Few other issues raise the hackles of so many New Brunswick paddlers-slash-fisherfolk as riparian river rights.
It boils down to this: You're floating down a stream and you can see the trout, well dream of the trout maybe, and you may not bait a hook or cast a fly. Not allowed.
We were on a popular Miramichi stream in central NB, well okay it was the Cains, and we weren't sure whether we were allowed to fish. Well anyway, we stopped at the mouth of a large brook, and on my first cast, I hooked onto a big trout. Yes, it bent my fly rod at a rakish angle, and I started to reel him in.
He broke the surface and gave a whip, and my brother and I gaped in astonishment at the size of its head. Then it gave a jerk and was gone in a flash, and I gave out a loud WHOA!
This yell prompted Buddy to come down the path from his lodge and see if anyone was being molested, by the sound of it. After we told him about the monster that got away, he gently instructed us that he owned the fishing rights to this stretch of river, and we weren't allowed to fish from yay up the river to yay down.
Where is the balance? Why are some folks privileged, and you and I are not? Why can't I fish this beautiful stream? You?
Yeah, the argument is that these riparian rights holders protect the rivers from overfishing, and goodness knows the rivers need it in this day and age.
But the holders pay big bucks to 'own' these fishing rights, and so many of the opulent lodges on almost all Miramichi and Restigouche rivers belong to fantastically wealthy folks from away, not to New Brunswickers. Some lodges and associated waters are the exclusive fishing holes of financial barons who live in megacities and who hobnob with Arab sheiks and such. What about the common man? Why may I fish only where the fish are not?
For the record, Buddy said I could fish, he didn't mind. But I still needed his permission. It still rankles me, there must be another way!
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