It may have been opening weekend for bass in many areas of Ontario this past weekend, but those of us in Zone 16 have to wait it out for another week. It wasn’t a hardship to forego bass and spend another weekend chasing pike.
After spending Saturday morning running errands, working in the gardens, and watching the chickens play in the horse stalls, I was eager to hit the water when Darrell got home from work at noon. We headed to a nearby lake, pleased to see several vehicles in the parking lot and many kayaks coming and going. It’s always nice to see other people getting outside on a sunny day and enjoying what nature has to offer.
As we ran up the lake I watched a boat towing a tube drive in tighter and tighter circles, bouncing the tube higher out of the water and causing great laughter for all participants. I am not particularly fond of swimming in lakes (I have real issues with the feel of swimming through aquatic vegetation), but this lake with its crystal clear, deep water, always makes me consider jumping out of the boat for a splash.
While pike were the main target of the day, we also wanted to find some panfish, so we headed to a quiet bay that has produced both for us in the past. I took a few casts and was pleased to notice that my boat legs seem to have returned. It’s so much easier to get a good cast while standing up, but I was really out of practice on our first few boat trips this year. I was casting around some logs when my chatterbait felt like it moved – just a slight change in the vibration. Nothing bit, but pike are big on swinging at a lure the first time they see it, so I cast back to the same area and this time the fish inhaled it. The retrieve was one of the most fun I’ve had with a pike. It was a decent sized fish, nothing big but not tiny, and it leapt out of the water like a smallmouth bass, spraying me in the process, and than dodged all over the place coming to the boat. It was a great little fight. Unfortunately, he really inhaled the lure, so we didn’t get a picture because time was of the essence to return him back to water.
We thought that pike was a good omen, but the bay failed to produce anymore bites. The sunfish were on redds and have yet to stack up in the deep spot like they will later in the season. Not being overly patient anglers, Darrell started the motor up and we moved on to another spot.
A few more pike were caught in woody areas with floating veg. Some fish came out of shallow water, others were deeper. Since we like to catch and release, we tried to release most of the fish without taking them out of the water. Sometimes this is accomplished by leaving some slack in the line and the fish will shake the hooks loose, other times we use the pliers to pop the hooks out without touching the fish.
The vegetation on the banks was really coming to life, and the pitcher plants were stunning for their numbers, colours, and blooms.
While the pike were providing a great fishing outing, I was really hoping to find some panfish. Sometimes, all I really want to do is catch a pile of little guys that fight like much bigger fish. I was in luck! In a sheltered bay we came upon schools of sunfish and rock bass, all associating with stumps and bank undercuts. It was as simple as tossing out our Berkley Micro Power Nymphs, and reeling in the fish that managed to get there first. It was entirely too much fun. I hope I never get tired of the simple joy of catching panfish after panfish and watching them swim away after the release.
On Sunday we were able to get out once again (a second day of fishing?! Unheard of these days) and headed to a different lake in hopes of a few more pike. With another roadside gravel ‘ramp’ I was again super grateful for our great little boat; it’s so easy to put her into just about any lake we choose.
The forecast had called for rain much of the day, but despite some ominous clouds the weather stayed dry. We headed for some sticks and I picked up a little pike right away. Though I cycled through some different baits for the heck of it, it was again the chatterbait that continued to shine for the toothy critter bite. There were several bass swimming in the area and we took a moment to watch them. I hope we can still find them next weekend when their season is finally open.
Rock bass decided to steal the show from the pike and Darrell caught some incredibly nice ones. They sure made the ultralight rods work and even tried grabbing some of the pike gear.
Pike took over again as we drifted along a weed edge on a dropoff. We got a double-header, and several more fish on every few casts. It was a pretty quick and fun bite while it lasted. There were the typical short strikes, swings, and fish getting off at the boat, but every minute of it was a blast.
The clouds parted and the sun came out. A green heron flew from log to log, a turkey vulture soared out of the trees, and the green frogs sang a chorus around the edge of the lake. I could not help but realize that I would have missed all this if I never got into fishing.
We caught a few more fish and called it a day. Two days of fishing felt absolutely wonderful, but all to short. Bass finally open next weekend!