Saturday, April 30, 2011

Joke/Quote of the Week #6

  Well... there's no fishing for me this weekend as my sleep cycle is all screwed up and Tackle Shop is busy this morning pursuing a new business venture. I think I should rename these posts seeing that they aren't being posted every week. Do any of you readers have any input for a new name?

  Anyways...I recently found a cached source for my favorite comic strip; In The Bleachers. Enjoy
Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish.  ~Roderick Haig-Brown, about modern fishing, A River Never Sleeps, 1946
"Carpe Diem" does not mean "fish of the day."  ~Author Unknown

If you've got short, stubby fingers and wear reading glasses, any relaxation you would normally derive from fly fishing is completely eliminated when you try to tie on a fly.  ~Jack Ohman, Fear of Fly Fishing, 1988

An angler is a man who spends rainy days sitting around on the muddy banks of rivers doing nothing because his wife won't let him do it at home.  ~Author Unknown 






10. You have more fish on your wall than pictures.

9. You're raising catfish in your bathtub.

8. Your wife has earrings that you use as fishing lures.

7. You've ever combed your hair with a fish scaler.

6. You video tape fishing shows.

5. You recieved a tube of crickets as a wedding present.

4. You keep bait in your refrigerater.

3. Your boat hasn't left your driveway in years.

2. You've used your fishing license as a form of I.D.


 Fisherman's Prayer

God give me strength to catch a fish,
So big that even I,
When telling of it afterwards,
Have no need to lie.
  So... that's all for now. In the next few weeks pike and walleye seasons open up, the bullhead catfish will make their spawning runs along with sturgeon in selected rivers, and the warm water fish like carp and gar will be putting on the feed bag. It's that time of year when I never know what I'll be doing next or where that will be...and I love it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Suck!

  Yep... I suck! This posting could easily have been called "A Crappie Day 2", only crappie being spelled the other way to denote lack of quality. But that wouldn't be entirely true either, as you will soon read, suffice it to say...I SUCK!

   Good Friday was spent by Tackle Shop and myself trying to recruit a few extra companions for Saturday's excursion north. With no takers on board, it was a simple matter of dropping TS's son, Sid The Kid, off at work and drive directly north to Keswick from there. From the onset it looked rather dubious as to whether we were wasting our time as we drove through a torrential downpour for the whole 70 mile trip.

  On our arrival just before 8am, we sat and watched for 10 minutes a half dozen soaked and freezing fishermen catch absolutely nothing except pneumonia. Thankfully the area boasts a variety of opportunities so we travelled a short distance further north to the town of Sutton to try our luck in the Black River. The river is well named because of it's dark tea stained water, which on this morning was flowing fast but clear. TS was fishing a worm and I covered the water with a rooster tail spinner. After 10 minutes with no action it was time to move on to our next destination.
Black River, Sutton
  Just a few miles downstream is the cottage community of Jackson's Point, a hard water hotspot for lake trout and whitefish, but also an early open water haven for spawning perch at the public town dock. Our arrival there found only a few anglers braving the full frontal wind and rain, and for them entirely worth the discomfort as the perch were ravenous and biting almost anything. TS quickly baited up with live shiner minnows and I opted for a chartreuse Gulp minnow. BIG MISTAKE. TS was regularly pulling in two 8" perch per cast while I stubbornly waited for my first bite. By noon the rain had stopped, the sun was threatening to shine, TS had caught and released over 150 perch and I was ready to move on to the next location and catch my first fish of the day.

divider between ponds
  Another 15 minute drive northeast took us to a favorite early season site: Holme's Point at the mouth of the Pefferlaw River. Instead of going to our usual spot we decided to go exploring a little upstream to where, years before ponds were dredged ajacent to the river for a proposed marina. By now the sun was shining brightly, temperatures nearing 70 degrees for the first time this year and we were sheltered from the strong south winds. We had the area all to ourselves and conditions suggested we could be in for some big fish.

  Again TS was still fishing with minnows under a float and I was casting a spinner, working the water along the extensive shoreline. As I was on the far side of the pond TS shouted "Fish On...and it's BIG". I did the 400 yard dash to film the catch and breathlessly arrived in time to find out it might have been a large walleye.

  We both went back to what we doing, although I'd now switched back to the Gulp minnow suspended under a float in the hope of enticing one of the large feeding carp I'd seen. As I was working the pond's access to the river I spotted a 40+ inch pike prowling the drop off, but because of the way I was rigged I couldn't get my bait down to her. Did I mention that I suck?

  I returned to the van, totally disgusted with myself, just in time to witness TS hook into a good sized largemouth. It broke his line right at the water's edge, and if not for a mad dive by the big man it would have been lost. So... the totals for this area: TS- 2 bullhead, 1 2lb bass and a sunburn, Me- 0.

   By 4pm we decided to take a trip farther north to the Talbot River to witness the walleye spawning. There weren't many "eyes" in the river but it was overflowing with three different varieties of suckers! We'd never seen anything like this before and I was itching to get in there with my fly rod but the river's a sanctuary this time of year and being anywhere near it with a rod in hand is just asking for trouble.

  A few hours before sundown found us in Keswick again in search of crappies. Once again Tackle Shop had almost everything going his way as he was constantly pulling in sunfish, rockbass, perch and 3 largemouth (only one crappie though). After 10 hours of fishing I finally manage to hook and land my first fish of the day, a 6" perch. I SUCK

  Anyways... it was a great day out. We both enjoyed ourselves and I'm happy to let TS practice this week's bragging rights because I came away with something more valuable... video of the big guy flopping around on the ground like a fish out of water get a fish out of water!
  If you enjoyed this video... and I know you did, check out more of my videos on my You Tube channel: thedeadfisher. There's plenty of similar fishing videos I've done over the years there. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Crappie Day

 Earlier this week Tackle Shop and the Russian headed north for an assault on the southwest Simcoe area. Since I've started working there's been a conflict in our schedules and we haven' t been able to get out since late January.                               
The Russian with a Barrie "bugle trout"

      Недостајеш риболов са вама Будди!

  Anyways... they started their day fishing the Barrie marina and were catching 6" to 8"perch at will. Next up was a quick trip to the town of Ivy and the Nottawasauga River, which unfortunately was blown out. Another quick trip brought them to the Holland River in Bradford for some crappies. The crappies were a no-show but they did manage a few sunfish, catfish, a largemouth and a surprise bowfin which Tackle Shop lost in the wood at the water's edge.

  Over the years I've researched the general areas we fish and tried to "bundle" our trips with nearby alternate sites to prevent the occasional threat of skunk and lately this strategy is starting to pay off.

  This weekend's weather forecast was calling for heavy rain Saturday and Sunday, so if I was to continue my weekend warrior status we'd have to go out on Friday. Thursday night at work was surprisingly uncomplicated  so before sunrise I called Tackle Shop and he met me at the factory door at exactly 8am. Because I work in the east end of Toronto it only made sense to travel due north and check out the southeast shores of Lake Simcoe and it's tributaries. Our first and only stop was in the town of Keswick where we hoped to find some prespawn crappies in the lower Maskinonge River.
  One unfortunate consequence of the hordes of fair weather urban anglers descending upon the area is that many of the once "open" shorelines are now closed or pay to fish. With this in mind TS and I decided to re-visit Harry's Riverside Sports & Bait, a convenient one stop location where you can get a variety of live and artificial baits and tackle and, for a modest fee, you can fish off the boardwalk and boat slips. If it's not busy like Friday morning, that miserable c#cks#cker Harry (his exact words) will fish right along with you and make sure that if the fish are there, you're going to get some!

  Harry guided us to where the majority of the fish were schooling and within a few minutes had landed several dinner plate sized crappies slowly retrieving a  tube jig suspended 20" below a float. Taking our cue from the crappie master (or crapster) it wasn't long before TS and I were into fish
Tackle Shop
  By noon we'd landed dozens of fish but the wind had come up and the bite had dropped off. We were soon joined by a new resident of Keswick, John, who was itching to learn more about fishing crappie. He couldn't have come to a better place to learn. Although the fish were taking a break from their feeding frenzy, John eventually landed his first crappie with several large bluegills mixed in.
Keswickian  John's first crappie
   While TS and John continued to get the occasional fish I decided it was time to try my luck with the fly rod. Because of the high winds and limited room for casting I wasn't able to work the hot zone but still managed a few scrappy bull bluegills. By mid afternoon I'd packed away my gear, got a burger and coffee, and was content to just be a spectator for the rest of the day. As the sun started it's slow descent, the fish turned on again and more anxious crapsters started to fill the available boat slips. By the time TS had his fill, I was chilled to the bone and had been up for over 24hrs, but  satisfied non the less!

  I'm sure with our success on Saturday, the Russian will be itching to get  up there with Tackle Shop on Monday!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

From Ice to Nice

 Last week my best friend and I travelled north, froze our butts off fishing atop 14 inches of rapidly deteriorating ice and caught hundreds of perch, one after another. That was last week...this week was a whole new ballgame and a start to a new season...OPEN WATER!!! Of course this is "conservative" Ontario and most predatory gamefish are out of season for the next five weeks, but there are still plenty of opportunities to be taken advantage of.

  In previous years we'd started open water fishing at the marina in Barrie for the plentiful schools of perch there, but... REALLY? We'd just finished catching thousands of perch in the last month of ice fishing. The reports of crappie being caught in the Holland River were somewhat exaggerated and we'd never really had much luck competing with the anxious fair weather crowds there. Most of the local rivers have steelhead runs right now, but again, the competition for elbow room on the river is a game I've no interest in playing. Also... between Tackle Shop and myself, I think we have one complete set of waterproof waders...both left feet! In an effort to protect the vulnerable musky population, the Kawartha Lakes zone created a year round open season to control the hordes of invading pike, but a 250 mile round trip this time of year is a longshot when we're uncertain of how much of a thaw has occurred in an area that could possibly still be iced over.

  So... these were the options we were facing on our first foray into the open water season. Or were they? Too often I find myself conditioned into following the same patterns and routines. As sport fishers we frequently protect our egos by going through the "tried and true" methodology without ever taking that step into the unknown for fear of looking foolish , or even worse...inept. I'm not talking crazy like fishing a puddle or going for salmon in the river in the springtime, more along the lines of exploring known areas during unknown times. After all... it is spring and my sense of adventure is bursting at the seams!

  Our destination for the day was to be a small estuary on the south shore of Lake Ontario called 15 Mile Pond, so called because of it's distance from the mouth of the Niagara River. In the past two summers this tiny body of water had given up to us an unbelievable variety of fish; white bass & perch, large & smallmouth bass, yellow perch, pike, channel & brown bullhead catfish, carp, sheephead, bowfin, crappie, rockbass, pumpkinseed & bluegill sunfish... well... you get the idea, all this in a 10 acre pond we'd never fished any earlier than late May.

  It's interesting (and a little disturbing) the differences between travelling north and southwest from Toronto. On the northbound trip, the city quickly falls away to be replaced by rolling farmland and eventually forests and lakes. Southwest is entirely different as 95% of the provinces population congregates in what is known as the Golden Horseshoe along the Lake Ontario shore. Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Grimsby, all separate cities but in reality one continuous metropolis of 9 million people. Timothy Leary once said Toronto was an attempt to pave over Southern Ontario, and maybe he wasn't too far off the mark. Our trip along the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) took us through 60 miles of industrial and commercial wasteland and amazingly transported us to Ontario's "fruit basket", the Jordan Valley, several hundred square miles of vinyards, orchards, quaint small towns, and our final destination... 15 Mile Pond.
Hamilton Harbour from the Burlington Skyway
Jordan Harbour Tourist Attraction
15 Mile Pond from the QEW
Charles Daley Park, 15 & 16 Mile Ponds
  The one thing I hadn't counted on this time of year was all the agricultural runoff muddying up the water. As you can see in the satellite image above, the large plume of sediment in the lake was coming from our intended destination. Standing in the parking lot overlooking the lake and pond, it was immediately clear that fishing lures in that "chocolate milk" was going to be a challenge.                                                                      
    I started out along the long narrow spit of land separating the lake and pond, casting a rooster tail spinner with my ultra lite, alternating between clear cold lake and muddy warm pond  until I reached the end of the spit and the pond's outflow. All this time a steady parade of boats trolled the shore line of the lake in hopes of salmon and trout. Tackle Shop eventually caught up with me( pulling a dolly loaded with 100lbs of equipment through the sand!) just  as I was assembling the new Pflueger rod and reel for a heavy metal assault on the surf. We fished the area for another hour, TS with worms and me with hardware, before we gave up and decided to try at the top of the pond by the highway. 
Brown & Blue Mixing at the Outflow
  As we walked back up pond, we stopped and briefly chatted with the only other anglers there, 3 guys reclined in lawn chairs casually paying attention to their expensive carp outfits. They'd been there since the crack of dawn without a single bite. Our friend The Russian has carp fished his whole life and maintains that early season fish prefer a little meat (worms) over the regular corn or boilies. We offered this info and some worms to boot and were met with resistance...after all, they were the ones with the specialized equipment! Do you now see why I prefer ice fishermen?
  Anyways, TS set up at the next picnic table and I continued on upstream under the highway with my ultralite where last May I'd hammered the pre-spawn bass in this area (don't tell the MNR) and was now interested to see what the water held at this time of year. Almost immediately I found a school of suckers at the top of a pool and started casting a #1 Panther Martin spinner in the hope of adding to our species list for this pond. The suckers seemed to be more repelled than attracted to my offering but on the fifth cast I did manage a 4" trout. At least I think it was a trout or maybe a salmon smolt, I'm not sure and the picture came out too blurry for me to tell. I tried a few more casts without any more action and then worked my way back downstream to where TS was.

  The first thing I notice upon my return is the carp fishermen have been replaced by a couple other guys with family in tow. TS took great joy in retelling how after only 2 minutes of setting his lines he had a double header of 18 inch brown bullhead catfish. The carpers angrily packed up and left. WORMS INDEED! Don't go away mad, adapt! I took their departure as an opportunity to indulge and quickly assembled my fly rod, tied on a bucktail streamer and took advantage of 100 feet of empty grass behind me. The area is generally "bushy" and I don't enjoy roll casting still waters. After the first dozen casts of the season there's a weight on my line and a 5 pound carp rolls on the surface and then is gone! Another dozen casts and I'm into another one with the same results. I'm thinking that I might be "lining" the fish instead of them biting, but either way, that's the only action of the day with the fly and there's no way of telling.

  Tackle Shop was putting on a catfish clinic for our new friends Ron and Ryan, a couple "local boys" from Beamsville who fish for fun whenever life allows. After a few more hours and a dozen catfish, we all decide to pack up and make the long trip home. It's the last game of the year for our beloved , yet hapless Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, and even though it will be their 5'th straight year of not making the playoffs, I feel the need to watch them go down in style and grace against Montreal.

  After packing the van, we both looked back down the hill at this tiny yet productive pond, knowing we'll be back many more times this year, never certain of what we're going to pull in next!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Last Hoorah?

The final approach?
   You could cut the apprehension with a knife yesterday morning as Tackle Shop and I made our final approach to Lake Simcoe and it's shrinking ice sheet. Early morning temperatures had quickly risen from the freezing mark to around 50 F with an intense sun and brisk winds from the west. The bottom line on this beautiful spring day was could we actually get on the ice or an even better question, once on the ice, could we find a way off in the afternoon? Once again the apprehension was put to rest within a block of the lake as a line of parked vehicles indicated there was indeed access. As it turned out the vehicle closest to the lake was that of a Natural Resources officer doing spot checks for catches and licenses. It was only a matter of time before we ran into an enforcement officer, I'm just surprised it happened on what is likely the last outing of the hard water season.

  As we unloaded the van I made the rash decision to travel light and not put on my cold weather suit, a decision I would regret within a few hours. It's funny how I always ignore my own advice of over-dressing for the weather and removing pieces as needed. Anyways... feeling lighter and thankful for another on ice shot at the pre-spawn schools of perch, we walked 150yrds out, drilled three holes, and immediately started catching fish. Within the first ten minutes TS and I had landed dozens of good sized perch and a herring each. The bite was fairly consistent all day long with the fish taking anything offered, but the larger fish were still nowhere to be found with the days largest (just under 12") caught by TS.

  By mid afternoon the weather conditions had taken their toll on the ice and me. I was chilled to the bone by the constant buffeting of the damp wind and the ice had taken on a granular texture easily scraped away with the tip of a toe. As we packed up and made our way back to the launch area, our escape from the ice was impaired by a stretch of open water and we had to walk a plank to make it safely back to dry land. In the coming weeks there will be those who will stubbornly try to extend the season and I'm sure to hear of a few of them in the news. I'm not actively pursuing a career in death defiance so it's time to say goodbye to ice fishing for another year.
Just a few holdouts
  On the trip home Tackle Shop and I decided to check out reports of open water crappie catches in the Holland River at the south end of the lake. There were plenty of frigid shore anglers battling the wind and a few boats working the river, but we didn't see anything "fishy" going on. Winter is just beginning to relinquish it's grip on this part of the country and now that the hardwater season is officially over for me I guess it's time to patch that hole in my waders, dust off and restock my fly boxes and start thinking about open water seriously.

 Although there were 25% fewer trips than last year, hardwater 2011 was a fantastic success with new areas scouted out, new anglers indoctrinated in the ways of ice, reacquainted with old friends and areas, personal bests attained, information towards new opportunities like salmon and trout through the ice for next year, and most importantly... a reason to love winter!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Joke/Quote of the Week #5

 It's that time of the week again so grab your coffee, tea or cocoa, sit back, and prepare to be amused.
My biggest worry is that my wife (when I'm dead) will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it.
Koos Brandt

I am not against golf, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout.
Paul O'Neil

There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm.
Patrick McManus—"Never Sniff a Gift Fish," 1979

pet shop selling bait or bait shop selling pets
Returning home after a weekend in the Maine woods, Mark Twain was lounging in the smoking car of the train to Boston. He couldn't resist the temptation to boast to the rustic-looking New Englander seated beside him about the twelve big fish he'd caught.

"The season is closed for fishing now" Mark Twain confided, "but between you and me, my friend, out there in the baggage car I've got two hundred pounds of the best rock bass that you ever laid eyes on."

"Waal," drawled the New Englander, "that's interesting, but do you know who I am? I'm the state game warden."

Mark Twain puffed on his cigar. "That's interesting," he said. "But do you know who I am? I'm the damnedest liar in the United States."
Robert Service
I like to look at fishermen
And often times I wish
One would be lucky now and then
And catch a little fish.
I watch them statuesquely stand,
And at the water look;
But if they pull their float to land
It's just to bait a hook.

I ponder the psychology
That roots them in their place;
And wonder at the calm I see
In ever angler's face.
There is such patience in their eyes,
Beside the river's brink;
And waiting for a bite or rise
I do not think they think.

Or else they are just gentle men,
Who love--they know not why,
Greeen grace of trees or water when
It wimples to the sky . . .
Sweet simple souls! As vain I watch
My heart to you is kind:
Most precious prize of all you catch,
--Just Peace of Mind.  

Well... that's all I've got for now. I've finished my coffee and it's almost time to get ready to hit the ice for possibly the last time this year. Thanks for dropping by, I've got to go but you can hang around longer if you like.