Minipi’s “Oldest” Brook Trout

Every now and then something remarkable happens on the water, and this time we’ve got documented proof. Meet Minipi’s “Oldest” recorded brook trout, MPP 328. We’ll call him ‘Fighter’ for kicks.

Fighter was tagged MPP 328 behind his dorsal fin in 1999 at approximately three years old. He was caught that year at Second Narrows weighing three pounds by Michael Antico.

Years later in 2012 Fighter was wrestled in again by Duncan Lewis at the Gorge, weighing three pounds again.

And most recently, this wise fish found his way to First Narrows and latched on to Carl Burt’s grey Wulff on July 1, 2014. This makes “Fighter” a recorded 15 years old! We can’t say for sure he was three years old when first tagged, but if he was, he has lived a remarkable 18 years. And now is more than double in size at 6.5 pounds.

“Brook trout can live to be quite old, not just the Minipi ones but even some of those populations of small fish on the Island. I think Jeff Hutchings found ages up to 7 or 8 in tiny fish from down near Cape Race. But, in general, brook trout in most places don’t seem to get more than about 5…” says Dr. Richard Haedrich, retired Biological Oceanographer and Ichthyologist with research experience in the systematics and biology of fish.

“A fish 15 years old (or more) is pretty remarkable. There’s no arguing with the tag data. It is interesting that even after such a long period the fish had only doubled its weight. I would have thought it might be even larger since fish do not quit growing at some particular size the way many animals do. It’s called “indeterminate growth” and that’s what fish do. A big one is usually very old!”

So meet Fighter, the little brookie that could! We’ll keep you updated if he makes another appearance.

Duncan Lewis recalls 25 years of fishing at Coopers’ Minipi Lodges

Minipi has a way of catching hold of some people, the memories people make – not just from the big brookies – are enough to keep the adventurous angler coming back year after year. Case in point, Duncan Lewis. Duncan has been fishing with us for 25 years now, our web manager Mandy sat down for a Q&A session with Duncan to find out what makes Minipi so special to him.

How many years have you been coming to Coopers’ Minipi Lodges?
I’m going to say it’s been close to 25 although I did miss a couple of years because I had an injury.

How did you first hear about the lodges?
I read about it in fishing magazines. I didn’t know of anyone who had come up here but my grandfather used to collect old Field and Stream’s and Outdoor Life down in his cellar and when I’d go visit I’d always be thumbing through the magazines and there were ads prominently in all of the magazines. At some point in my teen years I must have written up here and inquired about rates or something and got on the mailing list! At that point Lorraine used to print out a paper newsletter and I have many many years of newsletters. That increased my interest, reading all of the personalities.

What do you remember about your first trip here?
I went first to Minipi and it would have been around the first of August, which I know now is a little late in the season for what I was hoping to find. Conway was in charge, and another gal as a guide, Paulette, and an a fella from Newfoundland who was an Atlantic salmon guide, Kennedy. They were all bigger than life characters. Everything was pretty exciting. I was hoping to see more risers to flies but it had been past most of the hatches but I ended up catching a great big one on a giant bass bug! Frog imitation! I caught enough fish. Everyone talked about coming a little earlier.

Is there a special spot on the Minipi Watershed that you consider your favorite? Why?
I wouldn’t say at the present time any particular favorite. I do seem to like the more remote places. That changes over time depending on what lodges are being filled, but I always liked Minonipi in the early going, that was out on the frontier if you will. But Anne Marie was always the central point, but as you grew up and got skilled enough and got far enough up the list you got to go and stay at Anne Marie. Now that I go to Anne Marie I always look forward to getting a day up to Minonipi, or lets fly over to Little Minipi! So I always have a special feeling about more remote ones. I’ve had the good fortune to discover a couple of good spots, you have to understand you go through 10 or a dozen dead ends, as long as there’s a chance of one out there somewhere it’s always worth the effort to try.

Catch a beautiful sunset!

Having fished for many years at the Lodges, what is it that keeps you coming back?
In the early days I guess I wanted to catch big brook trout, and at some point I guess I wanted to catch LOTS of big brook trout, I’ve had some luck in both of those areas. I’m not obsessed anymore with doing either one of those. What keeps me coming back now is it’s a lovely geographical place and I love all the characters I meet up here, both staff and the guests – it just feels good. It doesn’t hurt that it’s 115F at home either! At home there’s traffic and noise and police sirens and phones ringing, up here it’s a cry of a loon! It’s almost too quiet sometimes. My personality is more inclined to the quiet.

What about fly and tackle – is there a special fly that you find works best for either trout, pike or char?
If I could only pick one I like the visual aspect of the dry fly, I’d pick a big stimulator which is a giant caddis imitation, but it works for all sorts of other insects as well. I tie my own flies and it’s kind of fun to use them and try different things, so I’ll always have a few fun things in my kit that I can try. Over the years some of them work and some don’t, but one that seems to have produced the most pleasant surprises is a great huge frog pattern so that would be my next favorite. It makes no sense because there aren’t particularly any frogs up here.

Do you remember the biggest trout you’ve caught at Minipi? How big was it?
I have caught two that were 8.5 pounds. I’ve caught a char or two that were that size or larger. It’s kind of ironic, all the years that I’ve come up there have been so many experienced guides and other anglers that I’ve learned from but both of the two fish I mentioned were caught with one of the lesser experienced guides.

Can you recall a favorite memory of yours from your time fishing at Coopers’ Minipi Lodges?
I don’t know if I could pinpoint one particular incident, it’s just kind of the camaraderie of the whole thing. I think my fondest memories are probably from up at Minonipi when I used to be partnered up with Dan Edgerton. Dorman and Marj were the cook and manager and for many years it was like a nice little family group there, they were very fun times. Marj loved to play poker and her brother Randy would play once and a while. That whole experience I look back on very fondly.

What are your hopes for this trip?
I haven’t any goals of catching many or sizeable fish, just to enjoy the whole experience. Maybe find a new pond or two! Maybe they’ll name one after me! There’s a Duncan’s Cove up there somewhere. Let’s put that on a map!

Anything you’d like to add?
I hope there’s another 25 years!

Minipi Guides Report – June 2014

Petches, Loon Pond, and West Bay with a finely presented Wulff pattern saw the most action during the last week of June at Anne Marie, while over at Minipi, the fishing was best at both the First and Second Narrows.

At the onset of the second week, the consistently bad weather patterns coupled with a stationary low created so much rain that elevated water levels could easily be compatible to a Spring run-off. Sandy beaches soon disappeared as did rocks that were used as markers, making it a challenge to  navigate places like the Narrows. As of now, Bathtub Rock was just above the surface by a mere eight inches with Lover Boy Rock totally submerged. This of course was tricky in maneuvering with the new 4-stroke Honda motors as well.

An unusual landing of three char, one of which was a ten pounder landed at Dave’s Point, with the others caught at West Bay and Burnt Lake could probably mean a sign of optimism for this wile fish for the coming summer. In any event, interest has been generated.

Hatches have been off to a slow start, but not affecting the size of fish any. The average weight has been topping the scales at more than six pounds. The upcoming warm weather should encourage bigger hatches and more of them, thus enabling more feeding frenzies. In fact, as we head into this first week of July, we see the first signs of numerous drakes on the water. It should be a good week coming up.