Monday, August 8, 2011

Scugog River Redemption

  Last weekend Tackle Shop, Treefrog and myself fished the Scugog River for the first time with limited success, catching a few bass, a variety of panfish, and a couple close encounters of a toothy kind. Although the catch was limited to smaller fish, we all agreed the area had real potential for a first rate day on the water. Last Tuesday TS, the Russian and his nubie friend Brian returned to the river for a completely different set of conditions and results: overcast, rain, their pick of locations, and most important of all.... a varied and willing fish population. The only bait that worked that day was a bubble gum colored wacky rigged worm. TS landed quite a few good sized bass and the newbie Brian hooked into a couple musky, but didn't land them. Of course this is all hearsay because I wasn't there and nobody took any pics.
   This Sunday morning TS and I found ourselves on a return trip to the  river thinking that we had this place figured out. We were on the highway an hour before sunrise with the temperature already in the high 70's, 100% humidity, and a lowering cloud cover that suggested rain gear would be the order of the day. Once again, upon our arrival the area was already occupied and it became clear that in order to secure a decent spot around the bridge on a weekend you literally have to camp out all night.

  TS managed to squeeze into position on the southern, downstream side of the bridge and proceeded to work the water with his pink worm while I opted for more solitude, casting large bass and pike flies near the boat launch on the northern edge of the pond formed by the inflowing Cross Creek. After several fly changes and half an hour of no action, I switched my focus to the plentiful panfish busting schools of bait on the surface. Another half hour later I packed up the fly rod out of frustration, I couldn't even solicit a single bite from  a "lowly" sunfish! As I assembled my spinning gear with the intentions of joining TS at the bridge the skies finally opened up in a downpour that sent all anglers running for the cover of their vehicles. It turned out that this week's hot bait was lacking appeal today and TS had flogged the water in vain as well!

   It was starting to look as if the day was going to be a complete wash out. While waiting for the deluge to subside, we travelled the short distance south to Cross Creek Marina and Resort  where we had some action the previous weekend. TS paid for access to the docks and during a lull in the monsoon rains we hit the water again with renewed hope

  As with my fly selection earlier in the morning, going big was my strategy for the day and the first thing I selected was a pearl white #28 Panther Martin spinner that I'd found at an estate sale in May but never used because of it's size (one half ounce, 3"blade). After several dozen casts, working the water thoroughly in front of the docks, I changed the Panther Martin for her black and yellow sister. On the fourth retrieve, the bait stopped dead in the water and then started thrashing wildly. After a brief battle I scooped my quarry from the water and admired my first musky in almost 30 years.  The lure had fallen out as I lifted the fish from the water while TS took a couple quick photos and then back she went. Not an overly large fish, but it was what we were here for and these waters were known to hold fish in the 50" range!
   TS tied on his largest dark spinner, pink worm long forgotten, and renewed his coverage of the water. It wasn't long before he was rewarded with a scrappy smallmouth bass.
    A half hour later and between intermittent downpours, while casting into the weeds from a different dock, TS shouts over to me that he's got another one! I looked over just in time to see a 20" snot-rocket launch itself several feet into the air in it's best imitation of a smallmouth. I ran the 100 yards over to where TS had just landed his first musky ever, breathlessly took a few quick pics, and returned to my spot as he released the fish. Before I'd gotten half way back, TS was shouting that he's got another... and it's bigger! Still out of breath from the first run, I make an about face and before I can take three steps the fish gets off.
As I frequently like to say: Once is an occurrence, Twice is a coincidence, Thrice is a pattern.

   The next few hours produced many more strikes but no more fish landed. The skies cleared a bit and just after noon we decided to return to the bridge and try our new found luck there. I was done for the day after another hour of flogging the water without any action but TS was determined to show me the pink worm production from a few days before was no fluke. He did manage a few small bass and some panfish, but the big fish were laying low now that the sun had come out and it had gotten hot.
   It pretty much goes without saying that to effectively fish this area you have to be on the water. In the future we will likely end up renting a boat from the marina so we can access some of the expansive and productive weedbeds that line this river. Unlike the first trip here, we made the best of our opportunities and came away with smiles on our faces.


  1. John
    Looks like a great outing. Using the open face reels with the drag set to make music when you get that smallmouth and musky on is a blast. Great Post

  2. Some great fishing being done but its a real wildlife outingWith everything from fish to butterfly's,

  3. Looks like you guys finally worked out some sort of pattern. Would love to go up there and fish for muskie.
    They look like a pike on steroids.
    Very nice blog to read.

  4. Wonderful photos.

    Looks like everybody is having fun.

  5. Good day John.

    We have had more rain this year than any year I can remember fishing.

    It's really changed the fishing, making this the worst year I have ever had.

    That's not saying I'm not having fun because I certainly am. Just not as many fish.

    There is so much more water this year that I'm sure they are just spread out of many more square miles of water.

    My fishing buddy Casey said he should take me musky fishing. That would be a new species for me as I've never fished musky yet.

    Northern pike and Chain pickerel but no musky, so that would be cool.

    I really do love it when chain pickerel take to the air like the smallmouth do. It just makes it all the more exciting.

  6. Musky praise for you and TS. Yours for the the first in 30 and TS for his first ever. I know there's a 50incher out there with your name on it.


  7. That looks like an amazing section of river. Between the feeder creeks, bends, and islands, that place has to be dynamite.

    Are there any grassy backwater areas around there?

  8. Gotta love the colour pattern on the muskies from there. Just beautiful fish. It looks like yo guys had a blast - well done.