A St. Mary’s adventure
One early morning in July many years ago I headed for the Wire Pool just below Silver’s Pool on Nova
Scotia’s St. Mary’s River. It was to be a bright, sunny day and the water had cleared following a big rain 2 days
earlier. My spirits were as high and mighty as the St. Mary’s was that day, and my optimism turned out to be well founded.
Despite expecting a take on each and every cast, it didn’t happen,
even though I had the odd rise to my wet fly as I moved down the west side of the pool. As fishless anglers always do, I found
an excuse. “The salmon are moving up in this high water”, I reasoned, knowing that moving fish may rise once to
a fly before continuing upstream.
Eventually I reached the deep
hole at the end of the Wire Pool. Just below is a slick run that leads to the Meadow Pool. I always fished the Meadow Pool
from the east side, a large island’s gravel shore, although it was mostly fished by others from the west side.
I continued my journey to the Meadow Pool’s island by crossing
the slick run at its widest and shallowest point. The maximum depth was a bit less than 3 ft. but around the middle of the
pool I stepped into a depression of 1 ft. or so in the gravel that surprised me. It was an empty lamprey eel redd where a
single grilse was resting and my intrusion caused him to jump out of the water a few feet from me. Knowing I had chased him
out of his hole I continued across to the island and fished the Meadow Pool without success.
Once I recall fishing alone from the island when anglers on the other side got my attention by yelling and
pointing downstream. The largest bear I’ve ever seen was slowly crossing over to my side near the downstream end of
the island, maybe 200 yards from me. Having caught and kept a grilse earlier, I worried that the fish scent might attract
the big bruin, but it disappeared behind the island’s high grass not to be seen again. What a thrill!
It was now late morning, getting warm and I was getting hungry, so I headed back upstream for brunch. I wondered
whether the grilse had reclaimed his resting spot, and so I waded across the slick well below the redd. I then walked along
the shore to a point just above the hole and started fishing. Upon reaching the spot I was rewarded by a solid take and a
long downstream run with a jump at the end that threw the hook.
I knew the answer. The grilse had settled back into his spot, and he had furthermore calmed down enough to take my fly after
being so rudely disturbed.
I smiled as I thought of the
incident over brunch and into my afternoon nap. It was a fishless but glorious morning on the St. Mary’s, where adventure
generally awaits the angler looking for one.