42℉ at 5:00 with high of 55
Monday, October 3, 2016
We packed up and headed south. I had a relapse with my cold, so I wasn’t feeling too spunky, but it was a pretty drive on a very windy day. When we got to Percé the winds were blowing up a gale, but the sky was clear and the Northern Gannets were unconcerned as they flew all over the bay feed ing on whatever the rough seas brought in. We could have easily bypassed this spot, but that would have been a mistake. It is a beautiful place, even in the howling winds. In fact the winds made it even prettier with the waves splashing up on the shore and all the birds flying. There is a little campground right on the cove that was still open. It would be a great place to stay, but we needed to move on.
New Richmond is a pretty, little town on Chaleur Bay, which is listed as one of the prettiest bays in the world. We found a campground that was open, set up camp, built a fire and cooked potatoes and a trout we bought at a Poissonerie. This is a campground where people leave their campers all year, and it sits beside the Cascapèdia River, rated in the top 10 salmon rivers in the world. I didn’t care. I was tired and not feeling so well. There are no fire pits beside the campsites, but all on the river. While it was cooking at one of those fire pits with my truck parked beside it, an older man drove very slowly past, giving me a serious look. He parked right in front of the truck and got out. I was in no mood, so if he wanted to get nasty, I was ready. He was very overweight, with a big bubble sticking out of his belly button, exposed by his shirt that could not cover the protuberance. Unshaven and with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, he approached. Martha and I said the usual. “Bonjour” and he of course grumbled some French that we couldn’t understand. We asked for English, and he said “OK”. Then I asked if we had taken his favorite fishing spot. Then he said “Oh no. Any place is good as another”. I asked what kind of fish were caught here, and he said trout. “What kind of trout?” He couldn’t find the word in English, but I gathered Speckled Trout, maybe Brook Trout. “There are not so many any more” he said. Our fish was cooked now, and I moved to a cooler spot off the fire. He saw that, turned away and bid us a good night.
The fish was great! After cleaning up, I saw he was sitting in his car with the heat on and dimmer lights illuminating his rod. I tried to approach without scaring him, asking if he was catching anything and what he was fishing with. Worms, always worms! He grew up here, hunting and fishing, then worked for a company that sent him all over Canada. Retired now for 15 years, he said he likes this place better than any other in all of Canada. Asking why the fishing was not so good any more, he said bass have moved in, and what I gathered were Striped Bass. since then, the trout population has dwindled. He talked about how famous this river is for salmon fishing, but now is not as good. It was difficult to determine all he was saying in broken English interspersed with French words, but it sure is better than my French! He said there are now Steelhead coming in. A Steelhead is a Rainbow Trout that goes to sea and back into the rivers. Rainbow Trout love to eat Salmon eggs. He said he has seen videos where the Rainbow will butt into the Salmon females to punch the eggs out. He talked about how the Striped Bass is a nice enough fish to catch, but not so much to eat, and the Steelhead is similar. “They are not like trout”, he said.
I asked if the weather is warmer now than when he grew up, as Stripped Bass shouldn’t be able to survive cold trout streams. He said, “OH yes!” It is moose hunting season now, and when he grew up, there was snow on the ground. Cleaning a moose is a big job. Now the temperatures can reach 72℉. People have to take huge coolers with ice to dress the moose. Even yesterday at 55℉, if you are out of the wind, the sun is quite warm. You could wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt in the sun, but you would have to put more clothes on in the shade. I wished him good luck with his fishing.