Thoughts of Springs Gone By

Seriously winter…. what happened to you?

You used to be cool.  You would come creeping around every November after deer season heralding Christmas, and bringing hardwater for ice-fishing or an excuse to dip south for some R&R.  Then like a flash, March would roll around and, poof! you would retreat back to the southern hemisphere….

But not this year, oh no…  That would be too normal.  Just to see how stir crazy you can drive us, you decide, what the hell, lets play a cruel joke by repetitive flash freezing and dropping sloppy dumps of snow at random times.

Let me just say, you can stop the joke now.  Its not funny any more…

Since winter is taking its sweet time to retreat this year, Ive decided to reminisce on springs gone by; specifically back to a trip to Algonquin two years ago that I have been meaning to write a post about.  We had a particularily good spring and the weather worked out perfect for us on this trip as did the fishing.  I know the trip pre-dates my blog, but a flashback is warranted due to the epic nature of the trip.

A group of six made up of myself, Dave (a regular on this blog) and four other friends decided to do an early season portaging trip to Algonquin Park to celebrate the esteemed ritual of the Bachelor Party for Dave before he took the plunge into matrimony.  As a survivor of many other urban bachelor parties, including my own, I was curious to experience what a backwoods party would be like. Even more curious as to how the brook trout fishing was some 50+ km into the heart of Algonquin.

After much preparation and figuring out how to transport a sufficient amount of “beverages” for such an arduous trip, the day finally arrived and we set out for the north side of Algonquin.

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Our launching point was from Brent on the north side of the park.

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After a relaxing night at cedar lake campground we roused our selves out of beer induced comas and embarked into the mists.

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Our trek took us across Cedar lake into the throat of the Petawawa.  As our trip coincided with the spring melt, river levels were high the waters were raging.  This made for stunning scenery and some spirited paddling.

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Little did I know that the worst was yet to come, because on the first day, “my inaugural day of portaging in Algonquin”, we were to face whats infamously called Unicorn Hill. Well, la di da, doesn’t it sound nice and cozy?  The name kind of lulls you into a sense of relaxation.. .. F that.  Unicorn hill consisted of a coronary giving, death defying, 3km hike uphill through a twisted path that served as a portage around a particularly long stretch of rapids.  This portage was definitely not for the faint of heart.  Maybe that’s why the crowds seemed to miraculously thin out after that.  After almost passing out a couple times and losing half my weight in sweat, we finally made it through.  Following that, we had a bit more paddling and a couple of minor portages and we finally made it to our campsite.  I was bushed but I was also there for a purpose, and nothing would stop me from testing the waters of the Petawawa with my rod.  I think it was at this point that things got serious and we actually started trying to figure out the brook trout fishing, because so far we were fishless and Dave still hadn’t caught the first brook trout of his life.

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We fished near the campsite with no luck and proceeded to hike further up he river.  Past schools of sucker and down some steep embankments we manged to locate a few decent holes.  Low and behold, Dave hooked up and we were staring at the first fish of the trip and of Dave’s lifetime.

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What a first it was!  It demonstrated some  amazing colour and patterns as well as being fairly girthy for a stream caught trout.  This was to be the first taste of trout we would have on the trip.

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Although the trout tasted good, it was not enough to feed 6 big guys after a hard day of portaging, and so the E and B were broke out with a chunk of cheese for good measure.

The rest of the trip went by like a blurr of good times and lots of brookies.  Id love to recount more details for you but I will let the pictures do the talking instead.

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Smaller trout, like the one pictured below, were common and plentiful.

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Our journey took us all the way to High Falls and onto the Nippissing River.  Possibly some of the most beautiful country I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.

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Below the author is pictured cooking some of the delicious trout for the group.

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Brook Trout

The endless meandering waters of the Nippissing are something to behold.  In some sections it felt as though we were stuck in a time loop, paddling the same stretches over and over again.

This provided ample opportunity to pull out the camera.

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As much as I love to catch and eat brook tout, I have to emphasize that conservation is key.  Although we did keep some fish on this trip, the majority were caught on barbless hooks and were released with no real harm done.  Do your part to preserve these fish if you decide to venture into this section of Algonquin.  Collectively we need to recognize how special the brook trout in Algonquin really are and do are best to protect them.

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T’was a fine trip with a fine bunch of gentlemen and will not soon be forgotten.

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

P.S for those planning a trip to the “Gonq”, here is a link to the best map available:

http://www.algonquinmap.com/

Lyme Disease Update – Private Memebrs Bill

As a hunter, Lyme disease is a very scary possibility each time I venture into the woods.  But as much as it is a scary possibility for me, it is a debilitating reality for a growing many Canadians and American alike.

Unfortunately, this disease often takes second stage to many of the more prominent diseases, however, for the afflicted, it is no less damaging, and no less destructive.  Sadly, the reality is this disease is often miss-diagnosed and treatment must often be sought out side of the country.

So when I heard that action was being taken to provide solutions, on a federal level in the form of a private members bill, I was ecstatic.

Currently in its second reading and heading for a third, Bill C-442 hopes to convene a Canada wide conference to develop a national strategy on preventing and dealing with Lyme disease.

For those of you not familiar with this Bill I have attached links to media coverage of the bill (link 1) and to a summary of the bill itself (link 2)

http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/making-a-federal-case-out-of-lyme-disease-1.1712200

http://openparliament.ca/bills/41-2/C-442/

Here’s hoping we are one step closer to solving the endemic that is Lyme disease in Canada.

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

Get outside…with yor kids! An Outdoors Charter for Kids

The provincial government has recently put together an initiative to promote outdoor activities among our youth in Ontario.

http://www.childrensoutdoorcharter.ca/

Finally! In my opinion the current generation of kids are missing out on the richly diverse experience that is our outdoor environment.

In support of this, they have developed a website outlining a vast array of activities children can take part in.  This is a good first step, and here is hoping they are able to implement activities, outreach programs and connect with other existing programs to actually get kids outside.

oh BTW, kudos to the website for including “Harvest something to eat”.  As a forager, I am happy to see this way of life promoted.

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

Loughborough Lake Lakers

My Ice fishing season has started slow this year and without any real success.  Hence the lack of posts on the blog.  Thankfully I have had some recent success and am able to post an update on my recent goings on with some actual results and juicy fish pics for all to enjoy.

Verona Lake

The second our corner of Southern Ontario had safe, fishable ice, my work mates and I were out looking for the early season bite.  Our first trip was to Verona Lake, which is, surprise surprise, right near Verona.  We didn’t end up catching much but was it was a good way to brush the rust off our gear and get back into the swing of things on a new lake in the area.

Long Lake

I followed up the first outing of the season with a trip to my friend Dave ‘s Cottage on Long Lake. we managed a few decent perch and marked quite a few decent sized fish on the finders.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to coax any of the lakes elusive walleye into biting.IMG_1311

Despite the lack of eyes, The trip was still very enjoyable as we were treated to an amazing sunset.  Sometimes thats all it takes to make a fishing trip worth while.

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Little Clear Lake

The third trip of the season was to Little Clear lake for some Trout action.  Once again, caught lots of perch but no trout.  There was lots of ice on the lake but a tough slog hiking in due to a thin layer of crust which made walking very tedious and tiring.

Deadman’s bay / Loughborough Lake

Once again, Dave and I found ourselves with some time on our hands so we gathered up the fishing gear and headed out.  Our first stop was at Deadman’s Bay located just south of Fort Henry.   Although we didn’t catch any fish we enjoyed an amazing view through 6 – 8″ of clear black ice through 10 to 20 of crystal clear water.

Pretty awesome.

Since things were dead ain deadmans bay, we made a snap decision and headed up to Loughborough Lake hoping to get lucky with the Lakers.  Upon arrival we headed out to the laker grounds in 80 – 90 FOW and punched a few holes through the ice.  It was a beautiful afternoon with near 0 degree temperatures and very few fisherman on the ice.  Our lure choices included silver jigging shad raps, cleos and wobblers all jigged a varying depths throughout the water column.

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Id estimate the fish to be a solid 2lbs.

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With the first real success of the season achieved I am looking forward to the next outing.

The plan is to hit up the Bay of Quinte in a couple weeks for some monster Walleyes.  Here’s hoping they cooperate!

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

Forest Chicken Supreme – A Weekend Grouse Hunt North of Algonquin

Nothing gets the heart pumping like a flushing bird breaking the silence of a crisp autumn morning.  From seemingly out of no where they can turn a hunters peaceful walk in the woods into a frenzy of heart pounding action.

Its for this reason that most people who have gone grouse hunting consider the grouse to be one of the most exciting and enjoyable species to hunt ( not to mention tasty!).

So when I was offered the opportunity to travel to a rustic hunting camp north of Algonquin park, I jumped at the chance.  Nestled against the northeastern border of Algonquin Park about 11km from Highway 17, the camp has been run by my friend’s family for the better part of 50 years via a crown land lease .  The camp is situated amongst fairly dense coniferous woods which have been selectively logged in some areas.  The combination of the new growth triggered by the logging and the sheer density of the woods makes this area prime bird hunting habitat.

So in anticipation, my friend Dave and I left Kingston around 5pm on friday and made our way up highway 15.  We met the camp owner, a mutual friend, in Arnprior and made the 1 -2 hour trek across Highway 17 and then down a back road to the camp.  After spending a few minutes getting the camp in order and firing up the wood stoves, we settled in for a rest before the next days much anticipated hunt.

At the time we weren’t sure if it was a dream or not but during the evening, all three of us seemed to hear a grouse beating outside the camp.  Either a weird coincidence, wishful thinking or a very good sign for the hunt to come.

I am glad it turned out to be option 3!

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We awoke early and had a classic bacon and egg breakfast before heading out.  We loaded our two 12 gauges into the car and hit the road shortly after.  Our heading? Towards a few spots the owner was familiar with.  In my experience grouse often stick to specific areas that offer cover, food and water.  So if you have seen birds in a specific area, consider them prime candidates when selecting hunting spots on later hunts.

The action was slow to start and the crisp morning seemed to be keeping the birds in their roosts.  The temperatures were in the negatives over the evening and it was taking the sun quite a while to warm up the area.  Not to mention there was snow on the ground and ice on some of the lakes.

But, once the sun was out in full force, the birds seemed to wake up.

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(a moment of appreciation between the author and his quarry)

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(Dave’s first grouse hunt)

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(the owner holding up a bird after the hunt)

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(possibly one of the most beautiful birds to be found in Ontario)

We shot a total of three birds in low scrub cover over the course of the day and saw another 3 that flushed a bit to far away to shoot.  The birds were taken with #7 1/2, #6 and #2 shot.  Although I have never heard of #2 for grouse, the owner insisted it was needed to penetrate the thick bush encountered in the area.  After seeing the bush first hand, I believe it.  Just make sure you try to it out on a few clays prior to hunting since #2 will pattern much differently than #7 1/2 and will require greater accuracy.  Not a big deal when shooting something that is still but becomes a big issues when trying to hit a flushing grouse.

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(In my opinion, three birds in one day is not too shabby!)

Of course, everyone who has hunted grouse knows the best part comes around dinner time.  We dusted the grouse breasts with seasoned salt, pan seared with bacon and then threw them on the charcoal grill to finish.  To enhance the flavour a bit, we threw a smoldering piece of cedar on the grill. Smoked grouse anyone? Nom nom nom

As an added bonus, I had brought a few of my home made smoked summer venison sausages from this years deer.  What a deliciously wild feast!

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We washed it all down with a couple fingers of single malt scotch and settled in for a comfortable evening beside the camp stove.

Its times like this that make me think of how lucky we Ontarians are to be able to enjoy such amazing experiences, in such a beautiful part of the world.  Not to mention being able to enjoy such an amazing meal with some of highest quality of meat you can get.   Don’t forget the low carbon footprint to boot.

Days like this are out there for the taking, so get outside and enjoy what the wilderness has to offer!

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

Is venision leaving a bad taste in your mouth?

A few years back I was hunting as part of a group in south eastern Ontario near the Belleville Area.  As luck would have it, one of the newer additions to the group shot a beautiful 8 point buck.  As a lover of all things wild (especially edibles), I was ecstatic.  This was the first deer I had an part (albeit indirectly) in killing and I was going to enjoy the meat.

Unfortunately, the meat did not taste very good and to this day I have often wondered why that was.

After bumping around the internet a bit I recently came across this well written article (see link below) by Will Brantley, a freelance writer for Reeltree.com.  Thinking back now, and comparing to this article, I am sure that many mistakes were made in the handling of the meat.

Hopefully this article will help all those hunters who have experienced the same issues as I have.

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

http://www.realtree.com/hunting/articles-and-how-to/12-reasons-why-your-venison-tastes-like-hell

Collins Lake – Winding down

As promised by my previous post, a couple buddies and I scooted over to Collins Lake two Thursdays ago.  The fishing ended up being fairly mediocre with only a few bass and pike caught.  This is typical behaviour for the lake as the fishing season winds down.

Still a great warm up for my upcoming trip to Lake Nippissing, and as they say, a bad day fishing is still better than a good day working.

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Fall Feedbag Bass – Southern Ontario Giants

Fall is kicking off in southern Ontario as signalled by the increasingly cool evenings and fall colors starting to dot the trees.  Soon the dull glimpses of orange and red dotting the treescape will burst into an full explosion of fall colour.  This is the time to be outdoors.  Weather your a waterfowler, upland game hunter, hiker, photographer or a fishing enthusiast, everything comes to a head in the fall.

I woke up this morning with hopes of capitalizing on the fall action both for geese and fishing.  Although the geese were a bit sparse for any real success, the fishing sure was hot.

My friend Dave picked me up at 5:30 on Sunday Morning with his canoe atop his car and gear all set. After loading both hunting and fishing kits into his ride we were off speeding north towards a beauty of a day.

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We arrived at a small lake north of Verona about an hour or so later and packed our gear in the canoe.  After five minutes on the water I realize I left my DSLR back in the car.  This is what happens when I get excited about hunting and fishing.

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First up, we spent about 30 minutes in one of my goose spots waiting for some birds.  Unfortunately all we saw were solos and doubles and they were way to far out for the 870.  Ah well, its only the tail end of the early week in our zone and goose season doesn’t really start to heat up until the end of September anyways.  On to bigger and better things!

We abandoned the goose hopes and decided instead to focus on the fishing. After all, it was the begginnings of fall and that’s when the giant bass come out to play.

Fishing started off in a big way with what I believe to be a monster walleye that hit my jig coming off a rocky shore line.  The big guy did the typical “im to tired to fight” walleye dance and got off right by the canoe.  Although this was a big disappointment, soon after my friend caught this jumbo perch which was a welcome addition to the boat.  No quite the consolation prize I was hoping for but it will work for taking the skunk off.

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Following the meager catch, we proceeded to catch a few bass along some weededges near deep water (this is a key tactic for fall bass).

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For a change of pace we decided to hit up some deeper areas near some rock faces along a lake channel that connected two of the lakes larger areas.  This turned out to be a great idea as Dave hooked and lost a pretty massive largemouth.  Almost immediately after, he hooked into another rod bender.  This one was hooked pretty well and wasn’t going anywhere.  Energized and excited by the prospect of a giant bornzeback Dave fought the fish for quite a long while.  I was pretty amazed by the patience Dave showed as he gingerly fought the fish and took his time bringing in the beast.  These are all skills required to bring in larger fish when fishing from a canoe and these traits are especially important when the large fish is a 6+ lb smallmouth and your new personal best!

Congrats Dave, that is one hefty looking smally.

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The adrenaline kept us pushing forward, optimistic for another big fish.

As luck would have it, it was my turn to tangle with a southern Ontario giant of the largemouth variety.  The fish hit on a soft wacky rigged worm just near the edge of a weedbed facing the open lake.  At first the hit seemed light and I reeled in to clear the small fish from my line.  The minute the fish spotted the boat the game changed and my drag was singing the sweet tune only a fat lunker makes.  This fish lived up to the hype the reel was forcasting and was estimated at 5.5 lbs (Scales are a luxury when your paddling in a canoe with goose gear and wo sets of fishing gear).  This fish was definitely my biggest largemouth of the season.

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(What a nice surprise!)

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Fish were caught using a variety of methods including wacky worms, spinner baits, jigs and texas rigged swim baits.  All fish seemed to be caught on deep weededges or rock faces near channels or big water.

In my experience, Bass start to put on the feedbag in the fall in a big way.  Although they move out of their summer shallow water haunts for deeper waters, they still stay proximal to weededges and the like.  Look for drop offs with submerged weeds or weed edges near the larger portion of the lake.   Bass will often hangout near these edges popping up into the shallows when food is around.

One more piece of advice, don’t be intimidated by slower action either and try to have a little patience.   You may not have a 30 fish day, but your bound to tangle with the larger fish in the lake.

Cheers from the Wild

Albert

Land O Lakes Fishing Derby – Kashawakamak Lake

The first annual Land o Lakes Smallmouth and Largemouth Derby was held last weekend on August 17, 2013.  The derby spanned across 5 different lakes in the Land O Lake region including Sharbot Lake, Loughborough, Desert, Big Gull and Kashawakamak.  These lakes represented some of the best fishing Southern Ontario has to offer.

Seeing as how the derby was right in my back yard I felt compelled to attend, but I was left with a nagging question; which lake do I fish?

After much deliberation, my Uncle, who decided to join me fort he derby, and I decided on a lake we both had never fished. Our choice? Kashawakamak Lake.  Renown for its smallmouth population, this lake promised to offer a change from the regular large mouth fishing I was used to and a chance to see a different lake in my neck of the woods.  Although I had no experience with this lake we were confident we could make something happen.

The lake itself is 15 kilometres (9 mi) long, 0.75 kilometres (0.5 mi) wide, has a surface area of 1,159.8 hectares.  The maximum depth of the lake is 22m. The lake bottom consists of sandy bays and rocky bottom with a large amount of fallen wood dotting the shores.  The thing that surprised me most about the lake was the lack of weed beds around the lake.  It seemed there were only a few to be found in some of the bays.  This posed a big problem for me and forced me to fish outside of my comfort zone.

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The derby started at 7:00 am on Saturday morning.  We launched at 6:15 and had chosen a spot to start by 6:30.  Not to many boats on the lake for the kick off which we had expected.  Chalk this up as another reason why we decided on Kashawakamak.

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My Uncle decided he would bring the Boatillac up for the derby.  Let me tell you, this Lund Fisherman really does live up to the moniker, the “Cadillac of boats”.

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Fishing started slow in the morning and we were cycling a variety of lures and techniques to try to coax out some fish.  It wass at this point I was praying the next bay held some weeds so I could drag out a mercy largemouth to at least get on the board.  No such luck.

We kept persistent and tried all sorts of different approaches and techniques.

Finally we cracked the code of the lake and the small mouth tap was turned on.  The final tally was around 23 small mouth with the biggest being around 2 lb 3oz.  No picture of the smallmouth though as we were kept pretty busy with fish on our rods.

Regardless of the action, we were still hungry for a monster.

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(one of the few weed beds we encountered).

Considering the extreme sun, clarity of the water and lack of wind that day we were convinced the fish were deep. And so we tried deep 20 – 40 FOW water.  No smallmouth but low and behold we caught a decent walleye.  This was a nice surprise and it signalled the end of the day.

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Sun beat and tired, we made our way back to the weigh station only see our 2lb 3oz fish was just under the third place spot.

Ah well, that’s fishing, and the lack of quality fish was offset by the numbers we caught.

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The weigh station staff were friendly, and the Derby Spokesperson Ashley Rae, from Captured TV did a great job of advertising and spreading the word for the derby.  Not to mention favouring one of my 5am tweets the morning of the derby (that’s dedication)!  Over all it was a good experience and we will definitely return next year.

Cheers From the Wild

Al

Bay of Quinte Report

This weekend found me fishing my old stomping grounds: the Bay of Quinte.  Together with my dad and another gent, we launched at the Deseronto boat launch  around 7:00 am.  Winds from the previous day were lingering which left a good “walleye chop” on the water.  In addition the sky was overcast and periods of drizzle were common.  This seemed like a perfect day for catching walters!

From the launch we travelled past foresters island and headed for Catalaque Shoal where we dropped the trolling motor and proceeded to troll.  Bottom bouncers and spinners were our go to lures that day however the action was slow to start with only perch and white bass caught.  We criss-crossed the lake fishing in everything from 18 to 40 FOW.  Again only perch and white bass seemed to be interested.

Being a firm believer in “If it aint working, try something else” we decided to try a troll line of the eastern shore line where there was a definitive drop.  Trolling in everything from 17 to 24 FOW we started getting lots of hits and proceeded to land several nice sized drum.  One we estimated to be around 13 Lbs.  We tucked in even closer to the shore line to find a submerged weedbed where we caught a couple decent sized largemouths.  As an added bonus we even caught a walleye while on the out side of the weedline.

All in all a decent day on the water.

 

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My apologies for such crummy photography work.  I left my DSLR at home as the weather was predicted to be pretty lousy.

Ah well, low quality fish pics are better than none at all right?

 

Cheers from the Wild

Albert