Welcome to Week CVIII 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.
Ever get the idea you are in a strange, mirror reflection of our own world?
You know what I mean, sort of in the ‘Bizarro’ world of Superman comics.
Well whether you get that feeling, or not, I find myself thinking that about fishing this spring.
I am finding things which have become the norm the last couple of years of hard fishing the area are turned upside down this spring.
It has occurred at several of my favourite fishing spots.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my favourite pike spot on Pelican Lake being cold as ice when out there recently. I did not manage so much as a half-hearted nibble at the spot which always has a hungry pike, or two, cruising for an easy snack.
Next I hit Indian Point of Crooked Lake. It has been another go-to spot for pike for a couple of years. I’ve hit slow times, but this time out I was shut-out.
Again not so much as a ‘for-sure’ nibble and that was after tossing a range of tackle into the water for several hours.
Making that little excursion worse was, that my better-half enticed a single pike on a minnow-laden pickerel rig. That was in the world of fishing, so much salt rubbed into a various obvious wound -- to the pride that is.
I do, at least have something of a working hypothesis regarding Indian Point.
I have generally ventured there a few weeks further into the season, and have strikes around an obvious weed patch just out on the edge of a good cast.
The weeds had not yet developed this spring, meaning the cover for small prey walleye, perch, young pike, was not yet in place.
With no hiding place for prey, the pike were not yet cruising the waters.
While I am far from a fish behaviour expert, it is what I think, makes sense of the lack of pike action that day.
Then it’s a hot Wednesday and we head to Canora Dam. All right first was a stop at Raymond’s Restaurant for one of his great Chinese hot plate offerings. Any trip to the Dam is greatly enhanced by a hot plate either on your way to the dam, or on the way back home.
With a full belly I hit the dam with great expectation.
The expectation came from my experience on the Mother’s Day weekend last year when the spot I was again headed for had offered up some 70 pike in a couple of hours.
Nothing was too big, but really who cares when the action is that steady.
This year, a couple of weeks later into spring, I found the water level considerably lower.
But I still expected a solid day.
It was a hot afternoon, but the walleye were biting. We hit eight, a couple too small to keep, by 6 p.m.
Not great, considering how tough fishing the dam in spring is, but not terrible either.
The hard fishing I mentioned comes from the combination of fast water which can carry a hook into deadfall snags along the water’s edge, coupled with lots of rocks beneath the water, ready to snag hooks too.
This year there was also a long length of fishing line someone had lost, still securely snagged to the bottom, in turn becoming a floating annoyance of its own. A couple of Len Thompson spoons now reside in the water thanks to hooking into the lost line.
Now back to the fishing.
A few sporadic walleye are not unusual at the dam, but they are usually mixed in with a lot of pike strikes early in the season.
This day I caught one small pike, the kind I always release. Well not in this case. The little pike had basically swallowed my spoon, to the point I had to undo it from the leader, and extract it through a gill. At that point it’s fry pan fare; small, but tasty.
I should add here that in general terms a green rubber-bodied lead head jig has been a steady lure for walleyes at the dam most days.
It did catch one.
But of the eight wallies landed, seven different lures did the trick, red and black five of diamonds, a hammered perch, fire tiger, and a cheap dollar store rubber minnow.
It seemed the walleye were striking at whatever happened by at a time they felt a bit hungry, although clearly there was no actual feeding time. It made for a somewhat frustrating day.
Take the black five of diamonds. I put it on, cast it out, and five seconds after it hit the water, I had a walleye.
I thought finally I had found the lure they would respond too.
Probably 50 casts later, I realized it wasn’t, and went back to the tackle box for another option.
So 6 p.m. arrives.
It’s been a hot day, so I am thinking evening will see a few more fish roving.
Well they may have roved, but if they did it was right past every spoon and jig I offered up. In two more hours of steady fishing, nothing.
Reports from friends on Facebook had been good in regards to the walleye biting at the new Togo Bridge.
So we head there one Friday afternoon.
The water is low. It was only two springs ago the water level in spring was threatening to trickle across the road. I remember setting up my lawn chair on the road and my feet basically in the water.
This spring the levels are very low, with the water barely to the rocks piled to protect the road structure. It is a level more akin to later fall when they are lowering levels to ensure room in Lake of the Prairies for the upcoming spring run-off.
It is hard to imagine the regulators of lake levels needing to drain much water this year, which could mean limited fishing at the Shellmouth Spillway, which will be unfortunate if that is the case since that is a great summer fishing spot for shore fisher-folk.
Climbing down the rocks at Togo becomes less fun every year, which I suppose tells me I am getting ever older. But I still do it.
I toss out a pickerel jig, as is the norm at the bridge, and join probably a dozen others doing the same thing.
Now I find jig fishing boring even when fish are biting.
When they are not, it can be a painful excursion, especially early in the season when I am still wanting to catch, catch, and then catch a few more.
This day was a painful one. Among the gathered fisher-folk very few fish came to land, and in my case none.
So I have been pondering why things seem out of sync with recent past springs.
A couple of thoughts on the situation revolve around conditions.
A long, cold winter and initially slow thaw, may have the natural trends running two, or three weeks later than ‘normal’.
I am also thinking low water levels, especially in some spots (Togo) are playing with the local ‘system in terms of how and when fish feed.
Those same low water levels could be an ongoing influence as warm weather will raise the temperature of smaller volumes quicker and we know when water gets too warm, fish are less active. This could mean a slower summer in terms of fishing lies ahead, not a particularly good prospect, since spring fishing, at least for me, has been slow too.
Ah well, I’ll keep tossing hooks and crossing my fingers, after all that is just what we fisher-folk do.