Friday, 19 June 2015

21 Hours of Fishing Part 2

At first it sounded like hail the rain was pouring so hard. The sky was lit up all around us with lightning firing off every few seconds. A storm of biblical proportions and all I could think about was hoping the bass would be biting in a few hours and that I could maybe get some more rest. Awake again fifteen minutes before the alarm and it was clear we wouldn't be launching the boat just yet. Another hour passed and the rain began to recede becoming almost suitable to fish in. While Jay prepped the boat I couldn't help but fish the dock, missing a bite on my first cast only to get a solid hook up on the second one. A nice 16 inch Smallmouth made it to shore and the expectations for the day were instantly raised. If one would bite after a storm like that, we were all sure we could get some others to do the same.

The rain was peppering the waters surface and wind kicking up some small chop as we headed to our first planned spot. It was slightly sheltered from the winds current direction and looked a little bassy. The plan was to each use different lures to try and figure out what would work best and hopefully land some sow smallies. After a few casts the first one hit and made it to the boat. Frodo the Bass Slayer, as he was soon to be named boated the first one over 18 inches of the day. I followed up with a bite off, the Pike seemed to have followed me over from the previous day but I wasn't deterred. The weeds in this bay were so thick and essentially made top water lures the best option and after a few feisty pike to the boat we decided to head on to another shore line.

Over a few trips smallie fishing I have lost more bass than I would care to admit. Manitoba has a barbless hook regulation and Bass are notorious for shaking that hook. Line would go slack and time would slow as a brute would breach the surface thrashing its head trying to shake the hook. Rarely was I able to maintain a tight line from shore when this would happen, half the time losing a fish. I took to burying my rod tip in the water when I would have a bass on whenever a shore spot would permit and carrying this tactic to the kayak and boat. A lot of the time it would prevent a good amount of out of water leaps and lead to more "bulldogging" to the bottom by the bass. I credit this partially to my level of success this day.

Patches of blue sky to the west and the bass were biting, we had brought a few to the boat at this point and I was able to finally land one of many over 18 inches of the day. After countless trips, hook sets, breaches and shakes I had finally done it. I was filled with joy and knew there were many more hours in the day to try for more. We fished on continuing to try different lures and techniques changing up if no bites were had after a dozen or so casts. I was able to get a few hits on the new Shadow Raps but no hook ups as I tend to favor finesse jigging over retrieve cranks, they obviously get less practice. But that will continue to change as my techniques evolve.

The wind really couldn't make up its mind changing directions frequently throughout the day. This opened up new sheltered areas to fish and provided light chop on others. All in all we mostly kept chucking what the fish seemed to want to bite. No one checked the time until around noon, at that point we all thought it was closer to supper and were stoked there were many more hours to fish. As the sun finally broke through the fishing only picked up with the bass seeming to get even more aggressive. Plenty of top water strikes and hook ups for Frodo made the day even more exciting as I would slowly pitch and jig while watching his lifelike lure.

Time passed so slowly as the sun crept along making the days fishing even more enjoyable. We started in many layers of clothing and raingear and ended the day in t shirts. Many bites were missed and fish lost however one thing I did pick up on was slowing down after a missed bite and waiting for a second chance from an already interested fish. That second chance was given more often than not and the fight was on. For their size, Smallmouth Bass are some of the toughest fighting fish our province has to offer and we were loving the action they provided.

As the evening came we knew it was getting near our departure time so we hit the two most productive spots of the day once more. My last fish ended up being a personal best 19.5 inches and I was truly content with the days events. The numbers were unbelievable, weather unpredictable and a trip that far exceeded our expectations was in the books.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

21 Hours of Fishing Part 1

There are times when fishing that everything comes together and it all works out for the best and there are times when it doesn't. Each time out a different experience and memories made that are seldom repeated. It's a familiar catch or a long forgotten adversary or that joke that never leaves the boat. This is an account of one of those times I was lucky enough to share with some good friends.
Friday came and we were finished work early, the boat was readied and packed the night before and with a stop at the grocery store for last minute supplies, we were on our way. Roughly 21 hours of fishing over the next day and a half awaited us and our first target was the Bluegill. Easily targeted in the states, the Bluegill is one of my favorite fish but only a handful of water bodies inside Manitoba have a population. Along the drive we saw many hawks, a few eagles, a couple deer and a mother fox with her three kits wrestling in the ditch which only made the long journey pulling the boat into the wind more enjoyable.

We arrived to our first lake and launched the boat eagerly heading off to our first spot. We were initially shocked at the water clarity not having fished this lake as early as we were before. It was early afternoon now the sun high in the sky and we were sure the fish in the shallows could see us coming before we would even cast. As we drifted into an emerging weed bed casting, I began to notice the occasional silhouette of what I first thought were Bluegills but soon saw were Black Crappie. Sight fishing for Crappie in under 4 feet of water was new to me and very exciting, but also difficult. However it wasn't long before Jay and Frodo enticed a few slabs to bite. A couple nice eaters and a pair of true trophies, we were all quite impressed. Watching these fish slurp up the lure just feet away from the boat was a treat.

Now most folks would stick around and continue to hammer crappie but this wasn't the species we were after. We all discussed that we should go and try to locate our target species and come back to this weed bed if we were not having luck elsewhere. From spot to spot and cast to cast we went, the wind was our biggest foe and made fishing some spots with light tackle a real challenge and others outright impossible. We had talked up Bluegill fishing to a friend for a while now, he had known how fun they were to catch as it was a fish often caught in his youth. It was established he hadn't fished for them in a very long time and we really wanted to get some in the boat.

After many small pike and even smaller perch along with half a dozen bite offs on my part, we approached another weed bed with equal water clarity as all the ones before. The difference being, this one was holding gills and we could see them and they us. Before we could raise a rod to cast they would dart, the commotion stirring up others we hadn't seen. Fear and terror spread through the patchy pencil reeds. With so many elements against us we needed a game plan, the spotty weed patch was too tough to fish and we had spooked many gills already. The sun was slowly on it's way down and we had caught fish, but not our target species so we decided to go back to our original spot. With the light conditions changing we could possibly cast to some gills or crappie before spooking them. So off we went to where we started.
We approached the weed bed with as much stealth and precision as we could, beginning another controlled drift. It wasn't long before Frodo had a fish on the end of his line and he instantly new it was a gill from the fight below the water. A huge sigh of relief followed from everyone. This was a good sign and a race against the light pushed on. About a dozen gills ended up being landed in the last 30 minutes of light, with Jay able to land his first few in years and probably a personal best as well. Not the day we set out to have but no one would complain. The diversity in colour of the bluegills, surprise sight fishing for crappie and swarms of dragonflies keeping the bugs at bay were all part of a great start to the mini weekend fishing.

We loaded the boat and headed on to our next destination, a quick check on the weather app and it was clear a storm was on it's way, touching down by 3:30 am and passing along by 10. Arriving at the next lake exhausted, it was clear setting up a tent was a bad idea if the storm was to be as powerful as the radar made it look. With 5 hours to rest before sunrise we each grabbed a seat in the vehicle and tried to catch what little sleep we could, before the storm would make it near impossible.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Few Carp and Quillback From Early Season

Here are a couple shots of a few carp and quills we brought to shore in the early open water season.

The bite was slow but we managed a few.

This poor guy lost his upper lip in the past and it somehow healed into an extreme resemblance to a human finger. Boy was that freaky when we got the first few glimpses!

 Then we got on some quillbacks with Frodo landing a personal best.


 This was my favorite shot of the day in front of part of the carp graveyard. There were many skeletons of carp that had died during the winter.