Welcome to Week LXXV 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.
Perhaps as a fishing columnist I tempted fate just a bit too much last week, and it came back to bite me hard.
As you recall I was giving some good-natured ribbing to my bud Graeme in this space last issue, having substantially out-fished him at Togo Bridge recently.
Ah but then there is karma to deal with when one gloats a bit too much, or perhaps too publicly.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of karma it comes from Hinduism and Buddhism; and is defined as "the total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny," according to one dictionary I checked out.
In more layman terms, gloat too much and the fish will make you pay in spades.
I found that out the hard way, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and to be honest I felt it coming.
I awoke that fateful day with a feeling, you know the kind I'm talking about, the feeling which lurks in the shadows of your still half-sleeping mind and whispers little secrets of life. Some might call them premonitions, a foreboding of something to come.
In this case I had the uneasy feeling that it was not going to be a good day of fishing.
In retrospect with All Hallow's Eve drawing near, I should have abided the ghostly message, but the sun was shining, the days before snow growing ever shorter, and so of course I still went fishing.
The day was bright, calm, and so sitting on the edge of the water at Togo Bridge was far from the worst thing I could have been doing that morning, although as the minutes turned to hours, I had decided maybe a sleep in would have been the better option.
Time passed and then finally the better half hooked a walleye, 43-centimetres. A near perfect keeper in Lake of the Prairies water.
It was reason for a glimmer of hope for me.
By the time she had caught four more walleyes, each one larger than the last, the final of the group a robust 59-centimetres, she was glowing like a very happy jack-o-lantern with a very large candle inside.
I was happy for her. Really I was. Deep down inside, somewhere beneath the jealously of the moment, it was great to see her hammering big fish.
Did I mention I caught no fish. I thought the tip of my rod twitched once, but it might well have been a hopeful mirage by that time.
Making matters worse, two others arrived and took up fishing to my left. They each managed two fish, not mini-monsters like those the better half caught to my immediate right, but they were still fish.
It was time to move on.
I was hoping fate would be satisfied that the scales of karma would have been balanced by my being shut out as my better half reveled in a bevy of big walleye with me relegated to having to snap pictures of her success.
We headed down Highway 482 around the western edge of Lake of the Prairies to the Shellmouth Dam spillway. The water over the dam was barely a trickle, the water lower than I have ever seen it at the spillway, but there were lots of people fishing.
I was hopeful my luck would turn a bit, but would learn fate was still not happy with me, and a couple more hours of fish-less fishing was ahead of me.
There was some solace that the better half was having no success at the spillway either. She then pronounces it might be the first time she has ever been skunked at the spillway.
Minutes later Lady Luck has a good-sized pike take her minnow-laden jig.
It's her only fish at the spillway, but it was still one more than yours truly.
Honestly it might have been my worst fishing day in two years.
There were no leopard fogs to chase with a camera, they having likely already found a muddy burrow to sleep away the cold months in
an amphibian stupor.
No hungry chipmunk to feed peanuts.
No muskrats playing in the water to watch.
It was just hours of watching a rod tip which never twitched, but once, likely a tail fin hitting the line in passing.
So fate I hope you are satisfied — that I have been punished enough for giving Graeme the gears — and the next trip out you let a fish or two take my lures.
Of course had I stayed home I imagine I would have spent some part of the day doing something related to fishing. On those days you have some free time it never hurts to gain some insights by visiting a few fishing blogs.
Blogs are great for fishing tips, a place to learn of experiences with other locales and species, and of course often get a grin or two.
One such spot to pop by would be Howard Levett's Windknots & Tangled Lines at http://cofisher.blogspot.ca/
I've had a chance to correspond with Levett via email a few times, and to get a better understanding of why he devotes time and effort to sharing his fishing views via a blog.
"I started Windknots & Tangled Lines in May, 2010," he said. "I collect old Wright & Mcgill fiberglass fly rods and Orvis click/pawl reels and a friend of mine, Cameron Mortenson from The Fiberglass Manifesto encouraged me to start the blog to pass on my information about those rods. I was playing around with Blogger one day and wrote my first post and was hooked. I love to write and I love connecting with people and have fished with several of the people who read the blog. It's really fun connecting even online with people from all over the world that share my love of fishing."
I can understand Levett's interest, as a writer myself who enjoys the feedback I get almost weekly from someone who reads about my fishing experiences. I suppose there is a brotherhood among fishermen, each of us understanding the thrill we feel when the rod tip dips from a fish taking a lure.
But did Levett launch his blog with a particular goal in mind.
"Initially my goal was to put out the word that there was people still successfully fishing 'old school' gear and that you didn't have to spend $1000 on a nice rod and reel to get started," he offered. "After reading many other blogs and meeting many fly fishermen it became obvious to me that some of them take themselves and their fishing to extremely serious levels. I try to have a little fun with them and myself. Fishing is supposed to be fun, relaxing in beautiful surroundings. I try to remind them that sometimes it's not how many fish you catch but the whole outdoor experience. I love to laugh and I love to make others laugh."
Again I get where Levett is coming from. Sure I never leave home without the desire to catch fish, but I know too there will be slow days, just ask me after catching the big 'nada-fish'.
It is on such days you look to enjoy wild flowers, waterfowl, frog song, and good company, and to relish in the success of the better half. Yes folks she was pretty darned happy skunking hubby, and good on her for that.
As I mentioned I love the feedback from people on the street, and I imagine most writers are like that.
"If I didn't get feedback from readers I'd stop writing," said Levett. "We all need confirmation that what we do matters in some small way. That being said, I was surprised the first time I had 25-30 comments to a post I wrote. Since I wrote many posts early on about different fly rods and reels, I am really happy that every day people find the site while searching for information about that old fly fishing gear. The silly stuff I write most days gets a fair number of comments and many of them are from fellow bloggers. We're all pretty dedicated to responding to each other's posts as a means of encouragement and we all like a good laugh.
"Probably the most memorable post and number of comments was on something I wrote based on the name of a fly. A local well known fly tier, Charlie Craven published a new fly of his in Flyfisherman Magazine. The fly was called the Two Bit Hooker. Some guy wrote a letter to Flyfisherman complaining because he had to explain to his young daughter what a Two Bit Hooker was. I thought that was the dumbest thing I ever read and took him on in my post. There were 40-some responses and was picked up in several other blogs."
Now in my case I have never thought myself a humourist writer, but I do hope on occasion this space generates a few smiles because Levett is right, fishing and all that it entails, should always remain fun.
And of course Levett, as much as he loves writing is a fisherman first.
"I was born in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Colorado when I was five," he said. "Who knew there was good fishing in the Chicago area? My dad didn't fish, so a neighborhood couple took my brother and I camping and fishing when we were about 12-13 years old. I was hooked. I was a spin/bait fisherman for most of my life but the fly fishing bug bit me about 15 years ago and that's all I do now. I used to catch fish and keep every one of them to smoke. I haven't kept a fish for the 15 years I've been fly fishing. That may change again someday because I miss my smoked trout with a cold beer."
Which by the way reminds me I have some perch in the freezer destined for the smoker. My next days off that will have to get done, maybe a spicy apple smoked perch?
Levett, living in Colorado is in the heart of fishing country.
"I'm lucky because I have a lot of diverse waters near where I live in Boulder County, Co.. We have small streams, small rivers, lakes and ponds within an hour of my house," he said. "I love small streams the best because I don't like crowds. Fish size doesn't matter to me as long as I'm away from the city and in the mountains. I love our mountains, the wildlife, and the whole silly bit. Within a couple of hour's drive I have some of Colorado's best known rivers for trout fishing; the Arkansas, the South Platte, Frying Pan. There are a lot of lakes and ponds for bass, bluegill and (gasp!) carp. I'm trying to catch my first ever carp on a fly."
I'm a ways from being ready to tackle a carp on a fly, but I will say this summer they have become my favourite catch. Pound-for-pound the oft-maligned carp is the best fighter an angler can hook into in these parts.
As for being a fly fisherman I had to ask Levett what drew him to focus on the fishing style?
"I wanted to learn to fly fish many years before I actually did it," he said. "From the advertisements, it looked so graceful and always took place in beautiful places; at least for trout.
"At first, I was intimidated walking into fly shops and asking questions because back in those days the stores were pretty much run by snobby people who looked down on other fishermen. At least that was what I felt.
"Later on, smaller locally owned stores started becoming more common and the people were friendlier and welcomed questions and offered help to a new angler.
"Today is a great time to get started because it's a dog fight for the smaller stores to stay open with all the big box stores, so customer service is generally excellent or they don't stay in business. Most fly shops offer basic casting lessons, fly tying and many other services that cost little or nothing to attend. I enjoyed spin fishing while I was doing it and wouldn't criticize anyone that does it.
"For me, there is more skill involved with fly fishing; choosing flies, knowing the stage of fly the fish are keying on and finding the feeding lanes. It takes more skill and is more challenging for me. Since I started fly fishing, my wife has learned and I'm glad I stuck with it because she's a great fishing partner."
And of course there is the special place for Levett, which all fishermen have, and it will interest readers here.
"Without a doubt it was more than just the one fish that stands out for me, but where I caught it as well," said Levett. "Many years ago I went on a trip to Saskatchewan with a friend of mine and his boys. We drove north until the paved road ended and then flew farther North in a float plane. I caught my first Northern Pike, my first Walleye and my first perch there. We were in the wilderness without another human for days. We ate fresh fish we caught and fished from canoes.
"At the time you could keep a trophy pike and it still hangs above my fly tying desk with the beat up, rusty Dardevl lure hanging from its mouth."