The opening weekend of the 2014 Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular was an adventure for Darrell and I. It began on Friday night, with the mad rush of packing the boat and making sure we had everything we would need for us and the two dogs. Having a boat big enough to store all the gear in was a nice change, but it also represented a learning opportunity in trying to figure out where everything should go. I left that in the hands of the master packer, as Darrell manages to pack things with a Tetris-like precision.
Never before have I willingly jumped out of bed to a 2AM alarm, but somehow I was up and ready to go first thing Saturday morning. The dogs were too sleepy to even ask for breakfast.
We arrived at Georgian Shores Marina in Owen Sound around 5AM and quickly got the boat in the water. Boats were already lining up at the ramp, waiting for their chance to launch. One angler I spoke to was down from Thunder Bay to fish the derby with family. It just goes to show what a reach this event has.
If I had to choose one word to describe Saturday morning, it would be “fog”. Lots and lots of fog. It was so dense that it was easier to hear a boat near you than to see it. By using the compass, fish finder, GPS, and Navionics app on my phone, Darrell was able to keep us on course and out of trouble. I was nervous as heck.
I’m always glad to have a capable captain when I don’t feel comfortable driving.
Jack found his favorite spot.
And Molly found her favorite spot.
We spent much of that morning getting used to fishing out of the boat; figuring out how she handled, working out a routine for putting down the kicker motor, getting used to the electric down riggers (I never want to go back to manual riggers), and learning how to work around the dogs.
We didn’t catch any fish that morning, but we marked several and got used to being back out in the big water. We heard jubilant shouts travelling through the fog, so we assumed other boats were having some luck.
Puling lines, we ran back in for lunch and enjoyed the convenience of having a slip in the marina. There’s something to be said for being able to dock the boat and have a nap. I also enjoyed having a real bathroom available to use, instead of having to use the porta potties at the big tent (although they are kept remarkably clean).
The wind had picked up through the afternoon, creating a very choppy lake. In the 12ft tinny, we would not have gone back out, but in the big boat, it seemed worth it. The boat handled the waves just fine; my head and stomach did not. We were only out for about an hour before one of the dogs had been sick and I was leaning over the side of the boat as a precaution. I haven’t been sea sick in some time, but I sure suffered on that trip. Seeing no other choice, Darrell took us back in and I spent the rest of the night sleeping.
Sunday was a much nicer morning.
My Sunday morning started early when I woke up at 2AM. Waking up on my own boat was thrilling experience, but the lingering effects from the day before reminded me to move slowly. We got organized and were out fishing by 3AM. The morning was a beautiful one with clear visibility and just a bit of a chill. With far fewer boats on the water, we took advantage of the space to work a highly productive area. Again, we marked a lot of fish, but we couldn’t convince them to bite. We changed lures, worked different trolling speeds, and tried different directions. Nothing. Once the rest of the flotilla showed up around 6AM, we decided to troll further out and see what we could find.
With the sun up and in 140 FOW, we changed our setups once again. This time, it worked. Darrell’s rod started pounding like I’d never seen it go before. Resisting the urge to jump out of my chair, I let him grab it. For a couple of minutes he fought the fish, even having it peel some line, then I heard the “Ugh!”. The fish threw the hooks and was gone. Too bad, because it sure put on a show like a nice big fish.
After seeing a salmon feeding on the surface, I changed my setup and used a planer board. It seemed like a decent idea, but the fish didn’t agree, so I switched back to the rig I had down when Darrell hooked his fish. The big flashy dodger I had down seemed to bring the fish in, but they preferred chomping on Darrell’s orange spoon. Now in 200 FOW, Darrell’s rod once again fired, and I didn’t hesitate to leap for it. A rainbow trout was my reward. It was nice to christen the boat with a fish, and I loved all the fighting room I had. After a quick picture, I released the fish since it wasn’t near big enough to make the leaderboard.
Love these little guys.
Our weekend ended a little while later as we pulled the boat out and headed for home. The dogs had adjusted well to life on the boat and were experts at jumping in and out of it. I enjoyed having the cuddy to lock them in when we were getting gas or loading the boat.
We spoke to several other anglers who found the fishing to be slow. It often seems that way during this derby. The locals mentioned that the fishing had been on fire last week, but that the fish seem to know when the derby starts and they get tight-lipped. With that many lines in the water, it’s easy to see why. Nonetheless, everyone we spoke to enjoyed being part of the event. We all like being out there and wasting gas money. It makes it that much more enjoyable when you actually figure it out and get into some fish.
We’re back home for a few days, but I can’t wait to get back up there. If you haven’t yet bought yourself a ticket, there’s still time to do so, just get it the day before you plan to fish. The Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular is a blast.