Sunday, July 31, 2011

Long Weekend

  It's a long weekend here in Ontario. Monday is officially designated Simcoe Day, so in honor of Sir John Graves Simcoe we pledged to go nowhere near the large lake that bears his name for the next few days. A phone call from Treefrog Friday night planted the idea of exploring the Lindsay area of the Kawartha Lakes District and more specifically; the Scugog River. A quick search on Google Earth refreshed my memory of the general area and gave us a few starting off places to fish. The river slowly winds it's way north 14 miles to Sturgeon Lake and much like the lake it drains, Lake Scugog, it's shallow, weedy and heavily tea stained with healthy populations of large and smallmouth bass, walleye, musky and the usual assortment of panfish.

  I awoke to the alarm at 5 am, gulped down half a pot of coffee and met Tackle Shop at the curb by 5:30. Twenty minutes travel farther east, pick up Treefrog, and then north on highway 35/115 to our first location by 7am, just a few miles south of the town of Lindsay.

  We had planned on starting out at a backroad bridge crossing a creek only a long cast from it's confluence with the Scugog River, but upon our arrival it seemed that either word got out or I'm not the only one that can read a map. A dozen other anglers had beat us to the area and all the decent casting spots were taken. Unwilling to move on from such a promising looking site, we did a quick search of the area and found the only other decent place was a tiny, hidden marina several hundred yards upstream.

  Using his direct "It couldn't hurt to ask" approach, Tackle Shop found that $5 each granted us access to the owner's docks. In what has become somewhat of a comical routine, the three of us all geared up with our current "go to" baits; TS with his rubber crawdad, me and my #4 Mepps, and Treefrog with his... well... rubber frog.

  It didn't take too long for things to get interesting. On my fifth cast a 20" slender shadow violently slashed at the spinner right at my feet, missing the hooks but sending a surge of adrenaline through my system that left my hands shaking for a minute. There are no pike in the central Kawartha Lakes so obviously I'd just had a not close enough encounter with their bigger cousin the musky. Several casts later another encounter, this time a tapered torpedo closely following my bait all the way in only to turn away at the last second. Walleye! This continued for a while until the rising sun revealed the expansive weed flats we were casting over and it actually took 45 minutes before any of us landed anything, a 7" perch by yours truly.

  As the sun and temperature climbed higher and the boat traffic increased the targeted toothy predators started to lay low in the weeds with lockjaw. TS and I both managed to coax a couple small largemouth bass out of the weeds, but it appeared the only game left in town were the large schools of hungry sunfish.

  I'd come to this area with the hopes of adding a few new species to my list of fish caught on a fly, namely musky and walleye, and I probably should have started the day fluffchucking large streamers, but better late than never. I spent the next hour playing with the schools of panfish, catching them at will until finally I felt something different on the end of my line...crappie! As it turns out it was a lone fish and there was no school to educate in all things artificially buggy.
  Just before noon it was decided we'd go back up the road to the bridge and see if the weekend warriors had cleared out, but not before having a chat with our friendly  hosts Jack and Linda Chan. They'd been operating Cross Creek Marina and Resort for over 20 years and offer complete services for the day trippers to vacationers with lodging, mooring, boat rentals,gas bar & supplies.

 Our return to the bridge found a thinned out crowd and more of a surprise, a friend of Treefrog's, David and his friend (sorry dude,never did catch your name). In the same spot the day before, David caught over 40 bass and 3 musky, the largest just over 40"! We spent a few more hours there flogging the water...but seriously... when it degenerates into a contest of who can hook the largest crayfish... it's time to move on.
Scugog River from Cross Creek Bridge
  The bottom line here is that "pedestrian" fishing an be difficult on any weekend but successful long weekends require finding those out of the way, little known areas that aren't "blasted" from sun up to sundown. With new friends in tow, we hit the road again to find more areas up river in the town of Lindsay. Somewhere along the route we lost our "tour guides" (probably with an unscheduled lawn sale stopover), and we spent the next few hours searching the urban section of the river for a suitable location before settling on a partially deserted marina. This is where Treefrog started to show his chops, slowly dragging his namesake across the floating mass of slop, getting a mini geyser of weed and water from the strike on every second or third cast... and never managing to get a hook set.
Treefrog in his natural element

  It was turning out to be a long, hot, fish less afternoon so I made the suggestion of driving south to Lake Scugog with an ulterior motive in mind; visiting the Perry Island First Nations Reserve and, more specifially their smoke shop! Revenuers be damned! Why would I care to pay $80+ for a weeks supply of cigarettes when the natives are selling the same number in a ziploc bag for $20?

  After securing a months fix we made our way around the south end of the lake to the town of Port Perry. Much like Barrie, Port Perry has an intimate connection with it's lake and the entire town's shoreline is devoted to public use. TS needed to restock his cooler and I was considering my empty fridge at home, so we stopped at the local grocery store and who do we find parked in the back lot beside the lake? Our recently lost new friends Dave and ? (again... sorry dude). Of course when we come out of the store they've already f**ked off so we had a nice snack in the rear parking lot, beside the lake, listening to a live blues band echoing across the bay.

 We finally decided to call it a day an hour and a half before sundown. While driving south on Hgwy 12, I noticed a sign for Mud Lake. I'd been curious about this lake for years but could never find out any info on it and never had the opportunity to visit. As we approached the square mile of mirrored surface, the first thing I noticed in the murky water was an 8" goldfish. Larger carp, and what I'm sure were largemouth bass, were regularly jumping farther out. Armed with our usual "go to's" we set out to discover what else this tiny isolated lake contained. My fifth cast with the Mepps flew over a low slung willow branch and just before I could flip it over I got a bite. As I tightened the line a small 4"panfish rose out of the water, dangling from the branch. I deftly flipped the rod tip and the fish came sailing towards the shore...CRAPPIE! That was my cue to assemble the fly rod again. Over the next hour (until we couldn't see anymore), we worked that shoreline,catching large numbers of small crappie, sunfish, and rockbass. Even Treefrog managed to dredge up a few bullhead catfish! (not with the rubber frog though)
      The day started out with high hopes, followed by dusty disappointment and ending with the joy of discovery. Nothing we caught could ever be called trophies but the first and last locations show great potential that will require further exploration. Mud Lake, in particular, with it's near proximity to the city might turn out to be an excellent alternative in the hard water season.

  PS: Last month I issued a challenge to all you bloggers out there to post pictures of Telephone Wire Ornamentation, or TWO. Here's another example I shot on the causeway near Port Perry.

  This post took all morning to write and I was hoping to make it over to the Rouge River today and expand on my local knowledge of all things fishy. I'll let you know what happens for the rest of this Simcoe Day long weekend.


  1. Great report John, And top Blogging, It was an early start, And a productive day, I just love the last picture though, We had a high power line very similar un Southport UK but the National Grid cleared it for safety reasons, Have a great weekend/Simcoe Day,

  2. Hey John. You mentioned about Lake Scugog and the tea stained water. I was up in Minnesota back a bunch of years and my brother and I fished a lake up there that was almost rootbeer colored. I wanted to fish for Pike and Walleye, but my brother said there wasn't any in the lake. Coming back to the dock we passed some friends of his that were just going out on the lake. Found out a couple of days later that they killed the Pike and Walleyes in that lake. Couldn't fish tha tlake again, had to head back to CA. Bet Scugog would be good.


  3. Hi John, sounds like a banner day for some fishing for Bluegill and Crappie. Always enjoy your posts about your fishing travels in the area and how you try to cover the water.

  4. Great post, with photos to match.
    Crappie on the fly, a worthy adversary.

  5. Nice blog and great photos.....
    I wish i could move to the USA. Fishing in the UK is great...dont get me wrong, but im a born and bred bass fisherman and with all the big pike, perch and salmon i catch i still miss my bass fishing.
    Nice blog.

  6. I love how all your freinds have cool names. Im gonna come up with some cool new names for my buddies

  7. Great pics and awesome time on the water. Really dig that spiderweb pic. Awesome. Tight Lines.