Welcome to Week CIV 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.
I occasionally get asked why I focus most of my efforts on fishing from shore.
Since I am in Vernon following the Yorkton Terriers bid to capture the franchise’s first Royal Bank Cup as this year’s fishing season launches, I guess this is as good a time as there is to delve into that topic. (I’ll add here while the prospect of watching the Terriers win a national title, and being in the ice doing interviews moments after would mean covering one of the highlight stories of more than a quarter century on Yorkton, missing out on early season fishing stings a little too).
But back to why I shore fish. I suppose the short answer is simple enough, I don’t own a boat.
It’s not that I am opposed to sitting in a boat trolling the waters for walleye and pike, but without a boat that rarely happens.
Someday that might change. A few friends have discussed jointly investing in a boat, and while that makes sense since none of the group of four have time to be out on one every weekend, coming to a mutual agreement on which boat to buy is a challenge.
One dreams of a big pontoon boat, which is far from an ideal fishing craft in my mind. It might offer better sunning options, or be a better vessel for an on the water party, but those are not of interest to me at all.
If I am on the water in a craft, I want a fishing pole in my hand, which means a smaller boat, one with a design more specific to fishing with a live well for the catch, rod storage areas, and some seating options to facilitate varied approaches to fishing.
But the boat has not happened in 54 years of life, so realistically I am not expecting one anytime soon, if ever.
So I suppose shore fishing was an adaptation of sorts.
We fisherman are a rather practical lot. If fish are biting on jigs, we jig fish. If we see people catching fish on a red and white lure, it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll dig a similar lure out of the tackle box and give it a try too.
So when no boat is available we find a chunk of shoreline where we can cast, and we go to work.
In my case I grew up casting, most of it at the spillway of what is now known as the E.B. Campbell Hydroelectric Station. The dam associated with the station created what is now one of Saskatchewan’s best sport fisheries, Tobin Lake.
I could not tell you how many northern pike, walleye and burbot my Dad and I caught shore fishing the waters around the dam, but it would be in the hundreds. There were days we were skunked, but those days were rare, and my love of fishing was set, as was, I suppose, an appreciation for shore fishing.
Today my appreciation for shore fishing is evolving though.
I increasingly realize fishing is far from being just about fishing.
So on days when the fish are being very co-operative I am all about the fishing. I want to feel that wonderful sensation that is created when a fish strikes the lure -- that telltale jerking feel which transfers from the fish trying to escape the lure. The fishes strength is transferred up the line, through the rod and into your hands where it becomes the essence of excitement, and joy.
Sure the feeling is different when the fish is a monster, but only marginally better than all but the tiniest perch which puts up less fight than a weed.
That is why I fish, whether from shore, or by boat.
I’ll grant you they taste darned good on the plate too, but I can buy fish for the table at the store, and probably cheaper than catching them when you factor in gas to get to the fishing hole, and the pile of tackle we fisherman seem to accumulate.
But it is that gear which helps you hook the fish, creating that amazing excitement as the rod bends, the line whirs off the reel as the fish tries to escape. Every catch is as wonderful as the one before, and leaves you craving the next one.
Of course there are days the fish are not in the mood to bite. You can trough every lure in the tackle box into the depths and drag up nothing more than hope and longing.
When I was younger such days were torture. I grew frustrated, disappointed, dare I say even angry. It was a day of failure and I wore it heavy on the trip home.
I see the same thing in my son Adam. His patience for fish not biting is rice paper thin. Throw in a lost hook, or two, and he is, well me 30 years ago.
Today though, while I can’t say I am ever giddy over a fish less day, I am a calmer soul.
I suppose I have become my Dad. He could cast for hours, never catch a thing, and just be happy he was out fishing.
I am more him today, and less my son.
And part of the evolving calmness comes from being on shore fishing.
Out in a boat, there is you, the boat, water and sky. It’s an isolated spot in the mote of a great lake. It is a visage that initially can be amazing, offers little in the way of change to stave off boredom. Often clouds do not even dance the skies on a Saskatchewan summer day, and you will learn blue sky is just that blue sky.
The shoreline of any water, from river to lake, is more of a living place. It is a spot where the land and water meet, and in that spot all manner of creatures can be found if one just pauses to look.
And, when the fish aren’t biting you have the time to take that look in some detail.
It is this area of merging which can expand a fisherman’s world to new sights and experiences, even, at times pushing one to new hobbies.
Now I can hear the lament of the spouses of avid fisherman groaning at this point, reasoning the last thing a fisherman needs is something new to invest money in. The cluttered fly tying desk, cases with little used rods and reels, and tackle boxes filled with crazy looking fad lures which have quite honestly never caught a fish is seen as enough of a sinkhole for ‘mad money’.
It’s at this point I bravely mention the 210 scarves hanging on the back of the bedroom door, the stuff of nightmares where I am being dragged away by a tentacled beastie, each colourful tentacle a scarf.
All right, I wouldn’t actually do that since no man has ever won a point of debate with a woman by citing precedent, but I might still consider a new hobby, one I sort of skulk into without the owls seeing me, and by the time the better half realizes it, well it would be too late. (Yes that might be the best of plans indeed).
So what sort of things can one get themselves into on the water’s edge on days the fish do not cooperate?
Well a few things come to mind, which I’ll delve into in more detail next week, but they include birdwatching, and the exotic sounding hobby of lepidoptery.