To say that shore fishing has been slow this spring, at least for yours truly, would be a huge understatement.
My suspicion is that the issue is as much a low water one, as the fish suddenly being smarter than usual, but when it comes to pure finicky fish can lead the animal kingdom in terms of one day being voracious attackers of any lure tossed in the water, and the next day having no interest if you threw out a seven course meal from the best restaurant in Paris.
But as a fisherman, you tend to learn to be tenacious, or you’ve probably long ago abandoned the pursuit in favour of coffee and cribbage with the better half – not that there is anything inherently wrong with that option as I personally like both cribbage and my better half quite a lot.
So, in spite of being shut out on the first three excursions of the year, last Saturday I gave my son an option, disc golf in Kamsack, a course he has not yet experienced, or head to the new Togo bridge for some evening jigging for fish. Since this is a column on fishing you can probably guess he picked fishing.
Like most spots we’ve visited this spring, the water was low, late fall low at the bridge.
But there were others on-site fishing, and signs of shore fires in the sand, sand usually under several feet of water in June, so others at least figured there was a chance of catching.
It was a chilly evening, only 11 degrees as we drove home around 9 p.m., so it was a case of bundling up, putting minnows on a pickerel jig, tossing it into the depth, and hoping.
The great thing about fishing though is that its charm as an activity transcends catching fish.
I am a fortunate father, maybe recognizing that more this week since Sunday is Father’s Day that both my kids – now grown – are in the same city as me, and we have things in common. That is particular true with regards to my son, probably because fathers tend to imprint their interests on the next generation. We both enjoy fishing, but when fish are not biting we can discuss/argue sports, the Roughriders, Blue Jays, and of course last Saturday the Toronto Raptors were front and centre to our sports talk.
We are both also avid board gamers, so discussing miniature skirmish games and the discovery of the excellent fishing board game Coldwater Crown kept us from growing too bored.
And then a pike did me a favour, took a minnow, and gave me my first landed fish on 2019. It was a good size, not one that will be long remembered for its size though, still a first in four trios it was appreciated, so I repaid the pike with the kindness of releasing it.
The evening wore on and well beyond the distance we could toss a jig, a few carp began to roll.
In the world of fishing in Saskatchewan few fish offer more in the world of fight than a carp, so I quite like catching them, but this year carp hold a new interest.
Some time ago the Saskatchewan Sportfish Research Groupbegan warning anglers in the province about the arrival of Prussian carp.
From their Facebook page; a few points to help clarify some common questions about this novel species:
1. It is invasive. This means more than just coming from elsewhere - this species has a negative effect on native ecosystems, including displacing other fish.
2. It is edible. It is bony like other carp but it can certainly be eaten.
3. It is distinct in appearance and ecology from other species in SK, or common food species in the grocery store.
4. It is not a goldfish. They are closely related and may even hybridize, but are different species.
It is certainly a new fish anglers should be aware of.
Last Saturday we did not catch a carp, Prussian, or otherwise.
As the eve wore on my son did need to make a pit stop, so leaned his rod over the back of his lawn chair and headed up the beach. I was about to jokingly tell him that he’d catch a fish while away from his rod, when I noted the tip of his rod twitch slightly.
I thought it was maybe a current, and then the rod bent hard, and I’m yelling at Adam to get back. He runs, grabs the rod and lands a nice walleye, too large to keep of course, but a really nice first fish of the season for him.
There would be one more walleye for Adam, smaller, that allowed a good look before spitting the hook 10-feet from being landed.
It was a night of only 2.5 fish, but there was a visiting killdeer, (my limited birding knowledge pegged it as a killdeer at least), that scooted down the beach.
There was deer feeding on a far shore. A flight of pelicans over the water, turkey vultures (I think), high over the trees, and a rather large muskrat, or small beaver on the beach a bit too far away to discern in confidence. It is these things more than how many, or how large the fish are, which make fishing jaunts worth the effort.
We can get very tied up in our careers, chained to our electronic devices, too familiar with the sounds of cars, and trains and televisions. Fishing reconnects us with nature whether we catch, or not.