Saturday August 23, 2014

April, a time of poets and open water dreams

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Welcome to Week XCIX 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.

Spring in Saskatchewan is about as hard to catch up with as a monster walleye in July.

You are pretty sure it's close, but getting it to take hold and hang on is a challenge.

And so fishermen tend to spend a lot of time wishing the calender would turn to May.

Yes ice fishing is fun, fun being a relative term in the face of the current winter where the temperatures stayed south of zero on the old Fahrenheit scale far more than it ventured about the line, but still I would suggest most fishermen prefer open water fishing.

While poets often write of the arrival of the robin, or of the first blooms of flowers, as the sign of spring, for me it is the first time I hear the lap of water upon a lake shore, followed by the whir of the first cast of a new fishing season, the plop of the lure, putting an exclamation point on the real arrival of spring.

I mentioned poetry here for a reason.

No it's not because I count myself a poet. Far from it really. I have managed a book of short stories, and a few novels, to go along with my journalistic endeavours, but poetry has generally eluded me.

Not even a big pike has managed to stoke my poetic side.

That is not, however, the case for many poets.

Fish and fishing have inspired more than their fair share of poems, and the excellent little book 'The Art of Angling - Poems About Fishing' collects a number of those efforts in one nice volume produced by Everyman's Library Pocket Poets.

I can't say I am a voracious reader of poetry, although 'Songs of the Sourdough' by Robert Service is a treasured book.

So a book of poetry with a fishing theme grabbed my attention.

"Fishing has inspired a wealth of poetry – Tang Dynasty meditations; Japanese haiku; medieval rhymes; classic verses by Homer and Shakespeare; peoms by Donne, Goethe, Tennyson, and Yeats. Modern masterpieces abound as well, by the likes of Federico Garcia Lorca, Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell, Raymond Carver, Margaret Atwood, Audre Lorde, Richard Hugo, and Derek Walcott. In the hands of the poets collected here, fishing with a hook and line yields reflections both sparklingly light and awe-inspiringly deep. Filled with humor, nostalgia, adventure, celebrations of the beauties of nature, and metaphors for the art of living. The Art of Angling is sure to lure anglers and lovers of poetry alike," noted the book jacket.

Well I will say the works in the book run the gambit. As is often the case with an anthology, some works captured me by their imagery and emotion.

Others, well, the attraction was less.

That said I suspect 10-readers would select 10 different favourite pieces.

However, a book of this sort is less about loving each work, and more about taking a journey into the ideas of fish and fishing through the words of a diverse group of poets. It is a journey which will leave the fisherman understanding elements of their passion and of themselves just a little better.

And because I can't resist, I actually created a chapbook of poetry a lifetime ago, 1999 to be exact. It had one haiku that fits here, so no laughing too hard; river solitude broken by fighting brook trout fried in butter

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But back to dreams of spring.

It is generally at this time of year a lot of the attention of fishermen is focused in fishing magazines which tend to focus spring editions on the latest fishing gear. We are as hungry for a newfangled hook as we are to catch a walleye.

Outdoor Canada always does a fishing special in the spring, and it is one magazine I recommend readers check out.

This year the magazine includes a 'Hot Spots Guide' pointing out good spots across the country.

Saskatchewan's listing include Steiestol Lake, noted for "large, abundant trout (rainbow) that strike hard and fight harder." The lake is in the Greenwater Provincial Park which means it's close enough for a day trip. I think I'll have to kidnap buddy Patrick Thomson and head that way this season.

I was also excited to see Last Mountain Lake mentioned noting "fly fishing for huge carp has really caught on. Excellent bow fishing as well." That certainly sounds like a lot of fun, again within reasonable driving distance.

Cross the nearby border into Manitoba and Dauphin Lake draws mention as "one of the best trophy-perch spots in Manitoba." Fishing bud John Boyd lives at Dauphin, and I have to get over to see him one day to interview him on a fishing-related hobby of his, so I think I'll have to sweet talk him into some perching too.

The Outdoor Canada special also included a 'Top-25' of new fishing gear. These are the pages which might well end up spotted in drool as fisherman linger over them desiring the shiny new offerings.

I'll only tempt readers with one from the list.

Koppers Fishing and Tackle Corp have a new baitball series out.

"Livetarget;'s Baitball Series may be the most radical design to come along in years. Seizing on the Alabama-rig craze, which features a number of trailing swimbaits, the Baitball is a single lure that creates the illusion of a school of baitfish. The series includes poppers, jerkbaits and crankbaits, so anglers can cover the entire water column. There are 32 size, colour and baitfish species options, such as emerald shiner, thread-fin shad and glass minnow," details the magazine list.

I saw these lures in Canadian Tire just last week. The 'schooling' look and profile certainly
had me honing in on the lures amid the large selection on display.

Now whether a pike sees its prey with the same detail we do is something I am not so sure about, but it is a new-look hook to try. At a price of $17, I will admit I saw the better half shuddering as I looked at them with a covetous look, so I put them back. Some things are best purchased when traveling alone, or when part of a school of supportive, like-minded fisher-friends, then slipped into the tackle box in secret (shhhh- don't tell the better half *wink).

In-Fisherman has its 2014 Walleye Guide out too. I mentioned it a while back regarding tying some feathered walleye lead heads. Since wallies are the most-prized game fish locally, (even as they pale in terms of fight to any carp), it is a magazine to look for.

Recently I popped into Regina, and magazine racks there tend to be more diverse than locally. A bigger city means bigger racks I guess.

There are certainly more fishing magazines to be had, and yes I grabbed a couple of extra ones.

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To start I found the 25th anniversary issue of 'Musky Hunter: North America's Musky Authority'.

Now you might wonder why I grabbed a magazine devoted to the muskellunge? Well in terms of big, bad, predator fish the musky tops many lists in terms of fresh water fish on this continent.

For a bit of background "the muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), also known as muskelunge, muscallonge, milliganong, or maskinonge (and often abbreviated "muskie" or "musky"), is a species of large, relatively uncommon freshwater fish of North America. The muskellunge is the largest member of the pike family, Esocidae. The common name comes from the Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, meaning "ugly pike", by way of French masque allongé (modified from the Ojibwa word by folk etymology), "elongated face." The French common name is masquinongé or maskinongé.

'The muskellunge is known by a wide variety of trivial names including Ohio muskellunge, Great Lakes muskellunge, barred muskellunge, Ohio River pike, Allegheny River pike, jack pike, unspotted muskellunge and the Wisconsin muskellunge," noted Wikipedia online.

Any fisherman is going to be in awe as you thumb through the pages of 'Musky Hunter'. I know I was envious as I read a short piece on Wisconsin fisherman Joe Calhoun releasing a 55-inch musky on the Chippewa River. The beast had a girth of 26-inches.

The magazine is filled with such monsters.

Now, to my knowledge muskies do not exist in Saskatchewan, but head west into Northern Manitoba, and beyond to Northern Ontario, and you will find the big critters swim there. While not a day trip out of Yorkton, they are close enough to make a trip to take on the beasts head-to-head reasonably. The magazine just helps bring focus to such a dream.

I also grabbed a copy of 'The Drake'. It's not my first copy of the magazine, but since I never see it on a Yorkton magazine rack, purchases tend to be on road trips.

'The Drake' is a fantastic publication, dedicated to fly fishing, but looking at a broader range of sport species than the usual trout and salmon most magazines focus on.

The wider range of fishing with a fly rod, bass, saltwater fish and others, certainly helps increase interest in learning to fish with a fly rod.

I really should just subscribe to this one. All right I'm off to look into that. In the meantime, dream open water and warmer temperatures all.



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