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.

Monday, 16 May 2016

First Saltwater Attempt (Minas Basin, NS)

I'm a freshwater fisherman, a flat-lander really, born and raised on the Prairies. I've cut my teeth on bullheads and bluegills, channel cats and carp and in the end I'm game to target and hopefully catch anything that's willing to bite my lure or bait. The time had finally come for my wife and I to give it our all and shore fish one of the wonders of the world, the Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy. The highest and most dramatic tides in the world, a diverse and often unforgiving ecosystem.

The weather was all over the charts and tides were some of the highest of the season, making successful windows of opportunity to fish few and far between. (The area we were staying can often see low tides thousands of feet out from shore) However when we actually were able to make it out to soak some bait, the experience was priceless. We wanted to target the striped bass that were following the tide and smelts into the rivers and had planned to fish off of a rocky outcrop in the basin as well. We ended up missing more bites than I would care to admit in the process, mostly smaller fish just nipping and tasting our bait.

As the tide came in over our 3 hour fishing session where the river met the basin we were immersed in an ever changing fishing scenario. Current seams would come and go, debris would float by catching on our lines and every 15 minutes we would have to take a few steps back up the sandbar we were fishing off of. When visiting this area of Nova Scotia it is very easy to see the changes in the tides throughout the day as you go about your sightseeing and activities. The immense amount of water that comes and goes in the basin is incredible and about the only way I could stay in one spot long enough to experience that was by fishing.

I was lucky enough to finally land a small striped bass but that was about it. With an hour to go before high tide the little river we were fishing had now flooded and the marsh plains around it were completely submerged. We were chased away with the water making it all the way to the path we walked down to access the spot, content with the experience having learned a lot about the area and situation we were fishing.

Our second round of fishing was the next days incoming tide from a sandstone outcrop. The weather changed over a dozen times in the course of 3 hours and it was a truly stunning experience watching the tide slowly rise. Again bites were missed early on and after I lost what I think was a feisty striped bass, my wife ended up landing a herring, saving us from complete failure. We continued fishing, slowly working our way back up the rocks and seaweed, always keeping an exit route in mind. Until eventually our spot became basically unfishable. Not a complete failure and far from a major success, we packed up and hiked the trail back to the car in hopes of making it back in time for supper.
We started fishing on the right side of the pic and finished 3 hours later way up by the bag on the left side.

Having family in Nova Scotia, I plan to be back at least once a year if time and space permits. With plenty of fishing opportunities both fresh and salt, stunning scenery and beyond friendly locals it definitely feels like home away from home.