May 20th – Lifers Already!
5:00 AM wake-up and we were on the road to begin the first leg of our journey across the continent. We had just about a week to explore the three closer Maritime Provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The drive over to NB was about 8 hours long so we appreciated being able to switch drivers.
First stop of the journey was to a set of rapids on the Oromocto River to see if we could get into some Alewife and maybe Blueback Herring. Upon arriving, we spied a few families fishing in the fast water using dipnets, a very good sign! We hurried to the river and it didn’t take us long to realize that it was teeming with fish! It proved difficult to get them to take a hook but eventually we both succeeded in landing some, our first lifers of the trip.
Next, we drove down some back-roads to get to a small creek that I had heard was supposed to have a good population of Slimy Sculpin. Most micros don’t interest Alex very much so she stayed in the car while I made the quick trek through some thick woods. The water was incredibly clear and I quickly found some sculpin laying right on the current seam. A short bit of fishing with a small worm and another lifer was mine! Driving out of this area was not as easy as catching the fish though. The route Google Maps suggested took us down what was little more than a trail, with large rocks, small stream crossings, and ruts. I wasn’t too happy to give the Matrix a beating this early in the trip.
After successfully navigating the “road”, we made our way to Hopewell Rocks to see the famous flowerpot formations. The natural sculptures were cool, but the Stickleback and Topminnows in the surrounding marshes were even cooler! One of my big goals was to catch the remaining 4 species of Stickleback in eastern Canada that I had yet to encounter. I’m happy to say that the Hopewell Rocks tidal marshes provided me with some beautiful male Threespine Stickleback, as well as a Mummichog (little did I know Mummichog would be found everywhere).
After a long day, we drove to our home for the night: a nice campground called The Shire. It’s a free area to spend a few nights and is run by an older gentleman by the name of Don. He only asks that you walk across the road to greet him and sign-in before spending the night. Apparently, he’s been doing this for a good 20 years; I was amazed by his generosity. The area had a sort of hippie-era feel with lawn sculptures, VW buses, and a communal eating area. To my delight, it was also home to some Ninespine Stickleback which I found in the marshy area behind the campsite J