Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ontario Trout Opener 2008!

I like the trout opener. I don't always get oodles of fish, but I also almost never have to fish with the crowd. The weather is almost always good, mornings resonate with fresh birdsong, and rivers have a clean look to them that they only get this time of year.

The fish also have a special way about them. As beat-up as they often are by the ordeal of the spawn, they always give a good account of themselves once they start recovering in earnest. They leap more in April and May, and staggering downriver runs as well as electrifying changes in direction are commonplace.

As it turns out, this year's opener has proven rather ordinary. A long winter that seemed to promise a late spring warm-up was all but obliterated by nearly three weeks of bright sunshine in the 18 to 27 degree Celsius range. All the snow quickly melted under the pressure, and the rivers on the north shore of Lake Ontario dropped to levels close to what they had been last fall.

This meant that opening day was, for me, more of a social event than anything else. I spent it with my good friend Khalid (caption above) and my brother Dan. We didn't hook into very many fish, but we enjoyed eachother's company as well as making new acquaintances on the river. We ended the day by raiding our brother in-law's house, while he was away, and drinking some of his home brew. Thanks for the Weize, Richard - delicious as always :).

On Monday, while the boys were at daycare, I managed to get out for a few hours to inspect a local tributary. I managed a couple of decent fish - but still not that many. It's too bad I didn't have my camera with me, because a picture of the trucks lining the riverside is definitely warranted. I was astounded to see license plates from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Have they any idea what they're missing back home???

As for me, I was still waiting for my opener shangri-la.

And that came yesterday. The rain on Monday had a greater effect on one of my favourite rivers, than I'd expected. When I got there in the morning, the water clarity was perfect 16" to 18", high and moving at a good pace. Nor did I wait long before the action started. It would, as usual, subside a little during the late morning and early afternoon. But the blazing afternoon sun and clearing water conditions made the fish seek deeper, more shaded pools and runs, and I was able to put quite a few on the bank as a result. It's one of those things that happen this time of year.

The highlights of this year's opener were too many to count, but I can name a few. Fishing with Khalid and Dan after such a long hiatus, sharing cigars as we fished, beers at Richards, meeting up with my old friend Derrick (whom I hadn't seen in well over 10 years!), finding an old, salvageable shimano reel on the river bottom, seeing spring-time wild turkey for the first time, finding an 8 point deer rack close to the riverside, having large stretches of beautiful emerald water to myself, two fish in excess of 10lbs (and one over 12 easily), a 6lb or so fish that jumped no less than 7 times (one caught on film) and finally picking up two ecstatic twins at daycare at the end of the day.

It gets better: some day, I'll be fishing with one or both of them. Can't wait!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spring, News and Updates

One of the most avid of my faithful readers recently complained that I hadn't updated my blog in a while, so I guess I should. So far, this wonderfully late spring has been nothing but an anti-climax for your respectful Average Steelheader. Work, Chocolate-coloured water, East Winds, meddling (but well meaning) female relatives, rabid but cute 2 year-olds, ad infinitum ad nauseum, have all contributed to keeping my fish count low.


Speaking of the East Wind, it didn't stop my friend the Wallacio from padding his fish count with a lovely extreme-late-season brown trout, just before March turned into April. It was one of those inexplicable occasions where everything else seemed perfect. There were no crowds, the water was high and green, and we even had a few hook-ups in the morning. We knew that we would hook many more as soon as the slush cleared later in the morning. However, not only did we not land the few that we hooked into early, but by about mid morning a front passed through, the East wind picked up, and the fish turned off. The slush was gone, but so were the fish! This is the only "trip" I've had so far this spring, where more than half a day was dedicated to steelheading.

Oh it was a brutal one for me, especially since the highly touted "Siglon" line I was using, proved short-lived and unreliable. Toward the end of the day, I got fed up and simply peeled it all off my reel. I've never seen or used a wimpier line! I spooled it on last November and might have had it for a half dozen trips. That is far beneath the standard I had expected. So now I've spooled on some Raven. Let's see how it goes.... I wish I could find some Drennan Super Mono in Ontario!

I did have one short, freezing instant of glory on the Friday preceding the above re-telling. I stopped at the local watering hole for about 15 minutes. At least, I had intended it to take only 15 minutes, but some crazy fish decided to take my pink & purple "jiggy bugger" for its death ride. 10 minutes later an unphotographed 10lb hen lay glistening on the bank. I almost got frostbite unhooking her, but she swam away quickly for all that.

Wait, there is also the fact that I finally got to meet with Moosie, and I got to see my friend the Wallacio before his grand transformation. Transformed into what, you ask? Why, one of those most unpallatable beings, known for their soft-heartedness, worry, care-worn-ness and bleary eyes: a new dad.

Congratulations Wallacio! You're making a fine daddy already, I'm sure :).