Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Tailout of Winter

Saturday arrived and I enjoyed a day spent with my family.  A trip to Grand Bend and a quick drive by our new home was the plan.  Our Daughter was staying at a friends place, so it would just be the three of us.  Our Son after resisting a nap earlier, promptly fell asleep in his car seat as we pulled into the cul-de-sac where our new home is located. We will be taking possession at the end of March, and we are looking forward to owning our first home .

After grabbing some groceries, we headed back to Port Franks and picked up a movie.  If you get the chance to watch "Our Idiot Brother" starring Paul Rudd and Elizabeth Banks you should, it's a funny one.

Sunday morning arrived and I wasn't planning on fishing.  My Wife was waiting for a call-in from work so I was fully prepared to mind the kids for the afternoon and evening. Lunchtime rolled around and no call, so my wife decided she would take the kids out and do a little shopping.  Perfect, I guess I will hit the River for a few hours.

Arriving late in the day I wasn't expecting much. I was content to just get out and get some exercise and enjoy the sunny skies.  Although the sun was shining it was fairly cold and I am sure the Weather Network was off on their forcasted high of +1 degrees.  The wind was out of the west and nothing more than a slight breeze. A new layer of snow had accumulated on the banks of the river from Friday and Saturdays little episode of "The Return of Winter".  At least we will have some run-off
this spring. I would assume the next two months will be the time to fish. This Spring season could be quite shorter than normal.

I placed myself mid run and began to fish, it was a real treat to have this run to myself. I saved the best for last and worked my way to the tailout. When I reached the tailout It was wild fire and I picked off two fish right away.  I looked around in shock, I couldn't believe I was all alone on such a fishy stretch.  What a Gift.

There was a little  work involved today. My guides kept icing up on me, and at one point when cleaning them I dunked the reel.  To my surprise it never froze up.

 I hooked another two fish in the next hour and was happy to hear the drag sing its song. The fish once again were on the yarn.
I'm going to have a hard time giving up yarn when I get my Spey Rod at the end of the month. I am however looking forward to swinging some Spey's and Intruder style flies, and covering the "Big River" a lot better.

It's hard to believe that we are roughly three weeks away from the first day of Spring.  This Winter was an easy one. Who knows what the weather will bring in the next few weeks. I don't mean to tempt Old Man Winter, but I think we are well into the Tailout of Winter.

Friday, 24 February 2012

One last day.

Nothing is worse than returning from a holiday and heading right back to the grind.  That's why this year I decided to take an extra day off after my trip up north. The long drive back was much more enjoyable knowing that I would possibly be fishing some open water the next day. Worst case scenario I would just hang out and relax the day away at home. 

The morning started with getting up and taking care of my Son and seeing my Daughter off to school while my Wife slept in.  A quick check of the weather and I knew it would be a gusty day, but the temps were decent and with overcast skies the day was perfect for fish to be on the move.  I would brave the winds and fish hard today.  All I had to do in the meantime was play dinosaurs and read stories until the magic hour.

11:00 arrived and after having a coffee with my Wife I was on my way. I was fairly confident that the stretch of river I was fishing would be open. Just over a week ago it had locked up solid, so I was a little unsure if she was slushy. I would just have to wait and hope for the best.  Eternally optimistic.  A good trait to have when Steelheading.

I was surprised to only see 2 vehicles parked at the access when I arrived.  I rigged up my 7wt quickly and headed to the river.  After 20 minutes of bad drifts due to the relentless winds I decided I would be better off fishing from the other side of the run.

  I made my way downriver and with staff in hand started to cross the wind blown river. Heading back upriver there were now two others fishing the run where I had started.  I decided to fish my way out and then slowly work my way down to the hidden sweet spot I had discovered on a previous trip. Having had no luck I waded even further out, I noticed the two other anglers were watching me in disbelief. Is he really going to wade that far out...? They had to be thinking.  I set up on a fish first drift.  After spending the weekend with the short rods and not having much action, it was great to load up the 7wt on a decent fish. The Steelhead stayed deep  and I backed up into the shallower water. Applying a tremendous amount of pressure on the fish I could tell it was a very respectable fish, and just as I was thinking this,  my  yarn fly came hurling back at me as the rod unloaded.  I was happy regardless, as I had followed my instincts. It was a good start.

I continued fishing the run and managed 2 more hook-ups from the same spot. I missed one and made it right for the last one.  I walked this fish in and snapped a quick pic. 

 It darted back out to the deep water  unharmed instantly. I was surprised to see a decent number of Black Stones out.

 I started with a size 16 , but the fish were honed in on the peach yarn.  After my last hook-up I fished downriver for an hour, fighting the wind.  I packed it in and headed home.  It was a great way to end an amazing vacation and I was ready for the grind.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Backwoods Classic 2012...A break from the soft water.

The Backwoods Classic is an annual Ice Fishing trip that takes place up North every February.  This gathering has been going strong for 10yrs and I have had the privilege of attending the last 5 yrs.  Its a great time spent with friends.  Although the focus is not always on fishing, it is a welcomed break from my routine at work and home.

The location this year was Ravenscroft Lodge, located about 75 Km north of North Bay.  Our convoy of Vehicles pulled into the Colonel Hogies restaurant in North Bay around 9 am Friday morning.  Stopping at this 50's style diner has become a tradition the last couple years and the food is excellent!

After a huge breakfast consisting of  3 eggs, hash browns, beans,  bacon, toast and coffee it was time for us to complete the last leg of the trip to the lodge.

 It was wintertime again in the Near North as we snaked up Hwy 11.  About a foot of snow had accumulated over the past few days before our arrival, no doubt way below the average amount  for this time of year along with the temperature which was a balmy -3.

Arriving at the Lodge we were greeted by the owner and we had a quick look around the common areas.  Some interesting items adorned the area.

I forgot to take a picture of the +10lb Walleye on a wall,  it sure put me in the mood to fish. The lake we would be fishing was called Jumping Caribou Lake.We split up into 3 separate cabins and unpacked our gear and a bunch of us got ready to fish.

The huts were within walking distance of the cabins,  I always cringe when this is the case.  I just feel that a laborious out of the way  pain in the ass expedition usually results in better fishing and along with it a true sense of the Northern experience. None the less a few of us headed out to the huts, but this time we would be lazy and hitch a ride.

The sky was overcast and the temp was fairly mild, for some reason I was optimistic we would get into fish.

We fished the remainder of the day with very little action.  My friend had brought up his flasher and he gave me a quick tutorial on using it.

  After awhile I marked a fish, and coming up to him on the screen,  I was able to nab the only fish of the afternoon, a little whitefish. My first through the ice.

The food was superb at the lodge and not once was I hungry. The weekend seemed to fly by, such is the case when your having fun with good friends.  The fishing never really picked up this year.

Moving outside of the hut area on the last day produced a couple of missed opportunities.  Luckily  the weather on the last day was just superb, blue skies and no wind. 

Who would have thought that one little whitefish would have secured the highly coveted "Backwoods Classic" Trophy.

And so another "Backwoods Classic" has come and gone and I am already counting down the days till the next one.  Perhaps the fishing will be better next year, but if it's not that's ok too. The great parties with great friends are well worth the drive.