"You need some PR," said Ted. "Educate everybody—the schools, the kids, everybody—on how important this fish is to the province. How poaching is going to ruin it for everybody."
Percy said the poachers had beaten them to it. One had gone right on TV saying he'd kill any warden who got in his way. "He's on welfare, too," he said. "The government supports him."
"How easy is it?" I asked. "To poach, I mean."
"I could do it blindfolded every night and never get caught," Percy said.
There is no bridge at Swinging Bridge, only the remains of one—an abutment that helps form a small island at the bottom end of one of Ted's pools and another abutment on the other bank of the Miramichi. Once, they supported the cables of a footbridge. A heavy ice storm knocked it out in 1970, and there has been no inclination to replace it. The pool, 14 miles upriver from the main camp, is 200 yards long, with a gravel bar that makes a kind of spinal column that the fish must pass over. It's Ted's favorite, good enough to have accounted, he estimates, for half the salmon he has caught on the Miramichi.
We were joined there by a fellow member of the Miramichi Salmon Association, a friend from Bathurst, New Brunswick named Alex Fakeshazy. Fakeshazy is a bearlike man with a clement personality whose fishing outfit isn't complete without a SAVE THE ATLANTIC SALMON button.
The weather had improved overnight and Ted was in high spirits. He showed Fakeshazy a fly he'd tied the night before, a green-butted version of the Conrad with silver tinsel ribbing, bear hair and green fluorescent floss.
"Oh baby, that one will catch fish," Fakeshazy said. "With that one it could happen." Ted grinned and deftly tied the fly to the leader. "I should have been a surgeon," he said.
The prevailing wind comes downriver at Swinging Bridge. Ted cast high, letting the wind carry the payload. "See that?" he said. "An easy 80-foot cast."
I was on a nearby boulder, sitting it out for a while. He obliged me with a blow-by-blow.