Wow, it’s been a long time since my last post! If I had a dollar for every blogger who’s written that, I’d be a very rich man. I have mounds of photos and some half-written posts that never got published from the last couple of months, but it would be tedious to give a full recap. So instead, I’ll just give a summary of what I’ve been up to and share a few pics and stories.
There’s no better place to start than the Credit. It is still, after all, where I spend most of my time on the water. In my experience, the river has fished quite well this year (aside from some warm spells that is). The last of the large broodstock Atlantics that were stocked in the upper river a couple years ago seems to have finally cleared out and I’ve been seeing a catching a good number of both brook trout and brown trout on the main branch. Lots of smaller browns and brookies as well, which is nice to see.
Of course, there are still the small Atlantics that continue to be stocked and there are also a curiously high number of rainbows being caught this year. I would say the rainbows are the biggest difference in the river. If the MNR and CVC are concerned about brook trout populations, this is the fish they need to worry about, not the brown trout. I’ve heard they are likely still escaping from ponds in Erin, although I’m pretty sure they’re also reproducing in larger numbers as well. In addition to the usual smaller catches, I have caught a few larger rainbows this year as well, which is quite unusual.
So, unsurprisingly, many of my outings this year have had me catching 3 to 4 different species, sometimes in the same pool.
When local rivers are running high and dirty, some unsafe to wade and others only marginally suitable for throwing big streamers, it’s nice to have another option. Moreover, when the short resident trout season ends at the end of September and the only fishing left is migratory species near the mouths of rivers and some warm water fishing, it’s great to have somewhere to turn.
To this effect, I decided to try something new this year. The trout ponds at Glen Haffy’s Fly Fishing Club offer some excellent stocked Rainbow Trout fishing for about 8 months out of the year. As an added benefit, they also enjoy a healthy population of native Brook Trout that enter one of the ponds from a small spring creek. The ponds are nestled within hundreds of acres of conservation land and offer excellent fishing in a truly serene atmosphere.
Early morning view from one of Glen Haffy’s trout ponds
Last week was a bit slow on the fly fishing front, which is a bit of a shame considering there’s only a couple weeks left of trout season.
I took my two boys out for some pond fishing Saturday morning. The oldest (8) has his own fly rod and waders, but I left them at home since the younger one (4) isn’t quite old enough for the trout streams yet. Fishing for panfish via hook and bobber every once in a while keeps their interest peaked and that’s the most important thing at this age. The fish in this particular pond were absolutely ferocious. As soon as the line hit the water, swarms of sunfish would rush to devour the worm. Unfortunately they’ve become so good at stripping the worm off the hook, that I spent a solid 2-3 hours doing not much more than re-baiting hooks. At least the action was consistent and the kids caught some fish.
During my time off work last week, I made a couple trips to the upper section of the Grand River. This river has had its share of hard times in the past couple years. Last year it was the abnormally high spring and summer temps, which resulted in nearly unfishable conditions for much of the summer. This year, temperatures have been ideal, but the record rainfalls have had it running extremely high and dirty.
With a break from all the rain and cooler temps of late, I figured the river should be back in tip-top condition. So, last Thursday I set out at sunrise with an arsenal of Tricos, expecting to be tossing tiny dry flies to eager fish. When I arrived, the river flows were as expected, but the water was inexplicably murky – as if a huge rainfall had just gone through. Apparently, the heavy rains in weeks past have caused somewhat of a backup of sediment and algae in Belwood Lake, which is still being released from Shand Dam. The river was definitely more slippery than I’ve ever seen it, so blaming it on algae seems logical. Still, I didn’t travel 45 minutes at 6 am to turn around and drive back home.
Other than the water colour, everything seemed normal. Deer on the river, Cranes and the resident Osprey about and a bit of insect activity, hinting at the likely hatches in the coming hours.
It’s becoming a common occurrence to be greeted by a Deer in the morning
I can’t say I frequent this stretch of river, yet it’s possibly my favourite and most memorable place to spend a day on the water. This is certainly one of the more scenic sections of river in southern Ontario. I rarely see another person here during a full day of fishing, which is likely due to the difficulty accessing it (a very long hike is required) and the fact that so many other more accessible sections of river offer easier and larger trout. For me, it’s a day out to enjoy the scenery and peace and quiet. The fact that I might also catch a few fish is an added bonus.
Unlike many fly fishermen, I’ve never been much of a morning person. It’s not that I don’t enjoy waking up before the birds to a fresh pot of coffee and being the first person on an unspoiled river. If there’s anything in life that can get me out of bed, it’s definitely fishing. However, the convenience and success of evening fishing has stolen the majority of my outings in recent years, not to mention the fact that I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. This season has been somewhat of a departure from my usual fishing schedule. A relatively new neighbour of mine also happens to share a passion for fly fishing, especially on the Grand River. Due to our schedules and family commitments, we decided to start making some early morning trips to the Grand. It’s about a 45 minute drive from our place, so being there before 6 am means waking up at or before 5 am – and if you know me, that’s no small feat.
Admittedly, as great a river as the Grand is, I haven’t fished it too much in the past few years. Most of my time has been spent on other less popular rivers. However, the several trips we’ve made so far this year have reminded of a few things I had forgotten:
1. Morning is an amazing time to be on the water
Stepping out onto the water at the crack of dawn is a wonderful experience. The crisp morning air, quiet, calm and undisturbed water instantly makes you forget how difficult it was climbing out of bed. With the entire day ahead of you, your sense of urgency is non-existent. Wildlife is abundant and fish are still a bit more careless than they might be after a day of dealing with anglers. On a morning trip last week, we were greeted by a pair of playful deer as we stepped into the river. They remained for several minutes before finally realizing we were there, after which they calmly walked back to the river bank out of sight.
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).
Resident Beaver chilling out on a rock in the middle of the river
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.
Nice colourful resident Brook Trout caught on a Stimulator
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!
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.
Fishing Spider encountered on the Credit River.
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).