Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer Synopsis

I did very little fishing this summer, as usual. Summer weekends tend to be for family and friends, and weekdays are for commuting - and when I did take a week off work, it was to make time for family and also to celebrate our wedding anniversary. But with Samuel and Isaac both progressing at their own paces, the whole of it has been filled with laughs and enough fun to make me forget about fishing...most days.

I managed to go fishing only three times, all summer. Here is a short synopsis of how all three events took place. I hope you enjoy the slide shows that I put together :).

Trip 1: All in the families
What has become a tradition between JP's and my families continued this year. For the past 3 years, we go camping trip together, and marshmallows, home-style breakfasts, campfires, swimming, laughing, playing etc... are all part of the show, but then so is fishing. This year, we did something really fun. We rented a pontoon boat. Although this is generally not a "fishing" boat per se, it is actually a great way to have the best of both worlds: swimmers on one side, fishers on the other. Throw in an on-board barbecue and coolers full of beverages, and you've got the recipe for a great all-round family experience!

Trip 2: Bass-tastic portage

What to do with five kids between the ages of 2 and 6? Why, portage through the trackless bush of course! Armies of deerflies and legions of mosquitoes, beware! And ye Largemouth and Smallmouth bass, run for ye lives! If you can believe it, this was one of the most fun trips I've had in years. It was also Sam's first chance to catch a really big fish, as opposed to sunfish and rockbass.

Three dads and 5 kid, and 30+ bass, 200+ deerflies and 500+mosquitoes. Recipe for disaster? or recipe for unforgettable fun? You decide!

Trip 3: Charterboat Fantasy

Finally, as the fall season approaches and before the full-boot onslaught of salmonids can take place on our local rivers, four of us decided to take them on out on Lake Ontario. For the first time, I booked a charter on our famous lake; and I/we were surprised to observe that this was indeed my very first time to actually go fishing out on the lake. All my previous experience has been from shore. Go figure.

I was surprised at the number of fish marked on the sonar. Some areas of the lake looked like veritable constellations of fish, when viewed on the tiny screen. Not surprisingly, we boated 16 fish and hooked into 21, over a span of about 5 1/2 hours. Coho, steelhead and chinook comprised our catch.

Also, if you take into account the speed at which these fish transition from 75+ feet of depth to the surface, the mortality rate is quite high. Distended air bladders were obvious on most of the fish, and there are very few successful releases, so far as I can tell. Easy creek-side catch-and-release seems almost impossible under these conditions, and the experience gave me a brand new perspective on the debates that often rage on fishing forums about proper methods of catch and release. I can tell you this: any fish hooked and released in a river has a much, much better chance of survival than the poor devils who get wrenched out of the depths of our lakes!

Still, the experience was rife with spectacular fish, sights and company. Fishing from a 24ft boat was certainly preferable to sitting on an aluminum seat all day long. And speaking to Guy Parenteau, our guide, brought me fresh insight on these fish as well as on our fishery.

As I write this, summer is ebbing, and chinook salmon as well as the odd brown trout are starting their ascent of our eastern Lake Ontario tributaries. With luck, I'll tangle with one of them tomorrow morning... stay tuned!