Minipi Guides Report – August 2014

With another fishing season coming to a close the Fish Log book entries confirm that 2014 has been a success. Cooler-oxygenated water at Minipi and Little Minipi saw river fishing maintaining consistent landings – those crazy weather patterns over the summer affected fishing very little there, if any. Of course the green drake hatch or the last big hatch saw West Bay, Lover Boy, Man-a-war and Burnt Lake created action with anglers’ adrenaline flowing much like a four-year-old child’s on Christmas morning.

During the first two weeks of August we had very hot weather. This recipe for high water temperatures of 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more, no doubt force brooked trout to the thermocline, a characteristic cooling area in all bodies of water where brook trout will rest and expend very little energy, refusing to eat only at opportune times. So trying to find colder water from where springs enter the lake and by subsequently dragging a mouse, bomber, or a muddler through this cooler water can sometimes create unexpected splashes.

From mid-August onwards (although there was a hiccup or two in between) the other extreme saw the results of an Alberta Clipper, a brief cold front that cooled off water and air temperatures somewhat, but it was just that…brief! Although this system helped with the water levels to rise a little, we’re still in dire need of more rain. Tail ends from hurricanes were what we needed, but instead those hurricanes kept moving in a northeasterly direction missing the province altogether, depriving us of much needed rain. Yes you heard me correctly folks-we need rain from hurricanes. Local forest fires associated with those dry conditions is a testament to this very fact. Lover Boy Rock is well above water and Rosie’s Brook at Minipi has been reduced to a trickle.

Although environmental factors like those mentioned can affect a fishing season, it’s still a pleasure to witness those square-tails in their spawning regalia and nothing can be more true when Lee Wulff said, “this is a treasure that could be shared without destroying it and is too valuable to be caught only once.”

The Artist and the Fly-Tier

My good friend, Bear Andrews, is a nationally and internationally well known fly tier, guide and booking agent. Bear was presented with the Federation of Fly Fisher’s “Buzz Buzek Award” for fly tying. To say that he is good at tying flies is something of an understatement – and he’s just as good at catching fish as he is at tying flies.

I have been to Cooper’s Minipi Lodges four times with Bear, and I believe he has been there at least 10 times over the last twenty years.  So Bear has a lot of experience playing with Minipi’s famous monster Brook Trout and Char. I’ve learned a lot from Bear over the years, and I can truthfully say that I owe a lot of my success to him.  

Jeff "Bear" Andrews tying fliesBear’s flies are small works of art… and they work. I’ve caught a lot of trout, steelhead and salmon on his patterns, including many of my biggest.   Most nights on our trips Bear can be found at the vise cranking out more of his little masterpieces for “Bear’s World Class Mouse Team” the next day.  There were ten of us on the “Mouse team” on our last trip and Bear was kept plenty busy filling our fly boxes with “can’t miss” flies.  

The Coopers have recommended a number of different and successful patterns on this web site to bring to Labrador.  They ALL work!  It pays to have what the Brookies are looking for.  In addition, I have used a number of Bear’s patterns and they work extremely well. I caught one of my best Brook Trout on a “Bear’s Hex Nymph”… works great during the Hex hatch!  I prefer catching them on top but if they don’t cooperate, I will feed them what they are looking for.  So bring along a few nymphs and streamers, along with the Bombers, Mice and Wulff’s. 

Dave Brandt talks Minipi

Expert fly-tier and casting instructor Dave Brandt visits Coopers’ Minipi Lodges regularly. Dave sat down to speak with our media editor Mandy about his love of fly-fishing and his first ever trip to Minipi.

At what age did you begin fly-fishing, and what inspired you to begin the sport?

I was about 20-21. I had fished for trout anyway, with a spinning rod for quite a few years. A buddy and I had seen it, we just thought it was a wonderful way to go. It’s like watching someone ride a bicycle when you’re three and they’re 15, and you think ‘oh my god is that ever beautiful’ and you think you must have to really be something to do that, but little did we know how easy it was.

When did you begin working with the Wulff School of Fly-fishing?

This year was my 28th year.

What would you consider to be a milestone for you in your years working with the Wulff school?

That’s really tough to say. I occasionally think about what those years have meant to me, the whole darn thing is just wonderful to have had. One thing that surprised me, was that Joan was well aware of everything that went on.I mean, a lot of us that were there, Eddy or myself, or Tony, to hang around with Lee Wulff! To talk with, and bullshit with, and talk about fishing with whenever we had a moment when we weren’t on tap right then, right there. A lot of times we might rather escape from what Joan might want us doing when she in fact did it while we were off with Lee. I didn’t realize that she was well aware of all that *laughs* She was jokingly talking about it with someone a few years ago!

What do you enjoy most about teaching those eager to fly-fish?

I don’t know what I like most about it, but I do know that I like it. And thanks to Joan, really, I know that.

Is there any type of person in particular that are easier to teach than others? Like kids for example?

Kids are, and women are. Joan used to suggest that early on, and it wasn’t a joke or it wasn’t anything she was biased enough to say, I definitely understood that. Guys are just too macho. I used to hate it when a guy would bring his wife to the school and try to be with her to help her correct her and show her what he knew about it. This was a problem, we learned early on the separate the loved ones. The girls were more open. They were able to power through anything that was bugging them. Women understood from Joan it was a timing thing, and a speed thing, not a power-macho thing.

When was your first trip to Labrador? What were your thoughts on the area (including Minipi).

I believe it was 1981. I was disappointed for maybe half an hour. Not in anything that could have been done differently on this end! When I first read about the Minipi it was Lee Wulff’s articles, when I went back and re-read some of that, and I do that occasionally, I can see that there wasn’t any vast amount of missing or wrong information there. I had in my head something almost being like in the Beaverkill, being in this big river and wading a lot, and finding these wonderful brookies. The fact that I was going to be in a boat 90% of the time if I was hoping to catch the larger brookies vaguely disappointed me but not for long.
I was with Bernie Broomfield. Bernie was one of the ‘real’ guides. Bernie was great. We were at the outlet of Big Hairy, there was something like a large raindrop and I said to Bernie, “What’s that Bernie?” and what I meant was, was that a little fish or a big fish. So Bernie says, “That’s a fish sir, a brook trout.” And moments later I caught that trout and it was 5 or 6 pounds and all I could think was WOW. When you encounter 6-7-8 pound fish you’ll probably be in a boat, and that’s fine and dandy, that’s wonderful.

Do you have a favorite spot you like to fish on the Minipi Watershed?

Minonipi.

Any advice for those hoping to pick up fly-fishing?

I probably should tell them to look at the Internet but I won’t. One of my gripes is how to separate the good stuff from the ‘crap.’ I can’t really advise that, there’s lots of help printed and otherwise out there. If it’s someone from the States, I’d say find the closest Trout Unlimited chapter. I know they have similar here in Canada too. I’d be surprised if they didn’t offer a beginners fly-fishing class. The biggest thing I would say is don’t just think about it, it’s going to be easy for you to find someone you know who fly-fishes, just do it. I tell people, it’s like typing or fixing a spinning reel or shifting an automobile if you’ve never done it. How would you know if you’ve never done it? Show me and then in 5 minutes I will know. Don’t let the casting thing confuse you, they think you must have to be an artist to do it but that’s just not true. It’s really a lot simpler than most people realize.