Welcome to Week CXIV 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 often pondered what makes a great fishing trip, and to be honest I struggle just a bit with the answer.
Sure there are the pat answers, of catching ‘big fish’ or ‘lots of fish’, and sure that helps, but I recall lots of what I would term great fishing trips where the fish were neither large, nor plentiful.
In fact, I think back to the Lake of the Prairies fishing derby earlier this year. It was freezing cold, and I never had so much as a nibble, yet it was a great day, shared with my son and a couple of buds.
So I thought for a bit about great fishing trips being those shared with family and good friends, but then that is every trip in general terms.
You only fish with family you get along with. Rarely does one ask the quirky uncle to go to the fishing hole.
And if you are asking a friend, well, that’s just it, they are a bud already. No one asks the neighbour they are feuding with because their Great Dane has taken to pooping in your peony bush every day.
So it goes beyond the company, or the fish caught.
And then Saturday I grew to understand what it is which makes a fishing trip something special.
The better half and I head east, with a plan in mind.
We are going to run to Roblin and have a late lunch, then fish on the way home.
As we hit Roblin I spy a sign about a Mexican Night at a local restaurant. The night is on Thursdays, but the name ‘Starving Artist Cafe’ intrigues.
It happens to be in the old rail station, so the place has character even as we roll up and park.
Inside, the cafe is home to a lot of handmade items for sale, feather earrings by Cody Ziegler and hand-turned wooden pens by Chris Miner to mention two.
Local art adorns the walls.
The atmosphere is cozy and homey.
But cafes live and die by their food.
The mushroom bacon soup was great.
The Bullseye BBQ burger was good, although I had hoped for a hand-shaped burger.
And then there was dessert.
I opted for blueberry pie and ice cream. The piece was huge and it was the best blueberry pie since my grandmother’s something I made sure to tell the cook. It was $3.95, making it a bargain by any measure.
The better half opted for lemon cherry cheesecake, which she too raved about.
The visit to the cafe was an ideal start to the day. Check it out at www.thestravingartist.ca
We head back to the Lake of the Prairies, planning to fish the boat launch area on the west side. There are however three people fishing there, spread out just enough to take up the available area, that could have accommodated five or six had they spaced themselves a bit better.
But that is the way things go at times, so we just go to the new Togo Bridge. The water is up to spring 2012 levels. We sit in the road edge and the water lapped at our shoes.
It is a windy day, but warm, so the mosquitos are kept at bay, although a squadron of big blue dragon flies patrol for bugs, dancing sideways and in reverse at time, as they rode the wind.
The water is hitting the shore pretty hard, occasionally sending droplets over us, but that was fine. Like the beat of the powwow drum there is something primal in waves hitting a shore which just relaxes one.
It is a great day to be fishing, the good food, good company, the dancing dragonflies, the waves.
Oh, and yes we did catch fish, which I mark as a bonus here.
I had a double digit day with walleye and perch, and out-fished the better half, a rare occurrence at Togo Bridge.
We manage five walleye to keep. On the day all but one are under the slot limit, although the wallies were feisty that day. They hit harder, and the initial fight had us hoping for bigger fish than they were.
As I commented after one fine struggle with a small wallie, ‘they were fighting up a weight class’.
The one big walleye was 49-centimetres, nothing breath-taking, but nice just the same.
It was good that I was a responsible fisherman and had released the big fish since shortly after a pair of conservation officers arrived.
I am always glad to see them making their rounds as I have seen a few ‘cheaters’ with more than one line in the water, or at least pushing size limits from the look of the fish. Having a CO checking to be sure hooks are barbless, and fish on the stringer are within limits at a spot such as the Togo Bridge is just a way to remind fisher folk of their responsibility in protecting the fish resource.
The perch, well fight and perch are words which never go together, but they were chunky for their species. We catch and keep five.
The day’s effort will make tasty fair for a couple of meals, but had we not caught a keeper, the day would still have been a memorable one for so many reasons, and maybe that’s what makes the best fishing trips, the ones where the day is filled with enjoyable experiences which go beyond the tug on a line.