Saturday, 22 October 2016

Something to write home about (part 2)

The second nights sleep wasn't filled with trout breaches and epic battles like the previous night and I woke up multiple times in a nightmarish sweat. Day three was a write off as far as fishing was concerned and with an insurance claim filed and the vehicle retrieved the only thing left to do was secure a way home. After explaining our predicament to a good friend back home and making him an offer he couldn't refuse, we had a ride lined up for late in the afternoon on what was to be our fourth and last day on the trip. The sense of relief my wife and I both felt was indescribable to say the least. After a hike through town for some food, the rest of the day was spent in the motel room recovering from the previous days events and trying to get over the shock. Sleep didn't come easy that night and definitely wasn't pleasant, but within 24 hours we were to be home in our own bed.

The next morning was as windy as the previous three, the sky grey and air cool. We still had eight or 9 hours to go before getting picked up and there was no way I could sit in the motel lobby knowing that just over a mile away were trophy trout swimming about. My wife on the other hand was in no mood to sit on shore and quite content to stay behind with her laptop. I packed up a rod, some basic tackle, a few drinks and snacks, layered up in some winter clothes, grabbed a net, kissed my wife and headed off on foot towards the lake, determined as I had ever been to catch a trophy trout.

The following four and a half hours of fishing were nothing short of legendary. A true fisherman's tale unfolded that no one would believe if I told them. I shared the lake with two pairs of herons and a few pairs of ducks but besides that there wasn't a soul around, except those lurking beneath the water. Just me, my fishing rod, some trusted tackle and a net. After catching and releasing two 15 inch rainbows within ten minutes of arriving, I had a feeling I was in for a treat, and boy was I ever! Had the stars had aligned? Was the water temperature just right? Was a shift in the weather on it's way?

Whatever the case, I ended up catching and releasing well over a dozen trout, with five rainbow trout to shore over 20 inches in length. The biggest of those measured a whopping 27 inches and the fight will be forever burned in my memory. The battle went on for a few minutes with multiple breaches throughout as it twisted and thrashed all the way to the net. Ice cold to the touch, after a measurement and a few pictures in the net, it released with vigor back to the weed line. Countless other rainbow trout under 20 inches were caught and released over the session, with more missed takes and lost fish than anyone would believe.

It was one of the hardest bites to walk away from that I have ever experienced, but our ride was near and I had a mile to walk back to the motel. The air was sweeter and the walk almost effortless as I made my way back, thankful to be alive and beyond content with the few hours of steady action and the handful of trophy rainbow trout caught and released.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Something to write home about (part 1)

It was time for my wife and I to finally get away for our annual autumn trout excursion. With family thanksgiving obligations out of the way, we headed northwest an hour before the sun was to rise. We were off to the Duck Mountains and Parklands region of Manitoba for four days of fishing and relaxing and we couldn't wait to get up there. After the beautiful prairie sunrise was behind us, there were plenty of sights along the drive as we watched thousands of geese heading south overhead and dozens of hawks perched on hydro poles or bare trees. The highlight of the wildlife sightings was a young bull moose by the road. We kept our distance, but took more than a few pictures. The traffic was reasonable for a holiday weekend and we arrived at our destination shortly before lunch, ready to fish.

Our plan was to meet up with a friend and do some shore fishing from multiple lakes for the many different species of stocked trout this part of the province offers. Over the 30 minutes of fishing before he arrived, my wife managed to catch and release two rainbow trout under 20 inches in length. The occasional trout would breach in the area we were fishing, so when Justin showed up we agreed to give it an hours fish. With minimal activity over the next 60 minutes and only so many hours of daylight left, we decided to push on to our next destination in pursuit of tiger trout.

Within an hour of fishing the lake my wife and I each hooked into and lost a tiger trout. Both equally acrobatic and wily, they ran for cover and weeds, jumped and thrashed and both managed to get free. Hers clearly dwarfed mine in comparison and appeared to be over two feet in length when it breached the surface. "You gotta lose a couple," was Justin's response to my frustration and I quickly tried to adopt that attitude and got right back to fishing. Justin managed to bring one to shore on the fly and it was a true treat to see a tiger trout again. Knowing we had a few days up that way and had plans to put more time in on the lake in the days ahead, we decided to head off while still having enough daylight to check out a few more lakes.

Trying two more lakes with minimal success (Justin landed a brown trout), we ended up at a lake known for big trout of a few different species. With 45 minutes before dark and the wind in our favour, it was prime time and someone was bound to hook up with a fish. That someone ended up being me. The fish smashed my spoon on the second cast, pulling line with relative ease. My knees were week and excitement was peaking as I worked the fish towards the shore, when we saw it was a pike. Out of all the fish in the lake and the multiple species of trout, a pike had to be the one to hit, I could not believe it.

With darkness on it's way, we took a glance over the weather forecast and a plan was formulated for the following days fishing. As the sun dipped below the horizon, my wife and I headed off to our motel to warm up, eat and get some rest. Sleep came with relative ease, as trout of all different species filled my dreams and expectations were high for the days to come.

Day two began with a similar plan of attack. The weather wasn't to favourable, but with enough layers of clothes we would be fine. A few rainbows were landed in the morning before we headed off to try other lakes with my wife getting a 23.5 inch rainbow trout as the biggest. This area of the province has so many different lakes within relatively close proximity to each other with some having more shore access than others and we were willing to put the time in where and when we could to learn and experiment while trying to land trout of a few different species.
We met up with Justin again and with some driving and hiking, we covered a few lakes and spots, with not much to show for ourselves as far as trophy trout landed. Again I was able to land another pike of all things that had my heart racing as hard as the fight the night before ... until it showed itself. If those pike were trout of any species and similar in length, I would have been ecstatic. Soon after the weather quickly took a turn for the worse and as the temperature hung around zero, some snow had moved in from the north. Before we knew it, the surrounding area was covered in a few inches and it was time to make the long trek back to the vehicles through the forest before the weather got any worse.

We agreed I would get my wife back to the motel and then Justin and I would spend the remainder of the day fishing the local trout lake in town. It's known for big rainbows and browns and a little snow wasn't going to keep me from trying to land a few trophy bows, or was it...
With wet snow still coming down and road conditions deteriorating, we left the lake ten minutes ahead of Justin, it wasn't long after that when our vacation led us somewhere we had not planned. I will spare the details of the accident and just say that we are lucky to be alive and relatively unharmed! Vehicles are replaceable, lives are not. Lucky for us Justin wasn't too far behind and was able to get us and our fishing gear back to our motel safely. With the fishing plans for the next few days now out of the picture, we were just glad to be alive and somewhere safe. Now we had to figure out retrieving the vehicle and finding a way back home, 450 kms away.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Nothing to Write Home About

With an unseasonably warm beginning to October we found ourselves with boat in tow on the way to the Whitemud River to see what it could offer us for an autumn day on the water. It had been entirely too long since I had wet a line last and I was eager for a day out on the boat. The early morning drive to the river was filled with fishing banter and game plans as it usually is, even flirting with the thought of changing our destination at the last minute. That all came to an abrupt halt when the bearings gave out on one side of the trailer and we found ourselves on the side of Canada's busiest highway with a problem on our hands.

After backing up to the nearest country road where we could safely work on the trailer, it was soon obvious that the spare bearings in the boat were the wrong ones (UGH!!!). Our expectations of making it to the boat launch for day break were shattered and we were soon off to the nearest auto parts shop, leaving Frodo behind with the boat and trailer. We got there just as it was opening and were able to get the correct bearings and were back to the boat, trailer and a chilled Frodo within 50 minutes.

Sparing you the details of changing bearings on a boat trailer, I will say that when all was said and done we had the boat on the water at our planned destination around 11 AM. With fish breaching all around us and seemingly endless marks and clouds of bait on the sonar screen we were pumped to finally be fishing. Slowly drifting the channel edge with the wind and current, we were on our way to the mouth of the river while pounding bottom with a jig and minnow. I got bit off by a pike within the first 5 minutes and we all missed a few bites as we drifted on. After a few hundred feet were covered, some boulders and rocks were marked and we proceeded to miss more bites. It was time to tie to shore and thoroughly work the area over.

The first few fish of the day ended up being common carp, pale as I have ever seen them and scrappier than ever. We were fishing with minnows and looking for drum or walleye, even bullheads or channel cats but it appeared that when the bait was as thick as it was in some parts of this river even the large carp will get in on the action. A harrier hawk was actively hunting above the reeds and shoreline while flocks of canada geese could be heard in all directions and were constantly flying by. Muskrats patrolled the shorelines almost everywhere you looked and the sun was warm enough to provide a sunburn. The bite overall wasn't hot and heavy and our goal was to get to the mouth of the river and work our way back as needed in search of other species so we went to fire up the motor and move on, except the motor wouldn't start.

We tried what we could to get the motor running, but nothing would work and with the wind picking up and current going in the same direction, we were now limited in our tactics and mobility. No longer able to fish how and where we wanted, we had to stick within a relatively close area to the boat launch so as to not get blown or swept out into Lake Manitoba. All we had for power now was the trolling motor and two oars if needed. This was not how we had envisioned the day and our game plan was now completely out the window. We jigged and we rigged, missed more bites than anyone would care to admit and often heard passing boats chat of their lack of success. We trolled some crank baits on our way back to the boat launch while missing a few more bites and began another controlled drift to jig some more.

The last fish of the day was another carp and the biggest to the boat at 31 inches. We were again tied to shore and after getting hooked it came towards the boat with relative ease but once it saw us and the net, the real fight began. It went off on a run peeling at least a foot of line every second making it's way clear across the river almost effortlessly. I slowly heaved and retrieved the fish towards the boat being mindful of my set up, only to have the scenario repeat itself three more times. After a grueling battle the pristine specimen was in the net and into the boat, it was not shy of the camera and cooperated for a handful of pictures before its release.

A few unexpected problems, minimal success, severely restricted and nothing to write home about. Yet here it is, a day everyone experiences once in a while, the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly, along with a few obstacles faced on a day out fishing. It could have been better but it could have been worse and there will always be a next time, at least I hope.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Where August Went

This August was a bit of a roller coaster ride and fishing ended up taking a seat on the back burner. A storm raged through our area and really did a number on a lot of trees, providing endless hours of cleanup in our yard. A family emergency then took priority over that and we are all just now getting back to normal. The few times out fishing were treasured for many reasons, all challenging and successful in one way or another.

Bluegills from the kayak a few days before the storm were a blast. They were all aggressive and scrappy no matter the size, which is just how I like my panfish! Many handfuls of 7 - 10 inch gills were caught and released between us along with a few just over 10 inches. Light tackle and line was the ticket and lures out produced bait by far.

Chances to fish were more about fishing for the sake of fishing and everything and anything that would come with it. An opportunity presented itself to fish in the mid day sun and 30 degree heat for a few hours, not my ideal conditions but I made the best of it. Goldeye, eater channel catfish and freshwater drum were eager to bite as I sat on the rivers edge and the next spot I tried produced a micro bonanza of juvenile fish. I was able to catch my two smallest specimens of channel catfish and black bullhead from the run. While this may not appeal to most, I was thrilled with the catches and continued to land a few more along with some common shiners and creek chubs before moving on to the next section of river before having to call it a session.

On another outing in slightly more ideal conditions I happened across my first few largies and while they weren't very big, they were a long time coming. They are not native to Manitoba and only found in a select few bodies of water and I have spent more than a handful of times out trying to land one big or small. Not near trophy standards but a new species under the belt sure felt great!

Although there aren't any pictures, there have also been some great bird sightings, from a female night heron and a pair of egrets to a few owls on hydro lines at dusk. Many species of birds are grouping up and preparing for their long flight south and with the harvest now in full swing and the days getting shorter it seems fall is slowly on it's way and the fishing can only get better!

Friday, 29 July 2016

PB 38.75 inch Channel Catfish

I feel like I've been in a car crash. My back is killing me, abdomen bruised and I can barely make a fist. My elbows and wrists ache, arms are jelly and face sun burned. I'm not looking for sympathy however as all the aches and pains were brought on by choice and don't worry I wasn't in a car crash.

Another early weekend day trip departure and again we were going for cats on the Red River. First to the launch after a 2 hour drive and we headed south towards Lockport with the anticipation of hammering trophy catfish. Bald and golden eagles soared above the tree tops on the rivers edge while pelicans rode the current hunting for goldeye or whatever else they could find. The water was high, in fact it was higher than our last visit a few weeks back by at least three or four feet. We weren't expecting that but then again with all the rain the watershed has been getting this year we shouldn't have been surprised. Once we made it to the locks it was clear why the current was so strong as they had opened 2.5 curtains allowing for an extreme amount of water to be flowing through. It was clear we were in for a challenge.

We anchored up in one of the only spots we could and tossed our baits out. None of us had targeted cats when the water was flowing this strong and we knew we would be fighting the current as much if not more so than the catfish itself. Fish breached all around us as far as the eye could see and a vast majority of them were catfish but we saw some common carp, quillback suckers and big mouth buffalo breach the murky surface as well. With three of us on the boat we each started off with a different bait to see if one might out perform the other and after two missed bites and a fresh chunk of cut bait on my octopus hook, I was able to hook into our first kitty of the day.

The bite was savage, nothing subtle about it, I felt the weight and then line went peeling off my spool as the catfish realized it was hooked and headed for stronger current pushing downstream. It felt surprisingly heavy but in current like this you never really know how big it might be. Each time I would gain some line back it would dig and thrash its head in protest and quite easily turn around and head back downstream. After about 5 minutes I was starting to think I had a real bruiser on the end of my line as we still hadn't seen any sign of it and there was still plenty of line out. The battle raged on for another 10 minutes before we finally had our first attempt at netting it and that's when it was clear just how big this catfish really was. "That's over 36 for sure," Jay exclaimed as the catfish began a death roll on the surface like a crocodile unwilling to let go of its prey. All I could do was keep the pressure on and continue to try and get the fish boat side.

The Look on my face says it all.
It dug down deep again and again, each time I would heave the rod up I would take in a little bit of line and after a few tense moments it was back near the surface again only to peel off down below. The fight was turning in to the longest I had ever had and was wondering if the catfish would ever tire enough to net when we could see the swivel on my line and Jay dipped the net in and under where he perceived the fish to be and up it came and into the boat. It was BIG and looked like a possible personal best and when we put it on the bump board it topped out just under 39 inches. I was in a state of shock and mild exhaustion and after some pictures our first fish of the day was released to recuperate after a respectable battle.

I slouched over in my chair to take a breather and re tie my rig and it wasn't long before Jay hooked into a 31 incher and then a 33 before I could bait up and cast out. The next two fish would go to Frodo, the first at 34 inches and the second at 32.5, oddly enough we were more excited about the smaller one as it was his first tagged catfish. In my opinion catching a tagged fish is similar to a waterfowl hunter getting a banded bird. The info was recorded off of the tag and will be called in soon. We were off to a good start but after a snagged rig forced us to anchor up and retrieve it, we weren't able to quite get back on our honey hole. We did find another sweet spot though and continued to hook up with relative consistency, however we did lose a few fish as well and were attributing that in part to the strong current and such eventually decided to try a few spots down from the locks.

One bait wasn't really outshining the other but we sure were going through it. Many bites were missed and again a few more fish lost (embarrassing) and when we did hook up it was one heck of a fight as a few times we had to anchor up to chase the fish. It wasn't an easy day on the river, the current was stronger than we had anticipated and getting on our spots was sometimes challenging. This entailed me (the anchor boy) dropping and pulling up the anchor well over 20 times, some of which were quite strenuous and Jay (the captain) expertly controlling the boat through all stages of our day. At one of our spots we ended up with a double header on and boy was that exciting, the fight to keep our respective fish on our sides of the boat was a blast with hoots and hollers heard a mile away during and after the trophies were landed I'm sure.

We ended the day with roughly 11 hours on the water, while managing to get 25 catfish to the boat and missing more bites than we would care to admit. Sadly between us we lost at least 10 fish during the battle as well with one or two looking comparable to my 38.75 inch beast. As much as we would have liked to keep fishing we had a long drive home and were content with how the day played out. A personal best catfish, a tagged catfish but the 40 plus inch channel catfish still eludes us. Back at the launch it was good to feel solid ground beneath my sea legs after all the waves and bouncing around on the turbulent Red River for a day.

Monday, 11 July 2016

1000 Inches of Channel Catfish

I feel safe in saying there are few places in the world where two anglers could catch a combined length of almost 1000 inches of channel catfish in roughly 10 hours of fishing. My number one spot to try would be the Red River in Manitoba, starting at Lockport and moving north as needed. We set off in hopes of reaching the 1000 inch goal we had set for ourselves the other day and it ended up being the best trip on the boat this season.

On the road by 5 and at the launch by 7:30, we were the second boat out and heading to the locks. It wasn't long before we saw some nice arcs in a deeper pocket on the Lowrance screen so we headed a little further upstream to anchor up and toss some bait down to them. It's been a wet spring and summer so far with Manitoba barely going a few days without a good storm. The levels on the Red were high, but it was clear by the debris line on shore that it had receded a meter since the last storm surge. Pelicans were hunting in the new "Pelican Protection Zone", cormorants sailed the heavy current diving successfully for small goldeye and the occasional eagle would soar over head riding the thermals.

Jay put the first fish in the boat early on, but we didn't get another bite for 15 minutes after that so it was time to pull anchor and make a small move. After re-positioning the boat and casting out a fresh piece of cut bait, I got a bite in under 5 seconds and the battle was on. I love fishing for catfish big or small and when you have a big one hooked near strong current, the battle intensifies. The clarity was absolutely ZERO and the only indication the fish was near the surface would be a big boil or the swivel 16 inches from the hook instantly appearing. We proceeded to land 8 catfish over the course of an hour or so from this spot before the bite died off. A quick spot change and we were right back at it! Cast bait, get bite, set hook, gain some line back, lose some line, gain some line, lose some line, heave, pull, net, unhook, measure, picture, release. It was around lunch when we realized we were well on our way to the 1000 inch goal.

It's worth mentioning the not so pleasant odor of laundry detergent that surrounded us as mass amounts of froth and suds were constantly floating by. The phosphorous over load on this watershed is clearly evident, especially after storms, and it will take more than just the choices and lifestyle decisions of Manitobans and the surrounding states and provinces to remedy this. It is an easily dismissed problem that can become even more so evident with the satellite imagery of the algae blooms on Lake Winnipeg.

Hopping from spot to spot as needed, we would put a few catfish in the boat from all but one that we tried. Arms sore, bait severely depleted and tackle tested, we had to be home for prior commitments and were forced to leave after 10 hours of fishing. In total 28 catfish were landed with 18 over 34 inches and only one under 31 giving us an average size of just over 34 inches and a total length landed of 953.5 inches. We didn't quite reach our goal but we had one heck of a good time trying and are confident our next attempt will exceed the 1000 inch marker.

Monday, 27 June 2016

A Paddle Down the River.

Getting away from the crowds has been a priority as of late and few ways of doing so are better than on a kayak. With a couple paddles under our belts this open water season (all producing many fish and great scenery), I find myself looking forward to new bodies of water to fish and explore from the kayak. We took a paddle down a small river a few weeks back on what turned into a beautifully sunny day. With one vehicle parked at the bridge we planned to finish at, we headed a few miles away to another access point to prep the kayaks and head off. We caught a few fish before launching but it was clear through the hesitant bites that this pool had been heavily pressured.
Our first spot to fish would be a few hundred feet downstream and boy were they biting.The goldeye were plentiful and keeping us entertained, eager to bite both worm and minnow while the occasional creek chub and small catfish would have a chance to bite if the goldeye didn't beat them to it. We knew we had plenty of river to prospect and paddle so after a few handfuls of fish we headed off to seek out another spot to try. Eagles soared over head, red tailed hawks called in the distance and the cloud cover was slowly breaking apart to show clear blue skies.
The river changes over time with heavy flood years carving new paths through the shale and the mud. Banks erode and trees fall in and wash down creating snags and structure as well as obstacles to paddle through or around. It makes for an eventful and scenic paddle along with other hazards like electric fence separating pastures going across the river, some of which we had to beach and portage under as you just couldn't duck them on the water.
Jay, with the faster kayak, would find stretches of the river where he could strategically toss out a baited hook under a bobber and slowly drift downstream, usually landing and releasing at least one or two fish a pass while paddling back to reset his drift. I was having more luck beaching in the shallows and tossing out a bottom rig in the bends and straightaways, catching goldeye, channel catfish, bullheads and a few suckers. Frodo was doing the same, as well as taking things a step further with a bit of micro-fishing while he tied himself to a tree in the current. He ended up hammering a bunch of common shiners and the occasional creek chub while I fished a bend in the river waiting for him to catch up.
As the day progressed the wind picked up. We found shelter easily around most of the bends and continued to give each promising looking spot at least 15 minutes of fishing time. In the end we covered more than 5 miles of river, fishing dozens of spots while catching and releasing seven species of fish and keeping a few goldeye for the smoker along with a couple of catfish for a fish fry.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Fried Channel Catfish

After catching a few eater catfish on a recent fishing trip we decided to fry a few fillets up. Common cuisine across the south in both restaurants and at home is cornmeal dredged fried catfish and that's what we had planned. Catfish are a fairly easy fish to clean and when done correctly the innards are never pierced or exposed, simply feel down the rib cage and where it ends is where the cut for the tail fillets begins. Cut down to near the spine and follow to the tail, then repeat on the other side. You can then cut down along the back bone and over the ribs to pull off two more boneless slabs. When skinning take time and try and leave one or two millimeters of the flesh attached to the skin as you go along. (This is the bloodline or less desired darker meat). Soak the skinned fillets in salted water for 45 minutes or so to pull out any blood, leading to nice clean white flesh. You can then trim the meat of any darker bloodline and any yellow tinged flesh (less desirable meat) from the back slabs and get to dredging and frying or store in ziplock bags over night to fry the next day.

Dip the fillets in an egg wash or buttermilk and then dredge in the combined mixture listed below, once coated put fillets on a drying rack for five minutes before frying at 375 degrees for 6 - 10 minutes depending on size. Serve with a hot sauce or tarter sauce of your choice and a lemon wedge.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

There and Back Again

A good mechanic is worth their weight in gold and over the last few years I'm glad I've found Ken and his crew at Freund's Auto Parts and Service. Honest, affordable, timely and friendly they have gone above and beyond for my family and our vehicles many times. There are countless contributing factors to my successful fishing and reliable transportation is definitely one of them. Here are a few of the many big fish from this weekend, thanks in part to them.

Just over an hours drive southwest of Winnipeg is one of the last drive ins left in the province. Family owned and operated, the Stardust Drive In has been around for many years and has worked hard to keep up with the changing times. Spending a night under the stars with that special someone or the whole family catching a movie is an experience that shouldn't be missed out on.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Opening Weekend 2016

It's here, the 2016 open water season in the southern division has begun. Having been out of the province for over a week, Saturday was more of a scout around, check water levels and temperatures while soaking some bait, more than a serious trophy hunt session. Eager to shake the cobwebs and leave the habit of missing bites on the east coast, we spent the morning at a few spots (some more populated than others) on a smaller river multi species angling. We ended up with a few nice walleye for lunch, while releasing some redhorse suckers, bullheads and pike. On our way to break for lunch we were lucky enough to see a few tom turkeys trying to impress a female or two in a clearing on the hillside.

After cleaning the fish we seasoned and pan fried them in butter leaving no flake behind while making quick work of them. We thought we would see if our catfish holes would be productive on the southern Red River, so after a quick session on a creek, we headed off for some early season kitties. The wind was howling by the time we got there and we ended up with a few small channel cats to shore and a few missed bites to follow. Knowing we had a full day of fishing with some nicer weather ahead of us we agreed to head back to prep gear for the next days trip out on the boat.

Day two was full of adventure, flurries of fish and many different birds. The drive up to the river was filled with stories of seasons past and aspirations for the one ahead. We were the first ones to the launch and were quick to head down stream in pursuit of some big drum and carp and maybe some walleye if we were so lucky. The tactic was simple, putt along the river identifying structure or fish, tie to shore and cast jigs or set up bottom rigs and see what might bite. After slow and sub par action at our first spot, we headed off for greener pastures and oh boy did we find them. We came upon a deeper section that clearly held mounds of fish below and consistent action followed for hours. Rarely would a few minutes pass without someone hooking into a fish.

The freshwater drum off all sizes were thick and more than willing to bite almost anything we tossed to them. We all landed a few over 24 inches with my wife getting the biggest and personal best and 29.5 inches. It put up a phenomenal fight peeling drag and digging deep like a smallie on steroids, her tackle was truly tested. I landed a hard fighting 32.5 inch pre spawn carp that may be my heaviest to date although we hadn't a scale on board. The wind was really kicking up throughout the day pushing more fish into the river from the big lake it flows into. Shelter was minimal and small bouts of rain were on the way but we didn't care and continued to fish.

It turned into exactly the kind of day we all needed with steady action and tired arms by the days end. We were able to watch pelicans, herons, terns, grebes, ducks, eagles, hawks and bitterns along with many other species going about their daily happenings. It was good to be back on a boat and I look forward to the outings ahead and the sights, challenges and trophies they may provide.