Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016's Best Pictures

We are well into December now and the next week of forecasted temperatures are below the freezing mark, so we may not be able to get out in the kayak without a bit of help from Mother Nature.   With that in mind it is time to put together my annual collection of favorite pictures from the past year.   Click the picture to see the full album

Overall 2016 was a great year for me in that I got to meet a lot of wonderful people both as clients, new friends and fishing companions.   I was able to kayak fish in New Brunswick, PEI, Quebec and Ontario as well as Maine and New Hampshire, and I was able to land several new species which I hadn't had an opportunity to fish for previously.

A very brief year in review, which will likely be in many ways a template for my 2017 plans:
  • Sturgeon fishing as soon as the ice melts on the river, which proved to be very early in 2016
  • Striper Fishing for a weekend on the Miramichi in May
  • Shad / trout fishing in May/June
  • Pickerel fishing as the summer moves in
  • Summer camping/kayak fishing trip through Quebec and Ontario
  • Family trip to Maine and then solo down to New Hampshire for a couple days
  • Mackerel fishing as we move into Sept/Oct
  • Back to sturgeon fishing come the start of October
In 2017 I hope to do more travels within our province to fish for bass, muskie, perhaps some lake or land locked salmon...etc.   I would also love to get out to kayak fish around Grand Manan or other such salt water areas next year.   There may be an out of province trip for me in 2017, but I haven't decided that for sure yet, depends on the finances!

I hope all of you have been able to get your fill of fishing this year, and if you were good, perhaps Santa will bring you some new gear this Christmas!    I do have a Trident 13 kayak for sale as well as gift cards for anyone looking for ideas!  ;-)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Taking the kids out in search of sturgeon

Fynn's first attempt at landing a sturgeon... the anchor doesn't help!
Here we are getting into the latter part of November and we have a Sunday with temperatures at or above 10 degrees Celsius, and next to no winds.  Those are unheard of conditions around here for this time of the year!   How could I not take advantage of a free day like this to get the kids out to try for their first sturgeon of the Fall!

Normally I am booked up for guided fishing, meaning I don't get time to get the boys on the water, but today I'm free from any guided obligations.   So we packed up the Tetra 10 for Rowan, the brand new Trident 11 for Fynn, and the Predator PDL for myself and hit the road!   The Tetra 10 and Trident 11 are amazing kayaks for both kids and smaller build adults.   They offer plenty of stability and storage, and yet are very light and quite fast for anyone with a decent stroke.

Having not been in the kaayk in quite a while and having to paddle into the current, both boys struggled a little but made it from our launch to the fishing hole.   Once they dropped their anchors, it was time to start fishing.  

I caught a small sturgeon almost immediately, so that was a good sign, but then there was nothing else for a while outside of tommy cod.   I caught a couple of those, then Fynn caught a few and finally Rowan brought one in which made his day.

Eventually I landed a nice size sturgeon, a little over three feet in length.   Figuring we may not have a lot of time left in us, I brought it over for Rowan to hold on to, and then I brought it over to Fynn.   Each boy enjoyed getting a few pictures with it.

Soon ready to go, we gave it another shot and then I hooked into my third on the day.   Being close to Fynn, we maneuvered the kayaks around so that we could exchange rods, allowing Fynn to try to land a sturgeon on his own for the first time.

The sturgeon managed to get caught around Fynn's anchor line, which made the task a lot harder for him, but he was determined and sure enough, after a few tried, was able to lift the fish onto his lap.   Unfortunately, while I was trying to untangle the mess, he let it go before I was able to get a nice shot of him holding it up!

Next time out hopefully Rowan will get his chance to try to reel one in!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Need the perfect Christmas Gift?

So with the Holiday season around the corner I am sure many people are like myself and starting to thing about what to get friends and family for Christmas.   For those of you in the Greater Saint John area the best value for the dollar has to be a guided kayak fishing adventure from yours truly!

Just think, for only $100 you are able to give someone all of this!
  • A 4 hour rental of a top of the line fishing kayak from Old Town or Ocean Kayak.
  • Rental of all fishing equipment that is needed for the outing including rod, tackle, bait, net,...etc.
  • A fishing guide who will be there to offer advice, point out the key fishing spots, tend to any tangles, replace any equipment that may get broken through the day,...etc.
  • Delivery and set up of all equipment to the fishing location, as well as clean up of of everything after.
  • Quality pictures to remember the adventure
  • An option for GoPro video

That is a value that simply cannot be beat!  For just $75 more, make it a full 8 hour outing!  

Just going through my blog or Facebook page will show you lots of pictures of people with great fish, especially sturgeon.   But kayak fishing can be so much more than just hunting for that 4 foot dinosaur.

Adventures can focus on fishing for a particular species, or simply be a relaxed paddle and light fish along some of the amazing rivers, ponds or even ocean that we have in our area.    The day will be want you want to make of it!   Nothing else you can give will combine the peace and serenity of sitting back in a very comfortable kayak witnessing some of the best that Mother Nature has to offer with the excitement and adventure of hooking into fish, possibly one even older than you (sturgeon can be over 60 years!) on a kayak.

Certificates can be used for any type of fishing outing that is offered throughout the year, I just ask that the recipient contact me well in advance to discuss what type of outing they are most interested in so that we can mark our calendars accordingly.

If you know of a group of friends who would enjoy such an outing, I can accommodate up to 5 people, both children and adults!

If you know a parent of a young child between the ages of 4 and 8, a parent/child outing is also available.   Depending on the size and abilities of the child he/she may sit behind the parent and fish together, or be in their own, smaller fishing kayak.   As a guide I will give close one on one assistance to the child (and parent!), baiting hooks, dealing with tangles, and of course capturing the great memories such as the child's first fish on camera.

These outings last as long as the child is able to go, up to 4 hours and costs just $125.

To purchase a gift certificate, contact me, Joe Tilley, at 506-650-0395 or e-mail to

Monday, November 7, 2016

The new Old Town Predator PDL

This year Old Town has offered up a new twist to their award winning line up of Predator fishing kayaks, the peddle driven PDL.   After taking the 'Best of Show - Boat' award at ICAST this year (making it the 3rd time in 4 years an Old Town Predator model has won this prestigious award), I knew I had to get my hands on one.   The updates to the chair, layout, and of course the option to peddle rather than paddle were all tremendously appealing for me.

I brought the PDL home from the factory in Maine this past Monday and had to make some decisions on rigging it up before hitting the water.   Like with other Predator Models, there are mounting plates placed strategically around the edges, as well as two new ones up front (ideally for a fish finder and/or camera).    To keep things fully customizable, I opted to install a 12 inch YakAttack Top Loading Gear Trac on both of the front mounting plates; 12 inches fit perfectly.    These tracks are long enough to support multiple accessories from any of the major brands.     Together with the built in flush mount rods holders, and the YakAttack Black Pac I had a place to put anything I could need for things like rod or camera holders.  

Setting up the peddle drive in the PDL is very easy.   Just slide the metal cross bar through the obvious holder, and then either position the unit in the top resting position, or lay it down in the lower driving position.   With the built in handles, moving the PDL unit from the drive position back to the top is very easy.

After spending 2 days on the water in the PDL I came to discover a few things about it.    First, the seat is tremendously comfortable, and is raised even higher than in any of the other Predator models.   Being a big guy, I am typically concerned about having a high center of gravity, but that really didn't come into play at all over the weekend.    I'll get it out in some rougher waters in the Spring and see how she holds up there, but I don't think there will be any concerns.  

The season also offers a fantastic new slot for storage right in the front just under where you sit.  Here I stored gloves, a hat and other such clothing that I wanted to keep close, but I didn't want to get wet.  A wide plano box with gear could also fit in here easily.  Under the seat I was able to store more gear, not to mention the side pockets where it perfectly holds a few tubs of bait on one side, pliers, lip grip and flashlight on the other.  Even more dry storage which I didn't use was available in the center console floor!

So, at this point I am on the water, very comfortable with all my gear stored and organized in an extremely convenient way, with storage space to spare.  Time to get moving.   Taking the paddle of the newly designed and highly improved paddle holder I pushed myself off from shore and out into open water.   Once clear of the weeds, I put the peddle drive down into the operating position, locked it into place and started peddling

This is where I need to stop and figure things out.    First thing to note, is that it is November here in Eastern Canada.   The temperature was around 5 degrees (about 40 F), and I was wrapped up to stay warm.   With insulated compression underwear, plus 2 other layers down below, just walking up stairs was a challenge, so peddling this new kayak for the first time was bound to be a little difficult, especially as I am not exactly in great shape!  

At first I tried peddling it as if I were riding a bike and going for speed, but couldn't maintain that speed for long.   After a few adjustments I found that I needed to angle my seatback to be leaning back a little and to move my chair back enough so that my legs were very nearly fully extended at the end of the stride.   Having done that, I was able to ride at a relaxed pace of roughly one revolution per 1 1/4 seconds and maintain it for as long as I wanted.

On Saturday my friend Matt came out in his Predator XL Minn Kota.   We decided to move up river, against the current a ways to try a different spot.     We both pulled up anchor and set off at the same time to our destination about 500 meters away.   I got there first, and by a wide stretch, which surprised me as I wasn't racing, but peddling at a reasonable pace which I could maintain in the many layers of pants I had on.   Matt had said upon arriving that he was going full speed and couldn't keep up!   Wow... that I had not expected!    

Over the course of the weekend pretty much everyone who was on the river commented about how fast the PDL was.   This boat is going to open so many doors for me for trolling or covering a lot of ground in a day!   When the summer comes again, and I can get out in just a pair of relaxed pants or shorts, it will really be a breeze to move around in this boat!

Aside from peddling, I cannot wait to take this boat out in the weeds to fish pickerel.   I got the flat floor console that comes optionally with the PDL just for places like Kingston Creek or the Nerepis where it is very weedy; having a propeller in those areas just wouldn't work.   When paddling, I plan to move the seat forward to use the front of the cockpit as foot rests, and then when ready to fish, I'll move the seat back and give myself a massive amount of space to stand and fish.    Pickerel fishing may never be the same!

If you are in the Greater Saint John area and may be interested in getting one of these kayaks, let me know and I'll be able to show you mine, and perhaps even take you out for a demo.   To purchase one, see the guys at Outdoors NB or Eco-Logical Adventures and tell them I sent you!  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Early October Sturgeon Fishing Report

46", biggest so far this Fall
We are into October now, which is the month the sturgeon bite really takes off.   I was out yesterday with a group of three hoping to all catch their first sturgeon, and met ten other kayak anglers out on the water.    Add in three or four groups in boats and there were a lot of us there fishing for sturgeon on what turned out to be an absolutely beautiful Fall day.

We did see several sturgeon jump though the day, including one right in front of a few of us that cleared the water by about three feet.    It was the biggest jump I've seen a sturgeon do so far and was a pretty cool sight to behold.

First ever sturgeon!
The fishing however was on the slow side still.   Most people out there were unable to hook into or land a sturgeon.   I happened to have a lucky horseshoe tucked firmly up my nether regions (according to fellow angler Chris) and landed 8 through the day including three that broke the 40" mark.   The rest of the group landed somewhere around 6 or 7 sturgeon in total.   Bring the total up to around 15 on the day.

Local kayak angler Steve with his first on the day
No worries though, for anyone wanting to catch a sturgeon, the fishing isn't "hot" till mid to late October and stays hot through November.

On the lighter side, one of the guys that came out yesterday managed to catch his biggest ever catch, an old patio umbrella, making it the second week in a row one of the guys I've brought out have caught this discarded lawn furniture!

While the fishing was slow, the weather was impeccable yesterday with barely a breath of wind a lots of sun beating down.   It was so nice, that one of the guys actually fell asleep for 45 min in the Ocean Kayak Big Game II kayak.    I thought it was just being quiet at the time!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I'll be easy to spot now!

Last year I had the pleasure to take out a fishing enthusiast from Fredericton out to fish for sturgeon for the first time. While he not only had a great time catching sturgeon, but he was able to bring in some of the biggest sturgeon of the season as well!   Well having enjoyed the outing tremendously, Nathan who works as a graphic technician at Sign FX - a promotional materials company, suggested that he could give my Jeep a more professional look to better promote the guided fishing business.

Though the summer we worked together to come up with a design, select some pictures and such, and this weekend the magic happened.   In between a few full days of fishing, where once again Nathan caught the biggest fish on the day (both days!), he was able to spend a few hours on the Jeep installing the graphics.   The end result is really much better than I had hoped for!

Now, when you see me around town, there will be no mistaking me!   I opted to put a picture of each of my boys on a side window to promote the sport to the younger generation.   Then I selected two pictures showing sturgeon and one of pickerel, which are two of the more popular fish I offer guided outings for.    On each side of the Jeep we put in the name of my blog, a note about guided kayak fishing, and a phone number so that either online or by phone, the contact info is available.

The say that appearance is the top factor in people's perception of you, so this new look on the Jeep should hopefully factor well when it comes to the first impression folk have not just on my service, but on this wonderful sport as well.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sturgeon Alley Mid-Sept Fishing Report

The season for sturgeon fishing is just getting started and as expected things are a little slow to start off.   As the water continues to cool down (was sitting at 65 F yesterday evening) the shortnose sturgeon will migrate into the lower Kennebecasis and as such the fishing will pick up.

Roughly 30" Atlantic Sturgeon, pardon the wet lens on the GoPro!
There have been a number of people fishing sturgeon the past week or three with a few sturgeon being caught here or there.   The majority of the sturgeon right now appear to be young 2 - 3 year old Atlantic sturgeon ranging from roughly 24 - 32 inches.   These fish will make their way out to the Bay of Fundy within another year as they grow in to larger adult Atlantic Sturgeon.

While the sturgeon fishing is still a little slow, the fishing overall isn't bad.   In a couple of hours last night, using only nightcrawlers on my sturgeon rig, I landed 2 eels, 2 yellow perch, a tommy cod, a small striped bass (about 14"), and an Atlantic Sturgeon.    Another fellow was out in boat, having arrived 40 min or so before me and landed 3 sturgeon on the evening (2 of them Atlantics).

I'll be out this coming weekend, as long as the weather allows, both on Saturday and Sunday.   If you do make your way out to fish for sturgeon, be sure to say hi!

I have several Sundays open for guided fishing in October, as well as many dates in November.   If you or folk you know want to book to experience this type of fishing, be sure to let me know!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Featured in the Newfoundland Herald

This week The Newfoundland Herald has included a feature on my exploits with the sport of kayak fishing. As the sport is currently in its infancy back home, hopefully this article spurs some more folk to give it a try!

If any companies from back home are looking to break into supporting this segment of the sport, feel free to contact me with any questions!

Click here to download the PDF in case it doesn't automatically work in your browser.


Fall Special for Guided Fishing!

We are now into mid September and there have been reports of sturgeon already being caught out on the Kennebecasis.    The numbers are not great yet, but there are certianly some sturgeon, and even big stripers out there!

As of the time of this blog post, I have most Saturdays booked but several Sunday's still open.   As such I'm going to throw out a special offer to anyone considering booking for a group adventure this Fall.
Justin with an Atlantic Sturgeon earlier this September

For any full day group booking of 3 to 5 people, I will contribute $125 towards the cost of one new fishing kayak from our local retailer of Ocean Kayak or Old Town - Outdoors NB!    As with all offers there is some fine print.   In this case the booking has to be made for this Fall, paid in full, and the kayak must be purchased before the end of 2016.

See all the great boats and prices from Outdoors NB on their website here.  If you have any questions on any of these models, feel free to ask me.   I have many of these models in my own fleet for you to use during our outing!

This is a great way to not only enjoy a day on the water with friends having an adventure you will not soon forget and a great price, but also have the opportunity to then purchase your own high end fishing battleship at an unbelievable price!    The only problem you may have is deciding who among your group gets to claim the $125 if you have more than one of you looking to buy a kayak!

There are limited outings available this Fall, so be sure to book right away to secure a day on the weekend that works best for you!    You can contact me using the e-mail widget here on the blog, by e-mail at or by phone at 506-650-0395.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A New Brunswick Dilemma: The Mactaquac Dam.

There is an ongoing debate in our province about the future of the Mactaquac Dam, and a decision has to be made soon by the New Brunswick government.   In a nutshell, the dam's life expectancy is going to be up within the next 15 years and it will have to be either refurbished, shut down but left in place, or completely dismantled restoring the river to its original condition.   This is tough issue to figure out as there are legitimate cases to be made for all three positions, and legitimate arguments against each.

All three options are highlighted on a website here.

On the face of it, one may think this is purely a financial/mathematical problem that should be easy to solve given the numbers.   However the environment, social and economic issues go far beyond the profit vs. cost values.    On a power generation side, the Mactaquac dam is essential to our entire grid, providing not only a significant potion of the overall power generation capability, but it is the only site equipped to restart the other sites in the case of a province wide power shut down.

Currently the dam provides the structure necessary to create the Mactaquac headpond (along with other extensions of the river), which is used extensively for fishing, recreation, waterfront homes and cottages...etc.   With no dam there would be no headpond and that would cause a lot of anger for many to rely on it.   However on the downside, the dam prevents many fish species from migrating up the river to spawn.    Salmon for example have been all but wiped out in the Saint John river and many believe the dam is a primary cause of that.     For these and many more reasons, no matter what decision is made, it will be impossible to please everyone.

The first option currently on the table is to refurbish the dam so that it continues to generate power and with it revenue.    Currently the dam has a capacity to generate 630 MW of power (that is potential capacity.. how much it actually generates I have no idea), while the current proposal for this option would see the next generation of the dam increase its capacity to 700 MW, or slightly more than a 10% increase.     According to the website, there would be a fish passageway built, but how viable this would be for the various species I have no idea.  

The second option is to keep the structure of the dam but remove the power generating capabilities.   There would again be a fish passageway built in, and current water levels that maintain areas like the headpond would be maintained.    I am not sure what costs would have to go into maintaining this option over time but I am sure there would have to be some.

The final option is to remove all the structure at the dam and have the river return to its original flow through this section of the river (there are additional dam much further up river).   Over 13,000 acres of land would become exposed from dropping water levels such as the loss of the headpond.   This would obviously be a significant change but one that environmentalists seem to believe is the best option for many of the species which travel the river.

From a fishing perspective, not surprisingly the NB Salmon Federation has come out in favour of removing the dam completely as the proposed fish passage, even if effectively built, of which there is some doubt, would not be sufficient to meet all the needs of these delicate fish.

On the other hand the New Brunswick Sports Fishing Association, which essentially are the guys that fish for smallmouth bass from powerboats, has come out in favor of keeping the dam and building a fish passage.   I know a number of the guys and those I know are all great people.   The groups argument is that the headpond has excellent bass fishing and that people spend big bucks on their boats, trucks and such so that they can fish bass, so bass fishing is a boon to the economy and as such they are more important than other fishing groups.

Both arguments are technically correct but extremely narrow minded in my opinion.    The Salmon folks need to look at the big picture and realize that the cost of doing everything possible to maybe get the salmon back, (which may still be a long shot at best given all the other mitigating factors) may simply be too high.   While the NBSFA needs to lose the arrogant we-spend-money-so-we-are-better-than-you attitudes and stop believing the world revolves around them.   There are many places in the province with excellent bass fishing so I really have a hard time believing the loss of the dam would make that significant an impact to their sport.   Actually even without the dam, one would have to believe there would still be many places in the river that would provide great bass fishing.

I haven't presented nearly enough information here to make a serious argument for any of the options.  To really make an informed decision one needs to understand just how important the Mactaquac Dam is to New Brunswick and what it would mean to lose that power generation capability.    This is information that I am not really qualified present so I invite you to do some research into this yourself.   I've come to my own conclusion that New Brunswick cannot really do without this power and that there currently isn't any other alternative out there.   For certain I am not supportive of the environmental catastrophe that will be the turbine generation project in the Minas Basin!

Right now, my vote would be to rebuild the dam to generate power.  The same vote as that of the NBSFA, but certainly not for the the same selfish and narrow minded reasons.    I am thinking of the effect losing this capability would have on the province, the effect the loss of the headpond and other waters would have on the homeowners, the 10 years / 500 jobs that would be created from this project, and energy certainty we would have for decades after the project completes.   I would hope that everything possible could be done to consult with groups like the NB Salmon council and other environmental special interests to hopefully meet their needs as well as possible.   There would be no excuse not to have the absolute best designed fish passageway in the world at a new site.

Should new information come to light, or other arguments I haven't considered come out, I reserve the right to change my symbolic vote.  I say symbolic because we all know that what the Irvings dictate is what is going to be done anyway, just like everything else in this province.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book now! Sturgeon Season is almost here!

As we move into September, we get into my favorite time of the year... Sturgeon Season!  Any week now I'll be starting my regular weekend outings to the Kennebecasis River to fish for not only sturgeon but also the odd huge striped bass.    The fishing for sturgeon is also great in the Spring as the river first thaws, but that season only lasts for a few weeks.   We have a few months to look forward to here now!

Last year I had the pleasure of guiding groups of eager anglers, young and old, out on the river every single weekend through the Fall as they searched for their first dinosaurs.   There were only a few days where the anglers didn't land fish, and that was typically on days we ran into poor weather.   But for the vast majority of people who came out, several sturgeon, sometimes exceeding 4 feet in length, were landed!

Last year in August, one of the first sturgeon was caught by 10 year old John as seen in this video.   It was fantastic to be able to watch this young man handle himself like a experienced pro in catching his first sturgeon.   Hopefully I'll be able to help a few more young anglers do the same thing this year!

Here are a few more pictures of some of the sturgeon that were caught last year by my guided fishing clients.   If this is an adventure which you would like to try, or if you know someone who may like to do it, please consider contacting me.   Space is limited so best to book early, already nearly half of my Fall is booked up.

I will provide a top of the line kayak, all the fishing gear necessary, life jackets,...etc.   You just need to show up, dressed appropriately for the weather (ideally with a waterproof outer layer) and be ready to have fun.    You don't even need a fishing license as we operate in tidal waters!

The price for this adventure is just $100 per person for a half day (about 4 hours on the water) or $175 for a full day (about 8 hours on the water).   You cannot get this type of entertainment for that price anywhere else!

Also, at no extra charge, I will bring a couple of GoPro cameras as well as a quality Nikon camera to capture video and stills so that you have footage to share the memories with others!  

So contact me today at 506-650-0395 or and book your guided kayak fishing adventure for shortnose sturgeon today!

Monday, August 29, 2016

A 100 Fish day!

Yesterday a group of us went out to Black's Harbour to see if we could catch a few mackerel.   They have been running in the past few weeks, and uncertain of how much longer they may be around, we were hoping to run into a few schools.

Two weeks prior I was out with my friends Craig and John and we had a great time catching somewhere north of 100 fish between us, several times hooking 5 at a time.    So what would today have in store?

Turns out the fishing was even better!   Between 6 people in kayak, three of us caught 100 or more fish, while the others all caught a decent number of mackerel as well.   Unlike a few weeks back when our fishing was based on following the numerous boils all throughout the harbour, yesterday the fish were in deeper water and we had to look around before we struck upon them.   But when we did find them, the action was fantastic.

14 inch mackerel, my biggest to date
The minimum retention size for Mackerel in our waters is I believe is a touch over 10 inches, but I am not 100% certain, it may be 11 inches.    Finding a clear and concise set of salt water fishing regulations is next to impossible in these parts.   (Edit:  A friend pointed me to this link:

Most of the fish we were catching were in the 9 inch range, so most went back in the water.   I did manage to catch about 15 - 18 definate keeper sized mackerel though, some as large as 14 inches!   Those I didn't share with a few of the other kayakers, I'll be serving for dinner tonight for the family.

In addition to the 90 or so mackerel that I caught, I landed and released 6 small cod fish.   The biggest one was 14 inches long, definitely a different species of tommy cod fish than we catch up in sturgeon alley which may only ever get to 7 or 8 inches.    I also caught 5 smelt, 3 pollock, 1 small sculpin and 1 herring.   Put them all together and I am over the century mark for fish landed in the kayak in one trip for the first time!

Seagull making off with one of my smelt!
This was likely my last trip out into the Bay of Fundy this year, as I still haven't been able to find time to fish reversing falls for stripers this year.   That is my plan for next weekend.   Then in just a couple of weeks, I'll be taking people out for guided sturgeon fishing trips which will last right up till the rivers freeze over in December.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Conrad's Personal Best Musky

A few weeks back, while on my summer vacation road trip I stopped in Peterborough for a few days to fish for Carp and Musky with my friend Conrad.    Now Conrad had come to visit me in the Spring with his friend Mark to fish sturgeon and while the fishing was a little slow, but managed to catch a few dinos, and while here crashed at my place.

So I had high hopes for Peterborough given the pictures that Conrad had sent me, of catching some huge carp and hopefully a nice musky as well.   Now, having arrived there well into my 2 week road trip, where I have been sleeping in a tent for the most part and had been in kayak every day, I was a little tired.    So after getting to what would be our carp fishing hole for the rest of the night and after taking a brief paddle around  I opted to sit back for a little rest.

"Conrad", I said, "Go try out the Predator 13 and see what you think."   So off he went, with the rod and lure that I had already set up to troll for a Musky.    Not 10 minutes later I hear him shout "Joe, I got one!".  

There, just across the river was Conrad fighting what looked to be a pretty good sized fish.   After a few minutes, he had the net out and and the the fish was safely on board the kayak!    Great job Conrad!

A quick paddle back to shore, to unhook this beauty, get a measurement and some pictures and then back in the water for a safe release.    At 35", this was Conrad's biggest muskie to date, and the first in kayak.   Well done!

Of course, I hit the water right after, re-energized and hopefully of duplicating the feat.   It only took me about 5 minutes however to get the lure snagged on a rock and then I lost it for good!   Guess the Muskie may have sheared the leader and I hadn't checked it.   Oh well... I did catch my own first musky a few days later, but they were miniscule compared to Conrad's great catch!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Recap of Kayak Fishing / Camping Roadtrip

Though the last half of July I took a couple weeks vacation away from work, family and life in general to celebrate my 40th birthday with a solo road trip through Quebec and Ontario.   I was able to set up my tent in several great locations, fish a lot of waters and catch a nice variety of fish I hadn't had the opportunity to catch before.

My trip started with a 3 night stay in Mont Tremblant Provincial Park.   A huge thank you to Martin Savard, a local fishing guide for some great advice.   During my stay in Mont Tremblant I was able to catch 8 Pike despite one of the days being more or less a rain out.   These were my first ever pike and fist fish for me in Quebec, so this was a pretty special outing.    One of the pike, coming in at 29" was caught with an Ugly Stick Elite Ultra Light rod that was still rigged up for pickerel fishing the week before.    Landing a nice pike on an ultralight was a thrill, though keeping it still on the measuring board was sometimes a challenge I couldn't handle!

After Mont Tremblant I made my way to the Madawaska, ON area not really knowing where I'd land.   This area is full of camp grounds, lakes and rivers so I knew finding a place to tent wouldn't be an issue.   I ended up camping in what is mostly a permanent trailer park with a little waterfront area set aside for tents right on the Madawaska river.   During my 2 nights here I landed a few more pike and a smallmouth... nothing to get excited about.

Before leaving I talked to a friend from NB who grew up in North East Ontario.  He was home visiting his family and invited me up to his fishing grounds as I was in the area.  Located about 2 hours North of North Bay, I was really putting the miles on the Jeep!   While I was able to take advantage of a great little cottage on a lake, Hardy was off to a family wedding the night I was there and didn't get to fish with him.   I did manage to catch a few more pike while there though and lost a very nice bass as well.  

Next stop Temagami Provincial Park, about an hour North of North Bay.   Here I had hoped for big things, but pretty much struck out.   The main lake there is beautiful, though huge.   There are a series of other great lakes there as well.    I spent a few hours trying with others in boats for Walleye, but everyone struck out, then a few hours trolling another pond but again struck out.   Oh well.. the fishing had to get better soon right!

After Temagami I headed South to Peterborough where I was able to stay with Conrad, a friend who had come here to fish sturgeon with me this past Spring.   Conrad crashed for a week at my place during his visit and was happy to return the favor!     Carp and Muskie are both very popular fish in the Peterborough area and I still wanted to catch my first of each.

For three nights we baited a local spot with corn and fished for carp till 2 in the morning but only got one bite.   They were there though as we had several bumps of the line, and seen many splashing around.   This only makes me more determined to catch a carp when I go back for another visit perhaps next year!  

Oh, I shouldn't forget to mention that while setting up for our first carp fish, I decided to take a 10 minute rest and told Conrad to go give the kayak a try.  In just a few minutes I heard "Joe, I got one!", and he paddled back with this 36" beauty of a muskie, caught with all my gear... do I get at least half credit for that?  :-)

During the day we gave muskie a try.   I hooked into one Muskie fairly quickly, and had it jump clear out of the water just 20 feet from me.  This was about a 36 - 40" Muskie and I was pretty pumped... but then it got off.   One more bite but no hookup a little while later and that was all the action over th next few hours.   When I got back to shore and put away the gear I made a discovery that I'll probably never forget.  The lure on which I had the muskie hooked had no hook!   Turns out I lost my first ever Muskie fish because the O ring broke!   OK, at this point I'm starting to think I am cursed!

The next day we went back twice more, once in the morning and once in the evening.  In the morning I had three chances, one a huge explosion just as the lure hit the water from what was an even bigger fish, but I pulled back the lure prematurely, and never hooked the fish.   The other two were follows that I clearly seen but didn't entice bites on.   Then in the evening I finally caught my fist muskie, my first two actually.  But they were both babies compared to all the other muskies I had seen up to that point, only 18 and 20".

After Peterborough I headed to Fitzroy Provincial Park on the Ottawa river.  There I had some advice from fellow kayak angler Brent, aka 'EEF', and headed out to try my luck in the vicinity of a nearby damn.   I was able to land several small smallies on crankbaits, and then when I put down worms, I was able to catch my first ever channel cats, and my first ever rock bass.   Finally, a decent outing!

The next morning I caught several more catfish, and smallmouth, before heading back in to rest before my evening trip out to meet Brent.    Brent took me to a nearby stretch of the river and was able to put me onto my first ever crappie and then my best catch of the trip... a Gar!   I had always wanted to catch a Gar and was thrilled that I was able to on my last fishing outing of the trip!

The next morning, while packing to hit the road, I discovered I was missing some gear.   I quickly came to realized that one of my rods (a VERY expensive combo) as well as three tackle boxes completely packed with gear was missing from my campsite.   Yep, I was the victim of theft for the first time ever.   Lesson learned for me - despite the safe feeling you get at a well monitored and staffed provincial park, do not leave anything of value out where others can see, especially if you are stepping away from your campsite.   Fortunately insurance was able to cover the majority of the cost of the roughly $1350 worth of gear that was stolen.

I spent time in kayak for something like 12 straight days, and 5 nights in a row during this trip and ended it tired and feeling a little discouraged at being the victim of theft.   So I took a much needed break from the kayak for the last week and a half to catch up on work, and to recharge my batteries with the family who I hadn't seen much of in 6 weeks due to various vacation schedules.   Now I'm ready to jump back in the kayak, renew my online presence and head into the Fall with lots of optimism!