It seems like trout fishing season (open May-September on most waters here) was barely existent this year. Now, there’s only one week left before it’s gone. Hopefully I’ll be able to sneak out a couple more times next week, before or after work and on the weekend.
I absolutely loving fishing in the fall. Cool crisp temperatures and colours galore, on both the trees and the fish. Yesterday was full of walking and roller coasters, as I took my son to Canada’s Wonderland, but today I managed to get out for a few hours of fishing. Normally I would choose to fish my favourite brown trout water this time of year, but seeing as how I failed to catch any fish during my Algonquin trip, I thought I’d try to make amends and head to some brookie water today.
Fishing was pretty slow for most of the day. Rain was off and on and temps were quite cold, but overall it was great to be out. I managed to catch a few small brookies in the first couple hours – nothing to brag about, but better than nothing. I also took a break to watch a beaver that lives in this section of the river (I’ve seen him here for several years now).
I started out casting dry flies and eventually switched to a small streamer since there wasn’t anything happening on the surface. The streamer provided 2 hits, but no fish landed. As daylight faded, I approached a nice stretch of water and decided to go back to dries. I tied on a size 12 stimulator and the second cast produced a nice brookie.
I had hiked in quite a way from my car and it would be a long walk back. Since I packed my headlamp, I figured I’d push my luck and stay a while longer and hike back in the dark. Then it hit me… I had put my headlamp in my fishing net in the car… and now I was wearing my fishing net on my back. Unfortunately, the lamp was no longer in the net. It had obviously fallen out somewhere along my trek today, which took me through a lot of heavy brush. Not only did this mean I just lost my new $50 headlamp, but it also meant I had to stop fishing if I wanted to avoid stumbling back the 30 minute hike in dark without a light. Doh!
Not a very original title, but this was the theme of our backcountry trip to Algonquin Provincial Park last weekend. As planned (almost), we headed out Thursday after work. The idea was to leave Mississauga before 4:00 pm to beat the worst of rush-hour traffic, but due to some last minute hang-ups at work, we didn’t end up leaving until after 6:00 pm. Off to a late start, but at least we still managed to avoid traffic.
I’ve been to Algonquin a couple times in the past and it really doesn’t get much easier as far as driving directions go. Highway 400 to Barrie, Highway 11 to Huntsville, Highway 60 into Algonquin. Seriously, it should be virtually impossible to screw this up. Well, thanks to modern technology (in the form of my buddy’s GPS), we actually managed to screw it up!
I don’t quite remember why we decided to keep following the GPS, or even turn it on in the first place. Perhaps it was the excitement or lack of concentration due to constant chattering during the car ride. Whatever the reason, this devilish device decided to take us more than an hour out of our way, directly south of Algonquin Park and eventually trying to turn us into a private driveway that it thought was a road. Since there are no entrances to Algonquin south of the park, we had no choice but to drive back the way we came. On the positive side, we had the opportunity to see at least a half dozen deer, which would turn out to be the most wildlife we observed the entire trip. However, it also meant that a would-be 3.5 hour trip turned into nearly 7 hours (if you count our stop for dinner)!
When I get an idea in my head, it doesn’t take long before it becomes reality. This was the case again with the backpack I bought yesterday and planned to use for my upcoming Algonquin trip. I purchased a MEC Brio 70L internal-frame hiking pack, along with an assortment of dry sacks for keeping all my gear inside dry. It actually seemed like a great hiking backpack for the price, but after trying it on and doing a bit more research I realized it might not be the best (or even most cost efficient) method of packing gear for a canoeing+portaging trip.
Long story short, I returned the backpack along with most of the dry sacks and purchased a SealLine Pro Pack (pictured below).
You can get a sense of the size of this pack by the full-size guitar sitting next to it. This beast has 115L capacity, which is about 64% more than the previous backpack! On top of that, it’s 100% waterproof, which means it can sit at the bottom of the canoe getting wet, all my gear inside stays dry without the need for additional dry sacks and I don’t end up carrying a soggy backpack around. Finally, the profile of this bag is actually better for portages since it sits lower than a typical large hiking backpack and won’t interfere with a canoe resting on your shoulders.
It worked out that the cost of the SealLine was about the same as the cost of the cheaper Brio backpack with all the required dry sacks. Now all I have to do is find enough stuff to fill it!
It’s been rainy and miserable the last few days, so I haven’t gotten out for any more fishing this week. Instead, I’ve been planning an extended weekend canoe/portage trip!
This is something I’ve always wanted to do: portage into the Algonquin Provincial Park back country. However, I haven’t really been able to find anyone adventurous enough to do it with; and I’m certainly not about to solo a trip like this, at least not for my first few attempts.
Well, I’ve finally found a victim (I mean companion) to endure this experiment with me and we’re planning to do a 3 day trip, leaving Thursday, September 13th. I’ve done some limited camping in Algonquin’s developed campsites in the past, but I’m completely unfamiliar with its interior. Along with Google, the following book has been my main planning reference so far:
In my last entry I posted a picture of a nasty spider that crawled out of my waders and onto my arm. Well, that reminded me of another spider I found while fishing the Credit River a few years ago and it could have eaten the previous one for lunch. Seriously, this was the largest wild/native spider I’ve ever come across and it scared the hell out of me. I had no idea there were spiders this large in Southern Ontario.
Unfortunately the picture quality is not too great as the camera I was carrying at the time was pretty bad. It’s hard to get a sense of the size of this thing, but it was resting on a huge boulder in the middle of the river and was probably about the size of a child’s hand. Apparently it’s called a Fishing Spider (genus Dolomedes).
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took a well deserved week-long trip to a favourite destination of ours on the banks of Au Sable River in Grayling, Michigan.
Grayling is a fly fishing paradise. I won’t go into detail on why this is such a great fly fishing town, but suffice it to say that it’s surrounded by several blue ribbon trout rivers, it’s host to river stretches with nicknames like the “Holy Water”, it’s got more fly shops than most towns have gas stations and it’s the birthplace of Trout Unlimited… you get the idea.
I made an effort not to spend too much time on the water this trip, since my wife doesn’t fish and we had other things planned for the week. Most of the time I didn’t stray too far from the place we were staying. Located on the Holy Water, one of (if not the) best stretches of trout water on the entire Au Sable, it’s just too convenient.
The main hatches for the week included Tricos in the mornings, terrestrials (mostly ants) in the afternoons and some sporadic BWO hatches in the evenings. No overly large trout were had during this trip, but a nice assortment of brown, rainbow and brook trout were caught. That’s one of the things I love about the Au Sable in this stretch… all three trout species are very plentiful and on any given day it’s entirely possible to hook up with trophy sizes in all of these fish.
And then there’s the night fishing…
Took the float tube out tonight for a few hours hoping to get some good top water bass fishing in. Arrived around 4:30 and fished to dark.
Things were a lot slower than I expected in the afternoon. I was casting poppers for a good hour and a half without much luck. The water was actually quite warm, probably even a bit out of the comfort zone for bass, so this was likely the issue.
I gave up on the poppers and went subsurface with an angora bugger and things started to pick up a bit. Landed a pike, a couple largemouth bass and a few small overzealous baby bass. Nothing spectacular, but better than nothing.
As evening approached and the temps cooled a bit and the sun started to set, I ditched the bugger and went back to poppers… again, no luck. As a last-ditch effort, I thought I’d try tying on a smaller terrestrial fly and twitching it on the surface. A few minutes in, I made a cast close to shore; I’m guessing in about a foot of water. One twitch and I saw something subtly gulp my fly down. I thought it was either another tiny bass or a bluegill – sure looked like it from the delicate take. Then it ran straight at my tube… fast. I was stripping line as fast as I could to keep tension on and I knew then that I was into a better fish. This nice largemouth was the result:
To be honest, I’ve fished this water a few times before and never been overly impressed with it. Had I not caught this just before heading in, I likely wouldn’t have been too excited to come back. I know they’re in there now though, so I’ll definitely be back to find more of these in the near future!
When it comes to fly fishing, I’ve traditionally been a resident trout only type of guy. If I wasn’t able to fish for trout, I generally wouldn’t fish at all. Although this might sound foolish, my reasoning was as follows:
- Steelhead and salmon fishing in any river within an hour drive in any direction of my house is generally a shoulder to shoulder meatfest. Not my idea of fun, at all.
- Warm water fishing with a fly rod has often seemed impractical, or inaccessible, due to the difficulty getting into a river or lake without some sort of boat (most are not wadeable and/or have zero room for back casting).
Well, I’m happy to say that I’m a reformed warm water fly fishing enthusiast. This happened gradually over the past couple of years. The main triggers included a new float tube which made a bunch of new water accessible, as well as discovering a couple nice wadeable stretches of rivers I didn’t previously know existed. Of course, the hot weather this summer helped push me over the edge a bit too.
The net result was lots of fun warm water fishing this year. In fact, I caught three species for the very first time on a fly rod this year: smallmouth bass, pike and carp. Previous years had me dabbling with largemouth bass and panfish.
Next year I’m planning to add a pontoon boat to my ever-growing inventory, so hopefully that will make things even more interesting!
Earlier this summer I took a camping trip with my 7 year old son and a group of friends to Mikisew Provincial Park, which is located just west of Algonquin Park. This was strictly a weekend getaway to do some camping and a bit of fishing with my son.
Normally I would not post this here, since this was not really a fly fishing trip. The kids were spin fishing off the rocks for bass. There were a couple bets going around for largest fish and silliest fish. Needless to say, the boy who caught this won the latter award. The poor frog had sealed his lips around the barbed treble hook of a spoon. Thankfully we were able to remove it release him with minimal injuries, but after spending several minutes trying to free the hook from this poor guy, it really shows you how much safer single barbless hooks are!