watch yourself when they run because they will
knuckle dust you in a second. You never know with these fish, which way they’re going to go. And I’m going to step back. And I’ll get him
in sideways here. Now George seeing that
come up before I did, he says you got one Bill and
that’s when I felt it hit. And we’ve got ourselves
a fish here now. That is my first
Atlantic salmon, I’m really, really
happy with that. And away she goes, yes sir. – I usually do this with the
glove on so you feel the water. – Oh, that’s fine, that’s fine. That was exciting, that was
my first Atlantic salmon. We got here within five minutes I had my first one
on but I wasn’t lucky enough to get that one. I was more successful
with that one. Atlantic salmon return to their native waters to
spawn starting in June and continue to October, unlike their Pacific cousins, Atlantic salmon can spawn more than once. After three years
in the river system, the young smolt will
travel out to sea to feed. Salmon may spend one
or more years at sea, during this time,
they grow rapidly. Salmon which have spent
only one winter at sea before returning to
spawn are called grills and weigh up to two point five kilos when they enter the river. Salmon, which spend two
or more winters at sea, and fish that have
spawned previously, are collectively referred
to as large salmon. Generally less than
ten out of every 100 spawning salmon
return to spawn again. – We take 12 guests, they’re
all in duplex stall cabins, a solid per two people,
so it’s double occupancy. We do actually have a
little bit of extra space so quite often we
can avoid doubling up strangers if there’s
mixed groups. Every duplex has two
rooms, two double rooms and then every room
has its own washroom. Running hot and cold water, air conditioning and
wood stove heat. It’s pretty comfortable in the middle of the
Labrador wilderness. We start taking bookings,
usually, a year in advance. We’ll start booking
usually in August for the next season. We’ll put in an
email, of course, we’ve got a high re-book rate. The last several years has been off around 80 percent
to 90 percent range but we changed our packaging. So there will be some space that we can get people
in pretty easily. – It was good to see other
guests having success. It made me realize that
the fish are spread out and I just have to be
persistent and keep casting. (tranquil music) (guitar music) The rods and wheels we
recommend for Pratt’s falls is nine foot, number
eight weight rods. We don’t have to have a delicate presentation for dry flies here so a tip action rod is probably a better choice,
it gives you that little extra “oomf”
for that long cast. Reels, you’ve got to have a good drag system and I highly
recommend a large Arbor, Atlantic salmon have a
tendency to run directly at you and you’ll appreciate the extra ability to pick up line faster. Drag systems, you must have it, Atlantic salmon
will hurt you in the long run without a
good drag system. Now we’re only allowed
floating lines here, this is a scheduled
river, no artificial bait or lures other
than flies are allowed. You cannot weight
the line or the fly, so you must use floating
lines and swinging flies, that’s generally the
only way you can do it. I would recommend a steel head or Atlantic salmon
taper, it’s got a longer belly and you cast
a little longer. The next morning, we took
a short hike to Pratt pool. One of the more productive
pools at the lodge. Looking at the amount of
water passing over the falls was much more than the
last time that I visited. My frustration
increased and it took me back to the previous
visit to the pool. – Got that one, fish on. Good instruction,
George, good instruction. I missed the first
one, I didn’t realize that the current is taking
your fly elsewhere on you. And this guys going to
jump in a second here. And George said to be quicker with the set and I had to be. I didn’t feel this one at all I just set the hook
when he told me to. Now I’m surprised this
one hasn’t jumped yet but it’s probably going to
surprise me in a second here. What yourself guys I’ve
got a fish oncoming. Every time I think I’m
going to get a look at him, he goes back down on me. That was worth
it, that was worth the whole trip just that jump. Oh my goodness. Now the blue charm
seems to be the fly of choice right now. It took my first fish and
it’s taken my second one. And this, this is
a pretty good fish. He told me it was important that I get it away from
that faster water which makes sense,
they’re strong enough to begin with and we don’t
need any help from the water. And he looks like he’s starting
to get a little bit tired. And we got it,
another fine fish. Now, George, will you
give me an opinion, what is it, a grills? – Yep. – [Bill] It’s a
grills is it, huh? Not quite a salmon yet. And we’ll get him to lift it up and have a, a look at it there. Oh, yeah. Very beautiful fish, what uh, what’s unique about them
is their pointed snout. They’re built for speed and they can really use it to
their best advantage. Just a wonderful fish,
just a wonderful fish. – My friend. – Good wet handshake. The technique we are using is a typical Atlantic salmon down
and across presentation. This is achieved
by casting across and downstream at
a 45 degree angle and allowing the fly to
skitter on the surface. Each time I cast
I take out eight to 12 inches of line until I
reach the maximum I can cast. It occurred to me
that the high water was not going down very fast and had forced the fish
to hold near shore. We decided to put on waders and try what is called
the beach pool. Fish on. Good way to start
didn’t take long. Oh, oh and a long line
release, that’s okay. That’s okay, long line release. That’s what happens when
you’re fishing barb-less. Double check my
line, didn’t take a fly, no the fly is still there. Let’s talk about flies. The number one fly
here at Pratt’s Falls has always been, the Blue Charm. Bring them in
assorted sizes right from down 16 up to
size six anywhere in between, bring
a bunch of them. The next would be
Thunder and Lightning, Thunder and Lightning
is a good all round fly for any Newfoundland
and Labrador. The third, I’ve had
particularly good luck, in other rivers, the
Black Sliver Tip. Sometimes they just don’t
want a lot of color, they want just
black but they want some sparkle and
that seems to work. And an old favorite
is the Lady Caroline. Lady Caroline’s are
an old English pattern that are sometimes
forgotten, now, for our floating
flies, I found the best is the Green Machine,
is a good working fly. And then my last one
is an Orange Buck Bug. I’ve had oodles of luck
with Orange Buck Bugs. (tranquil music) – It’s very much home
style Newfoundland food, you know, it’s hearty food. We’re certainly not fine dining. It’s hearty home cooked
meals, is what it is, and we don’t hear
too many complaints, actually we don’t
hear any complaints. A lot fish, a lot of
meat, cooked breakfasts. You know, it’s local food. Typical guiding day
here is nine hours, nine to ten hours of fishing. An average day is a six
o’ clock morning start. Come in for your
breakfast at eight. Go back for the rest of the
morning fishing until noon, have a lunch, take a break
in the mid afternoon. It’s usually the slowest
time of the day to fish. Have a nap, read a book and back on the water usually around
three or four o’ clock for an evening
fish, have dinner, and then back on
for the evening. We schedule some
pools, sometimes they run into meal
hours, not a problem, cooks are fully aware
of the schedules, we’ll shift it around so that you’ve got a hot
meal when you get in and that’s pretty much the way the meals and the guiding works. – [Bill] I’m no
different from anyone else when you see someone else having great fishing
and you’re not. I start to question
all that I’m doing and wonder what
else I could try. I look back to my previous visit to see if I can figure
out what I need to do. And yeah, I got a small one. And I was just dangling
the fly and it grabbed it. Just an incredible fishery,
you have to come to Labrador. The accommodations have
been absolutely spectacular. Food is hot, wonderful. The comradery with
everyone has been great. We had some high sun. Oh, yes, very very
much spectacular. While the clouds have moved
in we’ve had a bit of rain and it’s changed conditions. And man, oh, man the guides here have been absolutely
incredible, very helpful. Oh, yeah. Ah, got to love this,
got to love this. Yeah I’m going to move up. No, you land it,
you grab it for me and then I’ll take it from you. I got him, oh man. This is very exciting,
not a very big one but definitely, oh,
feisty, nice bullet head. Wonderful shot for the
camera and away we go. Oh, yeah, that was,
that was wonderful. Now you’ll observe that I’ve
got two rods set up here. There’s two reasons
for that, one is, I can have a wet
fly on one and a bug or a floating
fly on the second one and it’s just easier
to change over when I want to change flies. The other reason is, you’ve got to fly into Pratt’s Falls and if you break a rod, you
got to have a backup. I actually got three rods that I brought with me,
I have a third rod back in the cabin that is
only there for emergency. But you need to
bring other rods. The setup I used this week was a nine foot, tapered leader
down to two X tip head. Now here in Newfoundland
and Labrador, the guys just, all they use is 12 pound test, nine
feet of 12 pound test. Generally the
length of your rod, if it’s a nine foot,
you want nine feet. If it’s 10 foot,
you want 10 feet. So they’ve just been
using 12 pound test and it works just
fine, like I said, there’s no delicate
presentation here. If the fly flops down it doesn’t seem to bother the fish at all. Nine or 10 feet of 12 pound
test, that’s all you need. The reason I love
Labrador so much is the high chance
of seeing wildlife. Animals such as black bears, moose, caribou and beavers are highly likely. But the most exciting
for me this year was the encounter with breaching
whales on our drip boat. You’re not allowed to use
any weight on the fly. So what do you do
when the Blue Charm is working but you
want to get deeper. The only way you can
do it legally here is to use a bigger,
heavier hooked fly. This is much heavier and it’ll sink a little further than this smaller version of the same fly. – Bill, over on
this side right here is a, is a good spot for fish. Right around here, in this
fast water right here. Back towards the rock,
is a good spot for fish huddled up
in a little area. – Fish on. Don’t know how big he is yet,
haven’t had a look at him but he hit it like
a ton of bricks. Blue Charm which always works, no matter what you do,
Blue Charm is everything. Oh, he’s heading for,
he’s into my backing. Tighten down my
drag a bit, see if I can get him to turn around. Well into my backing,
look at that. Well into my
backing, my goodness. I don’t even think it’s that big of a fish but he’s certainly
fighting like a big one. Now I wind down and I pull up. Wind down, pull up until I feel him right there,
he wanted to go. Then you let him go. If they’re turning to
run, don’t resist it, just turn your drag
down a little bit. He’s starting to come
in, he must be tiring. This is where the
large Arbor comes in handy because
they do run at you. So I got to be able to
pick up line quickly. There we go. Beautiful bullet,
Atlantic salmon, you seen how small this guy is and how much of a fight, he
went up way into my backing. I had a real time with
him in this current. So, let’s release him. – There we go. Good job, sir. – Thank you, thank
you very much. My time at Pratt Falls Salmon
Lodge has come to an end. And I have to admit
it, I had a tough time. But others in the
camp, they had a great time with lots of fish. I’d like to thank Pratt
Falls Salmon Lodge for inviting us and Hedley
Angell for being my guide. For more information
on this show and others in our
series, visit us on the web at
thenewflyfisher.com. From all of us here
at The New Fly Fisher, thanks for joining
us, tight lines and we’ll see you next week. – [Ad Reader] The New Fly Fisher has been made
possible thanks to: Newfoundland and Labrador
Outfitters association. Orvis Sporting Traditions. Rio Products. Superfly, fly fishing made easy. (guitar music)

8 thoughts on “Eagle River Salmon | Labrador

  1. I have fished the Eagle River out of Park Lake Lodge…fabulous experience. In addition to numerous 4 pound Brooke’s, I caught 3 Atlantic’s on flies I tied. Took my dad there for his 70th birthday. Epic.

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