Welcome to Week LVII of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
It's Father's Day weekend. The forecast is for showers, which is oddly the same thing I recall from 2012, standing in the rain on the Assinboine River near Sturgis.
But it's a Saturday in June and I have no newspaper assignment and that means fishing.
The morning actually dawns sunny as we pack gear into the back of my son's half ton, and head north.
We are headed to some new lakes, well two new lakes for me, and a third not fished in more than 25-years.
As we head to Preeceville, sort of the half way mark on our northward trek, gray clouds soon hid the sun and hang thick in the sky. It's rather obvious the weatherman had gotten it right, and that showers were almost assured for the day.
Not that a shower was a big deal. If you want to fish, you will fish in the rain on occasion.
At Preeceville we hit Highway #9 toward Hudson Bay and continue north.
On occasion the windshield wipers are needed as we pass through a shower.
Soon we come upon grid road 983 and turn east, McBride Lake is the destination.
We passed Eldredge Lake, and I wish now we had stopped, at least long enough to take a look, but we pass it by.
A gentleman at McBride would explain the smaller lake actually connects to McBride if in a boat, but next time I'll pop down the road for a firsthand look.
At McBride there is a descent beach with boat docking area to fish along, so I held out hope it would be a good spot.
My wife actually liked the spot, although that could be because four perch obliged her by going after minnows on her jig. Two were 10-inch long perch, nice in the world of perch.
Two were foot-long critters, truly noble perch in this area.
Adam and I would throw every spoon in our extensive collections, and a few rubber grubs for good measure.
I had a couple of nibbles Adam swore were weeds and maybe, just maybe, the way my day would go, he was right.
I had fished the lake decades back, in a small boat with my dad and some friends. As I recall that day, while sunnier and warmer and drier than Saturday, was about as successful, resulting in only a couple of hammer-handle-size pike.
Back then the lake sported Lamplighter Lodge, a nice convenience store, that I believe had even served food.
We asked the gentleman where it was on the lake, only to learn it had been torn down a couple of years ago.
It was a good thing we had packed some summer sausage on cheese bun sandwiches, which we devoured on the road to the next lake.
Following the gentleman's directions we easily found Pepaw Lake. There was a small boat launch area and since we were the only ones there, that worked to shore fish from.
Pepaw is a smaller lake, with a very secluded camping area. It would be a nice spot to truly get away from the 'real' world.
It would also be ideal to hit with a small boat.
But we were shore fishing.
Adam had a strike quickly. That was encouraging until the pike came in and it had been snagged.
This spot should have yielded more. There were a number of weed beds that clogged hooks, but they should have hidden pike too.
But Saturday they stayed hidden.
So it was off to Parr Hill Lake.
I will say the trip from Preeceville through the backcountry to all three lakes was refreshingly different from farmland around Yorkton. Trees loomed on both sides of the road, and we all agreed the area would be beautiful in fall colours, so a trip back in September is likely.
Parr Hill Lake was a surprise. I was aware there were a number of cabins along McBride, but did not know they were at Parr Hill as well.
Neither lake is developed to the level of Good Spirit, or the lakes that chain through the Qu'Appelle Valley, but there are a number of people who call the lakes home for vacations.
Parr Hill Lake also has a rather long shoreline with easy access to fishing, complete with large stones which make serviceable seating.
The sun comes out and a nice pike hits an orange Mepps for Adam.
He reports a couple of more pike following his lure into shore to the point he can see them make a half-hearted attempt at the lure before turning away.
I'm getting nothing, so switch to the same orange Mepps. It makes no difference.
The rain comes harder. Adam retreats to the truck.
I have rain poncho on, so I fish through the rain. My arms stick out from under the poncho, and are soaked. My pants too.
I fish on.
I might as well have retreated to the truck. I got skunked, something both my son, and my wife mentioned several times as we headed south toward Norquay.
We come to Swan Plain, an almost extinct community I had actually visited several years ago to do a story on Wasylyniuk Groceries and Confections for The Western Producer. The store had been a fixture in Swan Plain for more than four decades, built in 1958, filling a niche for a growing rural area situated north of Norquay.
Michael Wasylyniuk said he built the store at the same time Highway 8 was being forged north towards Hudson Bay.
"That same year the highway was built," said Wasylyniuk at the time as the then 89-year-old store owner as he sat behind the counter of the store which still had an open sign in the window. He said the highway was completed in 1960, pushing the black top to the edge of the forestry.
In this out-of-the-way community we see a sign that says Cutarm Lake is to the east. We turn and go exploring.
We found what we assume was the lake, although there was no actual road access, and frankly had there been we are not sure there was even fish in the lake. But when you are that close to a different lake, and you are a fisherman, such road signs draw you like bees to a flower patch.
We get to Norquay and stop for gas at the Co-op.
Browsing I find a three-pack of Saskatchewan Roughrider lures.
I actually had a 'Rider logo lure from Pelican Lures, and it has caught a fish, or two.
But these Co-op 'Rider lures looked nice, and at less than $10 I could not resist.
It was after I noticed that $2 from each pack sold goes to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, which made the purchase even more worthwhile.
I suspect the lures have been around a while, but they are worth a look, even, if like me, you are not likely to fish them, simply keeping them as a neat novelty.
We then head to Kamsack.
It rains heavy much of the way, so by the time we get to the fish ladders by the Kamsack Golf Course, its greasy shoreline frankly looked a tad dangerous.
That was too bad since a sign talked about the river there being home to Bigmouth Buffalo.
From Wikepedia we find "the bigmouth buffalo is a dull brownish olive color with dusky fins. Like other suckers it has a long dorsal fin, but unlike others it has a large oblique and terminal mouth. It is the largest of the buffalo fish and reaches a length of more than 4 ft (1.2 m) and 65 lb (29 kg) in weight.
"It is distributed from the Red River of the North, Manitoba, Canada and North Dakota, United States to the Ohio River and south in the Mississippi River system to Texas and Alabama in the United States. It lives in sluggish areas of large rivers and shallow lakes and streams.
"The bigmouth buffalo migrates upstream to spawn in the spring, usually April to June where it lays its eggs on plants to which they adhere. Bigmouth buffalo, unlike its close relatives the black and smallmouth buffalos, is a filter-feeder, using its very fine gill rakers to strain crustacean zooplankton from the water. It sometimes feeds near the bottom, using short up-and down movements to swirl the water and thus be able to filter from the water the plants and animals that hover near the bottom or rest lightly on it (Pflieger 1997). More than one male will assist in spawning by moving the female to the top of the water to help mix eggs and milt. Spawn is usually April–May.
"The fish is vulnerable in shallow water and is often captured by spearing. It is commercially caught on trot lines, setlines, hoop and trammel nets, and seines. Though it has numerous small bones, its good flavor makes it one of the most valuable of the non-game freshwater fish."
You are not allowed to keep a BB in Saskatchewan because their numbers are in decline because of pressures such as reduced spawning areas, but it would still be cool to land one, just to say I have, and then release it back to its waters. I'll mark that on the 'to-fish list' for the future.
In terms of fishing the day, at least for me, had been a bust, although nice scenery, and fishing even in the rain, still made it a pretty good day.
It would get better though.
We leave Kamsack and head west on Highway #5 to Canora, our real destination being Mikado.
I've been by Mikado numerous times through the years and never gave it much thought as a place to stop.
That was before hearing about someone opening an eatery in the community's former curling rink. The location sounded pretty darned neat, and reports had the food being excellent.
We find Zeke's Grill and Lounge easy enough. It's upstairs in what would have been the observation lounge area of The Stanley Zielinski Memorial Rink.
The decor isn't extravagant, but it works as a neat little eatery off the beaten path.
The menu had some interesting fare.
I started with sauerkraut soup because I had to find out what it was like. It was nicely sour with 'kraut, and had ham, and was just plain good.
The menu also included what they advertised as homemade burgers. I've seen that before and found some pressed meat in the bun when it hit the table.
Not at Zeke's. They were real, hand-formed patties, thick and tasty.
Of course it helped in the taste department that they offer up some neat burger combos.
Adam and I opt for a Gouda Burger. Yep, it came with Gouda cheese and fresh apple slices, along with bacon and onions.
It was served with a mountain of home-cut fries, and coleslaw that included apple.
Simply put, the best burger I have ate in — well honestly I can't recall one any better.
Adam, in a rare moment of father-son-togetherness, perhaps brought on by it being Father's Day weekend, agreed.
Dixie opted for a burger that was dressed up with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and bruschetta, her side being what she termed the best sweet potato fries she has had, to go with what she rated her top-burger too.
On a day when the fish were not cooperating with me at all, Zeke's was the perfect tonic to save the day, and yes I'll be back there to try more of their menu, as most of it looked darned appetizing.