I noticed that Tim Lyons takes his very young son fishing the Miramichi River. While the Miramichi is a world famous fishery, this doesn’t necessarily make it the easiest place to fish. So, I was very curious on how Tim manages his fishing with his son Hunter along. I hope that anyone considering a fishing trip to the Miramichi River with their children will benefit from Tim’s great insight.
What do you love about fishing the Miramichi?
My love for fishing the Miramichi River started at young age of 5 when I was just old enough to hold a fly rod. Starting at that young age, lead me to catch my first Atlantic salmon on the Main Southwest Miramichi when I was only 8 years old. Growing up fishing the Miramichi and its Tributaries has always been special to be because of the memories I’ve made on the water and of course the exceptional Atlantic salmon fishing. It is easy for me to say that the Miramichi River is my favorite river system to fish.
How old is your son that you fish with on the Miramichi?
Hunter just turned 6 years old and I first introduced him to fishing at the age of 3. I started taking him on short fishing and canoeing trips on the river throughout the summer months from the age of 3 and up. This season we have been able to get out fishing on the river the most.
Normally when I think of fishing with kids, I think of places that they do a lot of catching. What are the keys to putting the kids on enough fish to keep them interested on the Miramichi?
I think the same when it comes to taking kids fishing. When I first started getting him introduced to fishing we fished for smaller panfry fish in small streams and ponds with bait as it was more exciting for him and it really helped to spark his interest in fishing as well.
On the Miramichi it is a whole different ballgame as you are fishing with a fly rod for Atlantic salmon, which has been known to sometimes be a fish of 1000 casts. So the key for me to keep it fun and exciting is to get him out on the Miramichi River in the spring when the salmon are on their way back out to the ocean and are feeding heavily while they push out. It is a lot easier for me to take him out at this time of the year, as we fish from a boat while the water is higher and it is not uncommon to catch 10 fish a day. That compared to the 1 to 4 fish a day you usually catch in the summer months when you’re wading the river fishing for the returning bright salmon.
What are the methods and strategies that you are you using when you know your son will be on the boat?
One main thing I try to do is hit water I am very familiar with rather than try new locations. I then head to the spots that are known to me to have fish holding and should be good for a lot of action.
When he is on the boat I always keep him within arm’s reach for safety reasons and in case he hooks into something rather large. Giving him first dibs on each spot and giving him the best opportunities and location to hook a fish is always a top strategy for me.
In those down times between fish, how are you keeping things fun and interesting?
Keeping my sons interest and making it a positive experience for him is always important when I take him fishing. When things get slow I try to always keep him occupied. When fishing from the boat we routinely pack a bag of small toys and snacks to keep him at bay.
Other times we find fun little games to play together like I spy or even simply just take a boat ride. We usually hit the water and fish most of the day but when he gets tired or has had enough we go home. I make it about him because I want him to remember each trip out as a positive fun thing to enjoy.
What safety concerns are extra heightened with your son in the boat?
Of course safety is always a concern when having him on the boat. So I always take everything into consideration and take a moment to ask myself the questions like; does his life jacket still fit correctly? What are the water conditions? Is the boat running right?
I always wait until a few weeks into the season when the water conditions are at a safe level and the weather is at a comfortable temperature to take him out. Our season on the Miramichi starts each year on April 15th and for the first couple weeks of the season the fishing is usually the best but the temperatures are around freezing and water levels are high with occasional ice flow. So for the first few weeks I always avoid taking him out just for those reasons.
What is the best part for you as a father in getting to introduce the Miramichi to your son?
Getting my son involved in something that I feel so passionate about like fly fishing has always been very important to me. Having the opportunity to introduce Hunter to the sport on the same river that I was introduced to at a young age, was something I always wanted to do from the moment I became a parent.
One day this spring while the sun was setting and we were both getting hungry I told him after my next cast we will head back to camp. He then looked up at me and said “I want to keep fishing”. That was the exact moment I knew why I brought him along…he was enjoying it.
What do you hope he learns about life from fishing and spending time on the Miramichi?
As a parent and an avid fly fisherman, I hope my son can understand the same life lessons from fish and being on the water as I have been able to do. I hope he can understand the importance in conservation and how to be respectful to nature and the wildlife it hold. I also hope he can understand how important it is to slow down in life and enjoy what nature has to offer him in his own back yard. With how busy our lives can get, I hope fishing on a beautiful river like the Miramichi will teach him these important life lessons because at the end of the day, he is the next generation of anglers on river.
Thank you Tim. This is great advice for not only folks that want to take their children to the Miramichi but also any other body of water to pursue bigger gamefish.
We can follow Tim and Hunter’s success on Instagram @gornish_tl.