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!!

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