Archive for the 'Fishing species' Category

Fall Fishing for Brown Trout

A-big-brown-trout

As we enter the fall season in Alberta, Brown Trout fishing on the Bow River will pick up. Those elusive Brown Trout will show up on the end of our monofilament fishing line. Brown Trout will start to fatten up for their spawn making for good fishing for this species. So how are we to hook into these lovely specimens? The answer I believe lies in their diet!

Young Brown Trout feed on insects and other invertebrates, but the larger fish are active predators of other bait fish including young Brown Trout, suckers, White Fish and Rainbow Trout. Larger Brown Trout will also feed on small animals that fall in the water from shore. This is a hint as to where to cast your lure when fishing from a boat! Brown Trout usually do not become active or feed until the late afternoon or early evening but when the weather is cool enough they will feed during the day as well. The largest Brown’s of the river feed under the cover of darkness, so stay out on the river bank a little longer than most fisherman dare too. Brown trout can be caught with artificial flies, spoons, jigs, plastic worm imitations and lures.

When I target Brown Trout I use lures with natural looking colors to imitate their natural diet. I select lures that look like Rainbow Trout, Rocky Mountain Whitefish and Brown Trout during daylight hours. It is very important to key in on these colors to have good success fishing browns when there is cloud cover. Browns have better “dim light” eyesight than most other trout. However I find success with brighter colors during the cover of darkness. Use the most natural of bright colors and you are sure to land a trophy brown in the dark.

On the Bow River I have found you need to stay fishing well past dusk, an hour past the last light is usually when I start to hook up trout. There is a slow period between twilight and total darkness on the Bow River. I use this time to conserve energy and prepare for what is about to transpire. I make a habit of checking my hooks for any damage, bent hooks or dull hooks will be dealt with at this time before complete blackness arrives. If I need to change a hook out I will do this before there is no light left. I like my hooks strong and very sharp, Eagle Claw hooks is what I prefer over any other hook manufacturer. There are a few other companies I like also but Eagle Claw is my selection when I trout fish the Bow River.

Plan your time to fish browns accordingly and make sure you use lures that are close to what the browns are feeding on. Find deep holes in the river and present your lure at the top, middle and tail ends of these holes. Try different speeds of retrieve and you will catch these wonderful hard fighting species of trout!

Pike Action

The past weekend my brother and I went fishing for some pike, at Canal Lake, which is located in the Kawartha region of Ontario, Canada. We fished from shore casting a variety of baits to see what the fish wanted. A little tip for fishing from shore is using a lure that can be thrown a long distance. A lure that can cast further gives you a better advantage because it always you to cover more water.

Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits was our lure of choice. Fishing was a little slow because of the funny weather we have been having with an inconsistency of warmth, which is needed to really get those fish in a feeding frenzy. Lipless crankbaits worked the best and produced numbers of fish but no lunkers were caught. The way we worked the bait was casting it out as far as we can and reeling the lure in at a steady retrieve just over submerged weeds. We used 7’MH crankbait casting rods and 7.0:1 burner reels. Our reels were spooled up with 14lbs fluorocarbon line. Another tip that I would suggest is use a fluorocarbon line conditioner I can’t stress enough how much it helps with reducing bird nests and the prevention of line coiling.

All though we did not catch any fish to be bragging about we still had a fun day out on the water. Any day of fishing beats any day at home. Not catching “Big Bertha” is only motivation to go out fishing again.

‘Till next time: May your hook sets be Massive and your fish be Monsters!

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“You Have Too Many Lures…”

“You Have Too Many Lures…”

“You have too many lures, you don’t need any more!” Is a phrase that I hear from my family and my friends when they find out I purchased new fishing lures. But are they right to say that I do in fact have too many lures? To be honest, they are partially right because line, hook, and worm would do just fine. After all, it is the most trust worthy bait ever used.

However, fishing for me is more then just sitting and waiting with a worm under a bobber for a fish to bite. I enjoy pitching a jig, ripping a jerkbait, and skipping a finesse worm under a dock. Lures offer more opportunities to catch fish. They are designed to imitate the real thing and to be used as a tool to hunt for those fish. The key word in the previous sentence is hunt. Lures allow you to go out and find the fish. Whereas, when using live bait you are sitting and waiting for the fish too bite.

I’m a collector and I enjoy seeing my tackle trays being filled with various types of lures. And it is only fitting that I do fall victim to the latest bass fishing trends. More notably, the swimbait trend. These giant lures with the most realistic paint finishes are a different lure then from prior years. Who knows maybe the next lure you by may be worth a pretty penny in the future.

Yet, the main reason as to why I purchase lures comes bake to fishing and catching more fish. I want to be prepared for any situation that nature throws at me. Whether it’s a lake that is clear or dirty or even filled with weeds I want to have lures that will best be fit for each situation. The key is being able to use the right lure in the right situation. You can’t use a hammer to screw in a 4 inch screw. It is important to have the right tools for the job.

The bottom line is that I buy so many lures because I realize that there is no one lure that can catch fish and be used all the time. Different situations call for different lures. This is a hard concept for the weekend angler to grasp. However, once an individual embraces the sport they too, like a bass, will fall victim to a new lure.

‘Till next time: May your hook sets be Massive and your fish be Monsters!

Peter Natev

Big bass from shore

On a lazy hazy midsummer Friday afternoon, we expected nothing but perfect calm as we arrived at one of our favorite weed lines. But before my fishing partner and I could make a cast and lose ourselves in the hum of churning top-water lures, another distasteful noise greeted us… The roar of 100 horse power engines were on us in seconds… Two bass boats surrounded us like wolves around an injured caribou… One boat cut us off on the inside to fish a patch of lily pads we intended to approach quietly. As I tried to catch a glimpse of the intruding anglers, I was instantly blinded, despite my polarized glasses, by the dazzling display of chrome emanating from their vessel. The other bass boat maneuvered in front of us, plunked its electric motor immediately, and before we could breathe, two lines were casting along our weed line…

arillilylargemouth.jpgI understand why these boats behaved as if we were never there; we were in a small Zodiac. In their minds, canoe or rubber-boat people do not count as being real fishermen. We were peasant perch fishermen and they were shining bass knights hunting for trophy dragons… We tried another bay but, of course, found a disco-chrome-blue vessel in our path. Disgusted, we turtlted our way back towards our vehicle. In front of our truck was a thick weed bed inaccessible by boat but wadable from shore, so we decided to give it a try. On my first cast, the buzzbait was annihilated by a giant bucket mouth. he fish heaved and tangled itself immediately around the stems of several lily pads. As my partner lipped the 6-pound specimen and I ran to get the camera, the disco-chrome-blue vessel was upon us…

The chrome boat had over 30 fishing-lances on deck and at the steering wheel was a peculiar creature. Wearing a racecar helmet, leather gloves, and more patches on his uniform than a veteran World War II fighter pilot, he spoke with the authority and efficiency of a four stroke fuel-injected engine. “Nice fish. Mind if I get a photo with it? My people would be very interested. Did you catch it here?” We soon understood that his people were not a unique undiscovered race of hominid, but rather people working for companies that sponsored him to do what he does: fish the bass tournament circle. We also learned that tomorrow was the biggest tournament of the year on the Ottawa River, and that he hadn’t really caught any fish today because he was out test-fishing the water…

Test-Fishing… What a noble concept, I thought, as my companion released the monster back into its maze of lily pads… Unlike pristine trout lakes up north, largemouth waters are limited to a few, mostly populated areas. In traditional big bass havens such as the Ottawa River, the bay of Quinte, or even the many smaller lakes in cottage country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find trophy fish. One solution is to fish where others do not and surprisingly, many hot bass spots accessible from shore continue to be over-looked.

Since so many largemouth live in populated areas, dams, canals, and other man made structures, such as bridges can be ideal places to find trophy largemouth.

CANALS:

In Southern Canada, anglers are exposed to miles and miles of fishable shoreline. Though most canals have big bass in them, catching trophies is another matter. Structure is essential for baitfish and big bass, so any fallen tree, old pylon, beaver dam, dock, or shallow weed bed is prime target water. These structures are often not big areas so the key to locating big fish is to keep mobile. Most canal shorelines are monotonous and void of feeding fish, but by targeting only structure areas throughout the day, the angler’s increases his chances. If access via car is impossible, bike or roller blade paths often run along canals, allowing access that is easy and fun for the lightly equipped angler looking for both trophy large and smallmouth bass. Usually, a light spinning or bait-casting set up with 10-pound test and a handful of lures are sufficient.

handjba.jpgLearning to adapt fishing methods in the new zebra mussel era of clear water is necessary in most canals today. Big fish in crystal clear water do not often respond to artificial lures, favoring more natural presentations. Float fishing with minnows, or twitching dead bait can be deadly as well as natural colour power worms and crank baits. Over deep clear water, top-water lures do not work as well as along weedy shorelines where bass anxiously await frogs to swim by. By the en of mid-summer, most canals have a canopy of thick weed covering the shoreline. Under such conditions casting into the deep clear water is not as effective as casting a moss boss parallel to shore, and slowly twitching it on top of the cabbage cover. I have caught many big bass by alternating between a fast and slow twitching a Moss Boss slowly on top of such cover, without the lure even getting wet. The biggest bass tend to follow and inspect the lure carefully before inhaling it in a remarkable, exciting explosion we affectionately call – the blast! Generally, natural colour lures, such as green, pumpkinseed, and black work best. In off-color water, if the weed cover isn’t too thick, noisy lures like spinner-baits are prime choices.

Old canals, with no modern boat ramps often shelter the biggest fish and bare minimal fishing pressure. Often along canals, one side may be cleared and the other lined with trees, making the shoreline difficult to wade or access. These shaded, hardly fished areas have the most fallen branches and trees that often yield the biggest bass. In thick wood cover, heavier line is often more effective. The only danger here is poison ivy, but anglers who do not over-expose their skin or who wash any exposed skin thoroughly to remove the ivy’s leaf oil from the skin have nothing to fear.

manirich.jpgBACK-BAYS:

In busy bodies of water, especially in mid-summer, early morning, evening and night fishing can be especially productive. Bass tend to move of weed lines and head for the shallows. The best way to tackle feeding bass is often the quiet wading of a shoreline. The stop-and-start of an electric motor makes more noise to a fish underwater than most anglers realize. Back-bays adjacent to deep-water bays are prime target zones.

Often these large, weed-infested areas are inaccessible to bass boats and overlooked by most anglers. Here, top water lures reign supreme and are excellent search lures. Even if the lure is missed, following up with a weedless power-worm will more often then not hook a trophy. If wading such areas is difficult due to muddy sediment, taking a small dingy or canoe and fishing from tree or tree stumps can yield excellent results.

DAMS and BRIDGES:

Although fast water is generally associated with small mouth, big largemouth also lurk around foundations and corners of man made walls. When fishing a dam, the corner of lock walls, especially when covered with floating weed, can be a deadly zone. Natural colored curly tail or tube jigs in purple, crayfish, or black work best in clear water, but chartreuse or white jigs in off-color water can be very effective.

In heavy current, the calm side of foundations and bridge pylons can also be prime jigging areas. Light can also influence smallmouth activity significantly in shallow rocky conditions. Most big fish are often caught in low light as they stalk the shallows.

On hot bright windy days, it is possible to spend many hours casting weed lines on big water, far away from home with limited results, whereas the biggest bass lie close to shore only minutes away from your front door. We have often caught countless big bass while stopping at a few choice spots on our way home from distant fishing trips. There are miles of shoreline available to anglers living within city limits. Many big bass have learned to survive in man made settings, or lurk in lake or river back-bays within spitting distance from shore. For some, being in a boat all day is relaxing and fun. Others prefer the exercise and freedom to move and enjoy their surroundings. Under pressured fishing conditions, big bass can be caught regularly by wading anglers armed and ready to tackle the shorelines at strategic places and times when most boat anglers dare not venture.

Bad-ass bass

The ocean was dead calm, but the crisp October air sparkled with life around a handful of fishing boats spread-out over Rhode Island’s Watch-Hill reef. Shrouded in a fog, we could hardly see the jagged rocks outlining the shore where a lighthouse appeared and then vanished in veils of mist. The hungry screams of diving seagulls and the haunting echo of distant marker-buoys accompanied us as we slowly drifted with the incoming tide. My angling companion and I were focussed on our live bait – small shad-like fish about ten inches long – that were defiantly being dragged behind the boat… A school of bait-fish soon erupted close by – and a formation of birds came to investigate. As I considered casting surface lures towards the area, I noticed my little shad was swimming erratically at the surface. We used no leader or weight. With our drag open – and our thumbs stopping the line from un-spooling off the reel – we waiting for a strike, and a fish to run with the bait.

striper-2.jpgThere came a thunderous splash! A silver-white tail slammed my bait-fish into the air, only 20 yards behind the boat. I released my thumb and watched my stunned shad floating at the surface… A few seconds later, a dark shadow engulfed my bait and the line peeled off my reel. After a few more heartbeats, I engaged the drag. The butt of my rod jolted me in the stomach as the heavy fish immediately protested the hook-set… It was a glorious fight ending in my first striper ever – a magnificent 20 pounder. The night before I arrived, a night fisherman casting live eels from shore landed a 55 pounder. It is not hard to understand why striper fishing becomes an obsession with so many East-Coast anglers.

Before Expo ’67, Anglers from Montreal to Quebec City would catch striped bass regularly in the St-Lawrence, but pollution and has since help extinguish the population. Today, the MLCP is making efforts to re-introduce the species with a trial stocking program. In Lake Ontario, before wildlife management officials from New York State and Ontario decided to massively stock Pacific salmon, they had seriously considered introducing Striped-bass. And why not? These fish grow big, fight hard, and offer everything else a game-fish is supposed to.

Although Canada does possess some virgin striper fishing off the coasts of Nova Scotia and New-Brunswick, the sport fishery is vastly undeveloped. Along the American coast from Canada to North-Carolina however, it is a different story. Along the East coast stripers are extremely popular because in addition to being ‘sporty’ they can be targeted from shore or on reefs close to the shoreline. Stripers have a specific migratory pattern.

Migration

striper-1.jpgIn the winter months, striped bass travel as far south as the lower Carolinas. They spend most of their time in the winter in deep water. In early spring, somewhere around early March, the stripers begin to move north to spawn in huge schools. Most stripers will spawn in either fresh or brackish water at the mouth of Large Rivers. They tend to reach the Connecticut area in early to mid April, Cape Cod around the first week of May and points north later into spring. Water temperature has a great influence on this process. Once waters have reached the 50 degree mark, action starts suddenly appearing along the coastline. Bass also can remain in an area all winter. It is rare but not impossible to find a fisherman catching stripers in December. These fish are generally smaller and are caught in rivers such as the Connecticut and Hudson. There is a prime time for angling. Season and time of day seem to have a big impact on fish presence. In the New England area, fishing is best in June and then again in September and October when the bass begin their fall migration south. Cooler water temperatures will turn activity on, while warm waters found during the peak summer months and at midday, tend to drive the fish deep.

Smaller stripers school-up and travel in large numbers, but big stripers tend to be loners, staying deeper than the pack. They often arrive a few weeks later than the schoolies. In New England, May brings the arrival of the “cows” or any fish really over 28 inches. Big fish tend to feed on herring and larger bait as well. It is not uncommon for fisherman to witness big stripers working a school of bait-fish together, like a pack of wolves, cornering them before moving in for the kill.

Fishing tactics

monsterstriper.jpgThe official world record striper was caught by Al McReynolds on September 21, 1982 from Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was 78 pounds 8 oz and about 53″ long. Heavy tackle is required when targeting such monsters. Surf-casting is one of the post popular methods; big spinning reels with 15-25 pound test are mounted on 7-12 foot heavy rods. Anglers wade the shoreline while casting surf lures like the ‘popper’ – a cylindrical plug that, when jerked, thrashes at the surface, mimicking an injured bait-fish… Live bait is an extremely successful method for big stripers. Since such trophy fish feed close to shore at night (especially under the visibility of a full moon), live eels are used frequently by bait fisherman who cast and wait patiently for a strike…

When trying to locate bass, the sight of feeding birds is often the best sign. Incoming and out-going tides are preferred periods for travelling bait-fish over reefs – because all stripers love structure. Bluefish also inhabit most of the stripers range. They are equally sporty gamefish with sharp teeth, so using a metal leader for bass is often a wise idea: both species strike the same lures. Lately, fly-fishing for stripers has grown in popularity. Weighted, shad-dart type flies are striped over reefs and in the surf by Fly-casters generally using a ‘stripping basket’ and 9 – weight saltwater rods and reels.

Stripers were successfully introduced along the Pacific Coast, and San-Francisco Bay is now a very successful striper area – but not as popular as Chesapeake Bay on the East coast or other famous beaches. Some fresh-water reservoirs in the Southern U.S. have stocked stripers with great success since the species takes well to fresh water. Perhaps Canadian anglers one day will enjoy a wide striper sport-fishery, but until then, the best guides, and most knowledgeable striper anglers remain our American cousins. For more information, contact Chatham Charters at www.HookedonStripers.com.

In Search of King-Size Salmon

giant75lbking.jpg…Two boats spiraling into the eye of a maelstrom; one of them is being toed to the sea by a Skeena river king determined to ignore the minor discomfort of a heavy rod, reel, and hundreds of yards of 40 pound test… Just another day at the office for veteran guide Noel Gyger of Terrace, British Columbia. We had been anchored side by side with his nephew’s boat when they hooked into the `screamer’ that nearly stripped them before the anchor buoy could be tossed. Not wanting to miss any of the action, Noel and I decided to join in the chase.The Skeena’s glacial current is swift and unforgiving. Our boats finally drifted towards a sharp river bend where the flow intensified into a whirlpool. Of course, of all the miles of river to rest, the salmon decided to choose the whirlpool! In between the sudden bursts of engine acceleration, Noel managed to meet my gaze and whisper: “it’s a big one.” So there we were, under a snow-peaked horizon, circling the whirlpool… and somewhere deep below in the dark green water, the king lay resting… waiting…

In the last century, the pursuit of trophy salmon has fuelled the hearts of countless anglers. Yet, as we enter a new millennium, the realm of the trophy salmon hunter has changed considerably. What can today’s angler expect in terms of size on the West Coast and in the Great-Lakes? Has overpopulation killed the golden age of trophy king fishing, or is there still much to look forward to?

The Great-Lakes

a28.jpgIn the Great-Lakes region, the introduction of pacific species has caused the sportfishing industry to boom. These stocked salmon, however, do not reach the size as some of their Pacific Coast cousins. Although some rare forty pounders have been landed, fish over twenty five pounds are considered trophies. To compensate for such shortcomings, researchers such as Dr. Don Garling and Dr. Howard Tanner of Michigan State, are conducting triploidity research to produce monster-size Chinook in the Great-Lakes. By heat-shocking salmon eggs, sterility is caused in the majority of adults, and it is believed that this negation of the reproductive urge in salmon will enable them to live longer and grow larger.

This preoccupation of engineering a salmon paradise, however, is not going unchallenged. Great-Lakes biologists are confronted with the delicate task of monitoring how stocked fish affect the fragile baitfish/predator balance within the ecosystem.