birchbark canoe     Dungarvon, the river of bugs

The Dungarvon is one of the many rivers that run through central New Brunswick's Miramichi watershed./p>

bankshot (41K)
The river below Ledgey Landing would make a fine Boy Scout trip stream. Bring lots of fly dope.

There are fast waters and rocky stretches from the headwaters off the Plaster-Rock Renous Highway to Ledgy Landing, which I have not yet run. The stretch I am familiar with starts at Ledgy Landing on the Storeytown Road, and finishes at the mouth of the Renous River near Quarryville.

It is more justly known as a trout and salmon river than a canoeing stream. Its wide waters run with good current, quick and deep all the way in a normal spring, yet the bed is gravel, with few rocks and only short stretches of current remotely resembling whitewater. Although there is a fair vertical drop, it is very regular and smooth, so rarely is there anything more challenging than a mildly rocky turn to worry about.

Dungarvon River
These are the Jaws of the Dungarvon, upstream of Ledgey Landing in late spring at low water.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this stream is the bugs. I last ran this stream the first week of June, and the clouds of skeeters and blackflies were thick and voracious. They seem to know just when to gather for their feast, just when you are the busiest, either setting up camp in the late afternoon and evening, or tearing it down and loading your boat in the morning. It seems the harder you work to get this job done, the more you sweat, and the more blood-thirsty the little rotters become.

Dungarvon River
Ledgey Landing, October

So it was no surprise that all the fourteen young men who gathered this spring for a fishing trip down the Dungarvon came well-equipped with bug hats and vests, wore gloves, and tucked their cuffs into their socks to beat the bugs. Bug repellent was passed around almost as freely as cold beer, and one of the first duties on reaching shore to set up camp was to build a smudge fire to provide a bug-free zone.

The only exception was Kevin. He wore no protective clothing, and used no chemicals to repel the parasites. He didn't need to. I made it a point to observe him, sitting quietly around the campfire at dusk and dawn, hands and face exposed, chatting and telling stories with the rest of us. There were no flies hovering around him, none landing, none biting.

I often wonder how it is that some of us are skeeter magnets, who slap and run amok in a futile effort to flee the relentless beasts, while others can carry on unperturbed and unmolested, as if there were no mosquitoes, blackflies, deerflies, or any other nasty winged tormentors in their universe. I can only hope Kevin donates his body to science, so that someone can unlock the secret to his natural invulnerability.

Dungarvon River
Headwaters. I hope to get there soon.

Oh yes, the Dungarvon river. I have a few pictures, and a few impressions to share as well. I would recommend this river to a Boy Scout troop, as there are no rapids to risk the safety of young or old.

Campsites are found at fairly regular intervals, although some of them down the first-day stretch from Ledgy Landing are overgrown and not always readily visible from the water. There are broad, flat landings for camping along the lower stretches.

We had a fair success fishing, although I personally never had a nibble (what a surprise). But it's all right, I was only doing it as an art form anyway, to perfect my fly rod casting. The other fellows were bait casting with worms, and on the third day, we gathered on a small sandbar island at the confluence of the Dungarvon and the Renous to fry up all our trout. There were enough so that everyone of us enjoyed a fine taste of fresh trout. What more could you ask for?

I have great plans to run the whitewater stretch of the Dungarvon next spring, and when I do, I'll flesh out this trip report with a few more pictures and details.

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