Welcome to Week LX 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.
Some Sundays you probably should just stay in bed, even when the fish are calling.
July 7, was one of this Sundays.
All right it sort of started Saturday actually.
The plan was set that day, a simple one actually.
During the ice fishing derby at Lake of the Prairies in February a guy had told me there was a spot along the Assinoboine River at Binscarth where some bigger bullhead catfish had been caught.
Binscarth is not that far away, and some 'Net searching mentioned a park, so we were heading there.
Then the phone rings late Saturday evening. It's Terry Peppler, a guy I've known for ages through his involvement with the Rhein Rockets fastball club.
I have something of an affinity for fastball; having played first base for years with the New Osgoode Bandits back home in the Tisdale area.
We were not a great team by any measure, but we played a lot of fair tourneys and had a blast doing it.
So when Peppler called I was assuming it was fastball-related, especially since we had actually been in Rhein earlier in the week specifically to watch the Rockets.
However, Peppler was not calling about sports. Rather he was telling me about a tornado that had hit the town earlier in the day, and that maybe I'd want to head out for some pictures.
It was my weekend off, but I am a journalist first, and so I said I'd be there.
Sunday morning we packed Adam's truck with our fishing gear and headed on a detour to Rhein.
It was pretty dramatic (see story Page A1), and I can only imagine what it would have been like when the storm was in full swing. Seeing the ball park we had watched a game at four days earlier completely ruined, the player dugouts and bleachers tossed all over was one thing, seeing huge trees broken and homes with roofs gone was quite another.
I wish all the residents the best in their clean up and repairs.
With pictures done, we are about to head out of town, when Adam curses.
There is a beeping sound accompanying his lament, which he explained was a sensor on the new truck telling him he had a tire puncture.
That is not so surprising since Rhein was strewn with debris, but it was still pretty inconvenient.
My son, 25, had to read the owner's manual on the roadside to figure out how to get the spare tire out from under the truck.
It was actually a rather ingenious system although if the flat came on a muddy road, or on a slushy spring day, I'd opt for a truck bed carrier.
It was Adam's first roadside tire change, which in itself was pretty unusual.
And then we head out and another sensor light is on.
Adam, fearing his baby was having a major breakdown opted to go home.
The wife and I pack the car and go fishing.
We get to Binscarth, but don't find a fishing hole.
Frustrating, but Shellmouth Spillway is on the way back.
We go to the provincial park by the dam to get out $5 day pass, and the road is closed.
It forces a 15 kilometre backtrack, six of that over a corduroy grid that shakes and rattles the car. I can only imagine what it is doing to the truck and boat combos we meet that have had to make the same trip.
This was another case of a government department forgetting about consumer convenience, and frankly not accomplishing much for parks either.
I get the idea of a day fee to fund parks, but does spewing greenhouse gases driving the 30 clicks to get the pass balance the fee.
It would seem a more logical solution to the situation would be the lockboxes and envelop system used by many regional parks. Sure it's the honour system, but if someone ignores it it's five dollars.
And Sunday fishing the spillway for several hours no one checked for pass stickers, so one could have simply risked not being caught.
The boxes would have saved gas, time, irritation and would have put the consumer first, something too often forgotten these days.
As for fishing, it was slow.
I will say the highlight was the better half's potato salad for late lunch/early supper.
And it was interesting she pulled a perch out of the spillway. It made a four species day for her, pike, carp and sucker the others, and expanded the range of fish caught there, which also includes walleye, mooneye and bullhead catfish.
I also put my new bait-caster unit to work. It's a Prodigy reel made for Cabela's by Daiwa and that is teamed with Cabela's pro-guide M6 rod.
I haven't cast a bait-caster in 20-years, but got my hands on one through Cabela's for two reasons.
One was carp, which by the way I didn't get Sunday, and the other was to fish weed beds in the Qu'Appelle Valley lakes.
I will admit here that I have this unit over-lined, with 20-pound test, when the reel should have about 10. That might void a warranty, but it sets the unit up to take on some bigger fish too.
My first cast showed the rust of 20-years, and I had to dig through a bale of backlash. It wouldn't be the only time, although I got better quickly.
That was always the slight on bait-casters, that unless you made a perfect cast they would backlash.
The new technology in the reels fights off most of that concern now, and once you get into a smooth rhythm the unit worked pretty well.
I'll never cast as far with the bait-caster as I can with my spin-cast gear, but then that is not why I wanted the unit.
I will say when I snagged a good-sized pike in the side, one of those freak hook-ups, just as I was handed a plate of chicken and potato salad, the rod bent with great flex and the unit worked smoothly.
This is going to be a specialist unit for me, but I have no trouble suggesting anyone looking at a bait-caster consider the M6 rod teamed up with the Prodigy reel.
That said, what I probably should have done Sunday is sleep late and then relaxed watching a great fishing film such as Todd Moen's 'Fall Run'.
I first came across Todd through the great e-zine catch which I have written about here before.
When I found out he did film I was intrigued.
Todd said his involvement with Catch was what drew him to create the film.
"My job as Co-Owner and Producer of Catch Magazine is to create the best fly fishing entertainment in the world," he said. "I create the cornerstone feature in Catch Magazine which is video sponsored by Patagonia. For the November issue of Catch, I set out with two anglers who are friends of mine. We had met five-years earlier for a steelhead shoot and did fairly well. This time around we decided to try a few new rivers for steelhead. This, for most people, is a complete dead end right off the bat. Why? Because one; Steelhead fishing is very hit or miss. If you get one fish in a season you are doing well.
"And two; To actually go out with video equipment and try to capture a steelhead taking a swung fly on a new river is even more of a challenge. It's a very tough job when you know all odds are up against you — unpredictable weather, wild fish, fluctuating river levels —nothing is a guarantee."
When I saw Fall Run I was in awe.
The filmography in Fall Run is well, breathtaking. Forget fishing for a moment. The scenery is amazing.
The narration of the fishing trip of course speaks to fishermen, but had they used the sound of the waters and nothing else, the film would tell its story well-enough. You are quickly there with the fishermen, and if you love to fish you already know what is in their minds and hearts.
That said the fisherman's thoughts fill in the tale too, coming across as from the heart.
"I shoot from the hip," said Todd. "Jeff, Jakob and I sat down twice and I just let Jeff talk about the experience. I know how to get the talent comfortable without having a camera in their face. We just had a few beers and talked. A few weeks later when I reviewed the footage, I went through the audio and pulled the sound bytes out that went well with the story I was trying create."
That steelhead are a hard fish to catch at all, makes the film a magical one, something not lost on the filmmaker.
"We had three days," said Todd. "We were close to a few different unknown rivers. Every single fish I see caught on a fly is magical. But it all comes down to that one fish that was caught on a day that the conditions were as tough as nails. Rain, fog, the moisture factor was extremely high and it was a constant battle to keep the camera lens dry. It was so wet buttons on my camera were starting to malfunction. When I saw my buddy Jakob and Jeff work together to catch that one steelhead, I can still remember what I was thinking to myself — 'I can't believe my eyes that this is happening in front of me and I actually have the camera here and I'm rolling on it!'
"I made sure to check the record button multiple times to make sure the camera was running.
"The situation that happened is the best of the best. It's truly world class. I know it really can't get any better than this. It was all up to mothernature with what happened that day. It was incredible."
What makes the film even more amazing is that Todd did it himself, yet you feel as though there were cameramen all over the river.
"I am the camera operator," he said. "I shoot all the videos and edit each one as well. I am my own one man crew. I have a cookie cutter shot list engraved in my brain. But I try not to go any farther with planning than that. The bottom line is this: If you try to plan too much with an outdoor shoot, especially when you are dealing with fish, you will be shot down so fast and be totally frustrated within the first few minutes of shooting. You can't plan anything out there. You have to be patient and wait."
What also comes through in 'Fall Run' is Todd's respect and love of the steelhead and the rivers they inhabit.
"Steelhead are anadromous. They leave the river for part of the year and head out to the ocean where we have no idea really where they go," he said. "They come back to their home river to spawn, so they live in both salt and fresh water. It's actually really interesting from a biologic perspective. As a camera operator, I know there really isn't any other type of fish that is more challenging to capture on video. Especially when using the traditional method of swinging flies with a spey rod like we were doing for Fall Run.
"Ever since I was a kid, I knew steelhead were the toughest fighting fish and the toughest fish to hook into. I grew up fishing the rivers of western Washington, the steelhead waters were my home waters. I knew that if you landed one or even hooked one during the season you were doing well. Many fishing days yielded zero sightings, hookings or landings!
"In three days during the Fall Run shoot we hooked and landed four Steelhead. Unbelievable. Totally not the normal steelhead fishing experience, but exactly what I hoped to be able to film."
And Todd himself knows 'Fall Run' is something special.
"I'm working on Catch Magazine issue #30 which will go live Aug. 1. This means I have shot and edited 29 features over the past five-years for Catch Magazine," he said. "I would rate Fall Run in my top-three videos of all time. It could easily be my best because of what that beautiful steelhead decided to do and how my buddies worked their magic with angling skills and cooperation on the river."
Oh, and yes Todd fishes too.
"I do fly fish," he said. "I use to fish a lot. As a kid, it's what I enjoyed most. At college in Montana, I turned a hobby into a career. It's taken me a long way.
"But I don't fish that much anymore because I'm busy filming it. Most of my fishing trips I go on I don't' even touch a rod. People think I'm crazy but the fact is that this is my job and I'm very serious about it. If I want to capture the best of the best I need to be ready with my camera at all times. Maybe that's what makes my work stand out as I take it so seriously. I am usually more interested in filming than in fishing for myself. Yeah it's just fly fishing, but it takes a patient person to be an angler, and an even more patient person to capture it all on film. I do enjoy taking my kids to our local creeks and rivers when I can. It's a great way to spend time with my family, and I do wish I could fish more often than I'm able to these days. But my time will come again. Until then, I'm usually on the water to film, not to fish."
And since fishing time is now limited, Todd added, "I think wherever I'm fishing these days is my favorite spot, as every place is so different.
"New Zealand is actually at the top of my list. I love me friends there and the fishing there is so enjoyable. I could walk those rivers all day long spotting fish without a fly rod and I'd be a perfectly happy camper."
Since Fall Run Todd has shot Winter Run with Jakob and Jeff which is in issue #27 of Catch Magazine.
"I will be traveling to Alaska and to Northern British Columbia this summer and fall for steelhead and trout," he added.
You can check out Todd's fantastic work through Catch Magazine: The Journal Of Fly Fishing Photography, Film & Video.
A subscription is $12 US. "It's the best $12 you will ever spend if you enjoy travel, photography and fishing. All the 28 back issues are there for people to see when they subscribe," said Todd.