Welcome to Week LXIX 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.
So last week I talked about the joy of a fishing trip to Townsend Lake without actually talking about the fishing, which brings me to this week's writing fare.
Townsend Lake is the central lake in a collection of lakes within about 15-miles of each other including; Woody, Elbow, Spirit, Smallfish and Isbister.
Now before I get to dipping a few hooks I have to mention in researching the area before making the trip I had read that Townsend Lake was named after someone from Tisdale. My curiosity was piqued since I was born and raised just outside Tisdale.
I was aware the naming of lakes was the purview of the provincial government, so I threw an email to Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbriet, and as always he was prompt in replying by pointing me in the right direction, the Department of Parks, Culture and Sport providing me the basic information.
The lake was named in memory of Flight Sergeant Robert Wilfred Ernest Townsend who died on July 29, 1944.
The son of son of Robert and Mabelle Townsend of Tisdale, Robert Jr. was with the Royal Canadian Air Force 162 (R.A.F.) Squadron Sqdn when he died at age 21.
I had known many lakes in the province were named for veterans of the Great wars who had died in service, but the Tisdale connection made it more personal for me.
I will say, as I have thought about it since, it is too bad there is not a cairn and plaque at the lake itself in memory of the fallen airman, explaining why the lake has the name that it does.
If Townsend was named for an airman, I had a hunch Isbister might be too, and my government qurery confirmed it, and some Internet searching told a bit more. The lake was named in memory of Rifleman Archie Isbister who died on June 6, 1944. In the army with Regina Rifle Regiment, he was the son of James D. and Harriet Isbister; and husband of Edith Isbister, of Eldred, Saskatchewan.
Again a cairn seems deserved.
It would also be great is there was a provincial online resource which would at least give the basics about the veterans honoured, and where the lakes are, there are actually three Isbister and two Townsend lakes in Saskatchewan. But I was told such a resource is not available.
There are however some written resources for those interested including Bill Barry, "Geographic Names of Saskatchewan", People Places Publishing Ltd. 2005,Bill Barry (with Doug Chisholm and Beth Parsons) "Age Shall Not Weary Them – Saskatchewan remembers its war Dead", People Places Publishing Ltd. 2005, and Doug Chisholm, "Their Names Live On – Remembering Saskatchewan's Fallen in World War II" Canadian Plains research Centre, 2001.
And now back to the lakes in terms of fish.
The system of lakes around Townsend offer fisherman some great options. Each lake has a good boat launch, areas which also double as shorefishing areas. In some cases the shorefishing is rather limited as a result, but in other cases the spots work well.
Smallfish lake is one where you need a boat. It's supposed to be a solid perch lake, and perch are often accommodating fare off shore, but here the boat lanch is cramped, the weed beds encroach close, and you can see a lot of dead wood on the lake bottom, apparently the result of an extensive fire at one point.
Spirit has a small campground, suited to tenters, and there is space to cast.
To the left of the launch area are a lot of deadfall trees in the lake. This should be good pike territory, although our morning at the lake none took the lure as I teased as close to the deadwood as you dare with an underwater hook.
Another option of course are floating lures on a day fish are rising to feed.
Flashforward to Isbister lake. The boat launch at the lake in late August was flanked on both sides reeds, among which pike were flopping.
Out came a Live Target frog from Koppers Fishing.
The frog lure is a hollow body, so it floats, and with its top facing hooks, it avoids surface weed snags extremely well. Cast the lure out and it sits upright in the water, like a real frog, its colouration options includes one which mimicks the leopard frog well.
Twitch the line and it darts in a swim action.
Let it settle on the leaf of a broadleaf surface floating plant and you can bounce it off with a quick jerk, like a real frog launching itself into the water.
The frog performed flawlessly at Isbister. On several ocassion the initial splash had a fish to the frog and make a pass, although none took it full on. That said the lure attrracted attention, and that is all you can really ask, the fish have to do the rest and take the bait.
In the end one small pike to a spoon, and a couple of perch gave themselves up to a jig at Isbister.
Back to Townsend for the night, and I head to the boat launch for some fishing as supper is prepared.
The water at Townsend goes out 40-50-feet without getting more than three feet deep. It should be a descent hunting ground for pike chasing prey to the shallows, but on that particular night the only thing biting were mosquitos.
Sunday I am back at the Townsend boat launch to, well launch a boat. It was the short maiden voyage of the 'Get Me To The Fish Express'.
The craft, the ODC Super Sport XR 1, is a single-man inflatible pontoon boat, one acquired primarily with trout fishing lakes such as Spear Lake outside Russell, MB., and Wilson Lake south of Springside. That said I wanted to get it wet and there was room in the big trailer my buds have.
I had actually had another friend pick up the craft stateside to save on some shipping fees, and by the time I went to put it together any instructions which may have come with the ODC Super Sport XR 1 were long gone. But on one hot afternoon the craft went together easily even without instructions, and only looking at a picture online at www.creekcompany.com to figure out where some cosmetic mesh went. While needing a screwdriver tyo fasten the seat in place, the rest of the boat goes together with pins that require no tools.
The heart of the craft are the pontoons which are nine-feet long, 15-inch diameter heavy-duty 840 denier nylon outer covers with PVC bottom panels, with 30 gauge PVC single chamber bladders fitted with Boston Valves. Four individual cam-lock straps secure each pontoon to the frame.
The pontoons fill amazingly easily with the included foot pump.
The ODC Super Sport XR 1 has a rated capacity of 375 pounds, yet weighs in at only 55 pounds itself. It is 54-inches wide once inflated, and 108-inches long.
Once in the water I did learn I had the pontoons strapped in a bit too far back, leaving me sort of leaning forward in the seat. The next time a few inch adjustments will solve the problem.
Since it was recommended you boat with a buddy, my hope once a couple of fly fish buddies have time, I didn't fish from the boat, but it was obvious that it will work great, although your legs are going to be in the water more often than not, which is not a huge issue for summer fishing.
For an easy transport to lake, low-cost, option to get you out past some weeds and shore trees, the ODC Super Sport XR 1 is simply ideal.
Oh, and it has a deck plate to allow for a small electric motor too.
So by now you are wondering where the fish were on the trip?
Well on this trip that was Woody Lake.
It is the only lake we stopped at, among the five we visited, which did not have campsites, and no bathrooms, not even of the hole in the ground type, which would be the one drawback here, especially for the gals.
But what Woody does have is a long area extending to the left of the boat launch with room to cast. That is a bonus on any lake, and something I still believe Saskatchewan Environment should fall a few trees to create at more lakes.
At Woody the fishing is for pike, and Sunday morning they are willing biters on the normal array of spoons one goes too for pike in these parts. They are not large, but I manage to catch eight, and my bud Rob, to my surprise, if not to my outright shock, caught a couple too. I had never imagined him as a fisherman, and his first few casts with my bait caster outfit, bundling the line each time, I figured I was right. But he got it figured out and low and behold, hooked and landed some pike.
We kept enough for a feed, and fried simply with lemon pepper and seasoning salt they were great eating, which of course is a good place to leave Townsend Lake, with the memory of fish frying and good company on hand.