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.

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