Somerset 2014: Sittin’ on the Minipi River Couch

It’s the biggest fly-fishing show in all of North America, probably in the whole wide world. Ten thousand fly fishermen gathered right here in northern New Jersey.

That’s where the Minipi gang, most notably, Robin and the sanguine, senior Mr. Cooper, were hanging out this weekend (Jan. 24, 25, 26), sitting on their inflatable “River Couch” with fly fishers buzzing all around – the famous Lefty Kreh and Ed Jaworowski to name only two — plus lots of friends, some from as far away as Canada, and dozens of Minipi veterans and Minipi plan-to-be’s and wannabes.

Robin was yakking about the latest outdoor products at his Minipi Outfitters store in Goose Bay; Ed Quigley and Barney Leonard, Minipi multi-year veterans, were discussing the state of the union and telling potential guests tales of trophy trout.

“Why was Mr. Cooper “sanguine’”? Because nearly all the beds available at Anne Marie Lodge are already filled for the 2014 season. So, while it may be too late to join us on the river couch, it’s not too late to reserve your 2014-week on the Minipi. But hurry up. There are only a few prime-time spots left.

 

Talking Minipi in Denver, CO!

The Fly Fishing Show started in Denver, CO, Friday January 3 with unseasonably warm weather. With temperatures pushing 60F, we expected booth visits to be slow, but it was quite the opposite. We consistently had interested fly fishers stop by to hear about the Minipi and its famous brookies. Many who stopped by were past visitors to Minipi and wanted to share their experiences. Everyone who has been there stated they had a fabulous time and are planning to return again someday. Over the past 10 years, we find that Friday brings out the most serious anglers of the three days and we often become quite engaged in the in-depth techniques associated with flyfishing for Minipi’s Brook Trout!

I gave a presentation in the Destination Theatre on mousing for Minipi brookies and about a dozen people sat in on the talk. Most had heard about fly fishing with mouse patterns, but associated the technique to trophy rainbows and could hardly believe the videos of these brook trout striking these huge flies. Those who have been exposed to fishing for brook trout on mice agree it is some of the most visually exciting fishing imaginable!

Saturday saw the temperatures plummet and heavy snows came to Denver. The visits to the booth were slow early on but steadily picked up as the day progressed. Again, we had many enjoyable and interesting conversations about brook trout. Many stopped by simply to glare at the pictures of Minipi’s colorful August brook trout, with some even claiming that it is simply not possible that a trout could exhibit such amazing oranges and reds. We encouraged these folks to come and see for themselves, as they will not be disappointed! I gave the same presentation again on mousing and had another good turnout. We had great dialog on patterns, how to tie them and then how to retrieve the mouse to engage the interest of a monster brookie. We were all wishing that this long and dreadful winter would soon end so we could get our feet and flies wet and wake up those brookies from their winter slumber!

By Sunday we were in the death grip of a deep freeze with highs not passing 15F. Again, visits to the booth were slow but steadily picked up through the day. We encountered new faces but also got a few re-visits from folks who had stopped by the earlier in the show. We shared stories of those perfect brook trout and how they must be doing this time of the year. We talked about the different stages of the fishing season and some pondered whether to catch these monster fish on huge drakes or tiny spinners. Others only want to fish with mice. But one thing is for certain: everyone wants to catch one or two of these treasures and admire their size and beauty at least once. The summer cannot get here soon enough!

Minipi ‘Book’ Trout

This is a 3 1/2 pound female Brook Trout. It represents a trout just slightly over the minimum for a “book” fish at Minipi. Almost anywhere else this would be the trophy of a lifetime for a dyed-in-the-wool Brook Trout fisherman..but not necessarily Labrador.

Mind you, it’s still a true trophy anywhere… including Minipi. It’s just not what people come to Labrador to fish for. Everyone wants trout in the 5 to 7 1/2 pound class. It doesn’t always happen, but it certainly does nearly all the time for just about everyone at Coopers’ Minipi Lodges. I know I have never been skunked. Expectations run high here, and I am no exception.

There are no wild places and situations where 100% success is guaranteed but this place is as close as I have ever experienced. Whenever I go on a major expedition, I always have high hopes and prepare as best I can. I stack the odds as much in my favor as possible with the right equipment and clothing and as much information as I can accumulate. Then I depend on the guides and outfitter to put me into situations where I have a reasonable chance to meet my goals.

All of my trips to all the many places I have gone have one goal in common;  I want the experience. I want the scenery, the wildlife, the photo opportunities and I want people that I enjoy being with. The Coopers have always provided that and more. Labrador should be on every fisherman’s “bucket list”. It goes back on my bucket list every time I return from there.

Editor’s Note: At Minipi we catch so many trout that we have to limit our catch log book to those over 3 pounds, thus the term ‘book’ trout. Come and check them out for yourself 😉