Wednesday, June 11, 2008


As you might guess, I had a great time on this recent fishing trip to Canada. It's an annual trip that I take to fish and visit with my cousin Bob, who lives in Pennsylvania. He's become a great friend in the last decade or so. Beyond that, he's one of a few very close friends that I'm lucky to have now that act sort of like older siblings to me, helping me figure out a few things about growing up and trying to be a better man. I always wanted someone like that in my life growing up but never had it. Somebody to show me how everything works and giver me a clue now and then about what's cool or really important in life. Now as I get older I'm lucky enough to have a few big brothers out there, and it's a hoot, I wanna tell ya. You know who you are, and you know I love ya.

Anyway, this annual trip to Gananoque was interrupted last year when the college I work for moved the schedule around and shifted my days off between semesters to a point where I couldn't make the trip. I was sooooo pissed off, but there was nothing I could do about it. What made it worse was that after a few uneventful trips where I didn't catch many fish, 2006 was my year. I tore the ass out of that lake, catching more fish than anyone else, and catching the biggest pike and bass I'd ever caught in my life. It was glorious! When I called Bob to tell him that I wasn't going to be able to come I told him that it was probably a good thing, since now he and the others would have a chance to catch some fish. So, going back this year was gonna be fun, but it was also gonna be my chance to see if the good time I'd had in 2006 was about luck or skill.

It turns out I must know what I'm doin', because I had just as much fun this time, and caught the biggest Pike I've ever caught, as well as the biggest Bass I've ever caught. The overall number of fish caught by everyone was probably down from previous years. Other fishermen in other groups also voiced the feeling we had, that the number of big fish was down from previous years. We were all catching lots of smaller Pike, but the Large Mouth Bass were everywhere.

In earlier years the big Bass were always along the shore, guarding the little fry from the pan fish. All you had to do was toss a little plastic worm over there and you could catch one lunker after another. If the locals saw you doing it they'd hit the roof, since you were fishing for bass out of season, but the temptation to see those fuckers jump and wiggle at the end of your line was too much for us to resist.

After a few trips where we pretty openly caught as many bass as we wanted, we've begun to try to respect the rules. At the same time, the authorities have gotten a bit prickly about the whole issue. Jim, Bob's buddy, told us that as you leave Canada the cops stop trucks that are pulling boats and ask to see the pictures in your digital camera. Every shot of a big bass left on the camera costs you a $200 fine! The idea is that we all catch them without meaning to, but if you pull it out of the water and take a picture of it it's a fine. So needless to say, we didn't get any shots of any of the nice Bass we caught on this trip.

Also, the challenge of catching a nice sized Pike has overcome the fun of easily hooking a huge bass. That will never get old, but there's nothing like hooking a huge Pike and fighting it in to the boat. The challenge is much greater, and the bravado from success is much greater. By now we've all caught big bass up there, but bringing in a huge Pike is still something we'll all sit around the dinner table and want to relive, again and again.

I was lucky to bring in a nice fish right at the beginning of the trip in 2006, right on the first evening of fishing. It turned out my luck was the same this year. Here on the right is a shot of my big '06 pike. They get a hell of a lot bigger than this, but none of us have ever seen one like that. So this was big for us.

I always joke with Bob that his fish always look bigger in these pictures because he's such a runt (He's a tough, ex-Penn State football player and almost as big as I am). I tell him that my fish always look smaller because they have me behind them.

Anyway, here's my '08 Pike, in Bob's hands.

The reason why he's holding it and not me is funny. I was actually jiggin' for Crappie, tryin' to get another big one that we could fillet and fry for dinner when I hooked this fat dude. I was usin' a soft plastic blue/green twisty tailed worm, tossin' it into the water just beside the boat and movin' it up and down in about 12 feet of water. This dude zipped out from under the boat and took that worm right in front of my eyes. I said something like "Oh shit!" and set the hook. I told Bib I had one and began to reel it in, trying not to pull the hook loose in the process.

I pulled it up to the boat and Bob reached down into the water to get it. We didn't have a net so he had to grab it by hand, trying to avoid both the hooks from the lure and the sharp teeth in the fishes mouth (they're like Barracudas or Gar, with lots of sharp little teeth). When he pulled it up I told him to hold on and let me get a picture, but he said "No, you hold it!" I insisted on getting this shot, then put the camera down and reached out for the fish. Just then it wiggled out of Bob's grip and up and over the side of the boat and back into the water, never to be seen again. I said something like "SEE why I wanted to get that shot?", and we laughed and he congratulated me on the catch. You can see it was a fat, heavy one, in comparison to '06. It's probably a female, full of babies. It turned out to be the biggest Pike caught and boated on the trip. "Boated" is the key there.

On about the third day, Jim (Bob's buddy and a regular on these trips) and I were fishing on his boat when he hooked a monster Pike. He got it to the boat and we were both amazed at the size of the thing. I grabbed the camera as he tried to get ready to reach down and grab it by the gills.

Just as I took this picture the fish shook itself out of the water, popped the lure out of it's mouth and disappeared under the waves, never to be seen again. It was a huge bummer, but that's fishing for ya. The ones that get away...

Most of the pike we caught on this years trip were about the size of this one, caught by Jim on the same day he hooked that monster. Even these little ones will give you a decent fight, so it's all good fun.

Bob's son-in-law Scott even caught one that was so small, he joked about it being smaller than the lure he used to catch it.

You can see the lure du jure there on the boat deck. We found that the Pike and Bass were drawn to different shades of yellow, green or orange, mirroring the colors of their major food source, pan fish.

Here's my set of weapons, layin' conveniently in the top of one of Bob's tackle boxes (since I fly up there I just use Bob's gear - he has a lot, so it's no big deal). You can see the blueish part of the blue/green worm I used to catch that Pike there on the bottom right.

The rattle trap hangin' there, second from left, is the one I used to ketch my big bass. We were fishing a line of weeds in a cove on the second morning, Saturday morning, when I hooked it. Every once and a while we'd screw with one another by casting our lines toward one another's boats. There's nothing like getting a strike right in front of the other guys boat, taking a fish away from them. It's all in good fun.

Anyway, I did that in this case, casting my line down wind towards Bob and Jim and then reeling it back up the weed line. When it got about 1/3rd of the way back I felt the big tug, and within' moments we all saw the big baby leap up out of the water, the way Bass are prone to do. It was obvious this was a big one, but my initial response was one of disappointment. "Shit, another Bass!". Then, getting it to the side of the boat and getting a close look at it, I realized that it was bigger than any other I'd ever caught. It was at least 20 inches long, and fat! I thought later that I should have taken my phone out on the boat and taken pictures of it with that, sending the pictures to my email address and then erasing them from my phone. What the hell. There'll be another one next year.

It was Saturday evening when my time came to really shine. We went out after dinner (a thick steak, baked beans and my last Yuengling in a chilled glass) and bob chimed in with a wager. The first Pike landed in the boat didn't have to clean up and do dishes. That sort of wagering is a common feature of these fishing trips. The first evening, Wednesday evening, I'd won a similar bet, first fish of any kind landed in the boat, by rigging up a little worm on a small hook and bringing in a palm sized Rock Bass in about 30 seconds. I was done fishing for little ones by Saturday though and wanted to get a few more pike before the trip ended.

If you go back up to that picture of my lures you'll see the pretty green and orange dude with black stripes in the front center. That was my weapon of choice Saturday evening. I just kept tossin' it out there like a machine. Sure enough, each of the other three guys went back to the pier empty handed, but I landed three and got a fourth to the boat before it got off the hook. It was great! What made it all even better was the fact that Jim and I had gone to the store in town the night before and it was all the lures that I'd purchased that turned out to be the best ones that day. I guess I do know a thing or two.

Anyway, eventually I'll have these shots and many more posted over at the FlickR site so you can scroll through them. I'll post something later this week about some of the other critters, besides fish, that we encountered on the trip. We'll talk about all that later. Cheers.


JDP said...

Looks like you had a great time on your fishing trip to Canada. I can not believe they fine you $200.00 for taking a photo of a bass you caught and released. Damn!


pat houseworth said...

Canacks...I like the people(except the frenchies in Queerbeck), but their laws are socialism 101.

Nice looking last trip was to Lake Tagamung 100 miles north of Rice that is deserted and pristine.

BRUNO said...

I wonder what the big "stink" is about PICTURES of bass, "up-there"? I mean, I could understand an actual FISH---but a damned picture???

Just another reason to stay "in MY OWN hole".....!

david mcmahon said...

Mate, you;ve got me `hooked'!

Have ya ever eaten barramundi?

GUYK said...

Used to do a lot of fishing for NOrtherns when I was stationed in MOnatna and again in Alaska..Alaska has some of the best Pike fishing anywhere but you have to fly in to the on a dirt/gravel strip..and maybe clean out your pants before the fishing starts.

I usually used a Mepps spinner..# five for the casting distance..or a big red and white daredevil spoon..but have caught them on just about everything in my box including bass lures

I did learn the hard way to use a six inch steel leader..those sharp teeth will get them loose most of the time from monofilament leader

Sarge Charlie said...

way cool my friend, that is fishing, not just wetting a line.

doggybloggy said...

good job on the fishing....did you eat any or was it all catch and release?

Jerry said...

I'll bring the tartar sauce, you bring the rest!

~Fathairybastard~ said...

JDP - Wild ain't it. The idea is that if you catch it accidentally you should immediately let it go. If you hold on to it long enough to get a picture you've broken the rules. Sucks, because we got a few nice ones.

Pat - Yep, they're more like Europe, but nice folks. The first trip I took with Bob was to Lake Opeongo in 1995. Algonquin Provincial Park. It was cool as hell. We canoed in and trolled spoons behind the boats as we paddled up and down. I didn't catch a thing.

Bruno - Bizarre eh? Next time I'll take the phone and get a few bad Bass shots that way. We can't keep from catchin' the friggin' things. Ether that or we'll go a week or so later and get there for bass season. Depends on when I can get away, between semesters.

David - No I haven't. Is that a fresh water fish?

Guyk - I'd LOVE to do a fly in trip like that some day. I'd even take wet wipes. We threw LOTS of spoons at those Pike, since we'd caught many in previous years on them. Mepps were a favorite. But i didn't see any caught on those this year. We found that these fish were just about only hitting these yellow and green lures. The exception to that is the big dude I got on that worm. I caught EVERYTHING on that worm - Bass, Perch, Pike, Crappie. Used it all day.

Sarge - Thanks man. Yea, it was a LOT of fun. Always is.

Doggy - Most of what we caught we put back, but we did save about five of different species to eat on Friday.

Jerry - It's a deal dude. Can't wait.

Sandi McBride said...

Aha, you tore the ass out of that lake! Sounds the kind of comment my husband would make, another keen fisherman...great post! Glad you eventually had a grand time...

Mushy said...

Nice post dude...and nice fishing action!

I loved the shot of the me a post idea!