Sport in Newfoundland: An English Noblemans Tribute to Its Teeming Woods and Rivers, Daily Racing Form, 1919-11-13


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SPORT IN NEWFOUNDLAND An English Noblemans tribute to Its Teeming Woods and Rivers. Noble Caribou ami Deer in Plenty-Rivers Fnll of Wonderful Fish. Tlie fnct tliat only a small percentage of British fishermen and hunters conic to Newfoundland is due to the long passage. The ordinary sportsman does, not want to spend seven days coining and seven days returning on the sea that often represents half his holiday but three nights at sea going and three coming will give him a weeks complete " rest. Time was when objection was made to getting to the rivers and moors. When once in Newfoundland that objection no longer exists, and on 1 application in London at well-known tourist agencies they will supply the traveler with a map of Newfoundland showing the railways and branches and their coastal steamer connections, forming a 1 complete chain of rapid and direct communication with all the sporting points in the island, whether it bo rivers for salmon fishing or marshes and j moors for the caribou, writes Right Honorable Lord Morris in the Anglers News and Fishers Journal. F. C. Selous, that nimrod of sport who won 1 fame as a mighty hunter in the wilds of Africa, and who, alas! like many more with the call of the wild in their blood, but above all, the call of E their country, made in the early years of the war : the supreme sacrifice for the empire he loved so well falling in Africa, the land from which his 5 mighty prowess had won so many trophies. Only a few years ago, after returning from one of his hunting expeditions in Newfoundland for caribou, 1 he described his experiences thus: "I think I never enjoyed an outing more than my last trip to Newfoundland. I got off the beaten 1 track, found plenty of caribou, and of the five stags I shot two carried fine heads and two others fair ones, the fifth being a small one. The wild, primeval desolation of the country, and the vast voiceless solitudes, where the silence is never broken, save by the cry of some wild creature, have an inexpressible charm all their own. You feel that you 1 stand on a portion of the earths surface which 1 has known no change for centuries, a land which may remain in its natural condition for centuries yet to come." CARIBOU BY HUNDRED THOUSANDS. Nor does there appear to be any appreciable diminution in the number of these noble animals. I have had it variously estimated that there arc in the country between 100,000 and 200,000. The : late James Howley, geological surveyor of Newfoundland, who probably knew as much as any living man of the number of caribou, told me last year, a few months before he died, that he was certain 1 there was not fewer than 100,000 in the country. 1 have repeatedly, when fishing with guides and traveling through the country with a view of obtaining information upon which to base legislation for the protection of the caribou, gone into this question fully, and my opinion is that there are still large herds of caribou in Newfoundland. No one who has witnessed the annual migration from south to north and vice-versa,, spring and autumn, can have any doubt on this point. I myself at Ilowley Station saw thousands pass in an afternoon, and this no guesswork, but a careful estimate. Guides and American hunters confirm this and say they have counted in ten days four and five thousand crossing the Exploits River at one point. This part of Newfoundland and Upper Deer Lake were tiie great crossing places of the deer, and licre may still be seen the remains of miles of fence along the banks of the Exploits River, erected by the Mic-Mac Indians a century ago. It is a common tiling in late autunin and early spring to see from the windows of the train as you pass through this country hundreds of deer scampering along. II. Hcsketh Pritchard, who has several times visited Newfoundland, and who has published a book in relation to his experiences there, confirms the opinion as to the number of the caribou, and says: I do not think I ever, in any part of the world, enjoyed myself better than I did on my hunting trip in Newfoundland. I hud an excellent guide, and was fortunate enough to strike the caribou in great numbers. In one days shooting I saw eighteen stags, and at least five times as many hinds. It Would almost seem that the art or hunting in Newfoundland lies in knowing what stags not to shoot, and it is the man who is bold enough to let a good head slip in the hope of getting a better one wiio secures the finest trophies. I was pleased with the heads I shot, for not only did they run to a large number of points, but also the horns were heavy. My experiences of Newfoundland hunting certainly leads me to think that there is no country so near England where such excellent sport may be had." OTHER. WILD GAME IN A3UNDANCE. A sportsman who visited the Gaff Topsails not long ago described his experiences as follows: "We saw caribou that were so wild that they were tame, scarcely knowing the danger of a human presence. And how wild, beautiful and noble they seemed. In groups, singly lying down on heights, feeding, viewing their own reflection in the clear pool where they came to drink, their innocence, confidence, happiness and right to live in their own domain caused us, each of the three times we heard a rifle-shot that told us of a deer sacrificed for the camp table, to feel a tug at our hearts. It seemed as if no unfriendly presence should be there, that we were their guests by privilege. On the plateau around the five or six remarkable round hills that rise from the main levels like beehives and arc called the "Topsails" the caribou pass by in thousands." William R. Philler, secretary of the Real Estate Trust Company of Philadelphia, testifies as follows: "We had a most successful and delightful trip, good country, good guides, good provisions. Good results flowed from good sources, and wc are more than satisfied with our trip. Wc secured five heads, the smallest thirty-two points and the largest i thirty-five points of the heavy, wide variety of i horns." i Thus it will be seen by the evidence of these witnesses that those in search of caribou may i still go to Newfoundland with every prospect ; of good sport. It is true that the big gray wolf and the lynx of late years have added to the game : preserves of Newfoundland, emigrating there from i Canada, a menace to young and unprotected fawns. It is supposed that the lynx cross during the winter on the ice in the Straits of Helleisle, which at the i narrowest point is only seven miles, coming, no c doubt, to hunt the hare and rabbit for food, but except for the fawns, and especially the unprotected i fawns, the wolf and lynx do not always have the best of the battle. A trustworthy trapper states that "he once witnessed au exciting chase by 1 " 1 1 j 1 E : 5 1 1 1 1 : 1 i i i i ; : i i c i 1 wolves of a couple of prickets or two-year-ohi il caribou stags. Their long, swinging trot enabled 1 them to keep at a safe distance until from the e nature of the ground they were driven to double e on their course. Roth sides doubtless were going at t their utmost pace. At this spot lie measured the bounds of the caribou and found them eighteen .feet, , while the wolves only cleared fourteen, so that t the caribou easily gained on them when close e pressed. So much ahead were the caribou at times that they rolled over on thqir backs in the snow v to cool their panting and heaving sides, and seemed J to gather new strength and refreshment from the e act." SALMON STREAMS MANY AND FISHY. But the salmon has no enemy except the fly when once safely in the river his summer home. The e Atlantic salmon, the king of the river, is the finest of all sporting fish. It is the only sport that will enable one to forget all his worries and at the same e time afford him pleasant rumination as he sits at t the Christmas fire enjoying the Christmas log, . counting the days when he is to get back to his 5 favorite pool. Personally, I have never had time to gratify a 1 longing to hunt anil fish. I have, however, man-j - aged to do a little of the latter, and have cast over r seme of the larger rivers in Newfoundland. 1 fished three seasons in July at Little River, Cod-j roy, and it is hard to beat it for a combination i of easy fishing, plenty of fish anil a good run up l to thirty pounds and forty pounds, and fifteen i pools on a few miles of river. The fish come up , early in Little River, and. from June to the middle , of August if there is any water in the river The , dozen rods that go down from "Tompkins" are . kept busy. A friend of mine, a leading lawyer r from Boston, and his wife have come to the river for twenty years and never return till the end of j August. My friend lias the distinction of having , one of the pools on the river called after him. There were fifteen Americans there when I last t fished. There are twelve good pools and it was . usual after dinner to draw for the pools and afterward, if you wanted a particular pool, there was . never much difficulty in effecting a "swap." Of f course you stay at Tompkins Hotel when fishing , at Little River, although there is no objection what- ever to camping out if you choose. As regards . the food and accommodations, it is excellent, noth-- ing left to bo desired. You have the most tempting articles on the menu daily salmon, trout, lamb, chicken, new vegetables, good fresh butter and I milk, porridge and. cream, tea and coffee, bacon , and eggs; in fact, anything you desire. A eom- fortable bed and plenty of fresh air all for 12 a day. The train passes within a hundred yards of the hotel, through a farm on which the hotel I is built, and you get off at Tompkins after being on the railway one hour from its western terminus. TUNA, GRILSE AND TARPON ABOUND. It is a lovely spot, is Little River, running through the alluvial land of the Codroy Valley, with the high range of Cape Anguillc Monutains only a milt away, almost at the base of which the river flows. Bathed in the summer heat, almost within sound of the Atlantic waves, it would be difficult tc imagine a more delightful spot on earth. All if quiet here. No letters, telegrams, no telephones-or newspapers, the hours pass unheeded and time has here no measure or meaning. The great passes and gorges in the Anguillq. Mountains, deep ravines and valleys, great gnarled trees that have lookec" down over this quiet scene for centuries is a picture out of Dante or Dore. 37.. . P. ..Cormack. vice-president ot the Bank of Florida, speaking of the Codroy River, says: "I saw hundreds of salmon and grilse and mad out a successful season, taking, twenty-four fisl that weighed 203 pounds. The best pools that 1 have seen on tiie island are there. I had plenty ol sport with black ducks and geese also. We saw numbers of tuna or horse mackerel feeding along the shore in the Bay of Islands, and the guide told me they were- plentiful during the summer. Without exception these are the gamiest fish ir the world. Next year I shall bring my tarpon rod and give them a trial. They are easy fish to lure, but hard to kill.", J. D. Spun- of New Brunswick, a well-known sporting man, thus speaks of his experiences: "I killed fifteen salmon and one grilse. Tin salmon weighed 203 pounds. Their several weight-ranged from eight pounds to upwards of thirtj pounds. S. Hay ward, iiny companion,, a more ardent fisherman than myself fished twenty days prior to July 13 and killed sixteen salmon, eight pounds tc tiiirty pounds, weighing 205 pounds." It was my good . fortune in, 1917 on my way here to London to spend part of September on thr Humber River fishing with Sir William Reid anc Dr. Keegan, the former one of the keenest, .fishermen I have ever met; the latter, as president of the Murrays Pond Fishing Association of Newfoundland, has performed a great, work in stocking, the Newfoundland lakes with the famous rainbow trout from Australia. We had several days good fishing. Dr. Keegan landing a thirty-threc-pounder. I had one on my hook for over an hour considerably over that weight, but, unfortunately, he got clear. You can either camp by the river or makr your headquarters at Bay of Islands, the terminus of the railway, one of the beauty spots of Newfoundland. Writing of Bay of Islands, S. J. W. Benjamin, the art critic of the "New York Century Magazine," declares that "the coast scenery of Bay of Islands was the finest in North America." He writes: "The sun came out, the clouds rolled away, and the magnificent scenery of Bay o. Islands lay around us. The coast scenery of the world offers few prospects more grand, more varied, more en-chantingly beautiful than this, certainly on the Atlantic coast of America it is not to be found." MAGNIFICENT SCENERY OF HUMBER. Our headquarters were at Bay of Islands, and we went up to the furthest fishing pools on the Lower Humber in a fast motor boat, doing our twelve miles easily in a little over an hour. It is a weird, attractive spot, the home of the Hutnbet River, wandering into deep woods, miles from the public road, readied by circuitous paths here and there, untrodden by any save the venturesome angler. The river runs through a deep ravine, made when the world was young. Great rocks, miniature promontories project from the side and down the river, adding greatly to the picturesqucness of the scene as bend after bend in the beautiful stream opens up new vistas of delight. The hills are all covered with spruce and birch and juniper, the different foliage of which, in the early autumn, adds greatly to the effect of the scenery. In addition to the fish secured we saw many fine salmon in the pools. It was getting on late in the season aud some of them seemed as if they were part of the mossy floor on which they lay. We were unable, by the most tempting devices and most attractive design of flyi to alter their policy of inactivity. Wc had indeed- a pleasant outing, capital exercise, and left the pools making an inward resolution to come back again. I sljall never forget the sensation of complete rest and happiness in this lovely spot. Never before did I realize "the pleasure of the pathless il 1 e e t , t e v J e e e t . 5 a 1 - r 1 i l i , , , . r j , t . . f , . I , I woods," the "rapture on the lonely shore," "the society where none intrudes." Some day I hope to go back and spend the whole summer in this charming spot. Sir Bryan Leighton thus testifies to his experi-e enees on the upper Humber River, one of the finest rivers on the west coast: "One ought to have no difficulty in getting his five and six fish a day, though the grilse some-s times becomes a positive nuisance, often taking tiie fly from under the nose of his senior the salmon. I have got and put back as many as twenty a day. There is a pool on this river nearly a mile long and fishable almost the whole length nnd width; in fact, there is fishing and to spare for four boats and two rods wading. The largest salmon ,1 actually saw at the falls would be about thirty pounds, but twenty-pounders were common. The most wondcr- ful sight is to watch the salmon jumping the falls. I have seen as many as a dozen in the air at the same time. The falls are fifteen feet perpendicular, but there is a ledge about four feet from the" top which the salmon make for. As regards flies, a Wilkinson is by far the most killing; but the silver doctor and Jock Scott were a good second to it. The fishing, except the wading, is of the easiest, and the water the most sporting it has yet been my lot to wet a line on, and when I say this, I have in mind some of the biggest casts on the Tweed and Blackwater." EARL GREYS LOVE OF NEWFOUNDLAND. Earl Grey, -vhen governor-general of Canada, made three visits to Newfoundland, and on each occasion not only enjoyed himself thoroughly witli the salmon fishing, but spoke in the highest terms of the sport generally. It was my privilege to.en-r tertain this distinguished ambassador of empire ivhen at St. Johns, and we had many talks about ?port in Newfoundland. He told me more than once that he hoped to come back and spend a whole summer on its lakes and rivers. He was a true Britisher, a great imparialist, and no man ever had l clearer vision of our empires greatness than Earl Grey. His son, the present earl, fished on the west coast it Newfoundland, and in an article in the "Bad-jiinton Magazine," among other things, describes his experiences as follows: "If, after reading this article, anyone who is in need of a holiday and fond of fishing is induced to spend it in Newfoundland, I feel certain he will not regret it. For the island is as hospitable as it is beautiful, and the free waters of its rivers contain innumerable fish. It is, therefore, hardly a matter of surprise if during the best part of the fishing season, i.e., June and July, room to throw flies on the popular rivers is hard to find. Most it the sports, as the visitors who come to shoot or fish arc called, are Americans, and their number is increasing every year. They confine their ittention, however, to the better known rivers. To secure fishing room on one of these in June it is necessary to camp by the side of a pool, and then to push the adage that possession is nine points of the law to its fullest interpretation. But these favorite rivers are only a few of the many Newfoundland streams which tempt the salmon from the seas. The fisherman who dislikes fighting for his place, and is not too much in love with the omforts of civilization, has only to take a little trouble and he may rely on finding some waters yet unknown to fame which will give him all that he wants. In our case, however, this was not necessary. The rush was over, and we practically had the pick of all the pools on the; west coast. By recent regulations nets are not allowed to be nt within 100 yards of the mouths of rivers. The rovernment is to be congratulated on this most wise provision, which is to be heped will be rigidly enforced, both in the interests of the island and f the fishing visitors. Other countries might copy it with great advantage. NO PRESENT TAX ON FISHERMEN. "When the Newfoundland, rivers become better mown the government may perhaps find it necessary to reserve the fishing for those who are wiling to pay for it, but I cannot help hoping that 1 they will for some time be able to resist the tempta-Mon to increase their revenue in this way. And in-leed it would be to their advantage to maintain :lie present conditions in their essentials. By all neans let a ten or twenty Collar tax be imposed n anyone coming to Newfoundland to fish, of this 1 nobody could complain. It would be a thousand pities, however, to go further and alienate the fishing from the public. In the attraction offered i by its free waters lies Newfoundlands best hope f becoming known as it deserves, and as year by rear more fishermen come to the country more noney will be spent there and its reputation will I ;row like a rolling snowball. And the world will, i is usual, be surprised when it at length realizes what charms have been lying quite ignored under 1 its nose. I think no more need be said to show that we had plenty of sport. Perfect weather, lovely scenery and any amount of fish should 1 be enough for the most fastidious holiday seeker, ! md these three appear to be conditions that one Dan almost guarantee to anyone fishing in the free 1 waters of Newfoundland." And so I might go on adducing testimony in 1 favor of Newfoundlands claim to being a sports- mans paradise, but the limits of a newspaper 1 article preclude my calling any more -witnesses, and I think I shall rest my case here by calling three leading sportsmen, all of whom are clearly dis- Interested. Every year witnesses a wonderful iin- i provement in the protection of the rivers. There is no longer any netting or poaching of any kind. Every river lias its warden, with the result that the fisli have now come back to all the rivers, arid regular official reports show a great increase in J size and quantity during the last tea years. A; j thirty-five pound or a forty pound fish is no longer a i curiosity. In September, 1010, I remember Charles Walker of Bosotn caught a fisli weighing forty- s two pounds. Length forty-seven and one-half r inches; girth thirty and one-half inches. g GREAT CATCHES OF HEAVY FISH. C h. Velton in Outdoors, speaking of his experi- " enees on Steady Brook Falls, on the Humber, says: i: "Wo were in camp just below Steady Brook Falls, s i big cascade of one of the tributaries of the Lower Humber River. We saw rapids fairly alive I I with grilse, salmon and trout, where seals would J rise and seem to wink at us, aud where mountains t were yellow with the bake-apple berries. Wc were f sated with the salmon fishing; wc could not use n a tenth part of the great .fish, and had wearied a at even of fighting them and returned them to the n water without gaffing them." t James C. Frazer, from Morgantown, West Vir- k ginia, the leading counsel in that city, thus de- v scribes his trip on the Terra Nova Lake: t "In our fishing trip to Terra Nova Lake and a vicinity my experience in the matter of u catch I was absolutely unique. In two days intermittent v fishing we took with eight rods over sixty beauti- c ful trout, averaging two pounds in weight, of v iieat beauty and fine quality. You, of course, i: is will understand that these arc not sen trout, a but brook trout, as Terra Nova Lake Is landlocked." li An English sportsman of well-known fame, writ b " i: s I I J t f n a at n t k v t a I v c v i: is a li b ing of a recent fishing excursion to Newfoundland, says as follows: "My record last summer on Harrys Brook, which made my headquarters, was from the end of June to the second week in August sixty salmon, total weight 300 pounds, my largest fish being fourteen pounds. One day I played a fish for forty minutes that I saw a good deal of and estimated thirty pounds, but the hook giving I lost it. A neighboring rod landed u salmon that was only three ounces under thirty pounds; other rods have killed fish over twenty pounds. My friend fishing with me made a bag similar to my own. In addition we taught many white trout up to four pounds and brown trout up to three pounds, although Harrys Brook is not a good trout river, and also-wc did not fish for trout, aud those were by chance caught on our salmon flies. Some of my best days would consist of six salmon and many trout. This a fair example of the sport that is to-be had, and I-was; certainly unlucky not to get bigger fish. Knowing the river, I should be sure of a large Las on it another year."

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