My first trip to Coopers’ Minipi Lodges many years ago was a learning experience. I caught a lot of small and medium sized Brook Trout and one 5 3/4 pound Arctic Char. But, the last day at Minonipi Lake turned out to be my best of the trip. I had been running a big black, weighted Wooly Bugger through the narrows between two lakes when it suddenly stopped. Thinking I was hung up on the bottom once again, I pulled upward and to the side slowly to try to dislodge it from the rock.. But the rock slowly swam away… upstream.
It seems I had a big fish on finally. He took me out into the current and rapidly took me into my backing. I jumped from boulder to boulder and reached shore, and started pulling from the side to get him out of the heavy current. Once I got him to the net he really became active. He bounced around in the net so much that we couldn’t get an accurate weight on him. I managed to get a few photos of him and measured him… a little over 24 inches. We released him as soon as we could and watched him swim away.
That big Brookie made my trip…. and he became the inspiration for a painting. The Minipi system is famous for its Brook Trout, and rightfully so. These trout are not just big, they are deep bodied, energetic and extremely colorful. I finally caught one of Minipi’s huge Brook Trout and held him in my hands for a few moments before releasing him. What a thrill.
“Well, Timmy,” the guide replied, “It’s a big, bumbly dry fly, like this one here. And up here most times it’s the color of a Cream Sickle and damn near as big as your pinkie finger with whiskers fore and aft as white as those on Santa’s chin.”
What’s it for?
“Well, it’s for skimming. You see, it’s really a salmon “skimmer;” what they calls a “waking” fly. First, it wakes up fish that ‘er nappin’; and, second, it makes a “wake” when you retrieves it straight. We use it for catchin’ brookies on smooth water, in the riffles or rapids. Smear it with dry-fly grease and ya can’t retrieve it too fast neither. Or bounce, skip and dance it too much on the surface. You can plop it close a log or rocky shore and waggle it. You know, make it “shiver.” Let it rest and shiver it again. Look out ! It’s called a bomber, ya see, ‘cause ‘a the way fish explode on it. Bam !
How’s it made?
“Deer hair spun on a streamer hook size 2 to 4 clipped into a cigar shape and palmered with white, stiff hackle. Some mistake it for a bass bug or a caterpilly. Fact is, it’s one of the most popular salmon flies in Canada. The wings, split or not, and the tail are made from tufts of white deer hair, sometimes woodchuck. Gotta trim the bottom near flat close up to the shank to give the hook a better bite. Old-timers like the body to end just short ‘a the hook point. Again, for better bite.”
“Some ‘a the boys take out their Swiss Army knife and scissor off the wings and hackle and use it as a pike streamer. Got an extra one? Hand it here; I’ll show ya.”
What’s in imitate?
“Nothin’. Nothin’ ‘atall, Mr. Shay.”