Friday, May 29, 2015

Am now a published columnist!

Back at the start of the year, my expectations for the year was to essentially keep as I had ended 2014, that is maintain this blog, kayak fish as much as time and circumstance allowed and to continue to promote the sport and the province as best I can.    While those goals continue to hold true, I've found myself wearing a new hat this Spring, that of magazine columnist!

A few months back I proposed the idea of a fishing column to the fine folk at Ossekeag Publishing, creators of a family of local community magazines in our area.   The idea was well received as as of now, I'm three articles into a regular column in thier publications!   If you are from the Greater Saint John area, hopefully you've noticed and enjoyed one or two of these.

Here is a link to my author page at Ossekeag Publishing!

As well, as of today, I have an article published on Kayak Angler, the worlds foremost kayak fishing magazine!   This is an article in their Web magazine only (I assume), not to be confused with their printed magazine.    It is actually the 4th time I've been mentioned in Kayak Angler as I've provided content for a few of their 'ask a pro' articles in the past as well.      Here is a link to all the articles I've had some input on in Kayak Angler.

This particluar article, the first penned by myself for the magazine, is a profile of my good friend and kayak fishing mentor John Cail (aka IPop).    I hope you like it!   As time goes on, if I get other good ideas for articles that Kayak Angler may run, I may be able to provide more content in the future!    

Do you have an idea for an article I can work on for either the Ossekeag Publishing, Kayak Angler, or even my blog?  If so, let me know, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Week of Smallmouth, Shad, Trout and more!

This past week I took an early morning to spend a few hours on the lower Hammond to see if I could catch a few sea run trout.   Unfortunately, I didn't catch any, but I did manage to catch Yellow Perch, a small smallmouth, and a gaspereaux.    The gaspereaux being on the river usually indicates that the best time for sea run trout has passed on that section.   It also means the shad are probably passed as well, as the gaspereaux usually come in after the shad.

After the very late winter, it seems, at least to me, that the trout and shad seasons are passing us by fairly quickly.    I wonder if late winters typically mean shorter seasons on those species?  

So with this in mind I took off to another local spot on Friday morning looking for pickerel.   While the only pickerel I spotted were dancing in the flooded bushes, not interested in my lures, I did have my personal best smallmouth day ever in kayak!    Note, I easily admit I'm very raw when it comes to smallie fishing, so the catch may not be impressive to many!   3 smallmouth ranging in size from 16" to 17.5".    For me those are great catches!

Finally, yesterday I launched on the Kennebacasis with some friends searching for shad, and possibly a trout.   The conditions were not what we expected with a very strong head wind pushing us back up river for most of the day.   Instead of a nice drift with the current, we had to paddle the whole way to make any progress!    Regardless, I managed to catch the only 2 shad of the group, plus I landed 4 very nice brook trout, and even a small yellow perch!  

Most of the guys had a shad on at one point, but were unable to land them.   Thats the way it goes with shad fishing much of the time, their mouths are so soft that it is very easy to haul the hook out of them if your not careful.

Next weekend I'm headed to Long Lake with a couple of the other kayakers to chase trophy land locked salmon and lake trout!    Having never caught either before I can't wait!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Miramichi Striper Fishing

Yesterday my good friend John Cail (aka Ipop) and I hit the road and made the 3 1/2 hour journey up to Miramichi to try for some striped bass.    John's sort of famous in these parts (or infamous!) with his long beard and home made kayaks.   If there was ever a Do-It-Yourself'er in the kayak fishing world, it's IPop!

After a the long drive we finally made it, and got onto the water a little after 1 PM.    Things started slow, but eventually John landed one, and finally I did as well from trolling a Lyman's Lures 4 inch plug.    These Canadian made plugs have fantastic action though run only a few feet deep, so I put a little weight on the line in front of the leader to help get it down as I trolled, that did the trick!

On this section of water, you have to use single barbless hooks.   That did actually make things somewhat frustrating.     The circle hook (Owner hooks size 7/0) I had put on the Lymans worked great,  the swim shads we were using for most of the fishing, with the barbs pinched caused us to loose more fish than we caught.

The action really didn't heat up till evening, around 6-sh.   Thats when things got a lot more fun.    I John was getting bites steady all evening and ended up catching around a dozen while losing about 8 more.   I landed only 2, and lost another 4.    I guess there is still some technique I need to figure out when fishing stripers in these waters!

My biggest on the day was a nice 25'5" striper while John ended up with a nice 34" fish.   That's too large to be a keeper in these waters but would have made a great fish to take home back here on the Kennebacasis!

We finally got off the water as it got dark as you are not permitted striper fishing a half hour after sunset (I think).    Again, the long drive home to get back here finally at about 1:30 in the morning.   Next time, I'll pick a couple days where the forecast calls for nothing but sun and go camping!

The trick for these stripers it seems is to use swim shads  (4" ones seemed to work best yesterday) and bounce them off the bottom.   Thats where the stripers seem to hit the most.    If you are planning to go striper fishing on the Miramichi, check out Dorions Sports first.    They have a huge selecton of shads out where you can pick them out individually rather than have to buy packages.   That way you can get a wide selection without breaking the bank.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Video: Kayak Rigging Suggestions

Well here goes my first attempt at a 'selfie' instructional/informative kayak rigging video.   It is more of an overview into how I have rigged up a few of my kayaks than an in depth discussion on any one aspect of the subject.

During the video I highlight accessories from Railblaza, YakAttack and Scotty, as well as discuss the anchor trolley and the Grappler Anchor.   Each company has some fantastic distinct pieces that are superior than the others provide, but if you limit yourself to one company only I think you would be limiting yourself.

Of course, depending on what you are fishing for and the conditions in which you plan to venture, you may want to adjust your rigging from one day to the next.   What I bring with me on one kayak today, may be completely different than I bring with me tomorrow!

In reviewing the video I've come to a stark realization.... I need to lose some weight!  

I hope you like it!

Monday, May 11, 2015

So many choices!

Here we are well into May and the options for fishing have finally grown to the point where it is difficult to choose where to go and what to fish for on any given day.   I guess after the Winter we had, this is what you may call a good problem!    For anyone looking to head out fishing over the next couple weeks, here are a few great options.

Sea Trout - The sea run trout are now out there in those rivers that connect back to the Bay of Fundy.   I don't think the run is in full swing just yet, but I have heard of several sea run trout, including one by myself being caught.    This run won't last long so if you do want to catch one, now is the time!

Brown Trout, Lakers, Land Locked Salmon -  The bigger ponds around NB tend to hold one or more of these species and now is a great time to troll them looking for one of these trophy fish.   With the water temperatures cool, the fish tend to be closer to the surface and trolling a shallow running lure is often a productive way of finding one of the great fish.    I hit First Lake this past weekend with three others and didn't have much luck.   One of the guys caught a small land locked salmon, but thats all the luck we had before the wind picked up and made the paddle back 'fun'.

Pickerel  - I've heard several people now report they have caught pickerel, and in some cases big pickerel already this year.    I haven't gotten to any of my favorite pickerel spots yet, but plan to take Fynn and/or Rowan out for some in the next week or two.

Smallmouth bass - The first bass tournament of the year in NB was this past weekend.    There are some big bass out there waiting to be caught if you know where to go.  

Striped Bass - While it is not common to catch a striper in our local area, up on the Miramichi they are catching a lot of bass.   If you want to do a road trip, that would be the place I'd head!

Perch - I've heard reports that the perch are present now out at Sturgeon Alley, our local hotspot for sturgeon on the Kennebacasis river.   The presence of perch is the final nail in the coffin on the Spring Sturgeon season.    On the bright side, with the perch biting, it means there are more options to take a young child out fishing where you have a strong likelyhood the child will catch some fish.

Gaspereau and Shad - These fish aren't in the rivers just yet, but should show up within a couple of weeks.   Keep an eye out and I'll let you know when they are running!

With all these options, I'm hoping to hit the water at dawn once or twice a week before work and then again on the weekends with friends and kids.   Hopefully I'll see some of you out there!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Catch & Release Fishing

As we get into the heart of the fishing season I'd like to comment on the topic of Catch and Release (C&R) fishing.   It is a topic that can be contentious at times if not broached properly as there are those who believe in 100% catch and release, while others aim to retain every fish they can (sometimes legal or not!).   Personally, I practice C&R 95% of the time, the pleasure for me is getting out and enjoying my excursions into nature on my kayak.   Bringing home a meal of the fish is sometimes a nice bonus, but typically the last thing on my mind when I fish.    

The goal of catch and release as I see it is to protect the fish population.   We should all want to see our kids, and grandkids, have all the same fishing opportunites we have when they are our age.   For species that may be endangered or susceptible to declining numbers, catch and release is a great strategy to employ.   It allows one to continue to enjoy fishing for these species, while at the same time having minimal impact on the population.   

Of course to practice catch and release properly, you have to treat the fish delicately.    Otherwise you risk killing the fish, even if you don't realize it at the time.   Some species like salmon can sustain critical injuries simply by holding it wrong or foul hooking it.   Other species like sturgeon are very rugged and durable.   Even foul hooking a sturgeon more often than not will see the hook only penetrate about a millimeter into it's leathery skin causing no damage.     Regardless of the species, it is important that you take care to never hold the fish by the gills (as I have absentmindedly done from time to time), return it to the water as soon as possible.    For any fish not able to swim off immeadiately, hold it in the water for a few seconds while it recovers enough to swim off on it's own.

Personally I do not practice 100% catch and release, I will from time to time retain a fish.    Typically I look to retain 1 sturgeon a year, 1 or 2 stripers in the 28 - 34" range if I'm lucky enough to catch them, and the odd meal of perch.    While I haven't caught many trout here in NB (hopefull to improve on that this year!), I would like to keep one meal a year of them, but that is all I'd keep.    If my kids catch a few white perch that are suitable for the dinner table, we would bring them home as the kids would obviously be very proud they caught the family meal.

There are topics related to C&R fishing that I could get into, such as the attitudes of some anglers to catch as many meals of trout as they possibly can, or the ability of native fisherman to catch as many fish as they please without consequence.    Also, the inabiity of refusal by the Canadian governments to protect the fish stocks in the Ocean is another related topic that makes my blood boil.    These are angles that I do have strong feelings about, but would prefer to avoid for the time being.    Feel free to contact me though if you wish to chat about them!

While the weather is good, grab a rod, go catch a fish and release it to be caught again.   It's a rewarding experience and one you should share and teach to your kids!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Fantastic end to Spring Sturgeon season

This year I fished sturgeon much harder in the Spring than I had ever done before and the numbers certianly show it.  58 sturgeon landed as of this afternoon, and I finally found the big one, a 50" fat monster of a shortnose sturgeon!   I had been trying for one of this magnitude and had given up hope but finally, just a couple hours before calling it quits on the season, she finally made her presence felt!    The 7 - 8 minutes of being pulled this way and that was worth it, and it was a great test of my new Abu Garcia Veracity Rod with the Abu Garcia Orra SX reel; the combo proved to be more than up to the challange!

Today, as was the case last weekend, I had the pleasure of guiding a first time sturgeon fisherman.   Not only was it his first time fishing sturgeon, it was also his first time getting his new fishing kayak on the water!  Being new to the world of kayak fishing, we discussed his options for the types of accessories he may look to invest in, how to equip an anchor trolley, and so forth.   Using some of my accessories to help keep things organized, Mike was able to land 3 sturgeon today, 2 of them at or over 40 inches!   Great job!

Yesterday however was the most memorable day of the year for me!    Fynn, my 7 year old, decided he wanted to try out his new Tetra 10 Angler kayak on the water and join me sturgeon fishing.    Now a decent sized sturgeon can require some strength to land, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but off we went anyway.    About 45 minutes into our trip, Fynn hooks into one!

It took him 8 - 10 minutes to finally wrestle the sturgeon to the surface, but he did it!   My only assistance was to lift his sturgeon into his lap once he had it directly next to him on the surface of the water.    Fynn was overjoyed at being likely the youngest kid in our area to land a sturgeon in kayak.    His was a nice 36 inch shortnose!     This was one memory we will not soon forget!

So that is it for me for sturgeon.   Next weekend could feature one of many possibilities.   Stripers on the Miramichi, trout on the Hammond, Lakers on First Lake, pickerel fishing with the kids,...etc.    Now we get into the season where there are more choices than there are days in the week!