The first fish I ever caught on a fly rod was a small-mouth bass in a southern Ontario stream. That fish and fight hooked me on fly fishing and I love to return to that regularly. I thought that, after good rains followed by steady weather, today would make a prime time to try. We went to Big Creek Manitoba. This is a big creek that feeds into the Winnipeg river system inside the Whiteshell Provincial Park. We launched our float tubes and and went at it. I found active fish pretty early.
The first fish was my first bass of the year (not counting Florida) and was nice at just under 18″.
I called to my fishing partner to come over as there were plenty of active fish in this inlet.
The next fish might have been the best of season and maybe my best bass.You can hear and see it on the video at the end of this article
After that there was numerous hits tugs and struggles. I worked the area, where I lost that fish, pretty hard and but only got one more bass and pike to hand.
My partner caught 5 smallies and zero pike.
Here is the full video (at least until the battery died).
The storm clouds you can see in the background of the photos and videos, finally caught up to us and we got off the water.
We were craving a burger from the Nite Hawk Cafe so we drove to the south east part of the park. If that seems like a long drive to you, you’ve never had one of their burgers!
As we were in the area, we thought we’d take a look at the Whiteshell creek after the disappointment of June 8th’s trip
Apparently there was supposed to be a tour ending with a stocking on the 9th. Our thinking being, 2 weeks might have given the fish time to acclimate.
There were no fish.
I don’t know if they stocking was so small as to be meaningless, the stocking didn’t happen, the mergansers picked them off or what. But no trout but also no native fish or fish sign at all.
The head waters are in trouble and maybe all of this is the after math of the stream ‘improvements’ and the bridge reconstruction. Maybe it will rebound in a few years. Maybe not at all
OK, OK not exactly a local report, but I do a small amount of traveling each year and I always fish. This year my semi annual Christmas/New Year Florida panhandle trip got changed in to a Orlando/Kissimmee late March trip. So 10 days – 2 travel days and 4 theme park days leaves 4 fishing days.
As you may already know, ponds in Florida have a default setting of having fish in them. It is harder to find a random pond without fish than it is to find one with. This is even more true in the Kissimme area. The most common species are blue gill and large mouth bass but you can find crappie, pumpkinseeds, bream and shell crackers too.
The fishing was slow and even when put against the chuck and duck crowd I either caught nothing like them or something unlike them. I also got to go out on a big lake on a nice pontoon boat. It suffered from a non functioning trolling motor and an absence of an anchor so we could never sit on a good spot long enough for the fish to calm down and everyone got skunked.
There is no sense telling you about the pond on Marigold or inside Celebration. There are ponds on the sides of roads, inside communities, public parks and golf courses they all have fish and everyone is used to seeing fishermen (though fly fishermen not so much). Each pond does carry the potential of having its own alligator, particularly the ponds that have year round canal connection to other ponds.
These ponds offer us some unique options
I have fished ponds in Florida behind malls, on golf courses, the side of a high way, inside a gated community, inside state parks, etc. they all held fish.
Suffice it to say that if you find yourself in the area and have a free day, go fishing.
Every Pond does seem to come with its own alligator
Normally my summer vacation is based on going away during the hottest parts of our Manitoba summer. Since we are doing a reset on our vacations, to allow for a winter trip, we stayed close to home. That meant borrowing a friend’s trailer and a week on a spot at West Hawk Lake. One of the things I was looking forward to was fishing the last 2-3 hours of daylight without the 3-4 hour round trip.
Day One August 7th:
Decided a quick trip to the river was in order. armed with just a tenkara rod and a box of flies.
Tenkara Fly Fishing
Nothing. Not a sniff. at first I chalked it up to me wearing a white shirt. Then I lost most of my leader and at the same time realized that I left my leader spools in the car. OK too much minimalism is a thing too.
Day Two August 8th:
Wanting a redo on the day before, I donned a neutral shirt and was very ready with leader spools. Nothing. Not a sniff. Not only that, I didn’t see any fish sign. No risers, no swirls, nothing. On top of that there were no hatches going on and very little mosquito action. The water was a good flow and its usual gin clear.
I have been fishing this river for 17 Years and I know the spots. My best flies on the best spots didn’t work. Hell I even tried the “pellet pool”
The month before it fished well. The only major difference was the bridge construction up stream. I mean, it looked good, but maybe there was a spill that wiped out the fish and insects or at least encouraged them to move downstream to the lake.
Day Three August 10th:
Ok, time for some lake fishing. So I hit Lyon’s Lake. I have fished this lake more than any body of water. To say I know this lake is an understatement. Nothing but a few perch! Not trout. I waited till the magic hour when even the summer skulkers come up. Nothing. For many years I have been able to get trout in the summer but the fish-ability and over all quality of this lake (and Hunt Lake as well) has declined. If you look at the numbers 13,000 rainbow trout since 2014 seems like a lot. I don’t know if the number (in 2001 they dropped 13,000 fish alone in there and that was followed by some years of great stockings and great fishing) or size of the fish needs to be increased to help them out compete the the perch or stay out of predators’ mouths, but the last few years have been real crappy.
On of many perch that hit but one of the few that stuck
Day Four August 11th:
This time Hunt Lake. This used to be a near perfect lake for brook trout. But it got lost in the shuffle by trying to things differently. So, a once idyllic brook trout lake was made into a splake hell hole (don’t worry you won’t find splake on the stocking list for this lake but I have caught these slinky lifeless hybrids). There have been only 6,000 Brookie stocking since 2014 (compare that to the 13000 fish they put in 2001) but over 100 brood browns. Maybe they were put in to control the perch but we know they also like brook trout fingerlings. Anyways the spring summer and fall fishing on this lake is pretty terrible right now and has been the last few years coinciding with the decline in stocking
I caught one smaller
Together with McHugh, I have been fishing these 3 lakes for 17 years and this is the worst they have been. Even in spring and fall.
The stocking is tax payer paid for and should create a fishery that works. It used to work year round and it can again if we can get back on track. Hunt for brookies, Lyons for Rainbows and McHugh for browns, all in proper numbers. In the years of the supposed ‘over stocking’ we never saw die offs due to starvation and the fishing was great for shore anglers and boat anglers alike. Of course I say this as stocking levels drop, ‘Parkland’ lakes seem to get the lions share of the fish and the hatchery is getting out of having their own brood stock.
In baseball, hitting for the cycle is hitting a single, double , triple and a home run in the same game. For me it was getting one each of our major warm water fish. A bass, a pike a walleye and a perch. The perch didn’t stick around for a photo but there is film to come!
I was happy to get the ‘hat trick’ (which is 3 goals in a hockey game) at my first location but the 4 species is nice. It was strange that the pike was the elusive one as in Manitoba, the pike is everywhere. Most of the fish fell for a #6 Muddle variant with the last one falling for a deer hair slider
While I got few fish at Barren, I got many at Lyon’s. Those fish were all recent stockings and I couldn’t keep them or the perch off my hook. Between me and the Gulls, Terns, Loons, Osprey and Mergansers, we had a field day!
Here is the video of some of the fun.
And of course another loon shot.
After my final perch I went back to the launch and headed home. But one final goodbye!
She got a few hits and LDR’s as well as landing one!
On the hike out we noticed the “Super” moon so went back to the house and brought back the cameras.
Hey Honey, remember the time we laid down in the field with fishing waders on, getting bit by skeeters to get a photo of the moon?
Of course I went fishing that night. The Oromocto again but a different stretch.
There were active fish but as I got within casting range some bubbas showed up and started casting their Bill Dance Largie type poppers so whatever fish they didn’t catch they scared to death. So I moved down stream and managed a few more hits but only one to hand
So I have posted many fish shots so I tried to do it differently.
The next day it rained so our second climb (less a mountain and more a mount) got canceled. We did go to an SPCA fund raiser that night but no pictures.
Errand day take back the guitar amp and rental car. Dinner with family. Preliminary packing for the flight out.
I had hoped to go fishing but the 2 days of rain have left the rivers high and discoloured.
The backyard stream
After a nice meal we worked it out by Fishing the Hunter River right in the Town of Hunter River. The section is a place I fished last year and on one side is a 200 year old church and grave yard but on the other an Irving gas station. No big fish but there tends to be many smaller ones…just not this time because I had the video going.
The thing about doing stuff is that you might not have time to write about it.
So Day 6:
Has us leaving the northern mountains and heading back to Fredericton. We stopped in at Grand Falls ate, watched some zip liners and then went down into the gorge.
As promised at the end of the last post I was off to river the river behind where we are staying. The river is called the North Branch Rusagonis and in the past I have caught Bass and Fall Fish no bass this time but I did get this surprise.
This was a pretty laid back day and the only pics was family fly fishing.
Day 8 was more of the same but we did find a Canadian Tire store with a full fly fishing and tying section. Pretty stark contrast to the no fly fishing store and depleted fly sections I am used to in Winnipeg.
Just the wife and I fished the same river for bass etc.
This was our drive to and and first of 6 days in PEI.
We arrived Montague, settled in at our B&B and ate down by the wharf.
Queen Anne’s Lace
Day 10: Was a bit of looking around. We found a spot a local guided favorited but I have plenty of buggy mud holes back home to fish.
It was raining off and on all day but we did end up fishing the Morrel River. My son caught his first fish on the fly (and Tenkara) and my wife had fun taking photos of me casting.
In my element
Right At Ya
soft rod open loop
Almost looks like I know what I am doing
Went to put some recycling away and found a young raccoon. The owners of the B&B pull the bin to the ground to let it escape and it made straight for the trees.
Then we were off for a little tour to the East Point Light House.
Madeline Islands Ferry
Next off to Basin Head beach. This is part of the Northumberland Strait so the water is warm (19 Degrees Celsius that day)
Poking a dead Jelly Fish
The Sign Says “No Diving” While the life guards look on.
Then we went to Georgetown and at at Clam Diggers.
View from Clam Diggers Before we Eat
Later that evening I fished the Morrel River again and caught 3 American Shad (new species for me)
So we Checked out the South east part of the island and where a little underwhelmed. While it was still nice the scenery wasn’t anything you couldn’t see almost anywhere and was a little less as the rest of the province is as neat as a pin from private homes to towns to parks and this area was a little less of that.
We did visit a nice vineyard.
Combine with an earlier trip to a local distill and our love of Gaham beer we have quite a lot of “adult” souvenirs.
Then off to Point Prim lighthouse and as the tide was going out and the ocean floor revealed itself. After we ate at the Chowder House which was both excellent and reasonable.
So yes, for the 3rd year in a row we are vacationing on the east coast of Canada. We are currently in New Brunswick like last year but we just finished visiting some of the northern parts of the province.
Day 1: Arrive and not much else. Raining.
Day 2: Rental car not ready, still raining. Get car very late in day with barely enough time to get fishing licenses. Rivers brown with run off so no fishing.
Water running down rings
Day 3: Head north. Ultimately to the town of Saint Quentin but we stopped off at Hartland to lunch and visit the worlds longest covered bridge.
World’s Longest Covered Bridge
Saw someone fly fishing on their break and, after our lunch, I saw an immature bald eagle chase an osprey (perhaps to get the nice fish in the osprey’s talons?)
In Saint Quentin we stayed at the Du Repos B&B This area of the province is VERY beautiful. You can’t drive very far without seeing a tempting stream. This is the northern tip of the Appalachian mountain range. Our hosts Jacques and Louise are avid fly rodders and just great people all around.
The room was wonderful and looked to be the perfect base for our coming adventure!
We asked our hosts about local fishing and they offered to take us fishing the next day!!
Day 4: Our plan was to climb Mount Carleton the highest peak in the Maritimes! So ya the plan was to climb a mountain then go fishing.
So up the more scenic and challenging west side. So many photo ops.
Nutrition Bar Break.
The last kilometer was the four limb climb over huge boulders. And the area is too steep for pulling out cameras so here is a picture of an easier climb.
But we made it!
Fire Watch Tower
The current info on the place says it is 2 hours up and one hour down. Well maybe for people used to climbs but living on the prairies for 14 years and stopping for many photos this was the hardest thing I have ever done and it took us 5 hours to get up and back.
So ya this is a fly fishing blog and I did mention our host were going to take us fishing. So back to the B&B and one ham and egg sandwich and 2 Tylenols later I was off fishing.
Now this is their secret spot so I can’t tell you but the fishing was good and the fish pretty active. It was bad by their standards but catching wild fish in the shadow of very old mountains has a certain panache that the amount of fish cannot affect.
So if you are a C&R at all cost type avert your eyes!
Just Add Butter
Nothing quite like eating brook trout fresh out of a mountain stream.
Having such a good time we extended our stay. One, to enjoy the area more and two, to take the family to that fishing spot.
Day 5: We had a few plans to explore the park without climbing any mountains.
Red Pine Trail
She got a small salmon
So again back to the secret spot.
Adelle fished and Charles played in the water. At one point he decided he want to fish. Seeing as he hasn’t fly fished since he was 4 years old so I handed him my rod, gave him some reminders and let him at it.
He got a million hits and loved the action!
So I used this an opportunity to break out the Tenkara rod and see if I could get a game fish on it (as I did bust the cherry on it the weekend before in B.C. but they were bait fish).
That’s it for now but I am off to fish the creek behind the house we are staying in.