Tuesday, April 23, 2024

South Simcoe: Panfish Paradise

    It seems that spring has finally taken hold in this neck of the woods over the past few weeks with the trees and shrubs leafing out, birds nesting, fish moving into their spawning areas and the hardcore panfish afficionados hot on their tails.

  Imagine my surprise last week when on the way home from work during the morning rush hour, I see a wild turkey in the middle of a busy industrial intersection. Even more surprising was that all the passerbys never even gave it a second glance or thought. I guarrantee they'd never seen a wild turkey before... and the majority have likely never even eaten turkey! It seems the MNR`s reintroduction program is working better than expected.

        The weekend forecasts for the previous two weeks had called for cold temperatures and rain, so...against my "better judgement", both weeks I decided to head out after my final shift on Friday morning when the weather was predicted to be much more enjoyable. Our destination was the shallow, weedy south end of Cooks Bay, Lake Simcoe and our quarry was crappie.

schools in the shadows
   Isn't it funny how our meticulous planning can all go to sh*t and we end up catching everything but our targetted species. Tackle Shop and I started both Fridays on the west side of the bay at Cooks Bay Marina, mainly because of the plentiful minnows available in the drainage ditches nearby, but also because there seems to be fewer crowds due to the entry fee. Giant schools of bluegills could be seen everywhwere, just below the surface. Under the vacant boat slips were smaller groups of largemouth bass, holding tight to cover and easily spooked with just a slightest misstep on the dock. Occasionally TS would spot something larger in the shadows and at one point managed to hook a 40" pike, only to have it wrap itself around a piling and break his line. Yesterday I even managed to locate a school of rockbass (redeyes). All this and not a single crappie. So both weeks we packed up by mid day and travelled to the east side of the bay in Keswick.


   We found a popular spot in the south end of Keswick called Beeg Park, where a shallow canal winds it`s way inland and supports a large population of assorted panfish and predators. Right from the start last week, TS and I were landing equal numbers of bluegill, pumpkinseed and crappies, TS with his minnows and me with the fly rod.

   By mid afternoon both weeks I was running out of steam, having been up for twenty hours or so, and started to take frequent breaks from the action. During these breaks I`d check out the other fishermen and chat with the locals. We ran into Johnny Boy from last year, see; A Crappie Day . His bass fishing skills have progressed immensly in the past year.

   Yesterday the bite was slow so Tackle Shop broke down and started pitching hardware, specifically a #2 orange Panther Martin spinner. Throughout the afternoon he managed over 20 largemouth, the largest tipping the scales at just over two pounds.

  By early evening yesterday I`d packed up my gear and called it quits for the day, happy with the sunfish, rockbass and several small bass and crappies I`d landed. I was just sitting there, content watching TS playing with the bass, when I was approached by a young family and asked how things were going. I told Vin the bite was slow and my chances were limited by the flies I`d brought. Like so many others I`ve talked to, Vin expressed a long time interest in picking up a fly rod and giving it a try. So... seeing as I was just waiting for TS to get his fill, I re-assembled my rod and gave Vin an introduction to casting. After a few tries he was able to roll cast 25 feet out and while he commented on how the line didn`t quite go where he wanted there was a sudden tug and he landed a scrappy bass.
Vin & Vanessa

   I think we have a new convert to fly fishing!

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