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Event:  Walleye Opening Day 2013

Location:  Sturgeon Lake, Ontario.

Conditions:  Cold, as in “aachoo!” cold.

My expectations were high (first mistake) ;  I was going fishing with a veteran on his water, but the conditions cooled those expectations quickly and this walleye season opener became one of those fishing trips where you say things like “A bad day fishing is better than the best day at work”.  Very true, very true!  I’ll take the trip for what it was – a fun day fishing and a weekend with some buds!  Also, the Leafs won game 6 against Boston the evening before in the Stanley Cup play-offs, so I knew that things weren’t exactly right with the universe.

The rain didn’t fall in droplets, it cascaded in a mist that permeated through our water proof membranes.  The wet didn’t exactly soak our skins, but it soaked our cores and spirits, which suffered further after stopping at the local marina/restaurant for breakfast and coffee.  Breakfast itself was a  soggy affair.  Luckily I’m not a restaurant critic as I would name the diner here in an effort to warn away the weary traveler.   We should have got the hint to not order as-soon-as the waitress attempted to pawn off a pre-made sandwich.   It probably would have been an improvement over the Big Breakfast though.  Big Breakfast consisted of a plate of overcooked, greasy meat, tough eggs and a spattering of barely recognizable charred potato chunks.  Definitely not appetizing.  We found two things amusing though; The waitress talked away on a portable phone while serving us, letting the person on the other end know how busy she was with customers for a change (we were the only 3 people in the restaurant), and she made mention of the fact that the chef had a special process of marinating his meat for 2 days.  Later, on the boat while our breakfast were revisiting us, I made a jest that the marinating process must have been letting the meat sit on the side of the road for 2 days before butchering the road kill.

This is a fishing blog though, not a restaurant criticism, so here is the nitty-gritty on that – fishing was poor as our meal.  My companions were seasoned veterans of these waters, having fished them many times.  Jonathan had brought me here once before and put me on walleye.  They were exactly where he said they would be so I know that  if anyone was going to have a chance catching walleye this opener, it was Jon.   Alas, this was not to be.  Mike did catch a keeper walleye, Sturgeon Lake has a slot limit, but he was the only one amongst us with bragging rights.  Sean, and the friend with him took off early.  They were canoeing it and the cold, rough conditions put them off early.  The hits we had, even from the perch were light at best.  Usually, you feel a fish bite and if you are patient,  you will feel them commit to the bait.  This was not to be.  If you felt a nibble, that was it, there was no take, no further nibbles, no head shakes, just a nibble and then gone, usually with the tail from the bait.  We were using Phoenix tackle grub tails which are very soft plastics.

We spent quite a few hours on the water that day, but we knew the cold front that had dropped temperatures from the mid-twenties to just above freezing, had played havoc on the fishing.  We caught one keeper.  Very few people on that water could make such a boast.  It was a very disappointing opener.

 At the beginning to all of my fishing stories is the story of receiving  my first fishing rod.   It is to my whole life of fishing adventures as “the Hobbit” is to the “Lord of the Rings”.  It was like how everything  starts – not at the beginning, but at “a beginning”.  Now, in all fairness, it is a short story and not too interesting on it’s own really, but none-the-less, it is an important story to me.  I was reminded of this recently when I had the opportunity to be revisited with the memories of receiving my first fishing rod.  Let me tell you about it.

I belong to a group of business people in my community.    This year, the group decided to do something a little different for it’s annual Christmas party.   Instead of having a gift exchange with a few dollars spent on gag gifts, we  all drew names.  Then for the person who’s name  you drew, you bought that person a gift which would have been appropriate  for them when they were five years old.   We wrapped the gifts up and presented them at the Christmas party.  We gave explanations as to why we felt it was appropriate for that person.  At the end of the party we  donated the gifts to a toy drive so that the gifts could be received by a family in need at Christmas.  It was a beautiful and heart warming event and I was very proud to be a part of it.  The gifts were very generous and the evening was really fun as we watched each other receive our “appropriate for us at age five” gifts.

The gift that I received was a Zebco toy fishing rod and reel combo complete with fish shaped casting plug for practice casting.  This gift was so appropriate, that it brought back a flood of memories from a  time when I received my first fishing rod!  A whole scene replayed in my head.  My first rod was also a Zebco.  I began to remember that rod and all of the lures that came with it.   There were 4 rooster tails; the yellow one with black dots which was my favourite, the black with white dots, the red with yellow dots and the white with red dots.   The kit came with a red devil imitation spoon too, and I cast that for pike in our local waters many times, yet I never did catch one.   I did however catch what became a life long obsession with fishing.  My dad even took me out once or twice though he detested fishing.   I’ll never forget wading around in the creek he took me to with my first rod.  It was the creek near his home when he was a boy, and we caught a bunch of sunfish on worms.

I came away from that party with a strong inclination to pass along the magic of receiving a first fishing rod.  Fortunately for me, I have a young nephew. Though he lives a good distance away, we have  managed to get out and do some fishing together.  He is really good to go fishing with – patient with me as I adjust my catching strategies.  Funny, now that I think of it – it was also sunfish that we first caught together.  I decided that this would be a good year to buy him his first fishing outfit as a Christmas gift.  I was relieved to find out that he didn’t already have one to call his own yet which means that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be the catalyst for the spark to all of his fishing adventures.  I hope so because, that’s the real gift here.

People refer to the holiday magic or the magic of the season.  It has been a long time since I have felt that magic and what’s funny is that this year I felt it in the gift of a plastic fishing rod, given to me, to be donated away.  The magic wasn’t really in that particular piece of plastic though, the magic was in the memories of a man, who was a boy at Christmas.  This year, was a special year for me, as I got to touch that magic and then pass it along!   I can’t wait for my nephew and I to share a fishing adventure as again, that is the real gift here.

One of the reasons why I started the Deprived Angler blog and website is to pass along the gift of fishing to others.  As it is now the new year, it is a good time for me to reflect on what my goals are for this website.  I hope that you all have a great new year and I hope that all of you think about your first fishing rod and consider what it would mean if you were able to find a way to spark some magic for someone else.   It would be a great year if we could make 2013 the year to make a few more anglers -” The Undeprived.”

 

Thank you!

My Cousin Val Holding a Salmon I Caught on Lake Ontario

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early morning – 4am – looking at the world this early gives me a gracious sense of awe.  Perhaps sleep deprivation contributes to the feeling, but it really is an amazing time to look across the horizon and to the stars above and feel one with the world.  I wake up early (which for me does not come easy), I say a prayer of thanks, I get into the car, and drive to meet my cousin at the storage yard, where we will pick up his boat for a day of salmon fishing on Lake Ontario.

While driving and appreciating the special beauty that is our world at 4 am, I reflect on what the day is about to bring.  I am going out  fishing with my cousin Val, something that happens once or if I’m lucky,  twice a year.  Val and I have been doing this together now for the last 10 years or so – heading out to Bronte to take part in the Great Ontario Salmon Derby.  We started on a charter boat, but  Val has since set himself up with all the gear required, so he now invites me out to fish with him.   It is something we both appreciate and it means a lot to me that we do this.  Our dadushka (grandfather in Russian), was a fisherman, as was our uncle Tony and Val’s father, my uncle Nick.  They all had a great passion for fishing, so much so that my dadushka picked a cemetery plot out by the Thames River, to be close to a river for fishing in the afterlife.   I wonder what my babushka (grandmother)thought about that.  These men have passed from us now, but their passion sparked a flame for fishing in my cousin and me.  I can’t describe in a word what the feeling is I have when the two of us get together to share the experience.  It is gratitude and ancestry.  It is primal and instinctual.  It is relaxing and intense.  It is the bond between family and blood.  It is mystical and perhaps it is as close to touching divinity as we get during our human experience.

On the drive to the lake, I can’t help but think of our dead family members.  I believe that they would be happy to see my cousin and I together enjoying a day of fishing.  I am in reverie as I commune with my dead uncle, Tony.  It is with him that I did most of my childhood fishing as it is not something that my father enjoyed at all.  I invite his spirit to come along with us.  I believe that he hears my prayer and I believe that he will be with me, always, when I fish.

The day is a beauty!  Hot, summer sun beats down on us – we begin on the water marking fish on the sonar right away.  We have a couple of early strikes and we are pretty stoked.  The first few fish of the day are rainbow trout and they treat us to their amazing water walking acrobatics.  Bows are fun to catch, and better than skunking out, but we are after salmon!  After all, this is the Great Ontario Salmon Derby and we each have a ticket!  It would be nice if this becomes “Derby Winning Wednesday”.  There are hardly any other boats on the water compared to weekends.  We fish uncontested for a few more hours.  The fishing is slow, but steady.  We have a double header and land both fish.  I capture a bit of it on video until the second rod goes off.  A 25 lbs salmon for my cousin – big, but no derby winner- a 14 lbs salmon for me. (pictured in this article).

A few hours go by and the fishing has turned off.  We have attempted everything we know.  Fish are marking on the sonar, bait fish are marking on the sonar – but it is zero fish o’clock (see article One, Two, Three Fish O’clock).

The time is starting to drag – one thing that can happen when summer trolling.  I pull out some potato chips.  I mention something about eating and that’s when we’ll catch a fish to my cousin – he begins to tell me about Pat.

“When Pat falls asleep – we catch fish.”, Val says.  “He’ll just start nodding off to sleep with his head shaking up and down.  Sometimes he’ll pretend to fall asleep until I say FISH ON TWO, FISH ON TWO“.  I laugh and put my bag of chips down.  Val yells out again “no – FISH ON TWO, FISH ON TWO”  I laugh harder thinking this is still part of the story. It’s not until Val jumps up and grabs rod number two yelling about my inability to function when a fish has hit.  I’m rolling inside with laughter as I thought he was telling part of the story.  Then his phone starts ringing – “Oh that’s probably Walt (Val’s brother – also a fishing enthusiast), or Pat, getting back to me”, Val exclaims, too excited to answer his phone right now, not to mention he is fighting what should have been my fish.  The phone goes unanswered while Val keeps fighting the fish.  He is just about to get this one on the boat when the number 3 rod goes off.  Then the number 4 rod.  I grab the number 4 rod and start reeling in a fish.  After he gets the number 2 fish in and I get the 4 fish in, he goes to the 3 rod and reels in another small fish.  The number 1 rod got reeled in as well, sometime in between the 4 and 3 rod going off – as the 1 rod had wire out, and with a triple header, Val didn’t want any chance of cutting off on the wire.  When all is said and done, we have no rods left in the water and the two of us are laughing out loud about what is the first triple header on Val’s boat and how it started with the story of Pat and falling asleep.  After things settle down, Val remembers the phone call and checks his cell.  The missed call wasn’t his brother or Pat, it was Father Morin – the priest from the Russian church.  “Uh oh”, Val says.  I understand his apprehension as the two of us have buried a lot of family members through that church and Val’s mom has just had a wicked stint of pneumonia and there has been a scare that she might not survive the ordeal.  Close enough of a scare that there was question as to whether we would make it out together on this Wednesday for fishing, or if we would be burying Val’s mom instead.  The call from the priest has me tense.  Val calls him back immediately.

“Father, how are you today.  I am out on the boat with my cousin Stef, fishing”.  I listen intently, looking for any signs that the fishing is about to come to an end.  Val laughs though, and I feel a sigh of relief.  “What is that prayer?  Stef listen to this – Batushka has a prayer for us – he is calling to let us know he is giving us a blessing and prayer”.  It turns out that Val had spoken with the priest earlier in the week and had asked for a prayer for our fishing day.  As it happens, the priest had been calling to give us the prayer of the apostles, also fishermen, who in the eastern orthodox religion were celebrating a feast the next day – apostle day!  Holy apostles, pray unto God for us, is what the priest had called to let us know!  And at the same moment- we hit a triple header!!!  Val put it best.  He said “no one is going to believe this fish story”.  I agreed with him, although, I know that some people will.

We finished the day pretty much just after that, catching one more fish which was our limit.  10 fish landed!  6 hours of fishing, one double header and one miraculous triple header.  The fish o’clock disagreed with that triple header, saying that it shouldn’t have happened at zero fish o’clock, but with divine intervention, how could a simple chronograph know?  Other than the triple header, the fish o’clock o’meter was pretty accurate.  On the way back into the harbour, my cousin made a comment.  “I can almost see uncle Tony sitting up there watching us come in”.  Since my cousin and I don’t really communicate about such things – I thought it was a pretty odd comment.  “He probably is Val”, I said.  ” I spoke to him earlier today before we went out and told him we were going out fishing”.  “Oh really?”, asked Val.  “What did he say?”.  “He said thanks for the heads-up and he’d be sure to tell dadushka and your dad and invite them along too.”

 

The other day, my girlfriend Nancy and I were fishing the bass opener.  We chose Goderich, ON as our destination for the day.  All and all, I think this was a good choice.  The water was beautiful and there were many opportunities for mixing it up.  You could go past the break-wall or stay in the marina area.  You could fish the mouth of the Maitland river too.  All very promising spots.  Out on Lake Huron, the water was such a beautiful inviting blue, you could see the sand bottom through the crystal clear waters out to about 14 ft. depth.  It was more like being on top of a giant swimming pool than a lake.

The ramp area was a bit of gong show as it was a very busy Saturday and the bass opening day.   We had to exercise patience.   The conservation officers were out and inspecting .   All and all – not a bad thing.

The inspiration for this article was an incident that I have actually played out before – the “Rookie Move.  This rookie move was in an all to familiar form for me.;  I tried to horse in my fish.  Let me break it down:  I was using one of my new favourite baits – the jerk bait.  This particular stick was a beautiful silver, blue, orange number from Rapala, the Husky Jerk 12.  It is a suspending jerk bait which means it will float on the water until you jerk it under.  If you stop jerking it down, it will suspend in the water column without diving or floating up.  I have found it to be a very effective bait, especially on the initial cast.  Bass love these things when they hit the water.  I like the Husky Jerks and the Smithwick Rogues.  I had just finished casting and the bait had hit the top of the water.  I let it settle there for a moment and then gave it a jerk to bring it down and I got a strike.  The fish must have come towards the boat with it because I lost the feel of the strike and had to reel in line.    I was pretty certain that I had lost the fish when I felt it’s weight back  on the line.  The fish felt me at the same moment and I set the hook.  Beauty!  I had the fish on and it was hooked – it started on a run, pulling line off with ease.  I had a medium heavy rod and it was well bent into the rods backbone.  The drag was set heavy too, yet this fish was having no problem peeling off line – this was a GOOD fish!.  It took a turn towards the boat and I was reeling in line.  It got near the boat and then took a hard run under and down towards the back of the boat.  I was worried that we were going to cross lines, so I made Nancy aware that I had a big one on and it was heading her way.   I was concerned about the fish rapping itself on the motor at the back, but we had it up almost all the way out of the water – so no worries there.

Ok – so far so good –

The fish changed directions and headed back out from the boat.  I realized that I was probably not going to lose this fish from the hook set which had now held up through a couple hard directional changes.  The fish realized it too.  It started heading up towards the surface, now out way out the front port side of the boat.  I was getting pretty excited and was letting Nancy know.  (anyone who knows me personally can fill in the blanks here – I’m sure you can all imagine).

“Ooh Nancy – oh!! It’s coming up to the surface!  It’s going to jump – Look Nancy Look!!  It’s coming up – I think it’s going to jump!!!”  Nancy – cool as a cucumber says ” Stef – I can’t see the fish”  True, as I had polarized, but I still couldn’t see the fish at this point either.  I was just expecting it to jump because at this point I figure that I have either one hellavu monster bass on or maybe a steelhead because this thing is pulling like a monster and it obviously has legs because it has done 3 good runs now – so this is no ordinary fish.  The fish comes up to the surface just off the bow of the boat and it turns in the water – it doesn’t jump.  I get a glimpse of it through the water (we are in the marina and the water here is a murky green , choked with weeds too.  I see the flank as it rolls and I see the tail which has a black stripe at the end of it and along it’s width but I can’t make out what kind of fish this is.  It is just starting another diving run when I get the great idea that I should try to turn the fishes head.  And there it is folks – the “Rookie Move”.   As I’ve mentioned, I’ve done this one before and as soon as I began I knew it was a mistake, but before I could stop myself, I had pulled the bait out of the fishes mouth and just as suddenly as it had begun – it was over.  The fish was on it’s way to la la land and I was on my way to deprived angler blues camp.  What a stupid stupid, stupid mistake!!!  If I hadn’t done it before, I would have thought lesson learned – but I’ve learned this lesson already so what an idiot!  That fish would have elevated me to angling heaven.  I would have been angler extraordinaire!  Instead I am chump.  DON’T make the same mistake folks – let the fish run – keep the tension on your lines but not too tight on the drag – let the fish play out – and when it’s all said and done – reel the fish in and be your own hero – not a rookie zero.

Other Rookie Moves to be Aware of – (painful mistakes learned the hard way)

Here are some other tips from me on rookie mistakes to be avoided at all cost!  Feel free to leave comments with a few of your own rookie blunders and I’ll post them up for others to see – I mean learn from!

Putting the Plug in the Boat :0

I won’t mention names but I’ve seen it – check and double check and if you are prone to forgetting things (like a tent when you and your buddy decide at the last minute to go camping in Algonquin Park), then you should make a list of equipment needed and check it before setting out!  The plug goes in the boat!

Net Man Down

Don’t chase the fish around with the net at the boat – or even at the shore.  Set the net into the water and lead the fish to the net, scooping it up as the fish enters the net.  (Sorry for the salmon that got away Val)

Not Setting the Hook

I want you to read Musky Opener Hijinks when I finish writing it to get an idea of how this can feel.  Seriously, “hook sets are free” is a quote I’ve heard before and even if you think it may be a snag, set the hook!  You have nothing to lose except maybe a trophy fish.

Power Loading the Boat Without Putting the Parking Brake On

Imagine how horrifying this one can be!  You’ve just won a new boat and you have it out on the water and you go to power load it.  The door to the truck is wide open and the truck is in park on the ramp when the column pin slips and the truck starts sliding into the water.  Now, the guy loading the boat notices in time to back the boat up, but the truck is still sliding into the water with it’s momentum building.  You jump into the front seat, but not in time to save the truck from jack-knifing the door into the side of the ramp.  You save your truck from completely submerging, you save the boat from ramming up into the backward moving vehicle,  but you put a really nasty dent into the side of your pretty much brand new truck.  This is a really bad rookie move.  Engage the parking brake at the ramp.  If you want to know if this happened to anyone I know, the answer is; I’m not telling.

Not Setting the Latch on Trailer Hitch and Securing It Properly

It’s great to get up at 3 am and set out salmon fishing.  The only problem is that it’s 3 am and you usually get up at 6.  This can lead to a bad rookie move if you are towing a boat.  When you set out, take time to double check all of your connections.  When you get to the first stop sign on your street and the boat trailer keeps coming into the back of the truck – putting a beauty of a dent into the tailgate of your otherwise pristine pick-up, this rookie move will also put a dent in your wallet and your mood for the day.  Actually, come to think of it – if this happens to you, you might want to just turn around, park the truck and put the boat away – go back to sleep.  It was on a day that started like this, that we also got smashed into out on the water by a guy who had fallen asleep at the helm.  Luckily we were able to somewhat avoid the collision to the boat and we only lost a few down rigger arms, but even those with extensions can cost a bit of cash.

Don’t Muscle the Fish

I’ve had plenty of days on the water playing fish.  I enjoy fishing for steelhead with light gear and I’ve landed a fair number of the ones I’ve hooked, so you would think that I’ve learned a thing or two about playing a fish, but nope, I can still make the mistake of trying to bring the fish in before it’s done.  Let the fish dictate to you when it’s had enough.  You will know because the fight is over.  Reel her in and rejoice in your success.  Otherwise, try and muscle the fish and lose an opportunity to land a trophy.  I have had this experience a few times now, where I have had a fish peeling off line and I’ve either set the drag tension too high on purpose or by accident (slipped when trying to tighten a rear fighting drag spinning reel), or I’ve made a stupid decision such as outlined in the incident above.  You can practice this with every fish you catch, letting it play itself out a bit before landing it.  It certainly makes it easier to handle the toothy ones and the big buggers.

 

Drop me a line with your rookie moves and maybe I’ll post them here.   Maybe I’ll even send a prize out for the best of the best rookie errors I read.   Thanks folks and have fun on the water – and remember – don’t muscle your fish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me with a really nice large mouth caught on a spinnerbait.  Notice the colour of the blades.  Chartreuse and white combinations can be very effective at times.  This bass was caught in very clear water with overcast conditions. 

Spinnerbaits catch fish-period.  I have caught multiple species on spinnerbaits including walleye, largemouth, smallmouth, pike, and muskies, (although the muskies were just hits as I missed my hook sets on several occasions-I thought I had snags until too late).

My love affair with the spinnerbait began this past year.  I am hooked.  It is an effective bait when the wind is strong.  A 3/4 ounce spinnerbait will not be affected drastically by the wind.  It is also a phenomenal performer when the weeds are choking a bay.  Burn the spinnerbait fast across the top of a weed bed and wait for some action.

With a baitcaster, you can cover a large territory quickly and locate active fish.  I recommend the baitcaster over spinning gear for a couple of reasons.  First is the accuracy of the cast.  With very little effort, you will be able to quickly learn how to properly cast.  Secondly, these larger baits go a mile on a baitcaster.  Correct me if you know better, but a 7′ medium baitcaster will chuck a 3/4 ounce spinnerbait a country mile and get it right to where you want it.  The gear ratio I like is 7.0 to 1 as it is quick on the retrieve.  I fished with a buddy recently and I was able to cover twice as much water – maybe more, as he could not retrieve as quickly or cast as accurately as I could while using spinning gear.  This might not be important to you, but it is an advantage if you are trying to boat fish.

Rod’s appropriate for spinnerbaits.  Notice that I have chosen a selection of baitcaster outfits.  The baitcaster is the most accurate and fastest way to deliver a spinnerbait to your target.  Spinning rods take more time to cast, do not present the bait as accurately, and do not burn the bait as fast, which is key to the presentation. 

The spinnerbait will catch most of your bass as the cast hits the water, but at times, you will get hits during the retrieve.  Pike and musky follow the baits before committing, especially musky.  I have not had an immediate reaction bite from a musky yet.  All the bites have been late in the retrieve.  Sometimes, even right at the boat.   I haven’t had as much experience on walleye waters with spinners though, so don’t get too excited about what I say if it doesn’t make sense to you for this species.  I am only trying to advocate the use of these versatile  baits when conditions such as wind or weeds dictate the use of a bait that won’t be hindered by either.

As a tip, I bought all of my spinnerbaits at the same weight – 3/4 oz.  I know you may think this is heavy, but It isn’t.  With large enough willow blades, it will helicopter down when you end the retrieve, and it will burn quickly without breaking the surface.  Having all the same size baits makes for very quick changes if you are using leaders with snaps.

Notice the snap.  Make sure if you are using leaders like this titanium one in toothy waters, that you buy baits that they will fit into.  This eye where the arms of the bait meet is almost too small to get through with this leader snap.  The 130# ones I have for musky wouldn’t make it.  Don’t think you can’t catch early season musky with this size bait.  You can and will!

Although I haven’t actually caught a fish on a stinger hook, many people advocate the use of them.  It makes sense that if you are burning a bait across the surface of the water, that a fish may strike short.  Use siwash hooks with open eyes.  I prefer certain brands of hooks for being sticky sharp,  one of which is a Gamakatsu.  I use a number 4 size hook.  Close the eye around the shank of the primary hook.  Some folks believe in putting silicone tubing around the eye of the siwash hook to anchor it in place.  I believe  that you will get better action from the hook if you anchor it under a piece of silicone, leaving the hook free to move.

Here is an example of how I prefer to rig a cheater hook or “stinger”  hook.  The silicone tubing is slid over the  primary hook in order to prevent losing the cheater.

Some spinnerbaits have anchor points molded into the lead head.  This helps in securing a plastic or live bait to the spinnerbait.  I have fished the spinnerbait with minnow style swimbaits.  There are many choices on the market for trailers of this nature.  I like the yum money minnow or the berkely hollow belly swimbaits.  I rig both of them flat.  They look awesome in the water.

This bait has an anchor for holding onto trailer baits such as swimbaits.  I have read that minnows and worms are also very effective on a spinnerbait though I have to admit that I haven’t felt the need to enhance the rig with live bait yet.  Maybe when the fishing gets tough, this would be a good tactic to have in your tool kit of tactics.

 

This is a convenient storage solution for spinnerbaits.  They hang nicely and can be organized into patterns and colours.

 

 

If you have read my article  I Am Addicted To Fishing, My Name Is Stefan , then you will understand what I am on about in this article.  If you haven’t, that’s ok; you will have a pretty good idea of the gist of things by the time I’m done.

 

So musky 2012 opener is just a few weeks away here in Ontario.  Last year, I was fortunate enough to be invited to my friends cottage on the Lower Buckhorn to fish what is now known as the 5th annual musky opener weekend.  If you want to know more about how that went, you may enjoy reading about my experience in The Blue Gill Session.  If not, here is a recap in short – I didn’t catch a musky, but… I did catch the musky bug.  Some of you already know that bug.  I am just in the early stages of the disease but I am an addict so this could be a long down hill road I’m about to travel.  I hope that it doesn’t end in another 12 step program, but hey, I’m sure that if it does, I’ll find a few of you in the rooms.

 

For me, part of the joy of fishing is the preparation and planning that goes into a trip.  I have been watching the Musky Hunter and a few other programs.  I have been reading articles by Doug Stange, editor-in-chief of In-Fisherman magazine as well as others on the ins and outs of musky fishing.  I have been going down to the local tackle stores and telling everyone that I’m going musky fishing on the Lower Buckhorn, trolling for information on the chance that someone may be able to offer some insight into what it takes to catch a musky.  I have spent the last year browsing through on-line catalogues of gear appropriate to the sport.  I have researched a number of different leads on tackle that has one property or another that will give me the angling edge when it finally comes time to pound the water.  All of these things, I have done – and more, in hopes that I am preparing myself for the experience.  I have talked fishing rods, reels, line, techniques – I am a wealth of untested knowledge.

 

In theory, I am prepared.   Mentally, I am ready.  Emotionally, I am amped up – enjoying the process all the way so as not to cheapen the experience if I happen to get skunked again this year.  The opener is on its way – I have my rods and reels collected – almost – (last year I was borrowing everything I needed – this year I will own some of my own! )

And….this year I have my own baits too!!  (Yes Ron – I can lose my own prize lures on cast one and two – no more replacing tackle for other people )

I have spent just as much time if not more in lure selection for the trip.  I have some body baits – jerks and such – suspending  loveliness in an array of colours, shapes and sizes.  I have some small buck-tail baits too, some with single hooks, some with doubles.  Most with fluted blades.  I have some original Buchertail baits from famous musky fisherman Joe Bucher ( I first read about him in an article about J.J. Ross – a Canadian musky lure manufacture that sited Joe as someone he had talked to about lure design).  I don’t have a Gobbler by J.J. Ross, though I would love to have a couple – I am just having difficulty getting a hold of him so far.  J.J. – if you read this, please help!  I would like 3 of your Gobblers.  Black on Black – Black with orange blade and black with silver blade)  .  On the subject of Joe Bucher, I read a great article by him about rod selection and the 3 rods a fisherman needs for musky – only thing I would change is the 6’6″ rod would be for spinning gear as I prefer spinning gear for the jerkbaits ( they are lighter and I hate throwing light tackle on baitcasters – bird nest problems being the reason – though if these new Quantum Smoke Reels perform as I expect they will, then I may just be casting jerks with them too.)

 

Anyway – everything that I have mentioned above is all part of the lead up and as I get closer to the opener, the more excited I get.  Bare with me as I share this experience –

Last week on Thursday, I was researching buck tail lures.  I mentioned that I have had problems getting Gobblers and I really want some for this years opener.  I started looking for buck tail manufacturers in Ontario that may be able to fulfill my desire for new lures before opener.  I found the name Johnny Dadson from Dadson lures and I must say that I am super glad that I did!  Go to the website www.dadsonbladebaits.com and check out the amazing selection of lures this gentleman makes – scratch that – CREATES.  They are works of art – no kidding.  I had an absolutely seamless transaction and Johnny was first class about everything.  First, he gave me a walk through on where I could buy his baits.  I told him that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to any of the locations carrying them before opener and asked if he knew if any of them would order specific baits for me and how long I would have to wait.  He sent back that he had some baits in stock if I would like to choose from his selection.  He helped me with his knowledge of the fishery I was heading to as well.  I took him up on his suggestions for lures and colours.  We then got the details of the transaction worked out and I paid him through what must be one of the coolest ways ever; an Interac email money transfer.  It was so smooth and quick that he had the money literally within minutes of the beginning of our discussion.  I had never used that method of payment before, and honestly if you are a retailer, you need to check it out.   If you want a cool way to pay, you should check it out.  Anyway, the money transferred and Johnny put the baits in the mail the very next day – Friday.   They arrived at my work today, Tuesday and wow!  Just to let you all know – these are not just lures.  They are incredible works of art.  I can’t wait to fish them and man it will be cool to catch something too.

 

As I said earlier and many times – for me it is the process of fishing – the planning, the preparing and the learning that all comes before, during and after the fishing trip.  I hope to send you some amazing pictures from the opener and I hope that I can report on some really great new experiences.  If you have any pictures from this years musky opener, I would love to see them so send them along and I will post them up!  Especially if you catch a musky on  a Dadson lure!  And, even if you don’t catch a musky – send me your pics from the weekend anyway and maybe a story or an event or something you learned.  I would love to hear from you.  But please, refrain from sending me pictures of your half naked, drunken self -(yes Tinkerbell – this does mean you! Lol )

 

Stefan Cartmale

Un-deprived

This is the video we submitted to WFN for our entry into the deprived angler disorder contest!

We had a great time making it as you can see in the video, plus we learned a lot about recording and video editing too!

The process of making this video was the best part of the contest and in the end I think it showed enough that the wonderful judges at WFN rewarded us by giving us a boat!  An awesome boat!

Thanks for watching!

Stefan Cartmale

Un-Deprived Angler

 

My girlfriend is an amazing woman.  She is not only an extremely patient person, but she is also very supportive, both good qualities when dealing with an addict such as myself.  Now one might think that she is an enabler, and that may be true to some degree, but for Christmas this year, she got me a watch.  But this is no ordinary time keeping watch, this is a Casio Fishing Gear Watch!  It has the lunar charts built into it and it uses this information to give you the exact time of day that is best for fishing based upon these cycles of the moon  and the longitude at which you live!!  Amazing technology!! ( See my article, “Back In My Day…”)  The instructions state that there are 5 levels starting with zero fish filled in and working up to four fish filled in.  I have affectionately come to know these indicators as One, Two, Three, or Four Fish O’clock.  Unlike the Mayans, I don’t find much use for zero when it comes to time to fish.  As far as I am concerned, zero fish o’clock is that horrible time when it is best to find something else to do because there is nothing better going on.( see my article – “My Awesome-Sauce New Fishing Rod Holder”)  Actually, I have not yet not gone fishing when it is zero fish o’clock as the scientific data on this thing is still untested in my opinion, but I would like to say that based on more than a few test days, the watch and it’s indicators seem to be pretty much right in line.  I have yet to catch a fish when it is zero fish-o’clock and I have seen action turn on for me as well as for other anglers around me when the magic four fish-o’clock indicator lights up.  At any rate, If you have some patience for me, eventually this web site will have the ability for you the user to log in your catches and I what time of day the fish were caught, and I will then cross reference that against the information on the  charts and give an up-to-date account on how well the average fisherman is doing compared to what the lunar cycle says!  Wow – exciting stuff boys and girls!  Until that time, if you would like to know more about what fish o’clock it is going to be for your next fishing trip, let me know and I’ll try and reply to your request.  There are two versions of this watch by Casio that I am aware of ( Thanks to my friend Rick for introducing me to this thing!).  One will only tell you what is in store for the next 24 hours, the other, which I am very fortunate to own, will tell you what fish 0’clock it is for whenever you want.  This information can come in very handy for a fella – especially if you are on a fishing trip with the boys and you are going to want to plan your drinking and hangovers around what the best fishing times are going to be!  Think about the possibilities!  Good luck fishing friends and see you on the water when it is four fish o’clock!

 

 

 

A Great Project for When It Is Zero-Fish-O’Clock (see also article One, Two, Three, Four-Fish O’clock)

-Bottom Holes Drilled 6″ apart – A perfect Fit!

Requires – 3 equal lengths of wood about 4-5 inches wide – and as long as you want for the number of rods you own – 6 inches worked well for the space in between rods for me and the gear I own.

A drill

A saw – preferably, a table saw as you will need one of the boards ripped in half ( or get this done when you purchase the wood at your local lumber store)

Some screws – like maybe two dozen or so – make them the right length for the lumber you  are using – we used 1 and a half inch screws for the half inch lumber.

A spirit level

A tape measure

Inch and a half round drill bit –

Top Drilled Holes - 1 and 1/2 "

My father-in-law Wade, is a genius.  The other day Wade had one of his better ideas.  “Why don’t we build you a rod holder with that extra lumber laying around.  We can put it up in the garage on the wall and get that area kind of cleaned up for you.”  Hmm…let me think about that for a minute.  Heck Yah!  We had talked about it once or twice but I figured it might  be one of those projects that you know, gets put off and put off some more.  I was so excited.  I quickly set us up, getting the ball in motion before there was any further debate on the subject.  This was one of those opportunities that I wasn’t going to let get away!!

First thing was to get the lumber down from the garage loft.   I enlisted the services of my father, getting him to hold the ladder while I zoomed up  to get the wood.  I got the wood down, which was perfect for what we needed and Wade set up the table saw.  I cleared some of the crap that was cluttering up the space I was going to stake as my territory while  Wade began measuring the wood.  “Six inches between rods going to be enough?”, he asked.  “I think so.”, I replied.  He measured the lengths of wood.  “That will make space enough for fourteen rods.  Will that be enough?”  I did some quick calculations in my head.  “Well, the three trout rods will be all I ever need for that.  The three perch rods, and I have two bait casters but would like one more, and at least one more spinning rod and reel – that makes eleven plus some room for expansion. “Yup fourteen is good, more than enough.  I think after fourteen rods, I should probably start giving some away.”  Ok, it was settled.  Wade finished the layout and I finished the clean-up and the corner was good and ready.  He dug out some really awesome circle drill bits.  We debated for a minute about the size needed and settled on inch-and-a-half.  This would allow the bait casters and the spinning rods to go through if we carefully positioned the upper and lower parts of the holders.  After using the rods as measuring devices for where the best fit would be, we got down to the business of drilling the wood.  Wade told me what to do and I eagerly set about the drilling of the holes.  I was only supposed to go half way sunk with the bit for the bottom holder as this would give a nice groove for the butts of the rods to sit in.  I managed to accomplish this task with only one or two hiccups along the way.  The drill bit got away from me on one of the holes, but since this isn’t going up for sale anytime soon, I’ll live with the small “character flaw” in the rod holder that I created.  After drilling the bottoms out, I had to drill all the way through for the holes on the upper portion as this would make it so the rods could slip into their nesting spots.  Mission accomplished and it was time to a-fix a couple of backing strips so that we would be able to screw this thing into the wall.  We cut the third board in half and found some drywall screws ( it is amazing how many things you can put together with drywall screws), which we used to attach the two parts together.  Wade let me know that we were going to have to counter-sink for the drywall screws heads as they “V” and this would not be good if we don’t countersink.    After getting the upper and lower pieces all done, it was time to hang them on the board.  We located the studs and again got out the handy dandy drywall screws!  A level is also very handy for this type of job!

I have to say, that this project turned out perfect!  I am so pleased to get my rods organized and off the floor.  Take a look at the pictures and you will see why I am so excited!  Oh, one down side to this project is that my girlfriend now knows just how big my problem is in measureable quantities.  If you are trying to hide any of your gear from your wife, I don’t suggest that this project is for you as the full extent of your addiction will be on display for her and others.  If this is not a worry, then good luck to you in making your own fishing rod holders!

 

Like Pretty Maids All In A Row

 

Or at all, for that matter!

Take only pictures, leave only footprints. 

I like this motto very much.  I don’t always prescribe to it as I do harvest the occasional fish, but I always follow, and with this I do not waiver, the second part to the above statement – leave only footprints.  I do not smoke and therefore leave cigarette butts around – which by the way, is littering.  I do not go to the local coffee purveyor, grab my cup-o-joe  to go and then proceed to leave the container by the river because I feel it is too much trouble to take it out with me.  Listen people and listen closely – if it wasn’t trouble bringing it to the river  then  it is no problem bringing it back – get it?  Good.

When I see garbage down by the river I can’t help but think – really?    I am amazed at how insensitive my fellow fishing enthusiasts can be when it comes to the environment, especially considering how it is the environment that provides them with the enjoyment of their past-time.  I am amazed, but I am not surprised.

The other day, I was walking along the bank of a local river I intended to fish.  I had visited the river a few times over the past month and each time I had thought to myself that I should take pictures of all the garbage and post the pictures up on  the web.  The only thing is that I never got around to taking the pictures.  Every time I go – and here is the thing – I think, no problem, I’ll just take pictures the next time I’m down here!  Think about that statement for a minute – I know that the next time I come down to the river, the garbage will still be there and in some cases, the litter will be even worse.

I have never been a litterer.  The act of polluting the environment so directly by my hand in a way where I can see the immediate result would cause far too much guilt to make it worthwhile.  I find it much easier to carry out everything I carry in.

Upper Thames Conservation Authority River Clean-Up (and others) 

I am not just a complainer.  You can ask my kids.  We have spent more then one season participating in a local event called the Upper Thames Conservation Authority River Clean-up .  Not only does this make me feel good as I am helping to clean up the mess I abhor; the event helps teach my kids the importance of not littering as I know that they do not enjoy cleaning it up.  I think that everyone should participate in this event.  One thousand empty water bottles or a thousand used coffee cups with all their rolled up rims later and you see if you leave litter laying around, not to mention one dirty diaper by the side of the road. Yuck!!  Who does that?  Really?

Anyway, the event is coming up and I encourage you to spend some time participating.  I hope to post a video soon of an interview with a few of the event coordinators.  If you would like more information on this event, please reply to this post and I will get you as much information as possible.  This particular event takes place around the Thames River in Oxford and Middlesex Counties but I am sure that there are more events like it around rivers in other areas.  If participating in an event like this is not for you, I don’t judge you, but could you please, please, please make certain that you do not contribute to the problem?  Be the example and be the solution.  Don’t litter by the river!

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