Saturday, December 6, 2014

2014 Kayak Fishing Year in Review

After trying to get out today for one last fish and finding the conditions a bit too icy on the river, the 2014 kayak fishing season is now officially over for me.    It has been a fantastic year with many personal best catches, a lot of fish caught, memories to last a lifetime and most importantly many great friends made!   I’ve learned a lot this year, have been able to work with several companies to promote their great products, and my blog has received an astounding number of views through the year.     

Last winter, while enjoying the ice fishing season for the first time and yearning to get back into the kayak, I started the Greater SaintJohn Kayak Anglers.    Intended to be a social group where members could make friends with other who enjoy the sport and have someone to go fishing with.   The group has blossomed to nearly 60 members now, and we have had several great outings through the year.   Most memorable for me was our trip to Modsley Lake in late July where we stayed for the weekend on a cabin on an island in the middle of the lake.    It was an amazing trip with several members from the kayaking group and of course, a lot of fantastic fish were caught!

There were many unsuccessful trips in 2014, including several attempts to catch my first Musky.   But for all the trips where fish weren’t caught, there were many more successful ones!

The 2014 season started for me in mid April out at Sturgeon Alley.   The waters were at flood levels this past Spring and as such it was unclear how the fishing would be.   Fortunately we were able to find sturgeon, and several kayakers were able to land their first ever back in April.   It was during one of these outings that I landed the kayak record 54” sturgeon!   I can’t wait to see what the river holds once the ice breaks up in the Spring of 2015!

In mid May the sea run trout started to come up through the Hammond.   This was my first time fishing for sea run trout in NB and the 2 that I caught and kept were absolutely fantastic fried up like we used to do back home in Newfoundland!      May was when I made my trip down to Old Town, Maine to pick up my new Predator 13 kayak.   I’ve put many hours into this kayak since and have to say it is an absolutely amazing boat!

Rowan joined me on the Predator during a trip to Wheaton Lake with several others from the kayaking group over the May 24th weekend.   Fishing for smallmouth, Rowan and I had no luck, but we did manage to land a lot of very large white perch.   After 8 hours on the water, Rowan did not want to leave!    It was a great trip and one I am looking forward to again next year.

At the end of May the gaspereau were running in the Hammond River.   It took a little while to figure out the trick, but once you know how to do it, catching gaspereau was quite easy.    What was hard was fishing for shad in the midst of all the gaspereau.    I did manage to catch 1 shad in kayak, though it jumped out of my hands before I was able to get it down on a measuring board!

Come June I started to target pickerel.   Fynn and Rowan would join me in kayak out at Kingston creek and both had a lot of fun, though Fynn (paddling along in my Dirigo kayak) don’t really have the patience to stay out all that long yet.   I am hoping to get him a fishing kayak that is the right size for him next year and see if that helps him get the addiction!

In mid-June we had the NB Paddler’s Derby up in Oromocto.   This was the first of two derbies I had taken over the organizer role for in 2014.   Being the first derby I had ever run, I didn’t know what to expect in surprises but fortunately all went great!   I was able to round up a good number of sponsors so the prize pool was decent, and we gave away a brand new kayak donated by Paul at Eco-Logical Adventures to a member of the Canadian Armed Forces DART team who did not have a kayak before this!

Later in June a group of us headed out for salt water fishing off Mispec Beach.   The goal was to catch flounder, but we ended up catching only sculpin (scorpion fish).   It was a fantastic day out fishing that day, and again, an experience I won’t soon forget.

Come July it was time to try our luck above Reversing Falls for the first run of Striped Bass.   I had put in many hours worth of fishing here before and never had caught a striper there, but on the first of July my luck finally changed.    It wasn’t a big striper but I did catch a 26” one!    Later in the summer I caught several more, but they were all in boat tied up next to the Irving mill.   I want to catch more out there in kayak, but it isn’t the easiest thing to do!

Later in July I decided to mix things up and head to Walton Lake on the Kingston Peninsula to try to practice my smallmouth fishing.   I didn’t have great luck, but I did catch a few most days out.   Smallmouth fishing is one of the most popular species of sport fish to catch, so I definitely want to invest more hours into that fish come 2015 and now I’m familiar with a lake in which to do so.

In mid-July my parents came to visit, which gave me an opportunity to put my Dad in a kayak for the very first time.   Dad doesn’t swim and is wary of boats but I got him to go out to Kingston Creek and fish for pickerel with me.    Being from Newfoundland pickerel fishing was also a new experience for him,  but was absolutely the right choice for our first kayak fishing trip together!   Dad caught 9 that day and had an absolute blast.    Twice more that weekend we went out, and we will never forget the trip where Dad tipped his kayak and fell into the middle of Kingston Creek!    

In August we held the Hammond River Classic, the second tournament I had organized.   This one went off even better than the Oromocto NB Paddlers Derby.   Despite losing a few hours in both the morning and the afternoon to my organizer duties, Rowan and I still placed 4th out of 35 anglers!    Later in August a group of us headed out from Blacks Harbour in search of mackerel.   There weren’t a lot caught but I did manage to get 16 one day plus a couple pollock and even a couple smelt , that trip was a ton of fun!

September was spent exploring a few new spots around the area, and discovered a nice pickerel location where I got a 25”er.

Come October the sturgeon started to pick up again.   I tried my luck in the sturgeon derby but could only land 3 small ones.   Every outing from then on in was at Sturgeon Alley as only tidal waters were open to fishing at this point.

After several great outings in Sturgeon Alley I ended the year with 97 sturgeon caught, plus one great 38” striper one evening while fishing sturgeon.   Overall I caught 19 species this year in kayak, and there are several more I want to target more often in 2015!     It was a fantastic year, and I can only hope next year offers more of the same.

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