Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Planning for 2015

This week I noticed the dates have been set for the 2015 NB Sportsmen Show in Moncton.    This 3 day Trade show and convention is absolutely huge with thousands of fishing and boating enthusiasts from all over coming to take in the exhibits and presentations.    It took literally hours to walk around the entire massive floor space last year and see everything there was to offer.    

However there was one aspect of the fishing industry that was noticably absent last year.    Kayak Fishing!    Well that will not be the case this year.    I contact the organizers with the hope they would allow me to join the list of presenters and do a piece on kayak fishing in New Brunswick.    Well, the idea went over so well that I was offered a booth where I could promote, discuss and educate attendees all weekend on the various aspects of kayak fishing and the opportunities for kayak fishing here in our province!    What a great opportunity to help build our sport!

This is a fantastic opportiunity for myself and other kayak anglers who I'll look to for help to really push awareness of kayak (and canoe) fishing to the general public.    Also, this gives me as the organizer for the largest two kayak/canoe fishing tournaments in Eastern Canada an opportunity to reach out to companies involved in kayak fishing and offer to feature their products at this show.    My thought is that in return for the exposure and promotion I'll give to these kayak fishing products, the companies would be asked to sponsor our tournaments and in turn, help to grow the kayak fishing community!

As we get into the later parts of Winter, I'll have hopefully solidified exactly this booth will be laid out, who will help me run it, and how we will work to best promote our sport.     If you have any thoughts on this, want to contribute to this effort as a sponsor or in person, or have any questions/ideas/suggestions, please let me know!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Vote Now!! Kayak Angler Choice Awards - Round 1

The Kayak Angler Choice Awards (KACA) is finally up now and will be taking votes for just 1 week here in round 1.


Enter my contest for a prize.... after you have voted for the blog (honor system in place!:  Click Here
This blog, which I have high hopes for, is up in the kayak angler's Blog of the Year category.   Also up for consideration is my video of the 54 inch record sturgeon caught in sturgeon alley this Spring for Video of the Year, and myself personally for Angler of the Year!

To encourage voting I'm going to be giving away some great prizes!    For each round that I make it through, the prizes will get better and better eventually ending with a fantastic prize (possibly a new Denali Rod!) should the blog eventually win Blog of the Year!    To be up for a prize, simply go vote for your choices for the KACA prizes, and then come back here and fill out your name below!

There are other great local nominees as well including Eco-Logicial Adventures for Retailer of the Year.   Without Paul's support from Eco-Logical Adventures, the sport of kayak angling would be no where as active and popular as it has grown to become.   Paul has donated 2 kayaks a year for several years now to the local kayak angling tournaments and is a huge reason why these events are as popular as they are.    Eco-Logical adventures definately deserves your consideration for retailer of the year!

Under the Location of the Year category is sturgeon alley.   This is where I do all of my fishing for about 4 months of the year.    In sturgeon alley I have caught all of the following:    White Perch, Yellow Perch, Smallmouth bass, Striped Bass, Catfish, American Eel, Suckers, Tommy Cod and Gaspereau.   I've also seen or heard of burbot (this past weekend!), Shad, smelt, Trout, Salmon, Pickerel, and others being caught or passing through there each year.     There is no other location I know of which offers such an amazing variety of fish in our local area with easy access!

For the Forum of the Year, we have to look at Canadian Kayak Anglers (CKA).    It is the premiere forum for kayak angling discussions for anyone across the country.    I've made several friends on CKA from across the country and am looking forward to eventally making a trip to Ontario or B.C. to meet some in person and head out fishing with them!

 One you have voted, and I'm taking you for your word you voted for this blog, just enter your name and contact info here to be in for the first round of the contest.    To be in for the second and third (final) rounds you will need to vote and enter your information here again.

Enter the contest here!

Oh, here is the video that is up for the Video of the Year!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Success and Surprise on the Kennebacasis

This weekend my friend Matt MacDonald and I had another epic 11 hour kayak fish on the Kennebacasis.   We put in at about 2:00 on Saturday and just got off the water there a few hours ago... about 1 in the morning!   It was a long day, but a memorable one to say the least!

The plan was to paddle to the top of Darling's Island and fish for striped bass.   It was a spot both of us had heard good things about but neither had tried.   While neither Matt nor I, nor any of the other several anglers we met had any luck with stripers, Matt managed to catch a 21 inch burbot almost immeadiately!

Now the thing is, neither of us knew what the heck this fish was and had to take to Facebook to find out from friends.   No one, to my knowledge currently has ever heard of a burbot being caught on the Kennebacasis, certianly not up near the top of Darling's Island!   This fish, and apparently the unique markings on it according one long time NB angler is definately somewhat unique!   Leave it to Matt to have a catch like this and leave me wanting to throw him in the drink for it!    

If you know of burbot being caught in this area, or have any thoughts on it, please let me know.  I've love to know what others think of this catch!

I did manage to catch several small catfish and then one nice fish out in this part of the river, a 42" shortnose sturgeon.    This would be the first of 5 sturgeon I'd land on the day, and just the third biggest!

Eventually the tide headed back out, so we went with the current back down to our usual fishing grounds near the mouth of the hammond.   By this time it was dark.    I landed a 32 inch sturgeon, and then almost immeadiately after hooked another.    This one was had a lot of fight in him!   I was hopeful that I had on my first 4 footer of the season, but after about 7 min, I finally landed a 43" fat shortnose.   He was jigged both on is side and a fin, which is probably why he was fighting so hard!

As the outgoing tide started to come to an end, the sturgeon in the river suddenly got very active.   There were fish jumping all around us.    At one point a nice fat sturgeon jumped about 5 feet off the side of my kayak.    I moved locations at one point and literally ran into one sturgeon, then a little later another went to jump and ran right up into the bottom of Matt's kayak!     This was finally turning into a fun night!

Finally, I hooked the sturgeon I was looking for!    It was heavy but I got it to the surface quickly and then almost immeadiately I was able to grab it and haul it into the kayak.    A 49.5" fat shortnose sturgeon!    Finally I broke the 4 foot mark and have my one sturgeon that I'll be keeping this year for the smoker!    I did land yet another nice sturgeon after that at 37" and Matt hauled in a 32" sturgeon as well.  
So, while the past few weeks in sturgeon alley has been slow, it looks like things are finally starting to pick up, and there is some good size to the sturgeon as well!   I'm looking forward to a great November of sturgeon fishing!

Finally, well past midnight, it was time to head back.    But the surprises weren't done.    On our return, we found that I had a flat tire on my new Jeep!    Tires shouldn't got flat with just 5500 km on them!    Oh well, a quick tire change with help from Matt and we were on our way home!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Winter is Coming

The temperatures are dropping quickly now and the water is getting much colder.   Yet, the fishing season for stripers and sturgeon will continue on, here in Southern New Brunswick till the rivers are fully iced over!    Below are a few pics from one chilly day out on the river back last December with Chris from the Greater Saint John Kayak Anglers showing just how much we love our kayak fishing!

While many people would consider it unfathomable to kayak fish in winter conditions, surrounded by ice and snow, it is actually a fantastic experience that I fully recommend to any kayak angler!   That being said, you do have to take special precautions to be safe,... which admittedly I do not always do myself!

One safety tip for winter fishing, which really should apply all year, but especially for winter, is to never fish alone!   It only takes one slip of the mind to have an accident, and as anyone who's accidentally tipped a kayak will tell you, it happens fast!   I'm guilty here of not heeding my own advice, and will likely continue to fish alone when others aren't available to fish with me, but certainly  when given the choice, I'd always opt to have a friend with me!

Anytime you are kayak fishing cold water, you really should have a good paddling drysuit like those from Level6 or Kokatat.   A good dry suit is on my wish list but I've not been able to put the money aside to invest in one yet, so here's another piece of advice I myself do not yet follow.   If you have any doubts at all about your confidence in handling a big fish, maintaining balance when hit by an ice flow,...etc, then you really should not attempt to kayak fish in the winter without a drysuit and appropriate layers.  It could most definitely save your life!

The river we fish in locally does have a considerable current, however it really doesn't offer any challenges in terms of waves or wakes.   The odd inconsiderate motorboat may not slow down, but that really is the extent of waves that we have to deal with.  So unless there is rain in the forecast, the only way you should get wet at all is from the little bit of water that may splash when paddling or retrieving a fish.

Given this, I tend to dress in layers, sometimes a lot of layers, but in a way that I have good mobility, and that my outer layers are water/wind resistant.   A warm hat, ice fishing gloves (and back up gloves), wool socks, and long underwear are all essential equipment.   As is plenty of lighting, as the days are quite short in the winter.   Of course, a PFD has to be worn as well!    When the temps drop really low, I tend to wear my extremely warm snowsuit, essentially the exact same outfit I'd wear on a snowmobile!

My kayak of choice most of the year is the Predator 13 for many reasons.   However, I may look at switching back to my Old Town Dirigo when the weather gets below the freezing mark..  In the sit inside Dirigo, with the spray skirt in place, my entire lower half is protected from the elements.  Wind, even a slight breeze can really make a cold day uncomfortable over the course of many hours, so blocking that wind in the sit inside works well.   Because my feet are basically resting on the water, with just the bottom of the kayak between, I may put a thin rubber or Styrofoam pad into the bottom of the kayak, just to help insulate my feet from the water.   

In the Dirigo, I am low to the water, so reaching over the side to grab the tail of a sturgeon is very easy, and there is ample space between my rod holders and torso to handle and deal with the fish.   In fact, my 54" sturgeon seen above in the blogs top picture was caught while in the Dirigo, just a few weeks before getting my Predator!

I'll keep using the Predator until I experience an outing where I wish I brought the Dirigo, at that point I'll probably make the switch for the remainder of the Winter.    There is one disadvantage to the Dirigo though, at least as I currently have it rigged.   I can only mount the anchor in the rear.   In conditions like above, it would be better to mount it in the front so that you can see the ice flows coming towards you, rather than surprise you as it hits the rear.    With the anchor trolley on the Predator, I can manouver the anchor to the front and be a little more prepared for the flows than I can in the Dirigo.

If you get out kayak fishing this winter, send me a pic and I'll include them in a post later the year!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Long day on the Kennebacasis

Well yesterday I had high expectations, being given permission to spend as much of the day as I liked out on the water.   So at about 6 AM I hit the water with Peter, one of the other kayakers from the Greater Saint John Kayak Anglers, and was soon met by Craig and Chris in their kayaks as well.   The goal was to catch sturgeon, and possibly one of the big stripers we were hearing about.  

I quickly caught a catfish, which surprised me as I hadn't seen a catfish around there in a while.   Other than that we all caught a bunch of tommy cod.  It was actually hard trying to keep worms on the hooks for sturgeon with so many tommy cod around!

So Peter and I decided to paddle up river towards whats known as the Deep Hole in search of better fishing.   Other than finding a yellow perch and Peter finding a smallmouth bass, it was still only tommy cod that we were able to catch however, so eventually we made our way back towards sturgeon alley.

Along the way I stopped at a spot where I hooked a couple sturgeon last week.   It took a while but I finally landed a 36" sturgeon.   After getting it into the kayak, I took my other rod to put it securely in the rod holder, while I delt with getting the hook out of the sturgeon and measuring it, and found I had one hooked on the other rod as well!   Turns out in 11 hours on the water, I only caught 2 sturgeon and they were back to back!

I'm generally pretty careful to only hold the sturgeon by the tail where the scutes are not as pronounced.  Though for the above picture I held them by the bodies.... oops!   By doing this I often ended up with some cuts on my fingers like these.   They may be small, but they are very tender for a few days!   The smaller the sturgeon, the sharper the scutes!

I caught a baby striper at this same spot last week and did so again yesterday before I met Sam Andrews.   Sam is working on a project at UNB to study our local Saint John / Kennebacasis / Hammond Rivers striper populations.   This involves taking scale samples of the very young stripers to be sent off for genetic testing.   Catching these young stripers though isn't easy when you are trying to catch them!   Fortunately, while talking to Sam, I was able to catch 2 more baby stripers, including one that was barely 7 inches long!

It's pretty neat that I was able to contribute to the project by catching these two baby stripers for Sam, so that he can collect the sample he needs for testing.  I certianly look forward to hearing the results of his study and finding out once and for all if these baby stripers are actually native to our river system!   Unfortunately, given the nature of genetic testing, the results may not be avaiable for a year or longer, so we will have to wait to see what happens!   Sam gave me some items that I can use over the next little while to collect samples for him as well, and then of course return the baby striper back to the river unharmed!

After a while I left Sam and made my way back to the mouth of the Hammond where I met Matt, again one of the members of our kayaking group.  Matt's caught some monster fish this year including a 32 inch eel and a 50 inch sturgeon, but today was a very slow day for him as well.   That is, till he hooked into and landed a 41 inch striped bass!    Way to go Matt!!   Note, Matt did release the fish for someone else to enjoy catching later!

We eventually got off the river at about 4:30.    A long day, with 5 species landed, but none of the trophies I was looking for.  At least I was able to meet Sam, and video Matt catching his trophy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

First time supporting a Kickstarter campaign!

I came across a new product by way of a Facebook posting from one of the kayak angler magazines I follow for the Line Cutterz Ring.   This is a very cool project conceived and put together by one Vance Zahorski out of the beautiful State of Wisconson.    Vance is a kayak angler with a very nice blog, so naturally I feel just a little compelled to support him in this venture!

The Line Cutterz ring is a cool ring in and of itself, but also feature a hidden blade allowing you to quickly cut fishing line without trying to keep track of your knife or clippers.   For kayak anglers, any tool that is useful, always within reach, small, easy to use at night, and impossible to lose is basically invaluable, so the Line CutterZ ring I am sure will quickly become a 'must have' tool for all kayak anglers.  

To get this project off the ground, Vance has started a Kickstarter campaign.    You can check out a great video of the project, see a fantastic list of advantages, pictures,...etc.     If you choose to contribute to the project you will be able to select from several different great rewards, check it out and if you like the idea contribute a few dollars!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend Fishing

It's that time of year when we all stop to give thanks; family, friends, health and so forth are typically at the top of most people's lists.  Of course I'm thankful for all of that, but you also have to look at the smaller things as well.    For instance, a long weekend full of sun and ideal fishing conditions!    Compared to last weekend when I thought I'd come down with hypothermia at the sturgeon derby, this weekend has been great, and for that I'm certianly thankful!

Taking advantage of the long weekend and the weather, I was able to get both Fynn and Rowan out for fishing trips in my Old Town Predator 13 kayak.    I also got out at 6 AM Saturday morning for a solo fish at sturgeon alley.    Over the course of three trips and about 12 hours in the kayak, I didn't have as much to show as I'd hoped for in terms of fish landed, but I did get a few nice pics out of it!

Saturday I landed 2 sturgeon, 2 baby stripers and a couple of tommy cod.  Sunday with Fynn I landed a couple more sturgeon - one of which Fynn hauled up into the kayak, and Monday with Rowan I landed just a couple of pickerel.   Not great fishing by any means, but it's time out on the water with the kids and you don't need to catch anything to be thankful for times like that!

Thanks to the GoPro, here are a couple of nice pics from this past weekend!     Hope you like them!

 33 1/4 inch Atlantic Sturgeon

 Baby Striper.. one of many I've seen come out of the Kennebacasis this year!

I lost this 40+ inch sturgeon at the side of the kayak.  DOH! 
Check out the bend on the MH Signature series Denali Rod!

 Fynn waiting for a sturgeon.

 Fynn hauling a 34" sturgeon into the kayak.  Took him several tries to get hold of the tail.   Not many kayaks I'd be willing to attempt this in with a kid the size of Fynn!

 Rowan holding one of just 2 pickerel we caught out in Kingston Creek

Rowan and I trying to figure out where those pickerel are hiding.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sturgeon Derby Recap

It was cold, wet and windy at the derby... and that was before the real weather kicked in!    Mild rain kicked in early in the morning, and turned to torrential downpours for a short time with considerable wind mixed in.   I spent most of the tournament shivering and having to flex my fingers to get feeling back into them.

That being said, there were 4 of use foolish enough to brave the elements and stick out the entire day in kayak.   I managed to land 3 small sturgeon, Peter in his new kayak which he won at the padder's derby landed 2, John (Ipop) landed one, and Matt (still basking in the glow from his 50-incher last week) was shut out.

Overall there were 95 people in the tournament and over 100 sturgeon landed.   However, from what I hear, about 50 of them were landed by people in just 3 boats all huddled in one specific spot far from where I normally fish on the Kennebacasis.    Apparently the sturgeon all decided to move out of my traditional fishing grounds for the day.

One person captured both first ($1000) and second ($400) place and walked away with a nice payday.   Many people ended the day with no fish, and everyone was cold and wet!  

At least we had the door prizes to look forward to right!    Wrong!   There were door prizes, but in all honesty, it was embarassing.   There wasn't a single item I would have wanted to pick to bring home.   It looked like a clearance bin from Walmart, a mish-mash of general 'stuff'.     Rather than stick around and potentially pick from the 20 or so 50 cent yard-sale items that were up for door prizes, I opted to head straight back home to get dry and fed!

Given the way the day went, and the way it ended, I think next year I'll wait till the last minute to buy my ticket to this event.  If the weather calls for anything other than clear and sunny, I'll probably skip it.    It's a shame really, as from what others who's attended this event in years past say, it used to be a 'big deal' with a lot more competitors, and a far more extensive set of quality prizes at the end of the day.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Landing a sturgeon in kayak

Anyone not familiar with sturgeon fishing will be sure to have a blast when they get to try it out for the first time.  Of course, as with most species of any size, there are a few things to learn first.   What bait, what type of rig, techniques in hooking the fish, and of course how to land it.

For the kayak angler, few fish can be more intimidating the first time than a big sturgeon.   It will fight you, and it has sharp scutes over most of the body.   The natural inclination may be to use a net, however I advise against this, the net will only serve to create a hassle.

For sturgeon (at least the shortnose and small atlantics we have here), the best way to land it is to simply grab it by the tail and haul it onto your lap.   The scutes around the tail will be blunt and cause not problems for you.   Once in the kayak, you can hold sturgeon around the head and remove the hook.     Oh, and good to know is that the larger the sturgeon is, the more worn down and blunt the scutes will be.

In this video I have a little battle with a 42 inch fat shortnose, eventually wearing it down enough to lift by the tail into my lap.   Take a look and see how it's done so you are prepared when you make it out for you shot at a big sturgeon!

Oh and there is a little footage of an Atlantic Sturgeon at the end.  Notice the shape of the nose, and how the mouth is narrower than the eyes on the Atlantic.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sturgeon starting to pick up in the Kennebacasis!

I went out last night with newly minted 50" club member Matt McDonald to sturgeon alley to try out a little experiment with my sturgeon techniques before the big derby on Sunday. The tide was coming in, and it was a touch windy and very dark and cloudy, but other than that a beautiful evening! :-)

Matt started things off with a 29" sturgeon and was then preoccupied the rest of the evening catching tommy cods.   I picked a spot where I hoped would be somewhat free of Tommy Cods and got lucky.   I managed to catch a surprising 7 sturgeon all between 25 and 34.5 inches.    I did have on an 8th and it would certianly have been much bigger, possibly nearing the 4 foot range, however after a few minutes where I was being hauled in circles, the sturgeon managed to cause a tangle with my second rod and eventually get off as I tried to sort that out.

Oh well, at least I was able to try out the adaptations to my techniques that I had been wanting to work on, and discover somethings that work and did not work about it.  As to what those ideas are exactly, I may share..... after the derby.  lol!

So 7 sturgeon in a couple of hours within a couple of hours of high slack tide, and an 8th that could have been a prize contender.   That bodes very well for the derby on Sunday when high slack tide should be a little after noon!    The judges are going to be busy!!!