Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year in Review

2015 was an epic year for me!   I hope you were able to have half as much fun as we did here in the Greater Saint John area.    As many others do, here is a little recap of my fishing related exploits through the past 12 months.     Here are the best of the pictures I've collected through the year.

If you cannot see this slideshow, the pictures can be found here.

Prior to getting the kayaks on the water, the NB Sportsman Show was held in Moncton in March.    I was invited to go and host a booth promoting the sports of kayak fishing and sturgeon fishing.   This was my first time running a booth in the fishing industry and it was a blast!   A huge thank you again to my friend Craig Cochrane who came and helped out for the whole three days.

We first launched the kayaks later than hoped on April 19th as the Winter was long and hard.    The Spring Sturgeon season was fun and I was able to bring out my first ever guided fishing clients who were all successful in catching their first ever shortnose sturgeon.

In May I was able to take my first trip up to the Miramichi to go stripers fishing with IPop.    We didn't catch a lot but we did get a few and have a better idea as to how we want to fish them on our next visit.   I've already got plans and dates in mind for this coming May!

June was a blast as with the warmer weather a Craig, Ipop and I took a trip up to visit Clay at the amazing Long Lake Adventures.   Unfortunately it was quite windy on that huge lake which made kayak fishing a bit of a challenge, but I did catch my first ever land locked salmon!    I am hoping to get back again on a calmer day this coming year and try for a huge lake trout.

Several times this year I was able to take one or both of my boys fishing, and both Fynn (8) and Rowan (5) have now caught their first sturgeon.   Fynn did amazing out in his own kayak fighting a 3 foot sturgeon and was exhausted by the end.    Rowan has more of a love of fishing than Fynn and spent more time with me in my Predator 13 through the year.   He has about 14 species now under his belt including mackerel in the Bay of Fundy and even won the kids division in the NB Paddler's Derby against kids much older.

Speaking of the NB Paddler's Derby, we had great weather, a big turnout and a lot of fun again this year.   The derby for 2016 is on June 18th so mark your calendars and plan to join us in Oromocto!

In July I was invited to join other Old Town and Ocean Kayak Pro-staffers in Orlando at ICAST, the worlds biggest Fishing Expo!    I was able to meet many of the other fantastic team members I am honored to be a part of, go fishing a few times, and mingle with many of the industries finest.    Mike Conneen had me on a kayak just 3 hours after getting off the plane paddling around manatees and catching my first tarpon!   That's an experience I'll never forget!

In August, after catching my breath from the Orlando trip I ran the Hammond River Classic which was an amazing success.   We had 57 paddlers on the water which makes it the biggest ever such event held in Eastern Canada.   Next year it promises to grow again as word of mouth continues to help bring in lots of new people to the event and the sport.

In September I decided to spend the Labour Day long weekend with the boys out camping, paddling, swimming and fishing.    We loaded three kayaks down with all the gear and paddled out to an island in the middle of West Branch Musquash.   Rowan was able to go fishing alone in his own kayak for the first time, and caught chub after chub with no assistance, while Fynn had a great time exploring the island and paddling around the lake.   We will be making this an annual event and hopefully grow it so that other parents/kids join us next year.

With the Fall comes Sturgeon Fishing season again.    And with this I hosted Newfoundland Sportsman as they came to film an episode with me for their television show.   Dwight, Peter and Jim all were able to catch several sturgeon and capture lots of great footage!   I can't wait to see the show air sometime in the New Year.   It should hopefully be great publicity for our wonderful recreational sturgeon fishery.

In 2015 I started a guided fishing venture.   Almost all the interest I received focused on people wanting to try their luck at sturgeon fishing.   Even through the middle of the summer when it isn't an ideal time to fish sturgeon I had people asking to go fish for them and almost every time my clients were able to land their first dinosaur!    It has been an honor and a pleasure to help young kids catch their first ever fish with their Dads next to them, or to assist a few 70+ year old gentlemen catch their first sturgeon in a kayak.    I've met a lot of great people through guided fishing, and am looking forward to next year as I've already had three groups from outside NB book me for April!

Finally, through 2015 I was able to contribute my first ever articles to several publications.   From Kayak Angler magazine, our local Ossekeag family of community magazines, and the Fisherman's Journal my writing and promotion of our sport has been able to reach tens of thousands of people!   That is really something I'm quite proud of!

My last fish of the year was on Boxing Day.    December has been very unusually mild so several kayaks have been fishing for most of the month out at Sturgeon Alley.   The last fish of the year was a nice 49.25" sturgeon.. .a fantastic way to close out 2015!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Boxing Day Sturgeon Fishing!

Forget the long lineups at the stores, the best place to be on a sunny and warm boxing day is on the water enjoying some epic sturgeon fishing with friends!   Usually by this time of year, the rivers in Eastern Canada are covered in ice, so it is a rare treat to be able to spend some time over the holiday weekend out enjoying our favorite past time!

Myself and IPop, two real beauties!
The air temperature was a balmy 4 degrees Celsius, with a little breeze helping to keep us cool while the water temperature on my fish finder read a steaming 37.8 degrees F!    With 15 - 20 cm of snow in the forecast for the following day, this was the day to get out and enjoy some great sturgeon fishing before finally packing the kayaks away for the winter.

On the day I landed around 15 sturgeon with my biggest being a nice 49.25 inches.    John (Ipop) landed about 7 while Chris got 10, Jeff got something like 10, and Trong was still catching them when we left.   Knowing Tran he probably beat my 15!

I was able to get some great videos and a few nice pics on the day.   The notable catch was Jeff's tailless sturgeon.  The first such fish anyone I know have ever seen!

I gave IPop a GoPro to use on the day and was able to put together a nice little piece of him.   This may be the only Ipop Kayak Fishing video out there!

Finally here is my video from the day.   The GoPro ran out of power so I wasn't able to capture the big fish on the day, but I got plenty others on there!

Monday, December 7, 2015

You never know what you will bring up!

You never know what you might catch when you go fishing!   Sometimes you bring it a great fish, sometimes you bring in something completely different!   Such has been the case a few times now in the past month out at our local hotspot - sturgeon alley.

Trong with a great shortnose sturgeon caught and released Dec 5th
A couple kayak fishing friends of mine were out a few weeks ago.   Chris and Trong each use sit inside kayaks and have landed a ton of sturgeon in them this year.    But as with the case for any of us, Chris got a big tangle and Trong came over to help him out.     While they were both preoccupied, a sturgeon came along and bit into Trong's bait, and swam off with his rod!  

Well, just a week later, both Chris and Trong were out again and Chris hooked into a sturgeon.   After landing it, he noticed another hook in the sturgeon's mouth.    Pulling in the line, Chris found Trong's rod at the other end!    Now what are the chances he'd hook into the exact same fish that a week earlier took the rod out of Trong's boat!

Chris with another nice catch!

Not to be outdone, this past weekend Trong brought up another surprise.   Back in mid-October I had been out with a group of 5 friends fishing Sturgeon.     I had made the mistake of improperly fastening the anchor to one of the kayaks, and as such, the Grappler Anchor pulled all the line plus my Yak Attack sidewinder off into the water!     Well this past weekend Trong hooked into my anchor line and returned back this gear which had been under water for nearly 2 months!    Even in the brackish water of Sturgeon Alley, the Grappler Anchor still looks brand new!   Now that is quality!

I still have an expensive rod/reel at the bottom of Sturgeon Alley somewhere.  While I suspect the reel is toast at this point, I'd love to get that rod back!

The best catch of course was my friend IPop back a few year ago who fought a 'huge fish' for a good 45 minutes.    When he eventually hand lined in his big catch it proved to be a bag of rocks!     To this day, IPop hasn't lived that one down!