Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Fishing with Friends and Family

The end of May brought a trip that I had been looking forward to for a while. The weather wasn't perfect, but the experience was pretty close to it.  We were camped with some family friends along the Whitemud River and my goal was to make sure the kids would catch some fish. Lucky for us the rain shower that had started when we arrived had passed and the freshwater drum were biting. I spent the next 2 hours or so running between our fishing party netting fish, baiting hooks and helping out wherever I could. Everyone was catching and having a blast with plenty of drum big and small eager to bite. The highlight fish of the first evening was a 27 inch drum caught and released by Ron, it put up one hell of a fight and he handled it like a pro.

Day two of the trip I had planned to fish with the Jay and Frodo at least all morning and I was awake long before they were to arrive. The fish were biting and I took advantage of it to kill the time, landing a few handfuls of drum while I waited. We were on the water shortly after 7 A.M. and it didn't take us long to find a stretch of the river with active fish. The fishing was phenomenal and I will leave it at that. We went back to camp around lunch and made a plan with everyone else for the afternoon on the river. The action wasn't quite as consistent but we were rewarded for our efforts with my wife landing the biggest drum of the trip at 28 inches.

After a fish fry of walleye and drum, we began fishing from shore. Emma was putting on a clinic and hammering drum as she had done the previous evening, meanwhile her brother Tom was a ways down river sitting patiently and couldn't buy a bite. This all changed after about 30 minutes as he began to hook up to fish after fish. A 20 inch carp gave him a run for his money, but the real kicker was a 27 inch drum that put him and his gear to the test. He had caught over 22 fish within 90 minutes or so and was clearly having a good time.

Day three I awoke at 5:30 A.M. to rain pelting the tent and the outlook on the day was grim. I grabbed a fishing rod and some bait and immediately got fishing. The action was consistent but I couldn't break the 24 inch mark with any of the drum I caught and once folks were awake and it was clear the weather wasn't going to improve we decided to get packing. The trip as a whole was a success with everyone having a great time. Tons of fish were caught and released with a few retained for meals, lots of different birds were heard and seen and excellent conversations and meals were shared. I don't think anyone left disappointed.

Monday, 29 May 2017

The Start to the Season

It's been a few weeks since the open water season began in Manitoba and it is shaping up to be another good one. Day one was a challenge but a few nice fish were caught with carp being the initial target species. The first fish of the day didn't disappoint as a familiar and welcome fight ensued with the carp barreling away with ease. I was soon able to get it to shore and in the net where it measured out just over 30 inches. The action that followed wasn't hot and heavy, a few carp were landed with the biggest of the session topping out at 31.5 inches. With the wind picking up as the morning wore on we decided to head off to a few more shore spots with mixed results.

River fishing is usually a blast early season and I've had a few sessions soaking bait on some of my favorites, again with mixed results. Walleye, northern pike, freshwater drum, common carp, yellow perch, rockbass, shorthead redhorse sucker, channel catfish and black bullhead have all been caught so far ( some in good numbers) and it speaks highly of the variety and opportunity in Manitoba's rivers.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Goldfish and a Cane Pole

The cane pole is a marvelous tool for fishing, it's primitive and basic and can shine in many aspects of angling. One morning on our first trip out east a few years back I came across an old cane pole hanging on the wall of a barn and I swore I would rig it up and try for goldfish in the pond. There wasn't time that first trip to do so but that opportunity finally presented itself this trip. With some small hooks and tungsten jigs along with a bit of sewing thread, I was set to try and catch some goldfish with my nephew and niece.

The goldfish in this pond were stocked long before my relatives ever owned the property, there were even a few koi added over 30 years ago as well. They have turned into a self sustaining population with hundreds of juveniles, and plenty of 4-10 inch fish. There are lots of colour morphs and a few even appear to be possible koi/goldfish hybrids. There is a kingfisher and a few muskrats that prey on the goldfish regularly and the kids often play around the pond with a net while supervised, so these goldfish can be weary and definitely recognize the silhouette and shape of humans.

On two separate afternoons I spent a good chunk of time with the kids waiting patiently for the fish to forget we were there while dangling a tiny chunk of garden worm in the water from the cane pole. Keeping a pair of 6 and 4 year old siblings quiet and still is easier said than done and I was very impressed with their ability to do so. A wide array of sizes and colours of goldfish were caught and released with a few biting twice in the same day. It was a great lesson in patience for the kids as once one was caught, it could take a few minutes for the schools to regroup and come by again. The salamanders and their tadpoles swimming about the pond kept us entertained as well as some wood frogs basking in the sun in anticipation of enough warmth for mating.

It is a real joy putting a child on his or her first fish and I was a truly proud uncle sharing those moments with my niece and nephew. I do hope there are many more fishing experiences to be shared with those kids in the future. And yes if you were wondering, that is a goldfish tail sticking out of the mouth of a glutenous larger specimen. Fun was had by all and I hope to move on to bigger and better species with those kids in the coming years.

Monday, 1 May 2017

First Chain Pickerel

This April my wife and I found ourselves out in Nova Scotia visiting family. A few opportunities arose for some fishing and although weather and season wasn't ideal, we made the best of it. Being a flat-lander and resident of Manitoba, I am very familiar with the local term for walleye being "pickerel". Contrary to popular belief a walleye is not a "pickerel" and that sparked an interest in catching a true chain pickerel as they are not native to Manitoba. They are an invasive species in Nova Scotia and some lakes are out right "polluted" with them according to some locals and with the ice off the lakes and season open, I was going to try my damnedest to catch one.

We arrived at our destination lake a few hours after sunrise, there was minimal wind and the sun was out, however the mercury was barely breaking 5 degrees Celsius. The only available shoreline of the lake was the northern most bays and I had high hopes of fish basking in its warmth. The water was crystal clear and we could see a great distance but its temperature was a little cooler than I had anticipated. I set my wife up with a marabou jig and myself a small 5 of diamonds spoon and we got to casting and covering the available shoreline. An hour had passed with many casts and a few lure changes with nothing to show for our efforts. A few locals had come and gone as well having similar results. It became clear that the lake still needed some time to warm up, at least for those stuck fishing from shore.

Not to be discouraged, we continued casting and working our way back to where we started. I spent a little more time on a beaver lodge I was sure could hold fish and finally got a familiar tap on the end of my line. A fish was hooked, but a fight there was not. There was barely any weight to this fish but I didn't care as my first chain pickerel was to shore. It wasn't a two footer like I had hoped, but it was a new species and I was ecstatic. We continued fishing for another hour or so, again with nothing to show for our efforts and with places to be and things to do, we cut our angling session short.

It wasn't a giant success, but complete failure was diverted and if opportunity arose to target them again, I definitely would. However with plenty of other angling options throughout Nova Scotia, I think it might be a while before I try again.