Archive for September, 2007

Back-Water Goldmine…The Beauchene story

The white wolf’s breath steamed amidst the fog as he drifted peacefully through the trail into a clearing. For several hours, Roland Zeitz, a 40 year-old veteran outdoorsman, had been following tracks in the wet snow. The animal remained close, yet elusive. After crossing a few valleys and streams, Roland was cold, wet, and tired, but he only needed one shot… The wolf cautiously leapt onto the stump of an oak. Feeling his prey was near; Roland crouched into the clearing’s maze of fallen trees. Like a pile of forgotten corpses, the husks of dead branches surrounded him, their frozen hands extending skyward. Disoriented by the forest’s evening mist, he waited for a sign from the beast… Beauchene FogRoland hated fog. It reminded him of the death-clouds of gas that crept between French and German trenches during the Great War. A sharp shooter in the Canadian infantry, he was badly wounded at Paschendale, lost consciousness and woke up in a field hospital with no recollection of how he was rescued. Upon returning to Canada, he settled in the Temiscaming area, got married and began working for Lawrence Jones, a rich Kentucky distiller who commissioned Roland to build and manage a summer retreat – a fishing camp on
Lake Beauchene. After building the main ‘white house’ lodge in 1924, he survived the hardships of the elements and the pains of the great depression, raising many children with his loving wife. As guardian of Lake Beauchene, he ensured the surroundings were rid of bears, wolves, or any other potential dangers. He had hunted many animals, but this one was different…

Suddenly, he saw movement. As the white shadow danced through the branches, Roland raised his rifle… He could barely make out its form in the mist. The forest held its breath… The gunshot thundered through the valley, scattering several black crows out from their treetop vigil. Racing out from his cover, Roland reached the spot where his target had been. Nothing. Cursing his impatience and pre-mature marksmanship, he suddenly heard a rustling noise… movement in the underbrush behind him. His heart skipped a beat as he swivelled to aim the rifle. The white wolf bounded off a mound of dead wood over his shoulder. Roland tried for a shot, but his aim only fell upon branches… He charged frantically after the animal, but soon stopped dead in his tracks, nearly stumbling into a large pit, around which lay the remnants of an old campsite. “Goldmine?” he murmured. During the depression, an old hermit would occasionally come wandering into Temiscaming with nuggets of gold, from a small mine within a day’s walk from Lake Beauchene. “This is it” he sighed. As he approached the pit for further investigation, he saw the silhouette of the wolf move, as if taunting him, deeper into the forest. Determined, Roland set after the animal, thinking he would return to the site at a later date. He followed the white wolf into the night, but never caught it; nor did he manage to find the goldmine again. Instead, he founded the legacy of a goldmine fishery that continues to grow today.

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of photographing for the book project CADADA’S CLASSIC FISHING LODGES. I was enthralled by the rich history of our pioneer outfitters, a history that remains unknown to most Canadians. The hardships and visions of these pioneers helped forge our outdoor heritage. Roland’s time was another era. For example, although in complete isolation for most of the year, his wife Ethel helped raised their 4 children at Beauchene for 14 years without ever even going to Temiscaming, only a day away. For eight of those years, they hired a school teacher to educate their children, paying her only room and board and some spending money – 200 $ a year – a fine sum in the depression years. Roland was a consummate guardian. When the lake had been netted for food during the war, they began re-stocking with bass, and trout. In an amazing testimony of will, Roland once drove from the Eastern townships of Quebec to Temiscaming to fetch a new batch of trout. In order to keep the fish oxygenated in their barrel, he had to keep stirring the icy water with one frozen hand while the other held the steering wheel… for the whole half-day ride.

The Beauchene stocking story is similar to many Canadian lakes and watersheds that have seen foreign strains complement their native fishery. At Beauchene, the main success story is small mouth bass, trophy ones, and brook trout. In addition to the main lake, The Beauchene territory offers several intimate lakes to fish with small boats geared for bass and trout. The lake’s original species are lakers and whitefish. They are numerous and can be caught by the traditional trolling and jigging methods. I was attracted to Beauchene because it has fast become a sought-after trophy small-mouth bass haven. The Beauchene motto of conservation ensures it’s catch-n-release only for bass on the main lake, so very large specimens are not uncommon. On my first evening of fishing, a spectacular thunderstorm gave way to an overcast calm. As we drifted a magnificent shoreline of rocks and boulders, one of many, my companion and I switched from spinners and jigs to Pop-Rs and surface baits. Minutes later, my first 5 pound Beauchene bass leapt as if on command adjacent to a boulder field before being landed and released.

The lake offers a fine mix of clear water rocks and boulders, and gorgeous coves with backbays surrounded by fallen stumps and wood. Some of these bays even remind me of the Amazon, where one hunted for ferocious peacock-bass under fallen trees. Such structures are also attractive to the avid fly-fisherman, armed with popper flies. The lake is divided at its centre by narrows which also serve as a good spot to fish. Although ‘Beauchene’ means ‘beautiful oak’ in French, the name may also come from the Algonquin word ‘bauching’ meaning two waters. With respect to brookies, La Reserve Beauchene offers a mix of stocked and wild strains that can reach up to 5, or 6 pounds, namely in lake Taggart and David. Groundwater springs are essential for allowing incubating brookie progeny to survive the winter, ensuring they do not freeze in shallow water. Splake trout have also been stocked, but these cross-breeds do not reproduce in the wild. The barbless hook rule is enforced on all brookie lakes and it’s no kill for most them, including Joanna, Taggart, Jeffrey, Bobcat, and Tank.

Close to many of Eastern Canada’s urban centres such as Ottawa, Toronto, or Montreal, the territory is only a few hours drive, and remains a quality angling experience. Trout fishing is best in spring as the fish are closer to the surface. Post spawn bass will retreat to deeper waters by summer, but return to their favourite shallow feeding areas often, especially in the early morning and evening. Not only is pike fishing possible as specimens of up to 20 pounds have been landed, but large walleye are also commonly caught. La Reserve Beauchene caters to corporate needs as well and private planes can land on the lake. In addition to choosing from 30 smaller lakes to fish, clients have the option of booking secluded outpost cabins, some situated on small islands, or simply taking a room in the fully staffed white-house lodge. As for Roland Zeitz… He lived to see his hundredth birthday and spent most of his retirement years in Bimini, where he built a house for his daughter. For more information, contact La Reserve Beauchene at tel: 819-627-3865, 888-627-3865; or visit: www.beauchene.com

Payara fishing in Venezuela

Uraima Falls – Venezuela

Winding it’s way along the edge of the Grand Savanna of Southern Venezuela lies the La Paragua River. A Tributary to one of the largest reservoirs in the world, this area is composed of fast turbulent water, surrounded by dense jungle forests, offering prime residence for one of the most fearsome freshwater fish, the Payara. With Giant fangs accenting it’s gaping tooth filled jaws, this fishes terrifying appearance closely reflects it’s ferocious disposition. Once hooked you can expect many drag-melting runs and explosive airborne acrobatics, guaranteed to push even the best equipment, and anglers, to the absolute limits of their endurance. Top presentations for these beasts include casting or trolling large 7 1/2 to 10 inch stickbaits such as Rapala CD 18′s and 22′s. Hollow plastic baits are defenseless against this fishes awesome denture-ware, making sturdy wire leaders and absolute necessity. Heavy 30 to 50 lb fusion or braided lines are of great benefit when trying to set hooks into bony mouths, with Hi-vis versions a definite aid in guiding lures through fast waters and around the multitude of snags hidden beneath the dark-strained waters. payara closeup

Access to this unique and adventurous fishing destination is limited to a few outfitters which you could find on the Web. I fished with the outfitter at Uraima Falls. Even within South America, this destination is known as the Payara capital of the world, and home of many world line class records, both present and future. Should you decide to visit this remote fishing paradise, you can expect to be treated to the very best in Venezuelan hospitality, complete with 35 ft dugout canoes and native guides, who’s willingness to please, may just include diving into piranha infested waters to free a snagged lure or aid in landing a fish. Of course a trip of this nature is much more than just fishing. The culture and surroundings of this region are experiences that will last a lifetime. Expect to see a wealth of jungle wildlife including parrots, condors, toucans, monkeys and maybe even an elusive tapir.

Payara

For more information on trying your hand at this world class fishery contact (905) 562-4995, if you dare! One word of caution. While the food was excellent on our trip, to be safe only drink bottled water, and before you go adding a heap of soya sauce to your meal, double check first to prevent making the same mistake I did…..It was actually ‘Ant Sauce’!!

From Reel to Reel – Funny Fishing Movie Posters

Thank you all fishermen and non-fishermen for your great comments on our movie poster fishy parodies. You asked for more – here we go!

1. Charlie’s Anglers (from Charlie’s Angels)

Charlie's Anglers

2. The Da Vinci Cod (from The Da Vinci Code)

The Da Vinci Cod

3. American Pike (from American Pie)

American Pike

4. F.T. The Fishing-Tournament (from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial)

FT

5. Catfishwoman (from Catwoman)

Catfishwoman

6. Anglin’ Power (from Austin Powers)

Anglin’ Power

7. The Silence of the Carps (from The Silence of the Lambs)

The Silence of the Carps

Have we missed one? What’s your favorite fishable film? We’re always fishing for fresh ideas…

Ultimate Angler – Aaron Weibe

Aaron Weibe:

“Fishing is like a 10 hour full body massage.”

Different people have different ways of relaxing. Some folks like a full body massage. Twenty-year-old Aaron Weibe, who calls

Winnipeg home, calls fishing a full body massage. “It’s like full time relaxing, spending all of my resources getting myself outside into nature, enjoying myself a lot. It’s like a 10-hour massage on my whole body. If I can work it, I am always doing what I want to do.

 

“I have a lot of trouble keeping a real job,” said a laughing Weibe. “If an employer doesn’t agree with my fishing schedule, I’m forced to quit the job.”

Weibe is not a fishing guide, although he has tried guiding as a profession on different bodies of water in Northwestern Ontario, northern Manitoba, and

Saskatchewan. “Things weren’t going as well as I would like them to have in the guiding (business),” says Weibe. It could be that his clients didn’t have the dedication he has to the sport. He decided to try tournament fishing this summer.

Weibe earned the Ultimate Angler honors in the Bounty Fishing Tournament, pocketing almost $20,000, fishing almost full time for six weeks; he missed the first three weeks while making up his mind that guiding wasn’t his thing.

“I am always going, going, going. I rough it pretty hard. Sometimes when I am fishing pretty hard I am not thinking about eating, sleeping, that kind of thing.”

He describes a normal fishing day. “I come back home, enter my fish (in the tournament), go to the tackle store, stock up, and do whatever else I need to do.” Then it’s back out on the water. It might be 11:30 p.m., midnight, when he backs his boat into the water. “It doesn’t really matter what time it is. I throw my lines out and fish. If I fall asleep, I fall asleep and sleep for a few hours in my boat.” Once he hooks another good fish, he comes home, enters the new fish and starts the cycle all over again.

When not catching a few winks in his boat, he sleeps in his vehicle wherever he is fishing. “It’s not like I need a motel; it doesn’t matter to me. I finish where I want to finish on the lake after dark. I have a short sleep and start fishing wherever I want to be. I don’t have to drive all over the lake, go find a hotel.”

Weibe, who is not married, is also a solo angler most of the time. As he says it’s not that he doesn’t want to fish with friends, but they can’t keep up with him. “They slow me down. They couldn’t handle a whole day on the water, handle bad weather, not eating regular meals, not sleeping in normal places…that kind of thing. They are just not hard-core fishermen the way I am. It takes the focus off what’s going on. In a tournament you need to put in the time to get it done. I work hard and it pays off.”

The Bounty Tournament’s diverse fish categories are the exact fit for Weibe. “If I wasn’t fishing the tournament I would be fishing for something different on every single trip. I like to try different things on different bodies of water. It’s like I done it and now I want to try something else. It’s not like I’m bored with it, but I like to see new water, new species. In the tournament I have to get more focused, what’s makes the most sense to fish.”

Aaron and Greg , Two Serious Competitors

Aaron Wiebe and Greg Amiel, consistent Bounty collectors in the Salmon, Catfish/Carp, and Panfish categories share some of their ideas on what has made them successful.

Greg Amiel, 34 years old, lives in Richmond Hill in

Ontario. Before he became hooked on Bounty Fishing he fished once or twice a week. During the tournament he fished almost every day. He says there are 50 lakes within three hours of his house that he knows like the back of his hand.Greg Amiel

You would have to call Amiel a “salmon master.” On the last day of the summer tournament, Amiel caught a 31-pound salmon that brought in an additional $1,000 Bounty reward to the money he has already won over the past weeks.

“I was by myself and had two fish on at the same time. So, I fought the bigger one first, of course.” The other fish stayed on the line long enough to land it later. “That was still a nice fish, 15-20 pounds.”

Amiel’s key to success: “Really important to be at the right depth, right color to catch fish.”

“Just like us, humans, some days you want to wear blue jeans and other days you want to dress up nice. The fish are the same way. Some days they want to eat green flies and some days they want something else. Depending on the pattern, water temperature, depths…everything makes a difference. If you clue into these little patterns you end up picking up a lot more fish.”

Greg Amiel Musky

His confidence rig for salmon is a combination of a Dipsy Diver, flasher and a fly. “The Dipsy drives your line down deep. Salmon are a deep-water fish. The flasher rotates creating a lot of flash and disturbance in the water, attracts the fish. The fly is what they actually hit on. It’s a long eight-foot trolling setup. That rig has won me a lot of money.”

 

 

Aaron Wiebe has made his money in the Catfish/Carp (channel catfish) and Panfish (black crappie) Bounty categories. Wiebe, 20 years old, makes his living guiding and fishing tournaments. His biggest channel cat, a personal record, measured 41 inches.

“I use more natural baits,” for the catfish, “such as cut bait from the natural bait fish that are running in the lakes or rivers that I fish,” says Wiebe. “Frogs work really good in late summer. Shrimp works all year too, those big tiger shrimp you can buy in grocery stores, fished right on the bottom.”

He explains how he catches black crappie, weeding out the bigger fish from the smaller fish. “I use a lot of small plastics, hair jigs, feather jigs. I have been doing better on bigger fish with small crankbaits. They (crankbaits) have really been good for weeding out the bigger fish. If you get on a “super” school you could sit there and catch crappie all day, or you can use something bigger and key in on the bigger fish. It just saves a lot of time.”

He uses an open face spinning rod and reel to catch his crappie. “Right now they are moving into wintering locations and are in deeper water.” The fish are anywhere from 8 – 12 feet deep in 25 -30 feet of water.

“You can’t get small cranks down real deep, but you can get small cranks down 8 or 9 feet,” continues Wiebe. “When I am trolling or casting I lean over so the whole rod is in the water right up to the cork. Your tip of the rod is already down five feet into the water and the crankbait will go down another 4 or 5 feet; you are in the money. That makes a huge difference.”

Aaron Wiebe and Greg Amiel…super Bounty anglers. Look for them again in the fall tournament.

Bounty Photo Success

As the most accurate submitter of images to our tournaments we asked Tarponjim to explain just what he was doing. Here is how he gets his images just right;

I’ve been having great success taking quick photos of my “fish with ruler” that are proving accurate, and allowing a live release of all my entries. I’m often fishing alone as well, and prepare the photo area before I even start fishing. I simply pull out 4 feet of my metal tape measure, lock it, and set it on the deck of the boat with the markings showing. I keep my Bounty Code in a gallon Ziploc bag, right with the camera. If you don’t have the deck space while fishing, keep what you need close-by so you can quickly prepare the photo area while the fish is still in the water. In my boat I have a large, nearly 4-foot long, Igloo cooler on the stern deck, and I place the back of my fish against that to minimize it sliding on the deck.

Once caught, I carefully lift the fish from the net (NOT by the gills!) and gently set it on the boat floor, above the tape. I make sure the tail is in a natural position (not pinched or flattened). For large fish with a big girth, I move the tape under the fish slightly so that one end of the tape is nearly even with the tip of the tail, and the other is close to the end of the jaw. The mouth will remain nearly closed.Fish with Ruler

The closer the tape is to the tip of the tail and jaw, and in a straight line, the more accurate the length measurement. Some of the tape will be covered up by the belly of a fish with a large girth. This method only gives an accurate measurement if the tape is rigid. Cloth tapes can be folded and used to cheat, and do not lie straight. A metal tape measure or yard stick won’t bend, and insures accuracy. Use a tape or ruler with large numbers.

If the fish moves or wiggles out of position, you simply re-position either the fish or the tape. Finally, I take my pre-printed Bounty Code that’s inside the Ziploc, and lay it just below the belly of the fish. If it gets wet or slimed, just rinse the bag after each use. I find it easiest to print the Bounty Code in a “landscape” format (horizontal on letter-sized paper) so its large and easy to read. The code fits perfectly inside the gallon-size Ziploc bag if you trim the borders with scissors.Fish with Ruler

For my “fish with angler” photo, I simply have a camera mount on the windshield of my boat. (REMOVE your sun glasses-I’ve forgotten twice–those are the rules) I quickly screw the camera on the tripod, set the auto timer, and press the shutter. I then take two steps to the fish, lift it for the shot, and then place the fish back in my large landing net. I know exactly where to stand to fit the whole fish into the frame, so it usually only takes one shot. Check your camera and lens before you try this with a fish in your arms. Take practice shots in advance.

I can do this whole process, from netting the fish to releasing the fish, in under two minutes. While that’s still a long time, I have yet to have a lake trout that did not swim away vigorously after a short revival. If you have a buddy with you, it can be done in under a minute.

1. Lay out tape. 2. Check lighting on floor (no shadows if poss.). 3. Place fish above tape. 4. Place Bounty Code below fish. 5. Click, click, click. (be sure ALL of fish is in frame) 6. Move camera to a fixed mount, or hand it off to a partner. 7. Lift fish horizontally. 8. Click, click, click (or be ready for self-timer to click). Then revive and release the fish, and take care of cleaning up the deck after the fish swims away.

Points to remember: Position your boat so that the sunlight is on your subject (fish). Be sure to take the picture of the fish on the ruler from straight above the fish. I sometimes stand on a cooler in my boat to get high enough to fit the fish into the viewfinder. I’m also considering bringing a large beach towel on the boat and placing the fish on a wet towel for the ruler photo. Easier on the fish, easier on the boat, and I can use a towel with contrasting colors to the fish to make the photo clearer.

Be sure camera batteries are fresh. Be sure to pre-set the camera for the correct pixel count, day/date/time, and picture quality. Check the Bounty Fishing rules, and print a copy to have with you just for review.

Remember, the better your pictures, the more likely the judges will affirm the actual length of the fish. The best pictures come with advance preparation. Watch the light, have the tape and code ready, have a place cleared for the photo, and take off those sun glasses! When holding your fish horizontal, please support the fish with your hands and arms. Hanging a fish from a Boga grip or holding it by the gills is not only very damaging, but also against the Bounty Fishing rules for photos.

Besides measuring my fish accurately (no pinching tails or stretching), I report the length accurately when submitting the catch. The Bounty Team uses a wealth of technology to authenticate photos and measurements. “Overcalling” measurements will not only create disappointment, but tag the angler as one who overcalls measurements. Nobody will be fooled. The ruler is only part of the equation used to verify the length of the fish. If measured and reported accurately, the fish will be verified at that length. All of my entries to date have been verified at the actual and reported length. This creates a level playing field for all, and gives credibility to the entire tournament process. Let’s not spoil it.

I’m using a small, 4-year-old Pentax Optio digital camera that’s 4 mega pixels, and best of all is waterproof. It screws onto the mount or tripod easily, is auto-focus, has auto-flash, a self-timer feature, and can be set for several different pixel configurations. Exposure for specific conditions can also be set. Its small, simple, waterproof, and very durable. It also operates on two AA batteries, and I use lithium batteries that last a very long time.

Capt. Jim Williams “Tarponjim”

…. and The proof is:

The Proof