Saturday, November 29, 2014

NB Ice Fishing - To buy a license or not?

Ice Fishing is a major recreational sport in most of Canada and the northern States of the U.S., a boon to the local economies and in some ways even more popular than 'soft water' fishing.   Now that we are on the verge of our annual freeze, it is time once again to consider wether or not it is worth it to pay the $22.60 for a license that is of questionable use.

NB Ice Fishing Regulations

Here in Quispamsis, the ice fishing license grants us access to a couple of close by and interesting pickerel ponds such  as McManus Lake and Oram Lake.   There is of course Fisher Lakes in the city of Saint John and a couple of others, but those are not lakes I'd be likely to fish should they were free, let alone having to pay for the right to do so.   Really there is very little incentive to purchase a license for ice fishing for those of here, which is a shame.

In other areas of New Brunswick, the situation may be different and there may be more viable fishing waters available.    For folk living in those areas it may of course may perfect sense to get a license; especially if they live a considerable distance from tidal waters.   Check the ice fishing regulation in the link above to see what waters are available in your area. 

Here is the rare blue yellow perch my friend John Cail caught Ice Fishing last year in tidal waters!

 Of course, this does not mean that us in the Greater Saint John Area will not have a great ice fishing season ahead of us, it is just that our season will be on tidal waters.   Smelt (and the ever famous ice shack communities) is the main draw, though the tidal portions of the river also offer pickerel, burbot, perch and as I found out last year - the rare shark!    There is more than enough enjoyment to be had on the ice in tidal water to keep one happy in the ice fishing season along the Saint John and Kennebacasis Rivers.

I contacted the NB Department of Natural Resources to inquire about rumors that more ponds will be opened to ice anglers.   I was very happy to get a detailed and informative response.  There are 77 additional lakes and ponds in NB that DNR wishes to have open to ice fishing, however they are not able to do so without an amendment to legislation at the Federal Level.   DNR is working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to get an amendment passed which will then allow DNR to open these waters.   Unfortunately, I was told that the amendment is stalled at DFO and that I should contact my MP and DFO to find out more.

I sent e-mails to Rob Moore (our MP) and to the Minister at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ask about this amendment, it's current status and any anticipated updates.    If getting these waters opened to ice fishing is important to you, then I urge you to do the same.  Hopefully I'll hear something hopeful back, and if I do I will post it here.   Though given the traditional speed at which Canadian Federal Agencies work, I'm not holding my breath.

I'll gladly buy my Ice Fishing License when these waters are opened in New Brunswick, but not before.   Hopefully, if enough people speak up and request information on what is taking the process so long, things may suddenly move forward!

The 77 new waters that are proposed to be opened for ice fishing are:

Lake or Pond County
Amelia Lake York
Big Duck Lake York
Big Kedron Lake York
Clear Lake York
Davidson Lake York
Deer Lake York
East Brook Lake York
First Lake York
Indian Lake York
Kilburn Lake York
Lake George York
Lily Lake York
Little Lake York
Little Magaguadavic Lake York
Magaguadavic Lake York
McAdam Pond York
Mud Lake York
Napadogan Lake York
Second Eel Lake York
Second Harvey Lake York
Shogomoc Lake York
Skiff Lake York
Taffy Lake York
Third Eel Lake York
Peltoma Lake Sunbury
Arnold Lake Saint John
Bradley Lakes Saint John
Dolan Lake Saint John
Nelson Lake Saint John
Perch Lake Saint John
Quinn Lake Saint John
Round Lake Saint John
Taylor Lake Saint John
Theobald Lake Saint John
Treadwell Lake Saint John
First Portage Lake Restigouche
Hailes Brook Lake Restigouche
Prichard Lake Restigouche
Smith Lake Restigouche
Stillwater Brook Lake Restigouche
Lower Lake Queens 
Trout Lake Queens 
Upsalquitch Lake Northumberland
McKendrick Lake Northumberland
Mullin Stream Lake Northumberland
Whitney Pond Northumberland
Bates Lake Kings
Belvidere Lake Kings
Cassidy Lake Kings
Clark Lake Kings
Jenkins Lake Kings
Mechanic Lake Kings
Pickett Lake Kings
Ritchie Lake Kings
Unnamed (Crocketts Corner Pond) Kings
Waltons Lake Kings
Williams Lake Kings
Bass River Lake Gloucester
Lac St-Coeur Gloucester
Boone Lake Charlotte
Cranberry Lake Charlotte
Cundy Lake Charlotte
Digdeguash Lake Charlotte
Gibson Lake Charlotte
Goldsmiths Lake Charlotte
Little Long Lake Charlotte
Little McDougall Lake Charlotte
McDougall Lake Charlotte
Ormond Lake Charlotte
Red Rock Lake Charlotte
Sparks Lake Charlotte
Stein Lake Charlotte
Trout Lake Charlotte
Victoria Lake Charlotte
Wheaton Lake Charlotte
Greens Lake Carleton
Nashwaak Lake Carleton

Monday, November 24, 2014

You know your having fun when!

To say sturgeon fishing here is hot right now would be a bit of an understatement!   With the cold weather that's been lurking around, Sunday (Nov 23rd!) was a phenomonal day to be out fishing with a rare mild temp of +6 degrees and the sun beating down.   Low winds led to calm waters, and with 24 sturgeon landed, this may very well have been my best fishing day of the entire year!

On the water for about 6 1/2 hours, I as able to catch sturgeon pretty steady all day.    Three friends in kayak joined me, and everyone caught sturgeon, though my 24 landed (not to mention the 10 or so I lost) dwarfed the next best number caught of 8!   I'd like to say it was skill, technique and equipment that allowed me to more than double the number of fish caught by everyone else combined, and those did play into it, but really there was an element of luck involed as well.

At one point, with Matt adjacent to me in kayak, I would say, "Watch this Matt!".   Then proceed to check my rods, and sure enough, there was a sturgeon there.   I did that 3 or 4 times in a row, every time hooking into a sturgeon, and in one case, while reeling in the fish, my other rod hooked into a second one!    While the first sturgeon was pulling me foward, the second one was turning me around the other way.... that was a ton of fun!

My biggest fish on the day was 45", of which I landed two that size.  Matt, with one of his last fish on the day landed the biggest overall at a nice 48 1/4 inches as measured on my new Handlebarz Muske Lures Bump Board.    This bump board is big, and somewhat cumbersome to manage in a kayak, but it's absolutely fantastic for getting an accurate measurement out on the water for bigger fish like sturgeon!

I don't imagine I'll get too many more days out in kayak this year, it will all depend on the weather.   But if this turned out to be the last kayak fish of the year, it was certianly one worth remembering!

Oh, as great as this day was things didn't start off well.  Even before getting on the water, my Malone Kayak Cart broke!   One of the legs just snapped right off!   I'll have to contact Malone to see what they may be willing to do about this as the cart is only about 4 months old!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Disturbing Catch Explored

This past weekend I blogged about our most recent outing where my betweeen my friend John Cail and I, we landed an impressive 21 shortnose (may have been a young Atlantic in there) sturgeon out on the Kennebacasis River.   For the most part if was a fantastic, if not cold, outing with the exception of one sturgeon that had a number of, what appeared to be, fresh lesions across several parts of its body.  Most of the damage was on the head or upper back, and there was a little as well on the belly.   I didn't notice any damage on the tail, and just one spot on on the side.

This past blog article has received a lot of attention.   During the life of this blog, only one post has ever had more than 700 views, and that was from last November, one of my first ever posts!   The post from just a few days ago however has received over 1100 views!  Clearly it's a point of interest to many people!

With this much attention, I needed to take some time to look further into what may have happened to this one fish.   My first premise, based on some quick feedback from friends on Facebook was that the damage may be related to nets.   Also, given how fresh the cuts looked, especially where a scute had been ripped off, I was thinking this must be a relatively recent injury.  

In talking with Dr. Mike Dadswell Ph.D. and researcher Sam Andrews of the Coastal Ecology Lab from Acadia University a few other theories and some great information came to light!  

Sam shared with me several pictures of injured sturgen and in his studies, have seen many fish that with damage and from nets, Typically the damage is easy to define.   Gill nets typically cause the sturgeon fins to be cut shredded and also leave indentations from the net on their body.  Neither was true for the sturgeon here, so while that doesn't eliminate netting as the cause, it does give one doubt.   Here is a picture of one sturgeon that had been damaged by a gill net.  Notice how the fin is all cut up and the scutes are rubbed and red.

The other type of net that could come into play is from trawlers out in the Bay of Fundy.   Now I would not have necessarily thought that shortnose sturgeon from the Kennebacasis River would spend time in the Bay of Fundy but at least a portion of them actually do!  Both Dr. Dadswell and Sam confirmed that at least some shortnose do wander out into the Bay and could be caught up in the nets of fishing vessels.

From the research papers that Dr. Dadswell shared with me, the first photographed and documented shortnose sturgeon caught out in the Minas Basin in June of 2013.    There have been other fishermen reporting shortnose sturgeon in their catch and in some cases university researchers have been able to confirm this.  

Given this information, it is not out of the question that the shortnose which I caught may have been injured by a fishing vessel out in the Bay of Fundy.    Professor Dadswell suspects this may in fact be the case.     Here is a picture of a small atlantic which has been injured severely by a trawler.   The injuries of this particular fish aren't especially consistent with my fish, but the injuries sustained may vary.

Next, Sam told me about the ectoparasites that are common on the sturgeon populations in the Minas Basin and likely here in our river systems.  These parasites are known to hamper the immune systems of sturgeon and could very well cause an old cut to appear new.   It is fairly common to see large Atlantic Sturgeon in the Minas Basis with several injuries very similar to the ones this sturgeon has, and those injuries could be much older than they appear.
Of course, anyone in this area is familiar with Reversing Falls and the wild waters that flow either way through that channel.  Perhaps the sturgeon found itself caught in the rapids of Reversing Falls either on its way out into the Bay of Fundy or on the way back?   That could certianly explain the injuries.

While the net theory shouldn't be completely dismissed, it is only one possibility.  It is certainly disturbing to see a fish with injuries like this, especially in a very rare healthy population of a species that we are fortunate enough to have here.   But one shouldn't immeadiately jump to the worst possible conclusion as I may have let people to do.   For that I apologize.

I hope this post has been informative, even if it isn't especially enlightening for the question at hand.     I know I have learned quite a bit of the past few days, and want to thank Dr. Dadswell and Sam Andrews for their help!   Hopefully I'll be able to return the favor one of these days!

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Disturbing Catch

Update:   I am doing some research with the assistance of a few academic folk to uncover the true source of the injuries to the sturgeon below.   Stay tuned for a new post in the next few days which will hopefully provide more clarity!  Much thanks to all who have shown an interest in the subject!


With moderate temperatures and low wind (0 degrees with a breeze), which most would consider way too cold to attempt kayak fishing, 3 friends were silly enough to join me for a sturgeon fish!   The morning started off very slow, with no sign of any fish for the first four hours or so.   Craig and Chris both packed up to head home and I was actually considering doing the same, when John in his homemade kayak still caked in ice finally found a sturgeon.

It was a small one, but it was a sign, and sure enough, before long I caught one and then both John and I got somewhat busy.   Over the next 3 hours or so, I landed 11 sturgeon while John landed 10!    That is what we were hoping for!    My largest was just a hair under 48", the third fish I've caught in that size range the last 3 weeks!    Oh, I also caught a sucker, the first one of these I've seen in a few months!

Anyhow, my very first fish at a heavy 45 inches, was heavily damaged.    There was a scute ropped from his back, and others damaged as well.  The side of his face, the side of his body, and scutes on the bottom all showed damage as well.    This is a fish that has endured a lot, and from what I can tell, it was done recently.    Asking on Facebook what may be the cause, folk seem to agree this was likely done by gill nets.

Obviously anyone using nets on the Kennebacasis River would be doing so illegally.   I have no time for poachers, and consider them absolute scum.   If anyone reading this blog has information about this type of activity and is wary of approaching the authorities, then please, let me know and I'll pass on the information!

I don't know if poachers would be out trying to net sturgeon or stripers in our river.   Either way it is equally disgusting, and damaging to our fish populations and in no way should be tolerated.  If you see or hear of anyone netting fish, please do something about it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fantastic Day for Sturgeon!

Today is Remembrance Day, and most people have a holiday to pay their respects and remember the sacrifice made by so many so that we could live the life we are fortunate enough to live.   I however didn't have a holiday, but I was able to take a half day off from work.   With this time, I took to the water in my Old Town Predator 13 kayak chasing some more big sturgeon.

It was a fantastic day for me.   I must have happened onto a school of them in the first place I chose and ended up catching 8 in this spot over the course of a few hours.   Almost all in the 38 - 43 inch range!   What a great start!    I eventually changed positions one the bite died off and had to be patient for a while as it seemed the sturgeon gave up on me.

But my patience was rewarded as I eventually hooked into a nice 50 inch sturgeon right at the mouth of the Hammond River!    Like all but 3 of the 12 fish I landed on the day this big one was foul hooked (aka jigged).     Thanks to the sensitivity of the Denali Rods, I was able to feel anything that would brush against my line, so I when this happened I raised the rod, hoped it would bring up solid.   This technique actually accounted for 8 of the fish I caught today!    Sturgeon are not small fish, and when they are foul hooked they feel twice as heavy, my arms and the rods had a bit of a workout  today.

With the GoPro out and positioned behind me, I didn't get much in the way of great video, but I did get a lot of nice pictures on the day!   I hope you like them!

Monday, November 10, 2014

1st Below Zero Fish this Year

Before getting into my little post on this weekend's fishing trip, I'd like to thank all that supported me in this year's Kayak Angler Choice Awards. I made it into round two for Angler and Video of the year which is pretty good for someone who only took up the sport last year! Most of those still in the running are long time 'celebrities' or professionals in the sport or have accomplished some fantastic feats this year garnering worldwide attention.  Maybe someday I'll be there, but for now the focus will be on growing and promoting the sport here in Eastern Canada!

Looks like the Denail Rod I would have given away is safe for now!   Stay tuned though, the 1 year anniversary of this blog is coming up and I'll either do another giveaway of some sort then, or perhaps when we hit the 20,000 page view count!

So on to this past weekend's fish. Myself and Matt hit the water at about 6:00 Saturday afternoon just after it got dark. The water in sturgoen alley was very high and extremely fast after heavy rain over the past little while. Combining this with my anchor trolley being completely frozen forcing my anchor to be positioned on the side of my kayak, I had a very hard time anchoring. It took over an hour of messing around but eventually I was able to to maintain a stationary by using both my 10 lb and 5 lb weights!

In the time it took for me to finally get my lines in the water, Matt had already caught a 47" sturgeon, so I was licking my lips for some big fish!    Over the next 90 min or so, I brought in 4 sturgeon with the largest at 43 inches.   In the heavy current, it was a lot of work more work than normal to get these fish into the kayak, especially the bigger one which I had jigged in it's side! 

Sturgeon were jumping around us fairly regularly, and I did strike a few other sturgeon as well as I lifed my rod every now and again to check them, so I knew they were there.   However they just were not taking the bait much.   Two of the four I caught were actually jigged while checking my line.   I had no idea they were there till I hooked them.      Sturgeon fishing is all about technique, and checking your lines every 4 or 5 min by lifting the rod from parallel to the water to perpinducular has improved my catch by at least 33%!

Matt left around 9 or 10 o'clock as he had enough of the freezing temps, and I stayed out in hopes of catching a few more till after midnight.   However, I couldn't find another fish.    The eyelets in my rods were freezing up, the reels were freezing up and caking over with ice, and my feet were at the point where they had enough as well.

It was a nice night on the water, and I think had the water levels and currents been normal, there could have been some fantastic fishing!   Hopefully this coming weekend will prove to be better!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Put this Fishing Adventure on your Christmas Wish List!

OK, before you do anything else... you HAVE to check out the gallery of fish here.... once you've cleaned up the drool, go ahead and read the rest!

Need a great Christmas gift idea for that fisherman in your life... or need a hint to drop to your significant other?   Well for me, I am crossing my fingers that I'm able to arrange a visit to see Clay Harrison up at Long Lake Adventures about an hour NorthEast of Plaster Rock, NB in 2015!   While Clay is able to provide an amazing hunting and family vacation experience, I'm personally interested only in the amazing trout and land locked salmon fishing that is offered.

Long Lake Adventures actually offers both guided and non-guided fishing adventures on three lakes (Long, Mud and Square Lakes).   Here there are both Lake Trout and Land Locked Salmon unlike anything you may elsewhere in the province!     Imagine heading out in boat (or in my case kayak) for a day of fishing and catching trout in the 10 - 20 lb range!    Sometimes they even break the 20 lb mark here!      Also there are a fair number of brook (speckled) trout that typically run in the 10 - 14 range which are a lot of fun to catch as well.

In addition to Lake and Brook Trout, there are also Land Locked Salmon in these waters.   In order to retain one of the two species of Land Locked salmon available here, you are first required to have to proper license and tag, and also the fist has to be within the legal size limits of 18 - 25 inches.    You can catch them much bigger here!    I don't care to retain any of the fish, I just want to enjoy the catch, snap a picture or take some video and release it for the next happy angler!

If thinking about arranging a visit, note there are 6 cabins available to be booked, each with their own layout and size.   You may want to book early, especially if you are looking for guided fishing.   Be sure to look through everything on their website.  It is very well put together with ample information about the accomodations, fishing strategys tackle for different times of the year, and so on.   Don't rush through the site, be sure to take your time and really go through it.  

Once you are sold that you have to experience the amazing fishing offered here, be sure to use the contact us form on the website or call them at 1-506-356-5151.   Oh, and be sure to let Clay know that Joe from recommended it to you!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kayak Angler Choice Awards - Round 2

The second of three rounds of voting gets underway this morning.  While I can't hide my disappointment that this blog did not get enough support to make it to round 2, I am very humbled to see that myself personally has made it through to the next round for Angler of the Year, and my video of the 54 inch sturgeon also made it for Video of the Year!

Vote here for round 2!

I had actually anticipated the opposite results for round two! There are a lot of anglers out there who have been in this sport for a lot longer than I, and naturally they have more presence and are better known in the industry.   That is especially those who's job is centered in the sport as a professional angler or guide, or those with television shows!

As a recreational angler and a relative unknown in the world of kayak fishing, I'm proud to have garnered the support of enough people to have made it this far in the competition, and I thank all that have supported me thus far.   As the blog didn't make it, the prize offered from last week isn't up for grabs, lets do something a little different.    If I am to make it as a finalist for either the Angler of the Year, or Video of the Year, I'll give away not only the sticker pack with some Sharktooth products, but also pay for the entry fee into both the Hammond River Classic and the NB Paddler's Derby next year for the randomly selected winner.   Should the winner not be available for either or both derbies, I'll come up with another prize of roughly equal value.

Then, should either myself or the video go on to actually land as one of the top three entries, I'll give away a Denali Rosewood Rod!   Either a 6'8" MH Worm & Jig or the 6'8" H Worm & Jig model, it will be up to the winner to choose!   That is a $200 value and a heck of a fantastic rod for sturgeon fishing!    In fact the MH rod is the same rod I have used to bring up not only 4 foot sturgeon this past year, buts also the same rod I've landed a 38" striped bass with!    This rod not only is extremely light, but it has amazing sensitivity and strength as well!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Joel Abrahamsson's amazing catch

Talk about a dream kayak fishing adventure!

Joel Abrahamsson or Joel KayakAngler as he's also known, is a pretty hard core kayak fisherman and one of those guys that I'd love to meet and someday have an opportunity to learn from. Hardcore doesn't really do Joel justice as his record setting catch of a 1200 pound Greenland Shark proves.

While I'm managed to impress a few people around here with some of the catches I've made in kayak, it's nothing compared to what Joel rountinely hauls up out of the ocean!

I'm now inspired to spend more time in the Bay of Funday in 2015 seeking out bigger and stronger fish! Atlantic Sturgeon, large flounder, or perhaps even a shark of my own!    Though I suppose I'll be wanting to get some support from a boat crew for some of those catches!

Check out this amazing video of the record smashing kayak fishing record!   You can start at the 35 min mark to fast forward to just before the shark surfaces.

Congratulations Joel!!!