Monday, April 27, 2015

Another great sturgeon fishing weekend!

This last weekend of April proved to be great once again for sturgeon fishing.   The water is still cold and the sturgeon apparently haven't moved down river for their summer routines just yet.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to introduce two anglers to sturgeon fishing, helping them to land their first dinosaurs.   On Saturday Jonathan landed 12 while on Sunday in just about 4 hours on the water, Alexei landed 4 and lost a fifth.    Great work by both anglers!

In addition to helping these guys catch their first sturgeon I was able to introduce both to the Old Town Predator kayak.   Jonathan has caught big fish before, much bigger than our shortnose sturgeon, and had been in kayaks before, but never had the expereience of catching fish like this from kayak.   It was a new and memorable experience, and the Predator proved to be an ideal boat for him.   Alexei had never been in kayak before, and was tremendously impressed with the experience.   Once he got the hang of paddling, he seemed like a pro and was very comfortable and confident the whole time.

Hopefully the sturgeon will stick around for at least another week, so that I can perhaps help a few others experience the thrill of catching dinosaurs from kayak.   If you or someone you know would like to give it a go, have a look at my guided fishing page!   After that we will move onto some other great fishing opportunities such as sea run trout, shad, lake trout and more!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cabela's NB Grand Opening
Cabela's is one of the 'big three' when it comes to the big stores everyone gets excited about visiting for hunting/fishing/camping gear.    New Brunswickers are all excited about the grand opening of Cabela's in Moncton at the end of May.   I wear some Cabela's brand clothes out in my kayak pretty much every time I hit the water and will need to get some more soon, so the timing of the store is great for me!  

While I definately want to see people continue to support our local stores who offer fantastic products and a ton of local expertise and experience; Cabela's will offer a shopping experience that hasn't been available in the province before now.   

In anticipaton of the Grand Opening, Cabela's is launching a new contest.    Click the image and put your name in!     Note, I believe you need to be signed into Facebook in order to enter.    The grand prize is a $1000 gift card!   That would be a nice prize for anyone!

I look forward to seeing the new Cabela's store when it opens in late May.    I've only been to 1 Cabela's before, that was down in Minnesota about an hour from where my wife is from.    It is an awesome store, and my boys absolutely loved it! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Back in the saddle!

 Finally, after a way too long break from a harsh and everlasting winter, I was finally able to get my Predator 13 back in the water today, along with my friend Craig!   

We arrived at our desired launch location and thanks to the shovel I brought was able to dig a nice little launching / landing area in the snow.  The water was quite high so digging into the snow gave some security that we weren't stepping into snow covered waters!    Craig and I launched into a very clear area of the Kennebacasis River, and paddled up towards our usual fishing grounds, and a huge wall of ice that blocked the entire width of the river.

We anchored down, and fished in severeal spots, enjoying the very mild wind and sunshine.    Only sporadically did any ice break free and slowly drift down past us.    Eventually the currents changed direction, as is common here on tidal waters in New Brunswick and what had flowed past us previously, now passed us once again in the opposite direction!

Finally I got a hit, a small sturgeon around 28 inches in length... not big enough to actually measure.   Then another and another.   By the end of my mini hot streak, I landed three small sturgeon and lost another at the surface.    Not bad for the first day of the year!

The ice wall, which I had anchored directly next to now has pushed well off into the distance and the current picked up considerably.   Not even 2 ouces of weight was near enough for how we like to fish.    Truth be told, I don't recally ever seeing the current this strong going up river!    It is quite surprising given how high the river is.  I suspect the dam being open on the Saint John river is having a direct influence here on the Kennebacasis!      I fear we may need to watch for rapidly rising river levels over the next week!

Eventually Craig and I decided to call it quits and headed back.   It's a good thing too as just after we brought the kayaks onto shore we noticed a sea of ice blocks floating past up to where we had been fishing.  If we had stayed on the water 20 minutes longer, we may not have been able to get back to our launch site, but instead may have had to put ashore further up river!

It was a great day out enjoying the water and the sun.  I suspect next weekend the ice will have thinned out considerably making for a much safer and enjoyable time on the river!   I can't wait!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Checklist for the Kayak Angler

The fishing season has offically begun in New Brunswick, at least according to the calendar.   Mother Nature still has her own schedule and as of today it isn't safe to put a kayak in the water in our area.    I suspect that come next weekend however we should be good to go - providing your willing to navigate around the odd ice pan!

In preperation for getting out and going to kayak fishing, I've put together a little list of items that I always carry with me on the kayak.   Ok, the list isn't actually that little, but most of these things are small!   I'm sure for other anglers there are items I've either left off or forgotten about, if so, let me know!

Rods - When fishing multiple species, you may need seperate rods for the different fish.  Even when fishing for a single species, I like to bring at least 2 rods with me as you never know when accidents may happen as nearly happened here:

Tackle / Bait - This should be relatively simple if your are fishing for a single species.   If you head out looking to catch multiple types of fish however, the possible choices of tackle can add up pretty quickly!    Take time to organize what you need into a plano box that is close at hand and what you may need into another that still within reach.

Clippers - One of the most heavily used tools by anglers, nail clippers are instrumental everytime you have to tie a leader.   Best to have a pair attached to your PFD for easy access!

Pliers - In the case your hook is caught deep inside a fish, or perhaps stubbornly stuck into your jacket (it happens!), a small pair of needle nose pliers can save a lot of aggrivation!

Knife - An absolute necessity, you should never go kayak fishing without a safety knife within easy reach.    I have one attached to my PFD which I can access and use 1 handed, a pocketknife in my PDF pocket, and a sometimes a third attached to the kayak itself.

Net / Fish Grips - In times when you are pursuing a fish where you need to use a net (like pickerel) then bring one.  If you are fishing for something like sturgeon, don't bother with the net, it will only get in the way.... unless you hook into a striper, in which case you may need a net, or a pair of fish grips!    Fish Grips are a better alternative to a net for stripers, at least according to some!   I'm personally on the fence about which is better but both work great!

Bump Board - Only necessary in cases where you want to measure your fish.   In most cases an expandable 36" board is sufficient, light and easy to pack.   When I do go for the big ones, I bring my HandleBarz Muskie Board which is big and cumbersome, but does float and accurately measures fish up to a whopping 60 inches!

Notice the pliers, knife, camera mount, and even a magnetic bowl for holding hooks are all neatly laid out without being in the way!   The Scotty Bait Board is a great piece of equipment for organizing gear like this!

Scale - Again only necessary if you think you may want to weigh a fish

Camera/GoPro - Obviously only a requirement if you want to capture the memories with pictures or video.   At the very least you should have a camera in your phone to capture pictures of any surprise catch you may make.

Pee Bucket - Don't laugh!   In the sit on top kayaks, it's pretty easy to lean back, position the bucket, and relieve yourself without having to haul up anchor and paddle to shore.   Be sure to give it a good rinse after, and never use it for drinking water!  

Paddle Leash - Leashes can be dangerous as they could cause you to get tangled up in the case your kayak tips, so use your own discretion here.   Personally I use a paddle leash, except this one time on Otnabog where I didn't bring it.  After releasing a good sized pickerel I realized the paddle was floating 15 feet away, while I was in the middle of the pond.    Fortunately, the bump board did the trick and in no time I was able to retreive my paddle and continue on.

Anchor - If you want to fish on a river, or even on a windy day, the anchor will save you all sorts of frustrations.   I recommend using an anchor trolley system so that you can have it attached either at the front or the rear of the kayak.   I'll do a blog post on the anchor trolley sometime in the near future.

Whistle - Keep one in your PFD at all times!

Beacon Light - It can be surprising how quickly things turn dark when the fish are biting.  Always have a light/beacon on hand!    Glow sticks are a great thing to have tucked away in your emergency supplies, just in case!

Headlight - Again, if fishing after dark or failing to come back before the night falls, a headlight will be a huge help, especially when unloading on shore.

Phone - This should be obvious!

Batteries - Spares for your phone, camera and lights!

Food & Water - You don't want to go hungry on the water!

And finally a list of things I tuck away in the bowels of my kayak in case I ever need them.  Most I keep collected together in a dry bag:  Rope, First Aid Kit, Spare Clothes, Toilet Paper, Water, Sunscreen, Bugspray

OK , so this seems like a long list and I'm probably forgetting some things.    It really isn't that bad though.   Several of the items can be mounted onto your kayak within easy reach using rod holders and similar accessories.     Other items would be stored in the pockets of your PFD, while many others can be neatly packed within easy reach in a milk crate or ideally a YakAttack BlackPac.  

Once you organize things effectively, your kayak will not only be fully loaded with equipment to deal with virtually any situation, but also remain clear and uncluttered, making for a very relaxing and peaceful fishing experience!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Merry Fishmas!

Wednesday is April 15th, the first day of the fishing season in rivers in New Brunswick! Everyone I know is giddy with anticipation for getting a line in the water in search of trout, smallmouth, sturgeon and more! It has been a very long and cold winter, and there is still a lot of ice left in the rivers, so much in fact that it is going to be hard to find a place to go fishing on Wednesday!

Make sure you get your fishing license before you head out!     This year, is the first year of e-Licensing.   Just go online, fill out the forms and pay online and you'll be presented with your fishing license in PDF format.    You should save a copy off to your computer and smartphone, but you'll need to print out a copy as well.   From what I understand, a fisheries officer can still charge you if you don't have a paper copy of your license to show him!

The main river around the Saint John area where people typically target at the start of the year is the Hammond.    While most of the Hammond is just starting to open up, there is a nice little stretch of open water by the Darling's Island Covered bridge now.    I suspect that place will be packed with anglers this week!

Here are a few pictures from yesterday that were posted to local fishing groups on Facebook.   The first is just down from the Hammond River Angling Association's lodge, while the second is from the Darling's Island Covered bridge.

 As soon as I'm able, probably not this weekend but certianly the weekend after I'll be out hunting sturgeon again, and suspect there will be 2 - 3 weeks of great sturgeon fishing to be had!    There have been a few people inquiring about guided fishing for sturgeon, so anytime between the weekends of the 24th through to the 8/9th of May should be good.   After that I suspect the sturgeon will head down river.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The end of an era.

This week Federal Fisheries minister Gale Shea announced changes to the recreational Atlantic Salmon fishery requiring all salmon to be released.   Anglers may still fish for salmon, but they simply have to let them all go.   Obviously this action is in response the the rapidly dwindling numbers of salmon returning to our rivers year after year.   According to numbers published by the CBC from the Miramichi Salmon Association, the number of salmon returning the Miramichi is roughly 25% of what it was 10 years ago, and roughly 10% of what it was back in the early 90's.

Now I've never been a salmon angler, I've never caught one.  However I do understand the value this industry brings into the province and those who make their livings from the industry, and I certianly understand the joy that anglers get from fishing for these fantastic fish.    It is truely heartbreaking to see measures like this having to be taken to protect the resource.

Unfortunately, I don't think these measures are going to make any difference in the long run.   I have a very hard time believing that law abiding recreational anglers are responsible in any significant way for the depletion of the salmon stocks.    I believe the biggest culprit, as was the case for so many other species over the years, is offshore over fishing.   It doesn't take long on google to find a ton of information about turbot, cod, salmon and other species being decimated from the brutal and ignorant practices of offshore trawlers.

Counties such as Canada have done absolutely nothing to prevent these abuses of the oceans from taking place for decades and there are no indications things are going to change.   The governments simply have no interest in doing something significant on the world stage on this front, and that upsets me greatly.    I do not  understand the politics behind it, but it has to be obvious that not the offshore abuse of the oceans is having a direct and meaningful impact here domestically.

Large Salmon from Wilsons Camps Website on the Miramichi - 2008
Some people point to the Striped bass population as the cause of the salmon downfall, but I have a very hard time buying into that.    Stripers may consume some salmon on our rivers but it is nothing compared to the tons of salmon and other species caught as a bycatch, and then sometimes discarded dead out on the open seas.  

I fear this may be the beginning of the end of the world famous salmon fishery that meant so much to the folks who have built a life around the recreational salmon fishery.    I really regret not taking the time to enjoy it when I was younger, back when it was a vibrant and thriving industry.