Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Nova Scotia 2018 Part 2

70 Hours in Halifax

Halifax is a city like no other ... I spent about 6 hours there last year and knew I had to go back. This trip, we had about 3 days to spend there and I was sure Kathy and I would make the best of it. Museums, cemeteries, excellent restaurants and some really fun fishing filled our time there and I can't wait to go back.

A block from where we were staying was the Halifax Botanical Gardens. It's the oldest "Victorian" garden in North America and boasts a plethora of species of both flowers and trees/shrubs from around the world. An agave plant was blooming while we were there and quite a spectacular sight as it happens once every 30 years. One could spend hours strolling the gardens, however knowing it was so close to where we were staying we agreed to walk through it again when time permitted.

From there it was off to the Old Burying Grounds, a well shaded and extremely beautiful cemetery dating back to 1749. I was able to spend 20 minutes there last year and that wasn't nearly enough time. After a good hour exploring and appreciating the history of this cemetery, we decided to head for some sushi. Everything we ordered was top notch and the service was stellar for such a busy restaurant!

By the time we made it back to where we were staying I just couldn't get fishing the waterfront out of my head. With Kathy exhausted from hiking all over the city, she was content to relax over a bottle of wine while visiting with my sister. This left me free to hike the kilometer and a half down to the water to fish the incoming tide.

My first few casts of the spoon came back without a bite and the few anglers around me were seeming to have about as much success as I was. After a while I changed my tactics from casting for mackerel to fishing small scented plastics and bait among the pillars of the wharf. After missing about 10 or so bites, I finally was able to bring a few tropical looking fish with some tiny sharp teeth up to the pier. Locally they are referred to as cunner and they are a member of the wrasse family. As the sun slowly set, the waterfront was alive with the first night of the buskers festival. I glanced over the tide schedules and decided I would return to the spot roughly an hour after sun up the next day. 

Sleep came easily after all the exercise of hiking through the city and I woke up refreshed and ready to try for mackerel again. I maintained a brisk pace on my walk back to the waterfront, eager to get fishing. The first cast of my spoon got a hit within seconds and I was soon bringing a mackerel up to the pier. It was under a legal keeper, a tinker as the locals would call it, though eaters weren't of concern to me this trip. Mackerel are schooling fish and the next 5 casts would produce a fish. It was at this point that some of the other early rising tourists were venturing out on the waterfront. Every so often one would notice me with a fish and ask if they could take a picture and I would always reply with "Sure as long as you take one for me with my phone, I'm not from around here." I was also able to land an atlantic pollock in between the schools of mackerel adding another new species to the list. The action would come and go as the morning went along and as the sun broke through the fog, the schools seemed to move out and I knew it was my cue to get on with the day.

The east coast was going through a fairly oppressive heat wave and after a bit of walking around Kat and I decided to head to the Natural History Museum. Air conditioned and well worth the price of admission, the museum boasts a great collection of all things Nova Scotia, from the flora, fauna and wildlife to indigenous culture, geology and fisheries. Exhibits change regularly so it seems like a great place to revisit. From the museum just a short walk away sits The Citadel and that would be our next stop, rich in history (and under construction) my favorite part was the War museum on the second floor of the main building. 

We ended up stumbling upon a restaurant that sparked our interest that wasn't on our radar and decided to take a chance on it. I am so glad we did as every bite from everything we ordered was beyond delectable. Primal was so good we ended up going back the next night for supper as well!

The last full day we spent in Halifax was as action packed as the previous. It started with more mackerel and cunner at the waterfront and was followed by plenty of walking around through another cemetery. We spent a few hours in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic part of which had a centennial exhibit on the Halifax Explosion which was put together extremely well. With another great supper at Primal we headed back for a relaxing evening before our trip continued towards Bear River and the Digby Necks

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Nova Scotia 2018 Part 1

It was half past midnight, not a cloud in the sky and the moon was full with its reflection dancing across the lakes of Northwest Ontario below us. My wife and I were on our way to Nova Scotia, a province I am slowly becoming more familiar with and having increasingly good luck fishing in. The flight took a little over three hours and as we began our decent towards the airport outside of Halifax the cloud cover and low lying fog was thick. This made for an interesting landing with the runway visible to us at the last second. Modern technology sure is something!

Our first leg of the trip would be spent near Five Islands with family and after meeting up with my sister and grabbing our rental car we were on our way. A quick pit stop for some supplies included but not limited to Covered Bridge potato chips, caffeinated beverages, alcohol and pepperoni took place in Truro before heading onward towards highway 2. With the Minas basin to our left, the smell of salt in the air and the mountains to our right, it was good to be back in this part of Canada.

I've fished for striped bass in the Minas Basin a few times now, strictly from shore with a bit of success, reward and heartbreak. An acquaintance of my brother in law has started a sight seeing/fishing guide business, showcasing the Five Islands region and I jumped on the opportunity to hire him for a day on the water. Conditions were not ideal with some stronger than anticipated winds but we made the best of it and before sea sickness kicked my wife's butt we were able to bring a few fish up from the depths.

The highlight was my new personal best striped bass topping out at 3 feet in length. Between the current and the strength of the fish, the fight was straight up remarkable. Even with a heavy action saltwater rod and line this fish gave me a run for my money. My first "legal" keeper in those waters shook the hook almost a year ago to the date but this one never even had the chance.
Before the weather and my wife's sea sickness could worsen we were back at shore after an extremely bumpy ride. That night I cooked up some of the fish with butter, salt and pepper, and finished it with a splash of dry white wine and I can honestly say it was one of the best tasting fish I have ever eaten. Between the fight they provide and quality of flesh when a legal keeper is retained, I can see why so many anglers spend there time after these fish!

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Moak Lodge Open Water Highlights

Stellar Skies
Big Walleyes

 Northerns a plenty
Ample fish flies 
 A few native flowers

I could write for hours about the good times and experiences up at Moak Lodge on Cedar Lake but figured the pictures and smiles could speak for themselves.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

midnight gold

Late the other night we happened upon some goldfish and while the pictures aren't the best, the fishing was both a challenge and rewarding. Tiny hooks, tiny bait, lite line, a sensitive rod, patience and an open mind was all that was needed.  

Thursday, 14 June 2018

A May Carp Session and the One That Got Away

The second weekend of the opening season found us on a marshy bank with water still too cold for the carp to think about spawning. They were on their way to the shallows putting on the feed bag as they often do this time of year and with a late spring in Manitoba, some great early season action can be had. Frodo had spent the previous evening making boilies and ground bait and with a bit of chumming while we rigged up, the action wouldn't take long to kick in.

Frodo hooked up with the first carp and each one that followed was a little bigger than the previous. His hair rig seemed to have equal success with corn or boilies and he was putting on a bit of a clinic while I was missing takes and dealing with a few drops. The reward of catching fish on bait he made himself was evident and the action only exemplified it. I finally had a solid take and hook up only to have the carp break me off when heading into some structure, it was a little heartbreaking to say the least.

The ground bait was doing its job and the carp were loving it with one of us getting a take at least every 10 minutes or so. I was eventually rewarded with a few to shore under 30 inches in length and finally mid morning, one over. It fought with the determination most carp have once hooked and it was a real thrill to be putting the gear through the gauntlet. Pulling drag with ease and plowing through the water with seemingly little resistance, this fish was exactly what I had been looking forward to throughout the work week!

The morning was a cool one and with wind from the north blowing across the lake steadily picking up speed, the action seemed to taper off towards noon. Our spot had produced well for hours but it was time to try another one, however our efforts proved futile. With little success and a hankering for new scenery, we decided to head off to a nearby river for some bottom fishing and sanctuary from the wind.

After a bit of a drive and a stop for a snack we began prospecting potential spots along a river and found one with a nice deep hole and back eddy. It was littered with fish, though most of them small and held a lot of potential for a range of species. Juvenile channel catfish and a few large stonecats were eager to seek out our baits in the deep pocket while goldeye and mooneye were plentiful in the current seem and slack water. We even pulled a few walleye and a freshwater drum out while bait fishing.

Now I am all for catching new species of fish and sometimes it is intentional and sometimes it just happens. Whenever it does happen, I gotta admit I get pretty excited. Now as is often the case this trip involved a bit of an early rise and a few hours driving and at this point in the day we had been fishing for over 10 hours. After a long work week and minimal nights sleep, my judgement and thought process might not have been 100% when I brought a new species to shore.

While unhooking this feisty little guy he fell on the shore and got a little dirty and in my haste and worry for the health and well being as well as the desire to document this new species for positive identification I needed to rinse the fish off in the water. Instead of using the net to cradle the fish in the water to clean off some mud I decided to just hold it in my hand and well, you can imagine what happened next. In the blink of an eye, my poor judgement was exposed and away swam this beautiful creature, the image forever burned in my mind. Depressed, flabbergasted, befuddled, shocked .... I couldn't believe what I had done and neither could Frodo.

I would return to the spot in the weeks that followed while coming home from other destinations in search of that elusive chub. I just wanted one picture, proof of the catch and after about 12 more hours of fishing over a few pit stops, I was lucky enough to make it happen.

Jubilation!!! The now properly identified flathead chub was landed and documented!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Opening Day 2018

The day couldn't come soon enough and although our initial plans got a little skewed, we made the best of it. Arriving at the waters edge for daybreak it was one degree below zero. The birds were already awake and active with red-winged blackbirds calling and swooping amongst the dead pencil grass. We weren't the first anglers to reach the shore and luckily for us, there was some space upriver from the small crowd. It's been one of the driest springs on record in Manitoba and because of that, an area of marshy shoreline along the river had somehow caught fire in the weeks past opening up a bit more shore space.

The action was fairly steady for most of the morning with a 28.5-inch freshwater drum being the biggest fish landed. Dozens of drum, a catfish, and a carp or two were caught while bait of all kinds, as well as soft plastics, were getting bites. The action was steady, however by lunch time we had a few boats surrounding us and with the added lures and bait in the vicinity we decided to move on scouting other shore spots and the big lake if needed.

With partial ice cover still on the main lake and all available shore spots on the river taken we decided to push to the Assiniboine River. Water levels there were lower than normal and we were able to find a nice back eddy with a noticeable current edge. We were rewarded with good action as well as some needed shade. Juvenile catfish, stonecats, walleye, and goldeye were caught there, with a couple of heavy fish lost.