Monday, December 5, 2011

Fishing Fever by Norm McCreight

It starts for me in the winter, not much to do, so you start looking at last summer’s pictures of the big fishing trip you took. Then you phone a buddy and make a comment that could be complimentary or more likely it’s not. If an argument occurs I’m putting my money on it’s about the one that got away, no conclusive evidences. Then you poke thru some of your tackle, try and tidy up the box a little, that’s when your mind turns to this year adventure. Where to go, what to fish for, who’s going, who’s not?

That’s one of the big advantages of having one of the All-Canada Show close by to attend. Here all friends in the group that can get together for an outing, talk to all sorts of lodge and outpost owners, look at pictures, enjoy a seminar, or a Canadian walleye shore lunch with a glass of cold Labatt beer.

One of the biggest thrills for me is planning a trip with my sons while perusing over a map. One of the more popular stops at the All-Canada Show is the Travel Centre. Here there are many different publications showing different areas of Canada to fish, plus a bunch of lake maps. These maps are great for looking up lakes you want to fish and the lodges that are either on the lake or close by. Even though I know these areas very well I still use these maps for reference, they contain lots of information.

Two summers ago my middle son MacKenzie had my second grandchild (Brady), and he also bought a new home that summer. To say the least he was pretty busy and had no time for fishing. So this summer I wanted to go on a trip with just him, I fish a lot with Normie he has no kids and seems to always be ready. So I went to the old filing cabinet and pulled out one of the maps I got at the Travel Center and tried to find a place for us to go. I know, I’m lucky enough to live in Canada and I do have my honey holes.

This time I wanted to go to Ontario, which is just an hour and a half away, and have some good bass fishing. There is very little smallmouth bass fishing here in Manitoba and no largemouth bass to speak of. So Kenzie and I pointed and grunted at each other for about half an hour and then decided on Rush Bay in Lake of the Woods. He could only go for the day so it was close to Winnipeg and we were both familiar with the lake. The only problem now was the wait.

Time went by fast enough, turkey hunting, bear scouting, and opening day fishing for walleye and then finally our bass fishing. trip. We wanted to take advantage of the whole day so we got up at 3-30am hit the road and got to the Ontario border in record time. The sun had just broken the eastern horizon and there was a bit of mist in the air. Besides when a cold front is moving in the best time I like to go fishing is on the third or even better the fourth of hot steady weather. This was the fourth day, just as we got to the boat launch Kenzie yells out “Look a bear” sure enough just to my right was a big huge black bear just sitting on the side of the road, we drove right by it and it didn’t move.

We got the boat lined up, and looked back at the bear, the bear actually moved over to the edge of the ditch to get a better look at us. For a second I got nerves hoping I wouldn’t screw up backing up in front of the bear, and then I gave my head a shake. We parked the truck and trailer leaving it and the bear behind. We’re not the greatest bass fishermen, but with a bit of luck we do OK. We set up three rods each, one was a six and a half foot casting rod and spinning reel, with a ¼ oz white tube jig on it. The second was a seven foot medium action with a fast tip for trolling, bait caster reel tipped with a small snap swivel. There’s a key to that snap swivel.

I’ll troll with different crank baits colour, size, depth and shapes being the change up, when I get a couple of hits or just one, I’ll take off that snap swivel and tie that bait right to the lure, which is usually an o ring on crank baits. I try to fish with the least amount of hardware so to speak. The last rod is a bait caster seven foot or a seven and ½ foot medium action medium tip; I don’t need a fast tip with this combo. I warn you now, it’s hard to find a medium action only rod, and most of them have a fast tip. I find this rod works best for me with this type of bait. The bait is double bladed spinner bait, make it nice and bright. It’s noisy bait with a large profile great for bass.

So I can fish the shallows and the points with a little finesse, with the tube jig, fast, slow, it is very versatile. Cranks to locate and the spinner to trigger that strike. At least that’s the plan. My 125hp motor works great, I was at the point we picked out on the map in seconds. I like to have the rod right there beside me so I get the first cast. Just as I get it in my hand I can hear Kenzie’s lure hit the water, just like his brother grrrrr why do I bring them? It must have been his third cast when his rod bent and he called out” Fish on”! It didn’t bother me that he caught a fish, it’s just the first fish of the day and there went two bucks and so far it was the biggest fish, another two bucks. No, no your right, no gas money either.

I can see that the rod had loaded with a lot of weight, I was sure it was a nice northern by the way it was fighting. Then the surface exploded and this fat bellied bass came flying right at us, I thought it was going to join us in the boat. Kenzie raised his rod over his head, he’s as tall as me, 6’4”, but still there was a bit of slack in that line. We were both hoping that that bass wouldn’t spit that lure out. The fish dove back into the water for a brief second the line stayed limp we stopped breathing. Then line went tight, the fight was back on. The fish tail danced, darted from right to left, he fought for about 7 minutes or so then he slowed down and Kenz got him close enough to the boat so I could lip him. At first I thought it was a smallmouth bass but it turn out to be a largemouth, Kenzie’s first. Good fish and a good kid, he must have a great father.

We caught a few bass here and there but it started to get really hot, no clouds and the sun was high it was in the mid 30’s, in fact, it was 37C (89f) and for you scientist (310K). We moved to a shallow bay, found a six foot drop off, not so great for fishing but awesome for swimming. We took a half hour break and enjoyed the water, it felt real good. After we cooled off we started to fish a little deeper, off points made of gravel. With the trolling motor we ziged zagged the lower edge and caught some nice fish. I started to pick up an image on the locator which turned out to be a weed bed. I change my tube jig to a small jig and an even smaller minnow and started to catch these monster size perch.

I caught perch here before but I didn’t realize they got that big in this bay. As late afternoon rolled in we went back to the place we fished in the morning and caught some more bass and some good size northern, the biggest one around 38”. All together we caught about 70 fish between us with the bass being the first fish and the 38 inch northern being the biggest all monies going to Kenzie, I’ve been robbed. All in all I had a great day of fishing, lots of action, great weather, a super boat to fish in and a great partner to fish the day with. And to think it all started with a single fishing map from the Travel Centre.

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