Veteran Participant Clinton J. Kirk, USAF (ret) recounts his experiences with 4 fellow disabled veterans on a trip to Two Brooks Camp in New Brunswick on the picturesque Upsalquitch River. Thanks to the generosity of Edgar Cullman, Jr and the Two Brooks Camp staff, they enjoyed a trip of a lifetime angling for Atlantic Salmon in hallowed waters.
The Project Healing Waters National trip to Two Brooks Camp sponsored by Mr. Edgar Cullman, Jr., June 5-9, 2017 was a dream come true for five lucky disabled veteran participants. The participants selected for this trip were Clint Kirk, Ted Durante, Kenneth Oxfurth, Nels Youngstrom and Jhoram Dilk. The sixth member of our veteran cadre was unfortunately unable to attend at the last minute. Trip leader, Clint Kirk met the rest of the veterans at the Presque Isle Regional Airport in northern Maine. We loaded our luggage and then traveled three and a half hours by rental van to Robbinsville, New Brunswick where we were met by Mr. Gerry Thomas, head guide for the Two Brooks Camp. Gerry then led us on the next leg of our journey which included a fifty-minute drive through a secluded area into the camp.
Upon arrival, we were immediately impressed with the pristine surroundings and crystal-clear water as we and our luggage was loaded into canoes for the short jaunt across the Uqsqualitch River to the main camp and our accommodations for the next four days.
Each veteran was provided with their own private room and bath in the main lodge which were extremely comfortable. From the moment, we arrived at Two Brooks we were greeted by a very friendly staff who treated us like royalty. This was not the treatment any of us were accustomed to or expecting to receive. The meals provided by the staff during our stay were exquisite! I’m sure all the veterans added a couple of pounds to their body weight during the trip solely attributed to the excellent cuisine we were provided.
After a restful first night at the camp and a hearty breakfast, we met our guides Gerry, Ernie and Todd for our first experience at fishing for Atlantic Salmon.
We divided up two veterans and a guide in each canoe with Ken electing to fish alone with his guide. Our guides were excellent pilots of their canoes equipped with 8HP Johnson motors. The guides used the motors to power their canoes up and down river to the different pools and upon arriving at the desired pool, turn off the motors to avoid spooking fish and pole the canoes into position before dropping anchor.
Just being on the water and looking at the scenery surrounding the river was extremely relaxing. We managed to catch a few small brook trout and salmon fingerlings (paar) the first day, but were unsuccessful in hooking a salmon.
On the evening of our second day, veteran Clint Kirk hooked a salmon on a #4 Rusty Rat fly in Little Indian Pool, estimated by the guide to be around 15 pounds, but after playing the salmon for ten minutes, the hook worked loose and we were unable to put a salmon in the net. Just hooking a salmon was encouraging for our group of veterans and we looked forward to our third and final day of fishing as we sat around the fire in the lodge sharing our experiences.
The morning of our last day ended with Clint Kirk hooking two more salmon on a #4 Rusty Rat fly in Humbug Pool, but still not putting a salmon in the net. On the evening of our last day, veteran Kenneth Oxfurth hooked a salmon using a #4 Black Bear Green Butt fly and after a thirty minute battle, put a beautiful 14-pound Atlantic Salmon in the net. We all shared in Ken’s excitement as he recorded his catch in the camp log book and detailed the experience of catching his first Atlantic Salmon and largest fish ever on a fly rod.
This fishing trip was an extraordinary experience for all of us and our time fishing together ended much too soon! After saying goodbye and thank you to the guides and staff of Two Brooks, we loaded up the rental van and began our trek back to the airport at Presque Isle. Upon checking in for our flight to Boston, we said our goodbyes to each other as we would all be going different directions upon the plane’s arrival in Boston. On behalf of all the veterans attending this trip, I wish to express our sincere appreciation to Project Healing Waters, Mr. Edgar Cullman Jr. and the entire staff of Two Brooks Camp for providing us with an exceptional trip experience and new friendships we will never forget!