Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Lab stuff

Our drive from southern NH to Labrador City took over 20 hours.  The first half was pretty uneventful.  Then when we headed north from Baie Comeau on the St, Lawrence River things got interesting.  We pretty much left civilization behind, other than a blighted landscape of high tension power lines, huge dams destroying entire watersheds and huge mines scraping off mountains and filling lakes with rust-red effluent.  All necessary(?), but unfortunate by-products of modern life. Anybody following events in NH has heard of the Northern Pass project that would run high tension towers/cables across northern NH to bring "green" power to the northeast urban corridor.  At least 40 additional miles of towers would be built around Pittsburg, NH and additional high towers would be built on existing right-of-ways.  This video is a sample of the swath of destruction that would be cut across northern NH. From our float plane you can also see some of the huge mines that have leveled mountains and filled lakes in northern Quebec and southwestern Labrador.

Enough depressing stuff - on to the the fun stuff:  In Labrador City we stayed in a nice motel and made our last visit to a WalMart where we wisely bought bug nets - the best $1.97 I ever spent! The 150-mile float plane trip to the lodge showed us that where we were going to fish was unlike any other place I have ever fished.  The landscape made Minnesota's Land-of-Lakes look like a desert! Water everywhere and probably fish everywhere, too. In addition to water, we saw patches of snow both on the July 8th flight in and the flight out on the 15th.
The trees were quite a bit smaller, due to lack of nutrients and shorter growing season.  And the ground cover was white lichens, or caribou moss.  It was soft and fluffy and blanketed the ground, covering boulders. In past years the caribou would migrate through here and we hiked along their trails to reach some of the areas we fished.
Each evening after dinner Kevin, camp manager and head guide, would discuss plans for the following day.  We were assigned an area to fish and our guide for the day.  Each area was like having your own private river.  Some days we would get in a boat with our guide and motor across to an inlet or outlet of the lake.  The inlets were rivers and we would fish a few hundred yards or a mile or more of river. Some areas required a hike around lower rapids and then another boat ride and another hike. 
  My best day of fishing with a lot of fish caught was one of those ride, hike, ride, hike trips.  That is where I caught the lake trout pictured in the previous blog and this 5+ pound brook trout. It is also where I stood on a flat boulder and caught 8 brooktrout - smallest 2 pounds and largest a little over 3 pounds.  What a rock! These fish were caught on woolybuggers and woodduck orange streamers, but the water was so clear and the pool so deep that I saw the take on almost every fish.  In addition to landing 8, a couple others got off the hook. That day I was fishing with Dave from another group of anglers from Maine and guide Anthony.  Here is a video of Dave with our guide Anthony landing a fish in the middle of the rapids on the next boulder down from "my rock."
Unlike the rivers in NH and ME and other northeast states, these rivers were not dammed or channelized for log-drive purposes or to harness the water power for industry.  It really gave a flavor of what the rivers, lakes and fishing would have been like in New England before our European ancestors "tamed" it.  That's it for now.  Stay tuned for the next installment of "The BSC goes to Labrador."

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