Monday, August 5, 2013

6 Month Update

  Wow...six months since my last post. So much has happened over this period that an update will take some time to post, so before I do anything about I share one of my favorite tunes with you while you read this long overdue post?

  The 2013 hard water season slowly wound down without too many surprises. February was spent chasing schools of small perch all over southern Lake Simcoe in the hopes of locating the increasingly rare "jumbos" that the lake had been renowned for. Our quest for larger perch forced us to widen our search area and in the first week of March we found ourselves walking out from Sibbald Point on an unusually mild
and foggy morning.

  The absence of fish and heavy fog forced us to relocate a few miles west to a previously unexplored area called Willow Beach, an area usually reserved for the deep water whitefish and lake trout anglers.
   We managed to raise some of the largest fish of the season here (10" - 12") and returned a few days later to an arctic blast from the northwest and a slow bite.
   The high winds and arctic cold drove most off the lake after only a few hours. We checked out other locations on the slow trip home and it seemed the weather had affected the fishing for all but one.
   There followed a few trips to the extreme northeast corner of Cook's Bay with decent catches but no pics.
We spent the last day on the ice at Cedar Point, one of the few safe access points.

   A week after last ice, Tackle Shop and I were working open water in the south end of Simcoe at Cook's Bay Marina and Young's Harbour, catching numerous perch, sunfish and crappie. For the next few weeks we plied the shallow inlets of Simcoe, getting our fill of panfish, until the opener of pike and walleye season, where we re-connected with long time friend The Russian on the Scugog River.

  Now... to prevent any comments stating the obvious here in Ontario, bass and musky are not in season in late May. They just happen to be the only species caught on this particular trip.

   By the third week of May things were really starting to pick up at work, to the point where two new people were added to my shift and Saturday shifts became mandatory. Up until this point I'd been burning the proverbial candle at both ends by working Thursday night and going out with TS for a full day fishing every Friday morning. After a few six day weeks I found myself totally burned out, unable to sleep properly, focus or fish! But it wasn't the case with TS and the Russian, who made an impression on the carp at 15 Mile Pond near St. Catherines.


   It may have been the lack of focus or just plain envy, but it seemed the only way out of this grind was to tender my resignation as night shift supervisor.  The company was reluctant to let me go, having replaced the afternoon shift supervisor just eight months previous. My replacement started at the beginning of July and it was agreed that I would cover vacation times and come in on occasion to help straighten things out, sort of a part time semi-retirement. To this day I've worked three full days (on day shift) and focussed primarily on catching up on some needed rest and fishing.

  The first week of July found TS and I rocketing down the QEW highway towards Fort Erie, and after a really big wrong turn and having to re-enter the country through customs with contraband combustibles in the back, I finally got the chance to fish from Tackle Shop's new used boat. We launched his "car top" several miles upstream from the inflow to the Upper Niagara River, just across from Buffalo NY. We dropped anchor several minutes later after seeing the first school of smallmouth bass in 20 feet of crystal clear water but had difficulty in presenting our baits properly with a steady 5-6 mph current.

  It was decided the best way to present our offerings was to motor several miles up the shore and drift with the current. Two minutes into the first drift and my ulta light rod was bent double with a beautiful three and a half pound smallie.Several other successful drifts were completed when we found a large school hovering over a shoal of zebra mussels. Anchors aweigh and let the feeding frenzy begin! 

  We returned a week later to find conditions had changed drastically. A strong wind was blowing down the lake from the west, dislodging tons of algae and clouding the water to near zero visibility. Still one excellent outing overshadows a skunk.

   Later that week we tried Cook's Bay by water.It was a spur of the moment trip with no advanced warning or planning (and the results speak for themselves). In the first minute of wetting our lines TS hooked into a 30" plus pike followed by several hours of dredging weeds, tiny perch and sunfish. We were eventually chased off the water by ominous thunderheads and by time we reached shore the skies opened up with a downpour that signalled the end of the day for us. 

   A week later Tackle Shop informed me that the Russian was interested in fishing the Parry Sound area, 150 miles north of Toronto. I spent the night before researching in my map books, navigation programs and on the web for suitable free launch sites to no avail, so I persuaded the others that we would visit a closer area that I knew well from 35 years ago...Victoria Harbour, where my parents had a cottage on Georgian Bay.
  We launched at the public dock in town and slowly worked our way towards the first of several locations I'd marked as "hotspots" from my youth. It didn't take long for previous experience to pay off as TS was into a scrappy smallie as we trolled past the point near where I'd spent so many summers.
   Not long after he repeated using the dreaded GPW (gay pink worm)
   By this time the Russian (originator of the term GPW) had become accustomed to using that unsightly piece of plastic and coaxed his own bass off a mid lake hump.
  For some reason I'm not sure of we decided to pass over a known musky location on the east side of Methodist Island for the calmer waters of Port McNicoll. Gone were the grain elevators I remembered from my youth, but to my surprise an old friend remained, the SS Keewatin, a relic from the golden age of Great Lakes shipping.
   We spent an hour fishing the deep harbour with TS and the Russian going toe to toe catching small largemouth bass. Eventually their competition wound down and they were ready to pack up for the day, but I still had one more location in mind, a small stretch of natural shoreline a half mile south of where we launched. TS noticed movement in a tiny bay as we neared the weedy shoreline but it was the Russian that scored the first hit.
Followed by Tackle Shop
   I forgot to mention that up until this point I'd only caught a handful of gobies, a few perch and a tiny bass!
I spent an hour casting a tiny floating Rapala minnow to hundreds of breaching gar before I realised the area was wadeable for a hundred yards out, so I wasted no more time with the spinning gear and assembled my fly rod. Every retrieve had a follow and I soon became adept at ducking line on a failed hook ups, but alas, once again my trophy had eluded me. The sun was sinking, the wind rising, and the school of gar were heading out to deeper weeds for the night.
   It seems sometimes I'm a much better guide than angler 

   Last week TS called and inquired where I thought we could go locally. The obvious choice was Frenchman's Bay in Pickering, just a few minutes by car from my house. We'd tried the Bay on several occasions during the winter, with little to show for our efforts, but never during the open water season. 

  It didn't take long for me to get the first fish of the day, a one pound largemouth, on a willow leaf spinner cast towards the cattails as we drifted parallel to the weedy shore, but it was TS who stole the show with a good sized pike caught on his go to favorite, a five of diamonds spoon.

   It was our intention to check out the warm water outflow from the nearby power plant but with a strong wind from the southeast, we were unwilling to risk the unpredictable lake in such a small boat.

  And so we come to the last trip, late last week, where TS and I made a return to Victoria Harbour, hoping to cash in on what we learned before. Conditions on the lake dictated, once again, that we not venture too far from port because of strong winds and rough water. In one deep hole near the breakwall at Port McNicoll, we boated a dozen 12" bass, but it seemed access to better waters was limited so we retired from the area early and drove ten minutes north to Port Severn.

   Fishing at Lock #45 is a bit of a crap shoot, and we didn't have a lot of luck there, but we did come away with some valuable info on boat launches and available species. First of all there are numerous gar, walleye when the water flows high, and most surprising... a salmon run in the fall.

   So ...there it is. This is what the not so Dead Fisher has been up to. One interesting note is that I've given my spinning gear it's best workout in years as casting a fly from an overcrowded aluminum boat is difficult at the best of times. Although I'd made the attempt on each occasion, there always seemed to be something lacking and when I've made adjustments on return trips like bringing sinking line and stinger hooks or tying heavy clousers and bunny strip streamers, conditions have forced me to put the fly rod away. Oh well...such is the life of a partially retired fishing bum!

Hope you enjoyed the tunes. Tight lines!