Welcome to Week LXXIV 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.
As fisherman we often dream big.
There are dream trips to new waters never fished.
There are dreams of hooking something monstrous, one so big we don't have to add the usual fisherman's embellishment when telling the tale of its landing.
It often becomes a situation of always thinking about the next lake on our list, the next species, the new personal best.
Yet often the best experiences of fishing are those simple days fishing and often visited spot with a bud to pass the time with talking sports and movies and TV shows and the best place to drink coffee in the city.
Such was a quick little trip to the new Togo bridge.
As Graeme, no need to change the name since he is far past innocent in this little take, arrived it was an overcast, blustery morning, the kind of October dawning which tells that summer is past and winter is beginning to contemplate its arrival on the scene.
We arrive at the bridge and I am surprised how low the water is. It is below the rocks to the point there is an actual sand beach down off the road.
The water had gotten to that level last fall, but a few weeks later into October as they released water from Lake of the Prairies in preparation for an expected high run-off this spring, but at this time of year I was surprised.
We head down over the rocks. I felt a bit like I was momentarily living life as a slightly overweight mountain goat, but make it down even with my insanely heavy tackle box, a lawn chair and rod case in tow. Sure I could have made two trips, but men don't read instructions, don't ask instructions and don't make two trips unless absolutely necessary. It's a case of genetics. Just check Darwin's notes.
Now as regular readers, you will know I am a devoted lure tosser. I prefer casting to other shore options, so I start with a Fire Tiger.
Graeme ties on a silver Rapala and we go at it.
But nothing gave chase.
Now I had not expected anything. Togo Bridge is not a spot where a lot of pike seem to congregate, and while walleye in other waters often hit spoons and soft plastics, at the bridge they seem to have a refine taste for only still-fished bait on a jig, and usually the bait has to be minnows.
While I'm not a huge fan of sitting idly waiting for the rod tip to twitch, as the old saying goes, 'when in Rome', throw out a minnow jig or something like that at least.
Graeme, bless his stubborn soul, kept tossing lures.
And so the day was set. A little unspoken contest between two fishermen taking different approaches. A battle of styles and perseverance as old as man. Two men locked in combat.
All right maybe it wasn't entirely that dramatic, but I assure you Graeme and I both wanted to out fish the other. Of that there can be no doubt at all.
Graeme was working with the stars on his side, or maybe it was the moon, whatever the astral influence, he has a cellphone application which had prognosticated the fish would be biting between 11:30 and 1:30.
Now I realize many fishermen study conditions more than I do. Even with the flexibility afforded a writer by trade, my fishing most often comes down to a day off, meaning it's tied to my time more than what might most interest the fish.
Those who can go more freely are likely well-served observing the phase of the moon, day temperatures, barometric pressures and water temperatures, although such observations are now made by computers, with the resulting charts offered up on apps such as the one Graeme was holding stock in, or on websites such as http://www.huntfishsport.com/web.aspx?cmd=calendar
It took some time but I finally had a strike. It was a nice walleye, just a centimetre under the slot limit for releasing at Lake of the Prairies. A nice keeper to start my day.
I check my watch; 11:29. I'm pretty sure I could hear some eerie music playing in the distance.
My luck holds through three perch, two of them fat 12-inchers that meant they were about as big as I generally catch in the species. I also add a couple of more walleye.
Graeme is still waiting on a fish.
Then I am talking away my rod, stuffed in the corner of my tackle box which acts like a makeshift holder, when the tip dips hard.
I grab the rod and know immediately its a good size. The fight isn't that of a pike or carp, so I am not surprised to see the gold glint of a walleye as it nears shore.
Before it's out of the water I know I'll be putting it back. It is a beauty though; 55-centimetres and fat, ready for the long winter ahead.
I glance at my watch 1:30.
And then nothing more.
Maybe there is indeed something to the solunar times.
Graeme is on the clock, and I have to give him a count down as the day wears on and he goes without a fish.
I mention 10-minutes to go. He exclaims he has one. There is a little tease of a jerk on the line, and nothing. That nothing would equal his entire day.
In a battle of fishing prowess I had won the day handily, routed the enemy to be honest about it, and yes I made sure he knew about that with a few friendly jibes.
But in the end it wasn't about who caught the most fish, all right maybe it was about that just a little bit, still the main thing was being out on a shoreline with a friend enjoying the act of fishing. The stringer of fish was just a bonus to the camaraderie.
The trip with Graeme also showed me yet another example of an aspect of fishing I detest, garbage left on shore.
If you buy a new lure, for goodness sakes take it out of the package at home. Put the hook in the tackle box, and the packaging in the garbage.
If you have to open the package at the shoreline, carry the garbage away with you. That shouldn't be too much to expect if you have any respect for the natural environment.
Which is a nice transition into mentioning a day which went by recently with most not aware of its passing, but one fishermen should be supportive of.
World Rivers Day was held Sept. 29. The day "is a celebration of the world's waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. Rivers, in virtually every country, face an array of threats and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead," details its website.
The day rose out of a United Nations initiative in 2005.
At that time the UN "launched the Water for Life Decade to help create a greater awareness of the need to better care for our water resources. Following this, the establishment of World Rivers Day was in response to a proposal initiated by internationally renowned river advocate, Mark Angelo.
"The proposal for a global event to celebrate rivers was based on the success of BC Rivers Day, which Mark Angelo, (who was given the Order of Canada and Order of BC for his river conservation work), had founded and led in western Canada since 1980. A World Rivers Day event was seen by agencies of the UN as a good fit for the aims of the Water for Life Decade and the proposal was approved. River enthusiasts from around the world came together to organize the inaugural WRD event. That first event in 2005 was a great success and Rivers Day was celebrated across dozens of countries. Since then, the event has continued to grow. It is annually celebrated on the last Sunday of every September. In 2012, several million people across more than 60 countries celebrated the many values of our waterways."
Locally the day doesn't get a lot of fanfare, although on World Rivers Day I did happen to run into Aron Hershmiller, manager with the Assiniboine Watershed Stewardship Association (AWSA). He was part of a group out marking the day by collecting garbage, sadly much of it left by fishermen I fear.
The AWSA performed a shoreline cleanup at Theodore Dam and the Whitesand River Regional Park Sept 29, as part of World Rivers Day, as well as being in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
The GCSC has a long history.
"In 1994, a small team of employees and volunteers at the Vancouver Aquarium decided to clean up a local beach in Stanley Park to help protect the city's shorelines. They submitted the data collected during this event to the International Coastal Cleanup, a global program managed by the Ocean Conservancy. By 1997, 400 volunteers were participating in 20 sites across British Columbia as part of the Great BC Beach Cleanup.," details their website at www.shorelinecleanup.ca
"In 2002, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup emerged as a national program, providing all Canadians the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities. Cleanups started appearing in every province and territory, and by 2003, more than 20,000 volunteers were taking part …
"In 2012, the Shoreline Cleanup celebrated its 19th anniversary with more than 57,000 volunteers, and expanded the spring cleanup to include school groups in Ontario and British Columbia. Today, it is recognized as one of the largest direct action conservation programs, as well as the most significant contributor to the International Coastal Cleanup in Canada."
As for the AWSA it is a stewardship group housed out of Yorkton whose mandate is to protect the water resources of the Assiniboine River Watershed. This year AWSA partnered with the Whitesand and Yorkton Wildlife Federations, as well as the Yorkton Air Cadets to pick up the trash around the two locations. The most common items collected included plastic minnow containers, old fishing line, coffee cups and pop cans. Approximately 300 pounds of garbage was collected.