Gone Fishin' Book Cover
Released by the Kings County Museum, Gone Fishin’ is a collection of over 100 articles published in various Valley newspapers.  This is my third book and the first containing fishing stories and recollections, along with angling history.  My first two books were collections of historical columns.


Lloyd Duncanson recently told me an amusing story about a goat farmer who uses white plastic containers for water dishes. Seems he goes around the goat pen after dark kicking over the containers as he changes the water. One evening a skunk got into the pen. In the poor light the skunk’s stripe stood out, kinda like a water dish, and…

Well, as they say, you know the rest of the story. Another person discovered to their dismay that people also get sprayed when a skunk becomes alarmed. There’s a friend, for example, who discovered he had locked a skunk in his garage overnight. He made the mistake of kicking at the skunk to hurry it out. Several days later you could still tell that the skunk was good at hitting a moving target.

While I’ve mentioned two incidents where people were sprayed by skunks, it doesn’t happen often. Usually, it’s the family dog or cat and canines used by hunters that suffer the wrath of irritated skunks. People attacks are relatively rare.

I don’t have to tell anyone whose pet has been sprayed that cleaning them up isn’t any fun. It can be a disaster, and a costly one, when a dog makes a panic run through the house after a spraying and contacts beds, sofas, curtains and clothing. I’ve heard some horror stories about this happening, and they weren’t funny.

In previous columns, I’ve mentioned various things that are helpful in eliminating skunk odour and removing spray stains. I’ve tried several mixtures and concoctions on my hunting dogs after they were sprayed, including the traditional tomato juice bath and strong soap and water, and none were 100 per cent effective. The commercial skunk odour eliminators I’ve tried were only partly effective, erasing most of the odour after several applications but leaving a lingering reminder that was obvious every time the dog got wet.

If you are hunting or exercising your dog and there contact with a skunk, keep in mind that it helps to put your dog into water as quickly as possible. I’ve found that commercial odour eliminators were more effective if I gave my dogs a thorough dunking in a brook or pond immediately after contact.

Since I’ve pooh-poohed the use of tomato juice or soap and water and questioned the effectiveness of commercial odour eliminators, you may ask if anything really helps after contact with a skunk. The answer is “yes.”

Lloyd Duncanson, who is a licensed predator control officer, vouches for the following recipe – let’s call it a skunk wash – which came originally from a trapper’s magazine, The Modern Trapper. Duncanson tells me that many people use this concoction, which as you will see, is made from readily available ingredients. “Very few things work (in eliminating skunk odour)” Duncanson says, “but this does.”

To make the skunk wash combine one quart of hydrogen peroxide with one-quarter cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and one teaspoon of liquid soap. The hydrogen peroxide (or three per cent hydrogen peroxide to be correct) is the product normally sold over the counter at all pharmacies. The liquid soap can be laundry or dish detergent.

This wash is good for man and beast, Duncanson says, but should be kept away from eyes and mouth, a warning echoed by a local pharmacist when I asked him about combining these ingredients.

By the way, this is one recipe I hope you never have to use. There’s only one way you can tell me this wash is effective and that truly would be good news and bad news.


Tap, tap, tap, repeated over and over, morning after morning. After a while we wondered what our neighbour was diligently working at every day, so we peeked through the hedge. The “neighbour” was a crow tapping on the basement window of the house next door. For several weeks the crow went through the ritual daily, tapping, stopping a moment to peer in the window, tapping again, and for all we know the bird could still be visiting next door.

What attracted the crow to our neighbour’s basement window? Was it unusual behaviour for a bird? People who study crows say it’s nosy and curious and often spends its leisure time checking out shiny things and getting into mischief. And no, it isn’t unusual behaviour for a bird – if the bird is a crow. Students of the crow claim it is intelligent and deserves more than the black reputation it has acquired through long association with man.

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Since the government announced a limited hunt this fall for “antlerless deer,” the phones at 1-900-565-DEER have literally been ringing off the hook.

This is the number hunters call to apply for an antlerless deer hunting stamp and thousands of hopefuls have already dialled in. In fact, by the time the September 4th deadline for applications arrives, at least 25,000 hunters will have their names in the government computer for the draw; big game biologist, Tony Nette, told me recently he anticipates that at least this many hunters will apply for the antlerless deer stamp.

Since 8,150 antlerless deer stamps will be available, this means hunters have about a one in three chance of being drawn. Which are better odds than winning on a 649 ticket.

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Kentville area angler Harold Mahar has lost count of the five- and six-pound trout he landed in 35 years of fishing the Cornwallis River. The larger brown trout he remembers well, a couple of 10-pounders and a 12-pounders that broke a long-standing river record. Then there’s a trout he will never forget since it’s one of the largest browns ever to come from the Cornwallis River.

Fishing with a white bucktail jig on his favourite stretch of river west of Kentville, Mahar caught a magnificent brown trout of 14 and three-quarter pounds. While this was 20 years ago, Mahar still remembers the difficulty he had landing the trout. “It took me almost an hour to get it in,” he said when I talked with him recently.

Mahar’s giant brown isn’t the largest yielded by the Cornwallis, however. In 1970 Gilbert (Gilly) Forsythe of Kentville used a bucktail jig to take a brown equal to Mahar’s monster. Forsythe’s trout weighed 14 pounds, 13 ounces and it was caught in the same section of river as Mahar’s fish.

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Even though the peak angling period for rainbow trout, smallmouths and stripers is yet to come, some fishermen are calling this one of the best seasons they’ve ever seen. An angler survey and a telephone call to my favourite angling info hotspot – Ed’s Tackle Shop in Coldbrook – reveals that most trout fishermen are having excellent seasons while smallmouth anglers found that fishing is as good as last year.

As will be seen from the anglers I’ve quoted below, it’s mostly the trout fishermen who report that fishing has been outstanding. Not all anglers agree that trout fishing has been that good, however, and some of these fishermen are quoted below as well. The so-called earlier season, when mid-May fishing conditions occurred in late April, fooled some anglers completely. A number of anglers told me that they simply missed the best trout fishing period. “I was tricked by the weather,” one angler said, which sums up what happened to fishermen who weren’t watching water conditions closely through April.

Anglers who were out on the lakes, stillwaters, and streams early report that brook and brown trout fishing was excellent. This is the message Ed Ward received from the numerous anglers who dropped into his shop this spring. Several anglers told Ward that trout fishing was the best they’re ever experienced. “The best yet,” is how one fisherman described spring angling.

“It hasn’t been too bad a season,” agrees Coldbrook angler Hughie Graves. An avid fly fisherman who angles on the Cornwallis River on a regular basis, Graves told me the fishing was good during the Mayfly hatches but slowed down some when water levels dropped.

Like Graves, I enjoyed good fishing on the Cornwallis during the hatches. The brook trout fishing on the Cornwallis this spring was unusually good, in fact, the best I’ve experienced in several decades of fishing the river. The recent cold, damp spell killed the hatches somewhat and the best of the brook trout fishing is probably over on the Cornwallis for the year. Once July’s muggy weather arrives, however, the evening hatches will be on and brown trout fishing should be good.

Jimmy George, a tournament organizer and smallmouth devotee from the Waterville area tells me bass fishing was good in May, but the tempo slowed down in June. George said that everything (meaning water levels, water temperature and general fishing conditions) was early by a good two weeks this year. He described the smallmouth fishing to date as average, or perhaps typical for the early part of the season when bassing is often slow anyway.

I mentioned that while most anglers told me fishing was good, there were mixed reports. Here’s a sampling of what was said by some of the anglers I surveyed:

“Trout and smallmouth fishing has been pretty good this spring. However, I’m discouraged by how the Cornwallis River is going downhill over the years.” – Ludie Gallant, Coldbrook.

“Trout fishing has been excellent. I’ve had a good year on trout but smallmouth fishing is only fair.” – Tom Keddy, New Minas.

“It hasn’t been a good (trout) season for me. The season was too far advanced by the time I wet a line and I missed the best fishing period.” – Carl Coleman, Upper Dyke.

Several other anglers besides Coleman also told me the early spring fouled up their trout fishing. “The weather fooled me and I missed the prime spring fishing time,” which, in effect, was what these anglers said.


You won’t find the old-fashioned bellyfin rig in tackle boxes nowadays, but it was once widely used when trolling for trout. As its name indicates, the rig uses the belly and fin of a fish, usually a small trout. The rig is difficult to picture without a diagram and almost impossible to describe so someone could easily tie one. Even Carl King, the angler who first showed me how to use the rig – and who has tied dozens of them – was a bit hesitant when I asked him recently to describe it.

“Have you got anybody in your family who can draw,” Carl said jokingly before getting down to a brief description of the bellyfin rig. “Basically,” he said, “it’s a combination of a short length of leader on a swivel with two hooks. The hooks, a #5 short-shank and # 6 long-shank, are tied to the leader so they overlap a bit, the smaller hook in front.”

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As smallmouth bass tournaments go, the annual Black River Classic probably has the same format as similar events.

There’s a difference, however. While most bass tournaments place their emphasis on cash prizes, the Black River Classic boasts that entertainment is its priority. “Ours is a fun tournament,” Paul Rogers says. “While money is awarded as prizes, we try to make our two-day event a family thing. In our tournament, there’s something for everyone.”

Rogers, who is secretary of the tournament’s sponsoring body, said that the Kings County Wildlife Association (KCWA) sets up the tournament so everyone could enjoy themselves while catching bass. “We’ll have a barbecue and prizes for mother and daughter, father and son, and father and daughter fishing teams,” Rogers said.

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According to a recent news report, greedy Canadian anglers nearly wiped out the breeding stock of a Maine trout stream. U.S. wildlife authorities called it “the worst fishing violation they have ever seen.”

Closer to home, a handful of greedy anglers attempted to clean out a popular lake that was recently stocked. People are calling it the worst case of fish hogging they have ever seen. And if the telephone calls and complaints I’ve received are any indication, many anglers are disgusted by what has been happening at Silver Lake in Lakeville.

Silver Lake is usually stocked every spring. The stocking attracts a great number of anglers, which is fair enough. The lake is stocked for the purpose of providing angling that is easy to access. The dollars we shell out on fishing licenses pay for it.

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There was a time in past Aprils when the Iron fraudator hatched in the Cornwallis River on sunny days. When the hatch came a Quill Gordon dry fly fished carefully brought good rises. The river had to be watched carefully then, since the Iron fraudator could come anywhere from mid to late April. Everything depended on the water temperature; when the temperature was right the fraudator had to come off – in wind, rain and on occasion, in snowsqualls. The hatch usually started in the late morning and petered out in the late afternoon.

You could count on the Iron fraudator hatch lasting three to five weeks. By mid-May another Mayfly would appear, hatching along with the Iron fraudator. I never identified this Mayfly, but a Hendrickson fly was best when it was on. By late May the Iron fraudator usually disappeared. Another Mayfly would start to hatch at this time and a small Light Cahill effectively matched it.

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