This is an age of long "to do" lists and short attention spans. It is a time of too many fair weather friends and not enough fair weather. These days, there's little patience for any fishery that requires a little patience. "Why waste time", some say, "when you can buy your way to the front of a tight line?"
But the Miramichi has always refused to be just another score. There is an intimidating intimacy about this river which defies the quick encounter. Those who like their prey "dumb and hungry" have no appetite for the sophisticated palate of the Miramichi salmon. Predators who navigate the urban jungle with the push of a button or the push of a person find the civilized wilderness of the Miramichi a most challenging environment.
Those pursuing a glossy illusion need not apply themselves here. This is not some elitist diversion. This is nature in the raw, in all its magnificent indifference to our tactics, tackle and tax brackets. But for those who immerse themselves in this valley there is a depth of mystery and majesty that is beyond the grasp of the hurried masses.
These waters have flowed over heavy hitters and lightweight contenders. They have defied predictions, dethroned experts and derided rescuers. These waters have healed many wounds and wounded a few heels. They have bound scholars and scoundrels in a common pursuit which has spawned many unlikely friendships. They have reshuffled pools and riffles with each new ice run, in a quiet reminder to think less about who owns the rocks and more about who made the river.
This verdant valley has welcomed visitors from around the world and, from those few whose exceptionalism presumes advisory entitlement, it has withdrawn its welcome just long enough to remind them that they are only guests.
This is full contact fishing. You don't sit on the Miramichi, you wade into it and as you do, you are engulfed by swirling currents of a long angling tradition. You may be swept away in its hypnotic flow or blown over by the still small voice of its gentle breeze. If you listen carefully, you may hear echos of a time when reels whined and men didn't, when flies were tied for fishing trips, not ego trips, and when people looked for every excuse to go fishing and not for every excuse not to.
When you stand in the Miramichi, you're standing on the front lines of conservation, making a contribution to an angling tradition which has defended and protected this resource long before it became the flavour of the month. The deterrence, awareness and value that your presence provides are things that only a guardian angler can accomplish.
You stand in the embrace of an extraordinarily productive ecosystem. In
addition to its impresive adult returns, the Miramichi is heavily
saturated with fry and parr, something many biologists say may actually
be an impediment to optimal adult production. You stand midstream, as a good steward,
balancing the resource's need for a responsible, selective harvest
against the equally dangerous extremes of those who would kill it all
and those who would not kill at all. You understand that the only thing
more dangerous than a greedy heart is a bleeding heart.
You stand firm against a rising tide of public
opinion ignited by inflammatory rhetoric. You stand proud to be
part of a practical conservation initiative that produces more results
and fewer headlines.
It has been said that those who stand for nothing will fall for
everything. So the next time some six figure sycophant puts pressure on
you to "do something" to save the Miramichi, don't fall for it.
Instead, hire a guide, wade in, and let 'em know where you stand.