Thursday, December 30, 2010

Puslinch Part 2

 The first thing I need to say is that the new blades on the auger make it a pleasure to drill holes, and I drilled plenty this morning. My friend Tackle Shop and I returned to Puslinch Lake this morning with the expectation of hitting the local pike population fast and hard. As we walked out onto the lake, it became immediately clear that quite a few others had the same thing in mind as there were twice the number out there from two days before. The other main difference was the weather. The temperature was hovering around freezing with a lowering cloud cover and the threat of showers. All that said, as we walked into the crowd to the location that produced the other day, many of our neighbors had already iced a good catch, and the prospect of a productive day was looking good despite the weather.
Working the 14' Weedline

 This time out we decided to go with only a dozen 6"-7" chub minnows seeing as that's what worked the last time there. Big mistake. Everyone who were catching anything were using 2" shiners on tip-ups or deadsticks, but of course we didn't know that at the time and continued using chubzillas thinking bigger bait = bigger fish.

Catch of the Day
  So we continued on, one set line each with a 7" minnow, Pete jigging one of his favorites: a Storm 4" rubber pike, and me working a Lindy Chubby Darter. Over the next hour we moved several times, every so often the live minnows freaking out as if being chased, but no real action. At about this time I started taking a good hard look at the Lowrance and realized the bottom was alive with fish, but what kind? I downsized to one of my favorites from last year a 1" Halli jigging spoon with a single hook on a dropper chain, tipped with a powerbait honey grub. With this setup I was able to lure the fish off the bottom, but still no bites. Downsizing again to a micro jig and maggot combo I finally hit the mark and landed the first fish of the day, a scrappy 4" perch. If it was legal I probably would have been better off using it as bait!

 I could have stayed at home to catch 4" perch, or gone to Cooks Bay on Simcoe and get hundreds two to three times that size. We came to Puslinch for pike! After noon and another move Pete finally hooked into one, only to loose it at the hole.

 Meanwhile, with the temperature now above freezing and many vacant holes open, I started roaming over a large area, working each hole for a few minutes with a jigging Rapala minnow. So... when I'm over 100 yards away my tip up finally comes to life, the alarm bells alerting everyone within earshot to witness the mad dash  and headfirst slide to breathlessly retrieve... a slightly used 7" chub minnow. By this time it has become clear that smaller shiners were the go to bait for the day, not only because of the success others were having with them (40 pike by my count), but also because the fish lost on our set lines would have inhaled the smaller baits and only gotten away by biting through the line. Oh well, another lesson learned, but not a complete shut out.
Not so Cold Comfort
  One of the joys of ice fishing for me is that when things are slow, you can visit your neighbors and trade war stories. Seriously, fishermen out on the ice seem to be much more relaxed and friendly compared to their open water counterparts. Pete and I made friends with a couple locals: Nick and Dave who shared some fish stories, pictures and local info, most importantly the location of the nearest bait shop so we won't be stuck with the wrong offerings next time. We stayed out an hour after dark, guided back to the van by the lights from the Old Marina Restaurant, said our goodbyes to our new friends, loaded up the van and headed for home, surprisingly pleased considering our catch. Sometimes the trip is more important than the destination.

   Going to Puslinch and need bait? Check out: talltales bait & tackle in Cambridge.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Puslinch Pike 12/27/10

 Merry Christmas everyone!

 I hope all your Christmas wishes  were granted , if not on the day itself, then at the Boxing Day sales. The week leading up to the big event found me researching the web, looking for just that perfect thing: a fresh location to kick off the ice fishing season. After pouring over countless ice reports on several local message boards, the search was narrowed down to the Guelph area, just west of Toronto, where the ratio of ice thickness to pike caught made this the place to start. So after the mandatory Boxing Day pilgrimage to Bass Pro Shops, the rest of the day was spent in preparation, charging batteries, checking line and tackle, and generally trying to be prepared for any possibility.

 Yesterday started  with the phone ringing nearly an hour before my alarm clock On the other end of the line the Russian was asking if I was ready to go. Needless to say I thought I was,and scrambled out the door to meet him 10 minutes later on the side of the road. As an omen of things to come, I spilled half an XL Tim Horton's double double (for non Canadians - a very large coffee) in my lap on the drive to the lake and joked that the way the day was starting out I might be going for a swim..

Puslinch Lake
  After a tip to the local bait shop and buying enough minnows to supply an army of deadfishers, we drove 45 minutes west down the 401 to Puslinch Lake. Gearing up in the busy parking lot gave us the chance to get the "local dope" on the lake we were about to walk onto, although this wasn't necessary as there were about 50 people clustered in a small area to the west of the large central island.

 Observing proper ice fishing etiquette and keeping our distance from the main group, the first hole drilled found only a foot of water under the ice. We moved a few hundred yards farther out and when it came time to drill again the auger refused to bite and just skidded across the ice. Did I mention I was prepared for anything? I had everything I needed for the whole hard water season except for my carbide sharpening tool! We were up the proverbial frozen creek without an operational auger.

 So... after borrowing an auger from our neighbors and punching a few holes each, we settled into what would be a long wait for the first bite. After an hour of non stop nothing and our neighbors landing 3 hammer handles in less than five minutes, I decided it was time to go for a walk and see what their secret was. Puslinch is a shallow weedy lake that averages only 5' deep, and another move of only a few hundred feet put us over 12 feet of water, and more importantly, fish.

 We borrowed another auger, drilled a couple holes each, and before the Russian could set up his second line, his first rod was making a desperate attempt at disappearing down the hole. After a few good runs, the Russian finally lifted his first catch of the hard water season, a fat 25" pike.
First Ice Pike of the Year

 So the Russian broke the ice, figuratively speaking, and now it was my turn (hopefully not literally). Less than ten minutes later my tip up suddenly came to life, and while fumbling to remove my mitts, I missed setting the hook. The same thing happened to the Russian a few minutes later on his second bite. It was now time to get serious and pay closer attention to details, so when my tip up showed renewed activity I was ready and set the hook only to have the rod snap in half. Well... I had a feeling it was going to be one of those days, but at least I was still dry, had three spare rods, and the fish were biting!

 We both had a few more bites but didn't land any more fish. Our fingers and faces were frozen from a severe wind chill, and as the sun started it's descent to the horizon, it was decided to pack it in and call it a day, both satisfied with the day's experience on a new lake. I'm already planning the next outing and am going out to get new blades for the auger as soon as I'm finished with this. I know there will be plenty of fish over the next few weeks, but I can't help but wonder when or if I'm going for that surprise swim.


Friday, December 17, 2010

On Ice 2010

 Well it took 2 days of work but it's finally done and ready to be seen. Introducing On Ice 2010.

  The season started out fast with 4 exploratory trips to Bond Lake (a local pothole lake just north of the city) in early January. We managed to catch a few perch and pike there, but half the time was spent mapping the lake's depths. By mid month our focus turned north to Simcoe, and our first few trips were to one of my favorite areas: Sibbald Point. In the past the Point had been a reliable spot, but this year the schools of jumbo perch were nowhere to be found.

  As the season progressed, we started fishing a new area for me, the southwest side of the lake from Barrie down to Gilford. I have to say that I'm not a big fan of hauling a perch out of 50' of water, only to have their stomach explode out their mouth, but the fish were there in numbers and size.

  A few trips were made to Big Bay Point and Jacksons Point for lake trout and whitefish. Unless I get really lucky or go out with someone experienced at this type of fishing, I don't think I'll ever catch any of these deep water fish.

  Interspersed amongst these local trips were a few farther afield to Belleville, on the Bay of Quinte and Gibson Lake, just south of Parry Sound.

  The morning of the last day was spent searching for a location where the ice was intact along the shoreline. After an hour of checking all the right-of ways south of Barrie, we found (along with 30 other people) the only "safe" access point. The five of us loaded up just the necessities, walked an 8' plank over open water out onto the ice for the hottest perch bite of the year! Just after noon, with the temperature around 12C, the wind started to blow and it was quickly decided to git while the gittin's good. To tell the truth, that blue honeycombed ice scared the hell out of me, but the crazy thing is a week and a half after that, we saw a group a few hundred yards out from Sibbalds Point, having somehow crossed a 6 wide pressure crack.   

 So... until the local lakes are safe for my fat ass, I might as well start compiling the rest of the videos for this year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Extreme Ice Fishing

 The other day I posted about extreme ice fishing and the lengths some of us will go to get the big one. I've endured many extreme days weather wise, and even went for a partial dunking once a few years ago, but these guys are absolutely crazy! They're obviously Scandanavian and most likely have a sauna on shore, but really?
 Hoping to get out this weekend, just not in this way!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Well The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

 Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. OK, not too much snow please, there's already a state of emergency!

 Winter finally showed up in Southern Ontario with a vengeance, particularly the southwest of the province, where certain areas have received over 100cm. of lake effect snow in just a few days (that's over 40" for our American friends). Add to that the low temperatures of -10C to -20 overnight (again, 14F to -4F) and the majority of the population has hunkered down for a long winter's hibernation, where possible.

  Not so with my growing group of maniacs. This weather is just the thing to kick start the little anarchist corners of our hearts. Bring on the apocalyptic winter storms, the bone chilling freeze only stokes the internal fires of ice fishing fanaticism. In about 100 days on the ice in the last 6 years, only 3 were partially spent in an ice hut. Even on the most miserable of those 3 days, I spent half the time outside huddling over my hole, keeping a low profile to the gale force winds and pelting snow, only to become buried in a rapidly growing drift. These are the days where enduring "difficult" conditions often pay huge dividends.

  That day was five years ago, when I managed to arrange a trip in late January to the Bay of Quinte with a group of co-workers. All of them had experienced fair weather ice fishing on Lake Simcoe once or twice, but nobody was prepared for what mother nature had in store for us! Early morning saw wind chills close to -30C here in the city, one and a half hours later and 100 miles east in Trenton, the wind was rising and the snow staring to fall. I'll let this video I made up today tell the rest of the story.
 The fishing aspect of the trip was a huge success, every one caught their fill of perch (yes they really were pissed) and a few other surprises. The trip home, though, was a hair raising ordeal from the start, running off the road several times in the few miles to the 401. The highway itself was completely adrift and barely visible so the only recourse was to follow the car ahead, hoping not to be led like a lemming over a cliff! By Port Hope the highway conditions improved, mainly because we (and 1000 other cars) were stuck behind 3 plows, running abreast at 30km/hr,  for the next  70km to Oshawa. Surprisingly all made it home safe and sound, no worse for wear except our nerves.

 Did I forget to mention half the group was of Caribbean decent, normally bundled up in parkas, scarves, gloves and wool hats by mid November, furtively venturing out in the cold like an insomniac groundhog only in unavoidable instances. After this trip, a typical Toronto winter day was greeted with all the chest pounding bravado of a maniacal Yeti daring the gods of nature with "is that all you've got!" Funny how one successful fishing trip during adverse conditions can change your entire perspective of a dreary season.

 So let it snow, get stupidly cold, freeze the lakes to their cores, the sooner the better, I wanna get out on the ice and I wanna do it now!!!     Or this weekend.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words... What About Video?

 It's really kind of funny the round about routes we take to get us to our current situations. Eight years ago, I bought my first digital camera, and instantly the love affair was on with digital imagery. As with most first timers, I found myself taking pictures of everything and anything, filling the memory card in just a few days, loath to delete even the most banal subjects. But necessity is the mother of invention, or in my case at that time, the mother of further financial expenditure. I'd had the camera for 4 months before the purchase of my first computer.

  With the computer came a whole new set of possibilities. I was given Adobe Photoshop and Premier (a movie making program) which severely tested my limited user skills and patience. Unlike Homer Simpson's "If you tried and failed, it probably wasn't worth doing", I could see the potential for boring the shit out of my friends in completely new ways that our parents never dreamed of...a slide show with attitude. So I kept plugging on, honing my skills, and occasionally "borrowing" special effects like 3D Pan.

 Interesting enough, I've only been connected to the internet for the past 6 months (primarily for job search purposes), and only recently started blogging and uploading to You Tube. The latter two on the suggestion of my friend David Hunter of The Writers Den, as a way to inflict upon the whole world my personal skewed view of the way things stand. Anyways... that's how I find myself here writing this posting now.

 One of my biggest problems to date has been distribution of my "artistic creations". It has become ritual at the end of each year to take all the pics and vids from my fishing trips and edit them into a video slideshow, to be given out to anyone that took part in the yearly adventures. As my list of fishing companions has grown, so has the amount of time necessary to burn copies onto DVD. The actual editing and rendering of the video is still a pleasure, but I find the burn process incredibly tiresome, especially when I see my hard work casually thrown onto a pile of other un-watched discs, only to be forgotten. So, from now on, unless I get a special request for a hard copy, all videos will go directly to You Tube and this blog.
4 Season Fishing

  2009 was an outstanding year for fishing and travel. The compilation of the movies for the year was challenging not only because of the large number trips and images, but also because of my own personal need to keep it fresh and interesting.

 The new year started off slow, with just a few scattered trips out on the ice with a newbie to ice fishing : Sarcastic (not his real name, just his predominant attribute).
 The fishing in the spring picked up, with a few trips to local rivers, reservoirs and ponds earlier on. On one early local outing I met the Russian, and a month later I introduced him to some of my favorite cottage country locations. At the same time, his sense of fishing adventure and my "backroad" experience, led to the discovery of many new fishing opportunities and a few long forgotten locations. Not all trips produced memorable catches, but the videos capture the wonder of Ontario.
 Summer provided a few new areas to explore, but the majority of the time was spent fishing within the Toronto city limits. Notable trips included our first to the Niagara area, and two long awaited returns to the Port Severn area with Treefrog, Sarcastic and the Russian.
 The fall was busy, starting out with a trip to a small lake north of Barrie, followed by several months of salmon fishing in the local rivers. The year wound down with a few trips to Barrie for perch fishing before the freeze, and ending with a surprise ice fishing trip to a local lake.
 After seeing all this, I hope you will agree that 2009 was a great year, and I enjoyed boring the shit out of you with my inane ramblings and self indulgent video sideshows. My biggest problem right now with You Tube is that some of the audio tracks have been dis-allowed for copyright infringements and I've had to substitute them with the crap they supply. Another problem is one video has been denied upload due to it's length. So... to view these altered or denied videos in their original, although lower resolution formats, just click on:
 View my You Tube channel at: thedeadfisher


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fear of Flying?

 One day at work my boss, John, approached me saying he'd heard that I frequently went fishing, and would I mind if he tagged along to learn a few things. John's company was well established and no longer needed his daily input so he was interested in finding new ways to occupy his increasing free time. Hmm... lets see... a newbie fisherman with a vehicle and unlimited finances... Challenge Accepted! Over the next few months we explored dozens of new areas and styles of fishing.

 I guess it really didn't surprise me too much when John suggested we learn to fly fish. From the very beginning I was resistant to the idea, being the die hard tackle junkie that I am, but John was adamant. Having just viewed "A River Runs Through It", he'd envisioned himself wading a quiet pastoral brook, gracefully casting to unsuspecting trout with the accuracy of a marksman and the technique of an artist.
Murray's Fly Fishing School

So we booked a day at Murray's Fly Fishing School  just north of the city in Shelburne. Here we both received a half days classroom instruction on basic set ups, knots and fly selections followed by a half day practical casting instruction on stocked trout ponds. Within a week of that day we were both totally hooked on the concept and purchased the first of many complete fly set ups.

John on The Credit River

 That was 7 years ago. Unfortunately John and I have parted ways professionally and socially since then, me finding other employment and him finding other interests. The one thing I will always thank him for was pressuring me into doing something I had no previous interest in.

 In my first year, after catching a few largemouth bass and a 24" carp in a local reservoir, I started to realize that with proper research, equipment and a little luck, you could catch almost any fish on a fly.

These days a fly rod is my first weapon of choice except during the winter, when I'm either out on the frozen lakes or replenishing my depleted fly boxes at the tying bench. I love the subtleties of casting. There have been many fishless days on the water where I'd spend countless hours playing with the line and the flies, working on distance, accuracy and presentation, rarely accepting my limitations, only the limitations of the water I'm fishing. I have to say at this point that I consider a fly rod, for the most part, to be no better or worse than spinning gear, just different.

Crappie on a Streamer
First Carp Ever


Bullhead Catfish
 A few years ago in mid May, a group of us made the rounds east of Lake Simcoe and I had decided before hand to only bring the 4 piece Sage.  Where bait had failed, a subtly presented fly proved highly effective in culling a school of skittish crappies hiding amongst the emerging  weeds.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Later in the afternoon we had worked our way down to Pefferlaw, where on the first five casts of a full sized tube jig, my friend pulled out over 10 Lbs. of spawning bullheads. I figured this was a good opportunity to try something completely different and it took nearly half an hour of trial and error before I'd gotten the fly, weight and drift just right. What traditional flyfisher would ever believe you could consistently hook into a bottom feeder like a catfish one drift after another? The really crazy thing is that in between the catfish, suckers and occasional rockbass, I was also catching gobies!  

Round Gobie
  Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm a little obsessive compulsive in some ways. I like to keep lists. To date I figure I've caught 24 species of fish with a fly rod with at least another 50 native species on my hit list. Some of the more common, and yet elusive species on my list are: gar, musky and walleye.

 Over the last four years salmon have been a great source of entertainment during the fall. Getting them to bite isn't difficult at all, it's getting them to shore using a reel that is little more than a spool for your line!

 I've come to the conclusion that trout are basically smarter than me, and the few that I've caught must have had something wrong with them. One of my biggest problems with trout is that I don't know anyone who regularly fishes them and there aren't any concentrations in my backyard. All the same I will keep plugging on.
Dry Flies

 As mentioned earlier, I also enjoy fly tying. Just like the fishing, when I started out, I mostly concerned myself with learning the basic tying practices and patterns. Since then I've basically "thrown out" the books of fly patterns, and now prefer to tie what I call free style.  
Assorted 3" Hairwing Streamers

7" Pike Flies
For more info, check out:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

...Your Best Day At Work

 Ok... so even if you are a casual angler, you're probably familiar with the old adage "Your worst day of fishing  is better than your best day at work". I personally can't vouch for the validity of this statement as I haven't done much of either in a while, but it seems to me that there have been times recently when fishing can be more like work than pleasure. I say this because there are times I go out when I really shouldn't, you know... those days when you didn't get enough sleep and even the simplest things seem to frustrate you or nothing seems to work out right.

 I know I'm not the only one this happens to, even though no one else will admit to it. Video doesn't lie
Perhaps this video should have been called "When Good Fishermen Go Bad"

 I know what you're thinking, those were every day schmoes who don't know what they're doing. Maybe, maybe not, but even the pros have off days, and the more often you get out, the more often you're going to have them. Bill Dance, a fishing pro and TV host for over 35 years, has to be one of the clumsiest celebrities, and the most open about it.
Of course Bill Dance makes millions every year through his show, endorsements, and appearances. Fishing for him is obviously a passion and a job, which makes me wonder if his wost day fishing could possibly be his worst day at work too. I'll have to ask him next time we're out. No.. just kidding. That would be like mixing matter and anti matter, a nano second later and we would all wink out of existence.

 It wouldn't be right to ignore the hard water season, so I'll include this short (ignore the title, it was probably written by a skier).
 No need to worry about that happening here in Ontario, but it's got me wondering about what I'm going to do when I finally get the chance to try and get a good sized laker through a 6" hole.

 Obviously I've been surfing You Tube recently. As I've been writing this, the Russian forewarded a video he thought would be a fitting update to the "Opportunity Knocks..." posting from a few weeks ago. No bloopers here.
Awesome! Challenge accepted (again)!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Far & Away

 It's a pretty sorry statement when I say that if I'm not out fishing, then I'm sitting inside staring mindlessly at WFN or surfing the internet. Don't get me wrong, I think WFN is the greatest thing since artificial bait, but it's a poor substitute for getting out and doing the real thing. I got up today with no set plans other than not to turn on the tube, so with that in mind, I've decided to give some updates on what my friends have been doing lately. Dare I say I'm jealous?
 Rambo & The Roofer

 I've only just met the Roofer, but his reputation for wild fishing adventures and general craziness well preceded our meeting. It has become ritual with him to make the long pilgrimage every fall to Cochrane in Ontario's far northeast, to indulge himself in a week of nonstop fishing action and unrestricted mass consumption (you figure that one out yourself).

Beaver Float Plane
  This was the first year that Rambo was to accompany the Roofer on his trip, so the planning started 6 months before the departure date, only to have something come up at the last minute. On the last week of Aug., two weeks earlier than expected, they hurriedly packed up the car and headed off to North Bay where a Beaver float plane waited for the final leg of their journey into the wilderness.

 I've only gone on one fly in and everything was out of season, so we spent a long weekend drinking and shooting (in retrospect, not very smart), so I can't imagine spending a week in a place where you could fish the whole time without ever having to change your lure. This was the case with R & R, I don't know if they are exagerating, but I'm told they only used 3 lures all week long, catching pike and walleye one after another!
The Roofer

 The poor guys settle into a daily routine of fishing, steak for lunch, more fishing, fresh fish for dinner, still more fishing, and of course an unhealthy amount of beer liberally mixed in, and so on... for the next 7 days. 
Home Away From Home

On the seventh day "bad news" came in the form of a massive cold front that shut down the bite and grounded the Beaver. For another 4 days all they could do was hunker down in the cabin, wait out the weather, and try to conserve their rapidly dwindling supplies. The Roofer was fine but Rambo was running seriously low on smokes! 
 Eventually the rain let up and the Beaver shuttled them back to their car, slightly soggy, hung over, and stuffed to the gills with Northern Ontario's finest eats.

Thinking of a fly in? Check out:

Warning, this video contains questionable content.


A Russian In Timmins

 Ok, he's not really Russian but he does talk funny. Last year (his first in Canada) his brother-in-law and friends took him up to Timmins for some classic Canadian wilderness fishing. The stories he brought back instantly made me ask him if his bro. was thinking of adopting. Anyways... this year he was better prepared but only had a weekend off work (it gets in the way, doesn't it) so he was going for broke. The previous fall I'd introduced him to fly fishing so for this trip I set him up with a box of x-large streamers in the hope that he could accomplish something that has eluded me - getting a walleye on a fly.
Low Water

 Alas, this was not to be. When they arrived at camp the lake was over 3ft. lower than last year and the camp operator wouldn't allow the boats out for fear of running aground. It was starting to look a little dicey, travelling 800km in 18hrs in a crowded vehicle to be stuck with shore fishing! 

 But this is northern Ontario after all and the fish really don't care where you're from and to a lesser extent where you're casting from. The fish seem to be as accommodating as the people. In a short time the stringers were full  and dinner prepared.

The Brother-in-law  
The Russian, on The Far Right

 Any other time I would sympathise with someone cutting a good trip short, but damn it, I'm jealous! I should be the one there pulling in monster walleye and pike on every cast. I guess 4 days in Timmins is worth a couple months of local fishing.
Typical Timmins Days Catch

An Ontario Angler In Lotus Land

 I met Mark last year through another friend and quickly realised what an incredibly gifted person he is. Fully versed and adept in all angling disciplines, what really struck me is his insight into the fishing business and the "why didn't I think of that" invention - Booster Tails, a simple yet effective way of adding scent to any artificial bait. 

 Unfortunately, after only a few outings and before any creativity or abilities could rub off, Mark sought out greener business pastures. He traded bass, pike and walleye for trout, 4 season salmon and sturgeon in BC.
Fraser River Sturgeon
 Check out Booster Tails at: 

The Carp Bench Crew

 So, while some of my friends are off in "exotic" places in the province, I'm stuck in the city doing same old, same old. Not a problem really, my backyard is awesome and the inhabitants a never ending source of entertainment (myself included). When nothing else is happening, I know Fred & Barney are at the Carp Bench. I may not get out as often or as far as I would like, but I'm thankful for the good company!
Post Fishing Refreshmens

    Untill next time, keep your hooks sharp, lines tight and the beer cold!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Go Big or Stay at Home

Ok, not really.

 But who hasn't dreamed, from time to time, about catching a world record fish? A little far fetched you say - probably, but why not consider an easier to attain goal - an Ontario record fish. When people think of record fish, what comes to mind are bruiser bass, monstrous musky or stupendous salmon. If you spend enough time on the water, you may have already caught that record fish without even knowing it! Most people would recognise a large largemouth, but what about those fish we normally shrug off as large but non-targetted pests: rockbass, sunfish, catfish etc.
 As an example, lets look at the record brown bullhead catfish. It was 2.37 Lbs. and caught in an un-named pond along highway 401 in July 1989 by Jeff Sereda. If he had caught it before the spring spawn, the fish quite possibly could have weighed up to .75 Lbs. more!

Big Bulls by Size 11 Clodhopper
  For the past few years my friends and I have made several mid-spring pilgrimages to a Lake Simcoe trbutary in search of pre-spawn, migrating fish. One trip this year, was excepionally productive with over 300 caught in an afternoon, many weighing more than 3 Lbs.! Later that night, I personally had at least 3 record fish for dinner without even considering how special they really were.

  I guess I know better now, but after this posting, the opportunity to have my name associated with a positive record may have passed me by.

 On another occasion a few years earlier, a friend (from eastern Canada) came to me with a fish he couldn't identify. Not surprising considering how often you see a rockbass over 18" long. The amazing thing was that it was his second of the day and the first one was larger. He released it thinking that what he had caught was a good sized bass, which were out of season.

 These accounts are frequently shrugged off as "fish stories", exagerations, or even worse "it was only a rockbass". ONLY A ROCKBASS INDEED! Whether you fish for fun and dinner, or you crave attention and notoriety, check out the O.F.A.H Record Fish Registry before your next trip. It would be a shame to eat a potential record fish!
Mixed Bag of Records?


 I haven't been out in over a week and it's driving me crazy. Whats the cure for compulsive fishing syndrome anyways? Have an idea? Let me know, leave a message.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 Days and Counting

 OK... so it's still mid November and there are plenty of open water opportunites left in the year. So why am I posting 30 days and counting? I have it from a reliable source that the pothole lakes just north of Toronto freeze over with safe ice by the middle of December. What got me started on this train of thought ( it doesn't take too much) was a hilarious video I saw on You Tube.

Here it is. Enjoy 

 I'll continue to dredge up interesting stuff to inform & ammuse untill I have something personal to report.  Untill then keep logging on, sign up & become a follower, and check out my personal videos.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Opportunity Knocks, Unusual Opportunities Hammer!

 Growing up, I had the good fortune of my parents owning a cottage on Georgian Bay and fishing every day quickly went from habit to passion. Typically, my first experiences were panfish caught off the end of the dock with a worm on my hook and visions of monsters in my mind. Later on, I graduated to the more "grown up" pursuit of  catching the plentiful bass and pike inhabitting the bay, lowering live minnows over the side of our rowboat and waiting for the fun to start (the wait usually didn't take too long).

 This style of fishing suited my father perfectly, it got him away from the daily grind at home and supplied a delicious dinner on his return. As a young teen, I was becomming restless with the predictability of our outtings, there had to be more. It was around this time a friend introduced me to artificial baits and lures. I was hooked from the start. The concept of actively hunting my quarry instead of waiting for it to bite opened up a whole different world of possibilities and opportunities that, to this day, I still struggle to master.

 This posting could have been called Barrie Bonanza 3. Been there, done that. Yesterday, while my two friends renewed their perch harvest rivalry, I spent my time dusting off my hardware searching for predators. As is often the case, I came home empty handed, but no less satisfied than the other two. You see, we were all doing what we love, and one of my greatest pleasures is searching out the uncommon and unusual.

Nottawasaga Redhorse
 Around mid April of this year, a friend and I were in the same place, doing the same thing, with pretty much the same results. During a lull in the action, I was told of an unusual opportunity on the nearby Nottawasaga River. Several people claimed to have hooked into sturgeon. Challenge accepted! Twenty minutes later we're baiting up and casting into a pristine, green water pool all to ourselves. In no time at all, my partner has a fish on and it's giving a pretty good fight.What we thought might be a steelhead or a small sturgeon turns out to be a redhorse sucker. Not the target species, but pretty cool all the same.

 We caught three more that day and a couple small rainbows to boot. A few days later, we returned and had the same results. Just as we were about to leave, a true river monster rolled on the surface right in front of us. Six feet long and powerful enough to fuel the imagination untill next year.

 Three years ago, another group of friends invited me out on a trip to Trenton, an hour and a half drive east of Toronto. What I saw there was completely out of my range of experiences, a dam nearly half a kilometer across, with a plunge pool barely able to contain all the fish! Everywhere you looked there were giant carp breaching the surface and large schools swimming past right at your feet.

 Quickly tying on my go to weapon of choice, a #4 Mepps, I immediately hooked into a nice smallmouth bass. The others were having equally good luck using worms and leeches, catching a mixed bag of bass and panfish, but eventually the heavy metal hardware won out. 
Trent River Gar
 The hit nearly took the rod out of my hands. Twice I was almost spooled, but after five minutes the fish was subdued enough to land. My very first, and to this date, largest gar.

 Since then there have been many trips back to Trenton with many hook ups but relatively few landings. These fish are insane and incredibly frustrating. One day you will hook into one after another only to be spooled or broken off, and on the next day they will constantly follow your bait right up to where you're wading only to stop or turn away at the last second.

On one memorable trip, my friend and I were accompanied by a relative newbie, Treefrog, who was not comfortable sacrificing his tackle to the rocks and stumps.We named him after his favorite plastic bait and where it usually ended up. While drowning a worm, he managed to catch a small gobie, and on advice from the other guy cast it back out . In less than a minute, with his rod bent double and the drag screaming, Treefrog shouts out he thinks he has something. After a short but intense battle, the gar grudgingly spat out the gobie, but not before showing off what could have been when it jumped. It was over 5 feet long!

 Last year we started to explore southwestern Ontario. In a small pond near St. Catherines we all managed to catch new and unusual species, and break a few personal records. White perch, white bass, bowfin, sheephead, channel cat, these are just a few of the 11 species all caught in a single afternoon in a pond no bigger than a city block! 

Caught on 8"Rubber Lizzard

  The beautiful thing about places like this is that you never know what you're going to catch .

 On one trip to the Upper Niagara River, I found myself casting a beadhead nymph to the large carp cruising the shore line. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of color and quickly flipped my fly over to intercept. Immediately the fish turned, engulfed the fly and the battle was on. Once again I'm amazed at the variety of fish available. What I landed was a rudd, an introduced invasive species that by law must be destroyed or eaten. Yes eaten. One of my partners that day comes from Serbia, where rudd are commonly caught for food.                               
Niagara River Rudd
  The old traditional Canadian sportfishing species are still some of my favorite fish to hunt, but these alternative targets more than hold their own when it comes to fighting. I just don't want to eat any of them!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Suicidal Salmon 09

 It's a funny thing, in retrospect, that for the last few years I've been averaging about 130 days of fishing per year and the quietest time for me is surprisingly mid summer. For some reason July is generally roadtrip deficient, causing my focus to shift from abroad to local opportunities. This was the case a year ago last July when a friend told me he had the car for a few hours and asked where we could go to do something other than carp fishing. Taking into consideration the time constraints, we decided to check out Toronto's western shoreline and headed out for Colonel Samuel Smith Park at the foot of Kipling Ave. 
Colonel Samuel Smith Park

 We started out casting spinners and small crankbaits in the harbour and methodically worked the water out along the inner breakwall. On previous forays, this method proved effective and produced quite a few small bass and panfish, but on this day the fish were nowhere to be found.

 After half an hour of no results, we found ourselves overlooking a small enclosed area twice the size of an average driveway and it appeared to be the perfect spot for our elusive quarry. Five minutes of casting proved the area was devoid of feeding fish and as we were about to move on, my friend noticed some movement in the far corner near the bushes. This was all the motivation we needed to reassert our assault on the pool. It obviously wasn't a bass, but by then we'd settle for a carp.

 Twenty to thirty casts later, and several more breaches by the "creature" in the bushes, we were ready to move on again. Just as we're turning away from the pool, a large V wake moves out from the corner, 40 feet (straight as an arrow) and the "creature" beaches itself directly at my feet. Flopping around in front of us is a 20Lb. "chromer" chinook salmon that had apparently decided to commit suicide.  

Struggling to Remain Composed

 Since neither of  us put a hook into it, we both claimed ownership. Between uncontrollable fits of laughter, the requisite photos were taken and we eventually made our way back to the car, stopping occasionally to recount an unbelievable tale to the many admirers.  
Suicidal Salmon

 To this day, all you have to do is mention the occasion to either one of us, and the laughter returns with the same intensity. Once again we didn't catch our target species, but who cares! The dog days of summer can be difficult when you're stuck in the city, but an afternoon on the lakeshore can have surprising results you may never forget. 

Just don't expect the fish to offer themselves up all the time!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Barrie Bonanza 2

 What a difference a week makes. Three degrees warmer, two companions instead of one, daylight savings time. All these things conspiring together to turn me into the zombie fisherman from hell.

 After a very short sleep due to the clock change this past weekend, I found myself on the Barrie waterfront again in pursuit of jumbo perch. On my first cast, I caught the largest thing of the day: a willow tree. Twenty minutes later, after re-tying a custom fluorocarbon drop shot rig, I caught a nice 10" perch, followed by the second largest thing on my third cast; a dock. All the while my friends, having a good natured competition, have caught enough perch to feed a small army. Of course they had to enquire why I wasn't participating. My answer... "I'm after bigger things" 
Friendly Competition

 So... enough of this bait fishing thing, I'm getting frustrated re-tying every two casts. I put on a spinner and start working the water along the breakwall in hopes of intercepting something that's hungry, other than all the inanimate objects intent on emptying my tackle box. No such luck.

 An hour in and I've caught one perch, a dock, and two trees. I'm not normally a very dense person(at least not mentally), but sometimes it's surprising how long I will knock my head against the wall before I realise that it's better to be a spectator than a spectacle.

Kempenfelt Bay

 By now the "friendly" competition is heating up and there's more barbs flying than at a casting contest. 
"I'm five ahead of you"
"So, mine are bigger"
"It's not about size, it's about quantity. Any  
  ways, mine are prettier"
"Maybe... but you're not!

  and so on...

 I go for a walk and chat with our immediate neighbors. Nobody else is catching any trees or docks, but the perch are fairly accommodating.
The zombie fisherman from hell is making new friends who don't rub chum in his face when he's off a bit.  
The Marina at Sundown
 All things considered, it was a pretty good afternoon despite freezing my fingers(again) and putting on a show of gross incompetence to the  amusement of the entire Barrie waterfront area.

Looking forward to next weeks trip!


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