Sunday, August 28, 2011

Critters 'n' Stuff

  For a change of pace this week I decided to stay close to home and not go out fishing. I spent my time surfing blogdom, reviewing my older files, and came up with the idea of sharing some of my more interesting photos from the last decade. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Musky Mania and Other Mental Afflictions

  I'll be the first to admit that I've been touched by the musky mania bug...again.

Ken O'Brien & his 65Lb. Beast
  Above all other fish in Southern Ontario, the "Fish Of A Thousand Casts" has held mythical status for me as I love all toothy predators and the musky is the largest and the most elusive...until now. I'd spent my formative angling years on Georgian Bay hearing horror stories of waders losing toes and ducks disappearing from the water's surface. In my late teens and twenties I was venturing farther north to the Parry Sound area, wilderness camping with friends and "lunker hunting". During that time period I'd filled a tackle box full with lures larger than my average winter fish, trolled the bays in sun, rain and snow and spent hundreds of hours in a futile quest that I was beginning to believe was better left up to the professionals or dumb luck.

   And then a fellow Torontonian, Ken O'Brien helped show me the folly of my ways in1988 when bass fishing in the same area and caught a 65 Lb. monster on a 4" Rapala and 8Lb. mono! Fifteen minutes into the battle his boat mates urged him to cut the line but Ken's persistence won out and he eventually boated an Ontario record that still stands today. On that day I hung up my musky rod and devoted my on water time to whatever would come my way, forgetting about trophy hunting and enjoying the simple, back to basics joy of angling...UNTIL NOW!

   Our recent forays on the Scugog River have dredged up that long stifled mania, revealing to me that the "fish of a thousand casts", or even ten thousand for that matter, isn't that elusive, only selective in where it resides in numbers. This past Friday morning it turned out to be a fish of ten casts! Tackle Shop and I rented a boat from Jack(ie) Chan at Cross Creek Marina and Resort and proceeded immediately to where, a few days before, TS and his posse had filled the boat with a non stop parade of bass and crappie.

   From the onset the lack of action in a known hot spot suggested to us a large predator was prowling the vicinity and we started working the weed edge with crank baits and spinners. TS had a monster follow his bait right to the surface at boat side and two casts later I had a fish on. It was obviously not the follower we'd seen moments before as it launched itself out of the water, but a good fish just the same. The fish came to hand after a two minute struggle, politely posed for a beauty shot with it's new admirer, and slipped back into the weedy depths none the worse for the experience. not a 60" fish... but an excellent start to the day! I just wish I'd had the foresight to have my fly rod pre-assembled. We continued working the area hoping to entice the larger fish to play but that wasn't about to happen any time soon. With no more musky and the bass nowhere to be found, we started exploring the channels and feeder creeks and after four long hours of absolutely nothing we both agreed to return to the marina to stretch our cramped legs.  Less than a minute into our trolling return, TS had his first fish of the day.
    So we returned to the marina after four hours fishing with a musky each. Tackle Shop's may have been slightly larger but I think I got the better photo (except for the freakishly large "Fred Flinstone" fingers). One interesting occurrence during that morning session was that the only other small fishing boat on the river was occupied by two guys that live just around the corner from TS's house. Last year we'd actually stopped in at a garage sale of theirs! They'd had a different sort of luck during the morning, hoisting a stringer with a couple 20" walleye, but they were more interested in finding and catching bass so, in typical Tackle Shop character, TS shared with them some GPWs and we exchanged info on our catches. Personally...a walleye is the only thing I'd be interested in keeping out of that river at this time of year and of course it's one of those species I still haven't caught on a fly yet.

   After a brief stretch on shore we returned to the river with renewed vigor. I think Tackle Shop had been listening to an old George Carlin rant on pharmaceutical advertising ( These ones are pink, there'll be other colors later) as he produced several bags of worms in a rainbow of colors to back up his now infamous GPW. I resisted the urge to sling a GPW or any other colored worm for that matter, and opted for an old, yet reliable fly pattern... a Mickey Finn. For the next few hours we went toe to toe, "slaying" the panfish population at will, but unable to coax the big boys to come out and play.
   At this point I have to make a formal public apology to TS. As the years have gone by he's nurtured an infinite capacity to sit in one spot fishing for hours on end while I have gone in the exact opposite direction (unless in front of a computer or big screen tv) needing to stay active, on my feet, and fishing in smaller incremental periods with frequent breaks. No amount of quality fish can prevent the confinement at the bow of the boat for eight hours from turning me into a complete douche bag. I'm sorry buddy, I can't guarantee it won't happen again but at least we know that in the future, as the day progresses... I need more frequent "time outs". And maybe an IV drip or sippy cup full of coffee!

   So as I wallowed in my confinement in the bow of the boat, TS navigated back to our original location, broke out his bag of multi-colored worms, and proceeded to educate the local bass on all things wormy. In a 30 minute span TS boated six bass, the largest tipping the scales at about 4Lbs and coming while he was untangling one of the many knots in his new line!


   Seeing that I desperately needed a break, we returned to the marina. I was pretty much finished for the day and told TS to go back out for another session. He offered some of the locals and even Jackie if they wanted to go out for a few hours but found no takers, so rather than going out alone, he decided to pack it in for the day too. Amazingly...after a leftover cup of coffee and ten minutes in a comfortable seat complete with a backrest, and I was feeling almost human again!

   The leisurely drive home gave me time to reflect upon the day's events. In the future I'll have to constantly monitor my moods while in a boat for the sake of my friends. As far as my re-emerging musky mania, several things stand out; fish where they're plentiful and the trophy will come eventually, and make better use of my box of streamers, bunny strips, and deer hair mice and frogs. If they don't get a big toothy...they'll still attract a bucket mouth!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Gay Pink Worm Strikes Again!

  Monday morning Tackle Shop, the Russian, and his friend Myth (as yet undisclosed reason for nickname) made a return visit to the Scugog R. to put their new favorite bait, the gay pink worm (GPW) through another test. This time they rented a boat so they could access the expansive reed beds on the far side of the river that have been out of reach for all but those chucking heavy metal. Surprisingly the first and best fish of the day was caught by Tackle Shop on the first cast with a spoon!
    That first fish in the first minute set the bar higher than normal, but of course they had the GPW! It wasn't long before Myth and the Russian were on the board with quality fish of their own.

   They were on fish all day long, only moved a few hundred yards out from the dock and only came in when their time was up because after all when you rent a boat for half a day you don't actually get 12 hours. As soon as they docked the boat, the sky opened up in a biblical downpour. So... once again you can see the gay pink worm gets results...and eventually I might even try one

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Treefrog's Triumph

   On Saturday Tackle Shop put on a clinic on how to catch bass with a gay pink worm (GPW). I was hesitant, to say the least, to touch that thing with a 7 foot medium light pole, and my results at the end of the day showed the folly of my preference of "hardware" over "software". That long fish less day came to a close for me with my return home at 9:30pm and lights out an hour later.

   Just before 4am I was roused from a rubbery (GPW) nightmare by the insistent ringing of the phone. Upon answering the phone, a single word was shouted out in a vaguely familiar voice; "FISHING!!!". Only Treefrog would call at this time of the night. I was a little hesitant at first, having spent the previous day on the ropes, but finally succumbed to his insistence and asked him where he wanted to go, secretly hoping he wasn't going to say Scugog. guessed it...I was returning to the scene of the previous day's shellacking by an unsightly piece of rubber and it's user who had no qualms about dangling it in my face! At least this time I was certain the shoe would be on the other foot

   We arrived at our now usual spot at the bridge on the Scugog River just as the sun was peeking over the horizon, and once again found all the best spots already occupied. The only other alternative was Cross Creek Marina, just a stones throw downstream, and less than five minutes later we were casting to the numerous large fish rolling on the surface. We started out throwing top water, then spinners, and finally crankbaits, all this without a single bite between the two of us in over an hour of completely covering the water, top to bottom.

   It was decided that we should move on rather than allow frustration and then desperation to sink in. On our return back to the highway we found the bridge totally deserted, so with our pick of casting locations we started flogging the water anew only to get the same results as before. As a last resort I decided to try rubber, and although I didn't have a certain invertebrate of a particular hue, a reasonable facsimile did at least get me a few bites. Just as I thought I might actually land something (sunfish), Treefrog's impatience boiled over "Let's go. I want to catch some fish!"
Autumn colors in August on Cross Creek
   I figured I had to get this guy on some fish real soon or he'd start loosing interest so I guided Treefrog over to that weed choked corner on Cross Creek where Tackle Shop had caught several decent largemouth the day before. Fifteen minutes later I was explaining to TF the intricacies of fishing wacky rigged rubber baits and right away we were getting strikes on every cast. It wasn't long before the first fish of the day came to my hand; a 9" perch, quickly followed by a good sized bluegill. Treefrog was little impressed as I'd told him the creek was full of bass and it was only a matter of working the pockets, but he was adamant that there was only small panfish there.

   Not long afterward something took me deep into the weeds and I knew I had my first bass of the day. Not long after that another came to hand which motivated TF to challenge me that he'd catch more bass than me even though I had a head start. Against my advice he retied with a 3" original floating Rapala and almost immediately landed a scrappy bluegill. Undeterred by the unwelcome catch he continued to work his way down the shore until 5 minutes later he yelled out to me "bass". As I was preparing to capture the moment digitally, his catch slipped from his grasp and returned to it's weedy home.

   Over the next hour Treefrog repeated the scenario three more times while all I could manage was a constant barrage of sunfish and perch. At one point a large musky took a half hearted swipe at my rubber minnow only to miss it and retreat back into the weeds. By the end of the afternoon Treefrog had caught twice the number of bass and the same number of panfish as I'd caught. I thought I'd smoke his ass that day and it turned out he beat me at my own game... without ever having to resort to that stupid gay ...frog!
 Way to go Treefrog!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tackle Shop's Gay Pink Worm

   Two weeks ago Tackle Shop, the Russian and his friend Brian went to the Scugog River. TS and Brian had great success using a bright pink worm while the Russian struggled to get a solitary bite using conventional tackle.When asked if he would like to try one, the Russian replied; " I don't want your stupid, gay pink worm!"

  Thus was born an instant classic with the Dead Fisher Crew.

  Last week in the same location the worm struck out and spinners were the go-to baits.
Pigeon River

  Jump ahead to this past Saturday and TS and myself returned to the same general area once again. Along the way there we made a slight detour east to the village of Omemee on the Pigeon River. Just like the Scugog River, it's shallow, weedy, slow moving tea stained water is ideal for bass, walleye and musky. We stopped at several bridges along the way and Tackle Shop's worm was starting to show it's chops right away with several small bass from each location. As the river nears Omemee it widens into a large swampy area that offers better shore fishing than the bridges.

  I'd spent well over an hour covering the water with a selection of extra large spinners, gradually decreasing their size as time went on in the hopes of seeing any action at all. Seeing my lack of production, Tackle shop offered me a gay pink worm and I had to tell him to "keep it in your pants buddy, I'm pitching hardware". By the time we we left the area TS's worm had accounted for over 20 small bass and I'd yet to get a bite!
Hardly looks smug at all
  We drove a short distance into the village looking for lunch and another access point to the water and found a small river side park with several tents set up. One was a BBQ food vendor and the other, to our surprise, was a local tackle manufacturer, Bruces Tackle Box, that specializes in bass and musky tackle. The first thing TS pointed out was a bag of pink worms. I chose not to notice as I had my eye on a tray of beautiful crankbaits marked down to $2 each. I bought them all. Screw the worms!

   Well fed, a pocket full of new crankbaits, and a couple more bass under TS's belt, we left Omemee for the Scugog river. Overlooked by us was the fact that by mid day Saturday there was no room at the bridge and after paying for dock access at the marina we found the river unfishable because of all the pleasure boat traffic. Luckily we had searched  Google Earth for an alternative, out of the way site, several miles up Cross Creek.
Cross Creek
   Arriving at the new location we saw a wide, weed choked bend in the creek with huge floating mats of algae. TS went to work immediately while I was content to oversee the action from atop the bridge. It had been a long, hot, unproductive day for me and I had little inclination to try and fish this slop with lures and I'd had that stupid gay pink worm shoved in my face way too many times to give him the satisfaction of trying it out now!

   Immediately TS pulled a keeper from a pocket in the weeds.
     Followed immediately by another.
  And another...and so on...
When he finally tired of the game, an hour before sundown, he'd caught well over 40 bass on that stupid gay pink worm. I threw a perfect game of no hits, no runs, and no fish. I probably should have bought that bag from Bruce!
This one's for you Blake!

This one's for me!

This one's for everyone