With winter rushing towards us, Darrell and I are spending much of our free time trying to catch up on chores around the farm. Gathering more firewood, filling the loft with straw, putting up more lights, moving things around…there is never an end to the list. But between the craziness, we try our best to hit the water and do some fishing.
A couple of weekends ago, we headed to a local lake to find some pike and bass. The day was windy and cold, except for those wonderful moments when the sun broke through the clouds. Arriving at the boat launch we were greeted with our favourite sight – a nearly empty parking lot. Only one other person seemed to think it was a good day for fishing, and when we passed him on our way up the river, he said the fish had not been biting.
This particular lake is a hard one for us to read. Though we’ve fished it a fair bit in the past two years, once the vegetation starts dying off, we have a hard time finding pike and bass. If we were able to get out more often, we might put a better pattern together, but as it stands, we generally head for the last place we found them and work from there. Both of us were most excited about catching pike, so we started looking for schools of bait. That wasn’t too hard; bait was everywhere!
Once we found bait, we started looking for bait near vegetation and drop-offs. We floated into the right area and scared some pike, but even after giving them some time to relax, they didn’t want to come back and bite.
Going from one bay to the next, we checked out all the favourite spots. We watched the fish finder for signs of suspended fish, or that tell tale blip of a pike that just swam away.
The day got colder as the sun spent more time obscured by the clouds. I zipped my winter jacket up all the way and pulled on my gloves. I desperately needed to catch a fish to get the adrenaline going and warm up. Darrell decided to abandon the search for big fish and took us to a little back bay that is rarely frequented by other anglers, but is usually swarming with sunfish.
Setting us up by a beaver dam, Darrell used a small tungsten jighead to catch some small perch. My curly-tailed grub was too big for those perch, but I wasn’t taking my gloves off to tie something smaller on, especially since we weren’t yet to the money spot. The money spot is a little bit further back in the bay. It’s a deeper hole surrounded by fallen trees and it holds buckets of sunfish. They didn’t disappoint.
I dropped my jig down so it came to rest a few feet off bottom. Then I waited. It was wasn’t long before I felt the tap-tap-tap of sunfish playing with the lure. When the tapping stopped and my line moved, I slowly raised my rod, felt the weight, and reeled in a beautiful, scrappy little sunfish. There’s no point in a quick, hard hook set with these guys – they have the hook or they don’t. The adrenaline kicked in and I forgot to be cold as I reeled in fish after fish. Each fish put up a great fight, with a couple making me think I must have hooked something bigger.
Each time the bite slowed, Darrell would drive us back up to the top of school, which lit up the fish finder, and we would drift back down with the wind, catching fish every cast. It was perfect.
Clouds filled the sky, but those sunfish warmed us up and made the day shine. We grinned like fools on our way back to the ramp, thankful for a fun afternoon on the water, and the much needed break from the farm.