Welcome to Week LXIVof '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.
While I get around to a lot of spots which allow me to fish from shore, I am not averse to fishing out of a boat.
I think most fishermen like the freedom to go after fish wherever they might be hiding that a boat affords, but for some the use of a boat, motor, trailer, and the truck to haul it around just is not in the budget. As much as I love to fish, groceries are just a bit more important.
But there are ways to get into a boat once in a while for something special.
One of those ways, especially for traveling tourists visiting the area, is to call John Boyd.
John Boyd is the man at the helm of 'For Your Walleyes Only' Fish Guiding Service. The lake he patrols is nearby Lake of the Prairies, which any fisherman hereabouts knows is one of the premier walleye fisheries on the Canadian Prairies.
For those curious about the guide, his brochure notes "John is registered as an expert Master Angler with over 30 awards in the categories of Walleye, Perch and Catfish. He is a seasoned tournament angler and has great knowledge on the areas he fishes.
"An avid fisherman for 25 years, John has incorporated his own love of fishing and his attention to detail into his guiding service. This means the angler has only to bring themselves, a Manitoba Fishing License and their own love of fishing."
It's a Saturday morning and John and I have made arrangements to meet at Ricker's Store, just across the Roblin Bridge off Highway 10 West at 9 a.m.
We get up at seven, and the better half has the epiphany John was working on Manitoba time, since he lives at Dauphin when not at Lake of the Prairies. By then it was too late, so we just hit the road as quick as we can, arriving at 9:30 Manitoba time. As an aside I remain a strong proponent of Saskatchewan changing our clocks in the summer because it would give us that extra hour of evening sunshine for fishing, golfing, or just enjoying our all to short summers a little longer each evening.
I have of course packed my tackle box, rods, frozen minnows and a cooler of cold drinks.
John smiles and tells us we don't need any of it. He supplies everything for his clients. I still pack the tackle box to his Lund fishing boat since my license is stored there, but that was the only reason I needed to take it.
When John said he supplied everything, he was not kidding. In fact he did everything too.
We get to a spot just under the bridge and he hands the better half and I a couple of rods. He has already baited the hook with an earthworm and a small hunk of a rubber jig as a simple way of helping keep the bait secured.
The rest of the day whenever we lost our bait to a fish, John was ready to re-bait it for us. I have to admit that was rather disconcerting. I have long rigged my own lures, and have always told my better half and kids they need to bait their own hooks.
That said a person could get used to not having to touch wriggling earthworms.
It was the same when we hooked into a fish. John was there with a net. He handled the fish, getting those over the keeper slot limit, back in the water quickly and of course the ones too small to keep, and yes when you are going after walleye on Lake of the Prairies you will hook into the full range of sizes.
The better half, and she earned that title today with an early catch, a walleye measuring out at 25-inches. It was then we learned when you are with
John you have to handle the big ones so he can snap your picture.
The bridge offered up a nice group of catches before lunch, but none bigger than the 25-incher.
John then proclaims it's lunch time. We head back to Ricker's Campsite where John and his wife Wanda have their trailer parked for summer. Wanda had lunch ready for us. Battered boneless perch and walleye that was fantastic in its simplicity and the fish was complimented with french fries, an excellent homemade coleslaw, pork 'n beans, and then to outdo the main course there was homemade saskatoon pie and ice cream. John said they feed all their full day clients and I can assure the meal will be a highlight no matter how big the fish caught are.
It was at lunch I did learn of John's one huge, and glaring fall, he is a Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan. He had a huge Bomber flag hanging in the tent where the picnic table for lunch sat. As a Roughrider fan that was a bit hard to take, but again the meal made up for his questionable taste in football teams.
All kidding aside after lunch I took a few moments to learn a bit more about John, and his guiding service.
I have always wondered how a sportsman evolves that interest into being a guide.
John said it was simple enough, "because I was getting people asking me to take them out, to take them fishing."
From there, Wanda gave him a push.
"My wife said why don't you just do it," said John, adding "I really enjoyed it."
So what does he enjoy so much?
"I really enjoy the meeting of people from different walks of life," he offered, something not surprising given how amiable he is. Then he adds "it's something I can share my passion through."
In terms of meeting people, John said he "gets a cross section," adding they have come from his hometown of Dauphin, to United States and Europe.
Most of the time people want to catch walleye, but John said for every two requests for the prized fish "I get a request for Jumbo perch." He said that perch can be finicky to find. "They're never in the same place twice."
John said fish are almost like cattle, they will find a spot with good food, they'll graze it until the food source depletes and then they move on.
That said John has a few 'secret spots' he reserves for those days when fish are scarce, or just for himself to enjoy.
"We have spots down the lake that we don't usually take people," he said with a grin.
John said he guides from the season opening, until the weather stops him in the fall, adding he does have a real job on Dauphin, so he juggles in his guiding days on weekends, or by burning through his holiday time.
After lunch John, and his co-pilot, 11-year-old son Dylan, himself a savvy little fisherman who was a pleasure to have on board, took us south.
I knew LotP was big, but when you are out on a boat the size is more palatable. You come quickly to appreciate John has fished the lake for nearly 15-years, and has gained insights into where walleye might by hiding, even in early August, a time when lake water is usually at its warmest, and walleye are about as inactive as they are likely to get.
We try a couple of spots, but the fish finder isn't showing anything to get excited about. John said that is one thing he has learned, to trust the technology. He said it does a fisherman little good to have a finder if he then disbelieves what he sees on the monitor.
That said, John adds that fish on a finder do not always mean fish in the mood to bite either.
The early afternoon spots are doing little more "than washing hooks," as John liked to say.
And then we power down the motor, he spies some blips on the fish finder, and we set to fishing again.
We are still using worms on a lead jig head, and in this spot, where the water is about 10-feet deep, we start by basically bouncing the hook off the bottom, and there we find perch, and over about an hour we put a nice bunch in the live well.
I manage a nice perch, or three, and while not spectacular fare on a near perfect day, calm, sunny, but not too hot, it's not about the size, or species, it's about the experience, and the perch simply added to the overall day.
Then it's back to the bridge.
John switches to a minnow, catches a walleye, and we all follow suit, tossing the worms aside in favor of salted minnows.
I get a hit and when the fish breaks the water it is neither a walleye, or a perch.
It is in fact a rock bass, my first ever. It measures in at about eight-inches, well shy of the 10.5 inches needed for a Master Angler Award, but I didn't care, it was my first bass.
For those unfamiliar with a rock bass it is "also known as the rock perch, goggle-eye, or red eye is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family(Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. They are similar in appearance to smallmouth bass but are usually quite a bit smaller. The average rock bass is between 6-10 inches, and they are rarely over a pound. Rock bass are native to the St Lawrence River and Great Lakes system, the upper and middle Mississippi River basin in North America from Québecto, Saskatchewan in the north down to Missouri and Arkansas, and throughout the eastern U.S. from New York through Kentucky and Tennessee to the northern portions ofAlabama and Georgia and Florida in the south," detailed Wikipedia.
John's efforts to make it a great day continued off the water too. He took our catch to the cleaning shed and filleted them, deboning both the perch and walleye. They'll cook up great one of these nights.
I'll add a little plug here for Ricker's Campground. It's a nice spot, that while costing five bucks to enter, has well-kept washrooms, a well-kept filleting shack, and a store with basic groceries, supplies, and even a burger and breakfast special for the hungry.
But back to For Your Walleyes Only, if you want a pampered day of fishing with a highly personable and knowledgeable guide contact John, you won't be disappointed. Check him out through his For Your Walleyes Only Facebook page, or his website at www.foryourwalleyesonly.com