Sunday November 23, 2014

Giving carp a little fisherman's love

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Welcome to Week 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 have never been a big fan of morning.

By nature I much prefer my head nestled in a pillow until the crack of noon.

Even the idea of getting out fishing does not temper my overall desire to sleep in.

Yet, recently my buddy Graeme suggests we go after carp one Sunday morning. He suggests we leave at 6 a.m.. I immediately googled what 6 a.m. meant, shuddered at my findings but agreed.

The plan was a simple one, he, myself, and my son would meet at my place and head to the old Togo Bridge with the goal to catch some carp.

I rise with the alarm in a stupor not so unlike that of a zombie, shambling about the house getting ready.

The flashing light on the answering machine catches my attention. I expect it to be Graeme deciding to sleep in. It was instead my son. In his best impersonation of someone with a cold, he says he can’t make it. Now I can’t guarantee he was faking his ‘plague-like’ symptoms, but I can assure you I had already contemplated a similar ruse that morning.

But I fight off the 6 a.m. flu and am actually waiting as Graeme arrives.

It takes only a few minutes to load gear into his car, and we are off.

Now I like fishing with Graeme.

I can’t say the connection comes from seeing eye-to-eye on many things. In fact, agreement is rarely achieved. He loves the National Football League and disdains the Canadian league. I am exactly the opposite, preferring a paper cut to the NFL, yet rarely missing a CFL one on TV.

Graeme’s taste, and folks I use the word taste in the broadest possible fashion, in movies is -- well frankly, it is bad.

I rather doubt the two of us could sit through a movie together without one of us crying over the other’s pick.

Now the divergence in opinion does make for some heated, good-natured debate, well, all right arguments might be a better word, so that makes our fishing excursions fun.

Then there is the fact I have generally out-fished my bud every time out. It’s hard not to like a guy whose skills with a fishing pole are such that you are all but assured bragging rights by day’s end.

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So off we go.

We arrive at the bridge just as two other fishermen are unloading gear and readying to attack the river.

Of course we immediately ask where the best spot to catch carp are.

Now I’ll give the pair credit, they didn’t just burst into laughter at our question, but you could tell by their perplexed look they thought us a bit crazy.

They noted they had caught a creel-full of walleye a couple of mornings earlier, and while saying they had seen fish rolling they had assumed were carp, they didn’t actually fish for them.

That is of course the view of most fishermen. In Canada the carp are seen as a rough fish, one that is not really seen as a sport fish.

That is unfortunate in my mind, and here at least Graeme and I agree.

I pointed out we were after the fight more than the fish, and in that regard, the carp is the heavyweight in these parts. Tie into a carp and pound-for-pound it will out fight a northern pike, and most certainly any walleye of similar weight.

In much of the world the carp is viewed as a worthy quarry, but here most fisherman give them little thought.

I’ll admit my carp catches have come of jigs set for walleye. They have not been the primary target.

But my interest in fishing carp first and foremost grows with each experience with the burly fighters.

So the walleye fisherman head to their spot on the north side of the bridge, Graeme and I head to the south to a low-water area which looks promising.

We haven’t even rigged up when we can see fish rolling just across the low backwater, just beyond where we can reach with a cast, but it is clear they are carp, lots of them, and some bigs ones indeed.

I repeat, it looks promising.

I opt for a standard pickerel rig and minnows. That has worked when I have caught carp in the past, so I go with the limited experience I have with the fish.

Graeme has been on YouTube and is going with corn at the end of a long leader with a weight at the point the leader ties to the line.

Initially, the carp roll and splash across the water, tantalizingly close, but just too far, and nothing bites.

I finally feel a strike, but it is quickly apparent it’s no carp. The fight is barely a tussle and a moderate-sized perch soon emerges.

Well it was the first fish of the day at least, not that even a monster perch is worth much in terms of bragging rights.

Then Graeme gets all excited. He’s like a little kid at Christmas as his rod bends and the line jerks.

It wasn’t exactly an epic battle in like Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’, but it was still a darned nice carp he landed.

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Then he ties into another.

This one is an angrier critter to be sure, and he is less than pleased to have a hook in its lip and someone trying to drag him from his watery home.

Graeme perseveres and walks through the mud, in his ‘yuppie’ five-toed runners, and lands the big fella. Both he and the carp are muddy messes, but the carp would soon be back in the water to clean off and Graeme was accepting of the mud since he had a great story to tell, and my photographs to back him up.

That would be all the time we had that morning. Graeme had business to get back too, and I was happy to opt for a nap.

Yes, this time out Graeme had bested me good and honest. My perch would not have been a shadow to either carp.

But hey, I can enjoy a bud’s success too, even if I might not have told him that, and I can tell my readers, the morning excursion has made me a bigger fan of carp as a game fish. Their fight is just too big not to want to go after them again.

I will add in here, that while a big fish is worth ‘man-points’ in the male world, Graeme may have emerged from the carp excursion down a few points even with a big fish.

It turns out my buddy, one whose family bloodlines runs deep in the combative sport of taekwondo, turns a bit ‘girlie’ when it comes to spiders, snakes, and in particular ticks.

Now no one is a tick fan, unless you are talking about the comic book and cartoon character, but in Graeme’s case his fear verges on phobia. I can attest to this having seen him in full panic when one scurried on his arm on the way home. The problem was he was driving, and I can assure you my life was starting its final flashback as the car swerved as he plugged the little bug off his arm, screamed like a B-movie fright queen, and threw it out the window.

Ah, but that is the stuff of fishing with a bud.

In other fishing news, the Government of Saskatchewan has made significant changes to the fine structure for unlawful hunting and fishing activities.

“Hunting, fishing and trapping are an integral part of Saskatchewan’s heritage, and these changes send a clear message that these resources are valued and will be protected,” Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said in a recent prepared release.  “In some instances fines for serious resource infractions have been doubled. We hope these increased penalties will serve as a deterrent to those who consider abusing our resources in the future.”

The changes are a result of a survey of anglers and hunters in 2012, and from a recommendation by the government’s Red Tape Reduction committee.

A scan of surrounding jurisdictions indicated that doubling fines for more serious offences would bring Saskatchewan in line or ahead of, most other jurisdictions for comparable violations.

“Hunters and anglers contribute a great deal of time, money, and effort to conserve our natural resources,” Cheveldayoff said. “Our hunting and angling laws are designed to achieve management objectives and to ensure the ethical harvest of our fish and wildlife.”

Changes to fishing infraction fines include:

“Angling during closed times has increased from $200, plus $25/fish to a maximum of $1,000 to $400, plus $50/fish to a maximum of $2,000.

“Exceeding angling limits has increased from $100, plus $25/fish to a maximum of $1,000 to $200, plus $50/fish to a maximum of $2,000.

“Selling fish taken by angling has increased from $250, plus $25/fish to a maximum of $1,000 to $500, plus $50/fish to a maximum of $2,000.

“Wasting fish has increased from $100, plus $25/fish to a maximum $1,000 to $200, plus $50/fish to a maximum $2,000.

“Possessing or using live fish for bait has increased from $200 to $400.

“Use of prohibited methods for fishing has increased from $150, plus $25/fish to a maximum $1,000 to $300, plus $50/fish to a maximum $2,000.”



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