Thanksgiving weekend is a time to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life. Other than the obvious (Darrell, Argo, the other critters, my friends and family), I am most thankful for fishing. Fishing was never something I envisioned getting caught up in. However, when my life was in turmoil and I no longer had any sense of direction, being introduced to fishing was like being thrown a life line. I didn’t need to have a sense of direction, I didn’t need to think straight, all I had to do was stand by the water, take in the tranquility, and take a cast if I so chose. If I didn’t feel like casting, I could sit on the bank or in the boat and pass many hours just watching the fish interact with their surroundings. When I did choose to cast, I found an excellent learning opportunity, an exciting challenge, and something more wonderful than I had ever imagined. Never before had I understood the joy of catching an eight-inch brook trout, or the adrenaline rush of reeling in a five-pound bass. This was an exciting new world, and every time I hit the water, I feel the same excitement all over again.
With this in mind, it should not be surprising that Darrell and I chose to spend much of our Thanksgiving weekend on the water. On Thanksgiving Sunday I shunned the household chores that are piling up, left my school books in the bag, ignored studying, and we headed to Guelph Lake.
The weather was far from beautiful; overcast skies and the threat of rain had caused us to pack the rainsuits. Even though it was likely to rain, I was surprised to find the conservation area largely abandoned. We launched the boat and realized we were the only ones on the water…perfect! We were hoping to find some cooperative pike and not having to compete for their attention could only help.
Before we had taken our first casts, the rain began to sprinkle. I almost felt like I was being taunted – “Remember that beautiful weather two years ago on Thanksgiving? That’s not going to happen today!” Not that it mattered. We wanted to fish and nothing was going to stop us. I started casting with my large orange and chartreuse spinnerbait that has been working so well on Fairy Lake, but I failed to provoke a bite. Trying to mimic our pattern from Fairy, we started looking for weed beds in about 8 FOW. Not being as familiar with Guelph Lake, it took some searching and we decided it made sense to cover some water by trolling.
While I stayed with spinnerbait, Darrell changed it up to a silver Rapala Clackin’ Rap. That seemed to be the winning ticket and it wasn’t long before a pike smashed the lure. And by smashed it, I mean this fish mangled the hooks, the split ring, and took off some paint. She was ticked.
Trolling proved to be a good way to pick up fish and we each landed some small pike. However, we had one heck of a day with follows while casting. I lost count of how many pike and bass chased our lures in, only to turn away when they caught sight of the boat. I put the lack of hook-ups down to our reduced time on the water, as we’ve never had such a problem before this year. There was one fish that I didn’t mind not catching, since it gave me the best adrenaline rush of the day. After watching several fish come to the surface, I decided to toss out a buzz bait, and took several casts with no luck. Yet, on one cast, as I slowed down my retrieve and started to pull the lure up to the boat, there was an explosion of water and I saw a pike jumping for my bait, missing it, and disappearing back into the depths. Talk about thrilling.
Aside from the actual fishing, we had the chance to witness fish behaviour that neither of us had seen before. With the large amount of rain in recent days, there was a lot of surface debris in the lake, and entire schools of carp were feeding on it. There would be several noses, and even some fins sticking out of the water, just brown bumps on the surface, then as we got close, there would be an angry swish of water and they would disappear. It was mesmerizing to watch.
Guelph Lake provided us with a great day of fishing, despite the rain. The pike continue to be my target of choice this fall, as you really can’t beat how aggressive they are, especially when they jump out of the water.