Welcome to Week LXIII 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.
This seems to be the summer of 'missed it by just this much'.
Fishing trips to new locales can be an adventure. As I have noted in the past lakes with fish in them don't naturally make their way to road signs for ease of locating, and as much as we love the Internet for giving us directions, rural Saskatchewan and Manitoba are not exactly priorities in terms of details for Google Maps and similar electronic services.
So over the past couple of years we've traveled down more than a few roads unsure of exactly where we were going, and more importantly how to get there.
This past Sunday I had a plan, which might have been my first mistake, since plans are generally a framework from which the wheels of a good idea fall off.
In this case though I will admit I was the engineer of this trips faux pas.
This was to a two pronged trip, for as much as I love fishing, I don't believe you can live by the rod and the hook only. The plan was to go to Benito, MB., to try out a new disc golf course which was recently opened. I love to disc golf and get out to Patrick Park Disc Golf Course here in Yorkton as often as I can, and this summer have been eyeing opportunities to try new courses. While there are about dozen courses in Saskatchewan now, most are clustered from Saskatoon to Lloydminister, so at about 90-minutes away the Benito course was alluring.
I made contact with the main push behind the course via Facebook, and found out what restaurants existed and then asked about fishing, figuring to double the pleasure of the day.
My source says Gull Lake offers shore fishing, south and east of Benito, so I figure we are good to go.
Benito is a rather quick, and picturesque drive away from Yorkton going through Duck Mountain Provincial Park northeast of Kamsack.
I will say I was a little worried that I saw no signage indicating a turn off for Gull Lake but anticipated directions would be easy to find in town, so did not worry. I should have worried, but more on that in a bit.
Two ladies sitting on a bench on the town's quiet Sunday morning Main Street quickly provided directions to the golf course.
The course was once what looks like a dirt track for bikes, and while far more rustic, or natural pasture setting-esque than Patrick Park it was a devilishly tough nine-basket offering. The course is a combined 2,669-yards, the shortest basket is number four at 201-yards, the longest number eight at 400-yards. All nine are par three.
Now I realize this is a fishing article, but I will digress just a bit to say the Benito course is a great example of how easily challenging disc golf courses can be created. It makes use of natural stands of wild grass that when your discs floats into, and they will, you spend some time searching for them. And throwing out of tall grass limits your mobility in terms of foot motion, really changing how you throw from the rough.
Add in holes such as one, two and nine where the fairway curves opposite to the natural flight of most right-handed players throwing a backhand drive, and it plays radically different from Patrick Park.
The fairways do need rolled to smooth to allow better motion when throwing, and baskets six to eight need a few more trees to make them play different from each other, but both those improvements are already planned so that means this will be a course to visit again.
After two rounds, the second better than the first, neither of them stellar, we head to the Gateway Valley Inn as recommended just south of the town for lunch, arriving in time to get the tail end of a simple, but filling Sunday breakfast buffet.
The ham, with a touch of cinnamon was especially good.
The service too, since the buffet was out of French toast and when asked they made the better half some special, three slices that she said was very good, not that I would try anything which brings eggs and pancake syrup together.
It is here the trip takes a bit of a jump off the tracks.
We ask the waitress how to get to Gull Lake and get a blank look, one mimicked by the cook, a patron and the cashier.
We make a call to our 'source' and there is no answer.
Gull Lake was a mystery it seemed to everyone we talked too.
We headed home via Roblin, planning to stop at the bridge for some Lake of the Prairies action.
We fish a couple of hours and get nothing. Two other fisherman at the same spot managed a tiny perch and one walleye.
Ah, but fishermen are resilient and optimistic souls, so we head to the new Togo Bridge.
There are about 10 other optimistic fishermen there, but in about three hours of fishing the optimism simply translated to empty creels. Not so much as a minnow stolen off the jig by a wily fish.
Thankfully a chipmunk came out of the rocks along the shore to entertain.
As a bit of good fate would have it there were a few peanuts in the shell in the car, leftover from a recent Yorkton Major Cardinals game.
Over the course of about an hour I probably threw out enough peanuts that if the chipmunk was wise enough to collect them all, half his winter food supply would be looked after. I'll say that having a few peanuts, or sunflower seeds to help bring small wildlife and birds a bit closer to hand is probably not a bad idea for those slow days of fishing.
I also recall I wrote here once how I should on occasion worry a bit less about fishing and maybe stop to use my camera just to capture great rural images.
Well I'll never be Peter Baran who lives for shooting his camera, but I did have mine with me, and while I wish I had carted my zoom lens along, since the old girl I shoot is, well old with limited zoom capabilities, but I still enjoyed snapping a few of the cheeky little fellow.
Oh, as for Gull Lake well I have now found out where it is, which is good news for the next trip. You turn east toward San Clara off Highway #83 and it's past Childs Lake, which my source said can be a tough lake to catch in. That made me smile since it couldn't possibly be any slower than Lake of the Prairies Sunday.
At least the disc golf was good, and that's why, I suspect, we should have varied interests to explore.
Of course when you get home from a bad day of fishing a good way of getting over it is to daydream a bit over fishing in exotic locales.
A good way to do that is to check out NZ Trout Fisher (www.nztroutfisher.co.nz) a fine online and physical copy magazine from New Zealand.
Peter Storey is the man behind the magazine which had its humble beginnings in 1991, as a single A4 newsletter covering Rotorua and Taupo.
"I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and it seemed like work I could manage, if my condition deteriorated further," Storey explained. "As the last work I might ever do, it also appealed more than anything else I'd done since leaving the army. Still does. The condition stabilized on second level medication and at that point I started to expand regional coverage seriously. I had to learn publishing along the way and am still learning."
So how difficult was it to decide to go with an online version in addition to traditional print?
"Very easy," said Storey. "This is a practical magazine and many readers take articles out fishing with them. This way they do not have to photocopy or tear pages out."
While the world seems headed online, it is still relatively new in the sense of magazines, and generating paying advertising, so I was curious how has it worked in terms of attracting readers and selling subscriptions?
"None from Canada so far - all print - which means they also get the eMag if they choose," explained Storey. "After four-years online - only uptake does not suggest that market will ever be more than a sideline - in the foreseeable future anyway.
"Broadly speaking it's not a market that likes to pay to read, as far as I can see."
While many fishing magazines seem intent on the photography selling copies, Storey said he want readers to learn as they read, gaining "practical knowledge that can be used on the bank; nationwide; year-round."
It's a formula which seems to be working.
"Growth was pretty quick from the outset. It's been relatively static since the economic downturn, however - I'm slightly up on where I was in 2007, with a small shift from retail to subscriptions," offered Storey.
And he wants NZ Trout Fisher to grow as a source of information.
"Basically, each time I publish I ask myself if I would buy the result - and I buy very few magazines," said Storey.
And of course Storey still fishes too.
"I've fished since I was about seven. I'm 60," he said.
"(I) started coarse fishing and moved onto flyfishing as a teenager. I flyfish almost exclusively these days and particularly enjoy using flyfishing tackle for its intended purpose - fooling fish at close range without terminal weight - preferably with a hand-tied fly made moments before."
Storey adds he has "no particular favourite spots. The fishing here at Lake Tarawera still feels as good after 30-years ago, but any river holding brown trout alone draws me like a magnet once these rainbows head down (and vice versa).
"I fish for challenge more than any other reason. The harder any fish looks to catch, the better."