We headed back out to the flats today, hoping to duplicate yesterday’s results, but the conditions had changed and the situation proved slightly different. It was overcast and windy and casting our flies was difficult without landing them square in the back of our heads. The fish were no longer in the shallows, the cold nighttime temperatures had sent them scurrying back into the deeper water. The carp, however, had laid claim to the shallows and wallowed in pairs in the shallow water, a pre-ritual of their mating. The normally gin clear water was dark and sedimented. Puffs of silt exploded like clouds as we spooked a few of the sedentary ones resting on the bottom. Read More
It turned out to be the perfect day for gar on the flats. The sun was shining brightly, the shallow waters had finally begun to warm and the gar, mostly congregated on the flats to both feed and spawn, were finally becoming active. The first fish to show up a week earlier were unwilling to hit our flies, still disoriented by the cold water. They were now bunching up in the warm shallows, in some instances water no deeper than a few inches, sunning themselves, the males eagerly searching for a large female to pair up with and spawn. Often, the female was courted by several smaller gar, three or four males, all eagerly lining up to find favor and succeed in spawning with the queen. Read More
It has been awhile since my last post and there are a few good reasons for this. The first reason has been the unseasonably warm temperatures experienced in March and the early Spring, which has made for some excellent fishing opportunities. It has been an unusual year and with low water levels the fish are all concentrated in the warm water and its almost like fishing in a barrel. One day my friend caught 51 fish in 51 consecutive casts. We have had a few great days fly-fishing where we caught several hundred fish apiece, returning home every night with sore wrists and serious bass thumb and other assorted lacerations from gar and pike. Consequently, most of my time has been spent fishing and the blog has been somewhat neglected.( Hey, I’m only human) Besides, the fishing usually fuels the writing but for some reason, perhaps the creeping onset of middle-age, there is a certain creative lassitude plaguing me that just can’t be shaken. Read More
Despite what my passport reads, maybe I am really not at all Canadian. The first indication of this would be my incredible aversion to cold weather, my reaction to winter being similar to that of a black bear, whose sane response to the harshness of the season is hibernation until spring. The not so subtle second indication, a corollary of the first, would be that I do not ice fish. Depending on the temperatures in December, I will continue fishing until water freezes, then I retreat for the year and put my rods in cold storage. For some reason once the temperatures dip below zero, my metabolism refuses to adjust to the cold, almost as though my body lacks the anti-freeze ingredient neccesary to survive our harsh winters. When the water stops moving, so do I. A half decade worth of assorted injuries, as well as incipient arthritis in some of the aging joints, become acutely evident during the winter months. From January to the end of March I remain in a constant state of frigidity – even while indoors! While others are busy in their garages - sharpening their augers, preparing their clams, tip-ups, sleds, vexilars, and all their other gear, eagerly anticipating the beginning of the hard water season, when the ice is thick enough for them to safely venture out upon the lakes - I have retreated to the relative warmth of my home. Read More
I am alone in a canoe, skimming effortlessly across a tranquil lake shrouded by a cloud of fog that closes in on me like a warm blanket of white breath. It is deathly quiet, the silence occasionally punctuated by the echoing cry of a loon somewhere out on the lake. My fly is trailing about two hundred feet behind the canoe. I am fishing a Magog Smelt tandem streamer tied by a friend who understands a thing or two about ounaniche. The surface of the lake is completely flat, with white wisps of fog mist rising off its polished metal surface like cumulous clouds travelling across the sky. There is silence all around. All of a sudden my line straightens and I gently raise the rod tip and set the hook. For an instant there is nothing, the line goes slack, but then a series of wild splashes echo through the thick fog as the fish jumps for his freedom. Then there is weight as my line begins to peel off the fly reel at an astonishing rate until far into the backing. It is a big fish and we settle into each other for a long and protracted battle…
This is my favorite recurring dream.
The Everglades were decidedly not a safe place for two inexperienced Canucks.This truth had been quickly established during the drive through the park when we stopped off to prospect for bass in one of the many ponds along the Tamiani trail. In shorts, wading out towards the ledge of the limestone shelf and casting towards the deeper water that seemed to hold such promise, the subtle shapes that slid off the island and cruised towards my location went largely unnoticed until a sudden feeling of paranoia overcame me with the realization that the trail of bubbles honing in on me belonged to alligators looking for an easy meal. I hightailed it out of the water as fast as I could and stood at a safe distance from the shoreline while one of them surfaced a few feet away and inspected me like a piece of meat at the butcher’s counter at the Winn-Dixie supermarket. Read More
THE LAST FEW YEARS have seen me pay much more attention to the weather system in the days prior to any given fishing outing. I’d like to think that after forty years you tend to learn something about what’s going on around you, even if you are paying attention to something else most of the time. Enough time on water or in the bush will teach you, even through osmosis, certain truths about wildlife and their cycle of activity. Certain tendencies seem to stand out in particular and contrary to what fishing tackle manufacturers want you to believe, success in the practice of catching fish is essentially not an issue of technique or lure choice but is first and foremost the resolution of a problem of natural science. At the risk of sounding like a heretic to the fishing industry and foregoing any future possibility for product endorsements, my position is that biology and meteorology are more important factors in fishing success than the choice of lures. Read More
The sun had not yet risen on a cold, late November morning as we headed down the dark highway towards the boat launch near Sorel on the St-Lawrence river just East of Montreal. It is the fourth oldest city in Quebec, once a major industrial sector with oil refineries and steel mills and processing plants and other heavy industries that were built on the shores of the river. There had once been giant shipyards that built frigates for the Canadian Navy and most of the industries that remained were involved in metallurgy, heavy equipment manufacturing, ethanol and grain processing plants, most with needs requiring their own dockage along the river to both ship and receive materials. These factories were surrounded by small,tough, working-class francophone communities where most of their inhabitants, like the generations before them, toiled in the industries along the river. It only seemed fitting that we would be fishing for the toughest fish in these waters.
IT WAS SOMEWHERE AROUND LAKE HURON that we decided to drive south towards hogtown and spend our last day fishing with Greg Amiel’s Fishing4Tails charter service for steelhead and king salmon before heading back down the final leg of the highway towards home. After one month of fishing everyday, we needed a little fishing to break the trip up and it was the perfect opportunity to finally fish with Greg. We had initially become acquainted through a variety of internet fishing social networks but this marked our first occasion to meet in person and fish together. Despite the sketchy last-minute arrangements, mostly exchanged through text messages as we worked our way across Northern Ontario, he was incredibly generous with his time and created a hole for us in his busy schedule. Read More
Hunched under the canopy of a large elm tree that sheltered us somewhat from the deluge, we waited for what seemed an eternity for the violent tropical storm to relent. We hadn’t even had a chance to wet our lines before the skies parted and the downpour began. The ominous grey clouds in the darkening sky painted a gloomy forecast as they raced over the treetops , as if impatient to reunite with the distant horizon. The torrential summer rainfall cascaded in vertical sheets that undulated across the waters surface, now whipped with such wind-driven force that it bubbled and frothed like boiling water. Off in the faraway distance, thunder claps resonated and shards of lightning splintered across the sky in delicate fingers that spread out and touched the ground, momentarily caressing the earth in its electrostatic embrace. There was an atmosphere of instability in the air and optimism in our hearts and we hoped this was the weather pattern that would see a reversal of fortune in our hunt for the big bass that had mysteriously disappeared for the last two years. Read More