Monday, 26 May 2014

Creek Chubbing

While fishing a few different spots on the local creek recently I came across a fairly nice creek chub that hit my worm chunk. I find fishing for the small stuff is a good and cheap way to get my fix when the urge to wet a line takes hold. In my books this one is a trophy even if it is just a lowly minnow, it was clearly the king or queen of its little stretch of creek.

Some are big and some are small, none the less on ultra light tackle it's always a blast catching them. Occasionally schools are a lot smarter than others and seem to communicate with each other upon release some days. This makes getting from pool to pool looking for more biters a pain in the butt, adventure and fun all rolled up in one. Often we will come across, turtles, frogs, snakes, deer, beavers and waterfowl making it all the more enjoyable, however I could do without the mosquitoes and wood ticks. 

Creek Chubs make great bait for pike on a quick strike rig under a float, or as cut bait on a circle hook for catfish, however I recommend selective harvest, as a population can get fished out in a hurry.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

May Long Weekend 2014

The weekend arrived and my fishing plans were not set in stone. It was 10:30 pm Friday before it was established that my wife and I would hit the river early the next morning, hoping for some suckers and whatever else might be warming up to bite. After a quick drive to one of our favorite spots, we noticed a vehicle had beat us there and the people had occupied our preferred shore spot. Luckily we knew each other and there was room for two more anglers. It turned out they were there looking for master angler suckers as well.

Before much was even said between us, my wife got a hit and reeled in a nice 18.5 inch White Sucker, we took a few pics and sent her back to fight another day. Not bad catching a trophy for your first fish of the day even if it is considered a "rough fish". We were casting out to the currents edge and getting steady bites from 16 - 21.5 inch White Suckers while the two anglers 10 feet down from us were casting out deeper and landing 15-18 inch Redhorse Suckers. My wife began putting on a clinic landing 5 suckers in the time we would land one or two, she was really having a blast as some of these fish had some nice weight and shoulders for their size.

As the morning wore on a few Northern Pike were landed and released when we tried using minnows instead of worms, as well as a nice eater walleye retained for the evenings supper. Looking across the river a few deer were spotted grazing on newly budding plants and a kingfisher was nailing small fish in the slack water past some rapids. The occasional wildlife sightings were drawing my attention away from fishing as well as the sound of rushing water and lack of sleep from the night before. The action started to slow down around lunch time and come 1 o'clock we decided to pack up. Before we could get started on our clean up, we both got a hit and the bite kicked in for a good hour, sucker after sucker slamming our worms down below. With responsibilities at home and a pair of Golden Eagles soaring over head we decided to pack it in and call it a day, content with the days events.

After a nap and a bite to eat, I was itching to fish a little bit more and met up with a friend to do some creek chubbing. We took to the local creek and hit a few of our favorite spots landing countless creek chubs from 2.5 to 8 inches, we also came across about 8 painted turtles and a beaver. We fished right up until dark and thought it would be in our best interests to head to a great carp/sucker spot a few hours away the next day. But before rest, we needed to hunt for some more night crawlers as the days fishing took a serious hit on our supplies.

Conditions were prime at our night crawler location and we got about 120 in 45 minutes, they are sold locally for $5 a dozen so that's a lot of money saved. It is almost as fun as fishing ... almost.

Part 2 : A Spoon Chuckers Paradise

After another night of around 5 hours of sleep, it was on the road with behemoth carp and suckers on our minds. As usual the conversation on the way up was filled with past fishing stories of the place we were heading and goals for the open water season. Frodo had expressed desire in catching a Quillback Sucker this open water season and we wondered if this might be his day. As we reached our spot, wouldn't you know there was already a few people there fishing, what a coincidence. Upon closer inspection it was a good friend of mines father whom I had fished with before taking his son and daughter out, not bad at all.

After a quick conversation and a hand shake, I got to rigging up and wetting a line. The wind was cool and sky overcast, light precipitation appeared to be on it's way, although not called for in the forecast. Frodo and I both missed a few very subtle bites right off the hop and then he got a take, rod bent over and hook set, Frodo had a fish on putting up a bit of a fight. I reeled in quickly and got the net ready, after a brief battle up came a Quillback Sucker, no word of a lie, the fish we had talked about on the drive up hunted down his worm below and committed. We were completely ecstatic as we snapped a few pictures and sent it on its way. That got the blood flowing on this cool morning and we were itching for more.

The next few bites came as bite offs, it quickly became apparent that there were a few toothy creatures with an appetite prowling around. We were here for whatever was going to bite, however pike definitely weren't on our minds when we prepared for the trip. Most of my pike gear was at home with only a handful of cranks and spoons in my tackle this day, and very few steel leaders. It was now becoming obvious that we were a few weeks early for the prime carp bite, none the less we kept on trying with very minimal success. Still too cold.

With the spot getting a little crowded, we decided to check for another possible place to fish, it was a bit of a hike, and halfway in we could hear the water rushing. I knew by the sound of it that we wouldn't be able to fish that spot but we pushed on for the scenery and what we might find. With a little more walking around and no feasible spots to fish we agreed to head back to where we started the day, Frodo targeting carp and I would start chucking spoons.

We got back to the original spot and began fishing again, it was almost 11 am by that point and we had only landed four fish. First cast of my Len Thompson Five of diamonds and I had a fish on, thrashing head shakes and a run for cover and it was on it's way to shore and my net. I repeated this process landing about 7 pike in 10 casts. I sent Frodo a text with the results, and he let me know he was seeing and spooking some big fish in the shallows where he was trying for carp. I noticed him making his way back after that in a bit of a hurry, it turned out he came across a very angry skunk, luckily he got out of there with out getting sprayed.

Frodo wasn't too interested in the pike fishing, he wanted a tank carp or rare sucker species, but there comes a time when you gotta bite the bullet and fish for what's biting, and that was the pike. We took what lures and leaders we had and began to hammer the Northerns, they ranged from 16 to 35 inches in size, all of them skinny and spawned out. No one would believe the numbers we caught and released when telling them unless they were there, it truly became the best day of pike fishing either of us had ever had as far as numbers and steady action. We were getting so many hits the paint was chipping off our lures, my fire tiger Rebel minnow was covered in spots, cuts and nicks and Frodos cheap crank bait had lost half its paint job revealing a different colour of lure beneath it. We lost some lures to bite offs and ended up retaining a few that were in no shape to release, they really were biting with such voracity. There wasn't a lure we tried that didn't catch at least a few fish, it was definitely a reactionary bait kind of day.

As the day warmed to the mid afternoon sun we still were anything but bored with the fishing, however I had suffered a serious tooth wound on my right thumb. Luckily Frodo didn't mind helping with getting the hook out of some of my fish while my bleeding subsided, I couldn't thank him enough. The action was so heavy that he ended up taking a few breaks to enjoy some bird watching. It was very difficult to leave, we had both lost a couple heavier feeling fish and it was motivating to keep casting with a small chance at another. We fished on until about 7:45 in the evening, If I hadn't been up for as long as I had been and if the drive home wasn't as tiring, we would have stayed longer. We had exhausted our tackle boxes and could not have been happier with how the day turned out despite the small fortune in lost lures.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Opening Day 2014

It could not have come fast enough and the weather could not have been better. Open water season in Manitoba had finally come and we were ready to get out there and see what might bite. We met up at our usual rendezvous location and headed off to a local river for sunrise. On our way we passed a few white tail deer and some turkeys in the ditches, everything was very grey and bleak, with the grass still dead and trees barely budding.

The thermometer on my dashboard display showed 3 Celsius as we got to our first spot. We unloaded some of our gear and noticed a group of young folks fishing with multiple lines across the river from us, they didn't seem to be catching much and were attempting to get a fire going. My wife and I set up below some rapids, while Jay and Frodo fished up stream. It felt great to be casting again. First fish of the day would go to my wife as she landed a 15 inch walleye, her first fish since her last outing, seven months ago. Shortly after that Jay hooked into something with a little more fight landing a catfish around the 24 inch mark followed by another one and then a goldeye. With the sun creeping higher and temperatures warming, I hooked into and landed an eater walleye.

Six fish between four people in two hours, it was better than getting skunked but we were wanting more. We decided to make a move to a different spot on the same river, giving up scenery and wildlife for hopefully better action. As we left, a flock of pelicans were riding the thermals at the valleys edge and some cormorants landed where we were just fishing, presumably about to do the same.

Once back in cell phone service we called some friends letting them know of our success and the warming temperatures. We were assured they would catch us at our next spot as soon as time permitted. After a quick drive to our second spot, it became clear after talking with some conservation officers doing their rounds, that the suckers were biting . We grabbed the last two available shore spots and got to work, pitching jigs tipped with crawlers under floats, as well as trying bottom rigs. It was still early in the day and finally warming up a bit, when my wife noticed a 30+ inch pike basking in the shallows that was easily spooked.

So many of the people around us were casting and retrieving pickerel rigs, which is really a pet peeve of mine as its not how they are supposed to be used. A few times they would cast into the current over our lines and get snagged up with us on the retrieve, after the third time I promised my wife if it happened again I would be throwing their gear in the river. Luckily before it did, the culprits had run out of bait and were packing up to leave. We quickly packed our gear and claimed the vacant spot, so our crew could spread out and keep other groups as far away as possible.

The action was sure to pick up as the day progressed and sure enough between the 6 of us fishing shallow and deep covering different baits we began hooking into some pre spawn white and redhorse suckers.  The suns rays were strong and there was just enough breeze to keep most of the newly emerging bugs away. We were down to our base layers of clothes and it felt great to be in a t shirt outside again. Looking around at the other groups, most folks were having success, but all we could see were suckers being landed and nothing else. We ended up keeping some suckers for catfish bait and to do some canning which I will write about in another post and with the need to get them cleaned and frozen we decided to head home around 3 in the afternoon.

Over 50 fish landed between us and 6 different species made for one heck of an opening day!!