Sometimes a fish is more than a fish. This remarkable story came to me from a good friend who has taken up guiding this year. Read on and when you get to the end, take a moment to send some positive energy Bill’s way and remember to enjoy every moment.
“Being a guide can be rewarding. Bill was my guest for two days. He has inoperable cancer so he’s been travelling the world to catch fish on his “Bucket List”.
His wish was to catch his first Muskie and to catch a 50 inch fish. He had never caught a Muskie before and catching (and releasing) a Muskie was now at the top of his “Bucket List”. That’s a tall order for any guide.
The first day he worked very hard, casting big blades all day. This can be very tiring. We caught Pike but no Muskie. As it got dark we set up a trolling run so he could take a break and sure enough, he the reel went off and he caught and released his first Muskie, a nice 38″ fish. He finished the first day a happy man.
Day two, we now needed to find a big fish to fulfil the second part of his wish.
Anyone that fishes for Muskies knows that it’s not so easy to find and catch them and the really big ones are very elusive. This is where being a guide helps. When you are on the water a lot, you see patterns and seasonal activity that enhances your knowledge.
I really wanted to get him connected with a giant so we worked hard as the day progressed. I knew he was tired and sore after two days of casting but I encouraged him to keep going. He did.
As soon as his cast hit the water there was a big swirl and his rod bent over double as he set the hook. I could see that it was a big one. As he tried to bring it to the boat the fish had other ideas and went the other way. When it came around, I could see that if we could get it close enough to net, he would have his 50 incher. As the fish came into the net we could also see how fat she was. Nice fish.
I brought it into the boat for him. We did a quick measurement. 50.5 inches long by 22 inch girth. He couldn’t lift this big fish so we put on his lap for a quick photo. Back in the water after that and we were left with that great feeling of “mission accomplished”. He smiled and said, “I’m done! Take me back now. I’ve caught my fish of a lifetime.”
There’s no better feeling as a guide than helping someone fulfill their wishes.”
The following weekly updates were sent to Muskies Canada and Orillia Fish and Game Club reps as well as some key MNRF staff, each week during the five week trapnetting program. Periodically additional information was provided (and included in the updates) by hatchery staff after the trapnetting and our egg collections efforts were finished.
Thank you for your support of the Lake Simcoe Muskie Restoration Program – Wil Wegman
This year it happened on February 19. The doors opened at 7.30 am and we started at 8.00. We had over 300 people come in early to be part of the action. Big Jim McLaughlan was the host and MC for the event.
The folks that organize the overall Show are very good to Muskies Canada. They bring in top-notch speakers and group them together in one powerhouse session.
This year we had US experts James Linder and Jeremy Smith who gave a terrific presentation about using in-line spinners; the bait that has revolutionized muskie fishing. They fish hard in highly pressured waters in Minnesota and Lake of the Woods and shared some tactics that work well for them.
John Anderson gave us a rousing presentation called “Ontario Muskies Rock!”. He let everyone know that Eastern Ontario and Western Québec make up one of the best but often overlooked muskie hotspots in the world. He identified 5 zones that provide world-class muskie fishing: The Lower Ottawa River; Lake of Two Mountains, Lake St. Louis (Montreal); Lake St. Francis, and The Upper St. Lawrence between Cornwall and Kingston. John is sure that the next world record will come from these waters.
Gord Pyzer brought us the NW Ontario perspective and told us many stories about some of the baits he uses. He challenged us to break out of our ordinary approach to find and work current breaks, to use the surface (topwater), and especially to consider fishing the bottom with jigs and soft plastics. He suggested that we use something that the fish may not have seen before or to fish an area in a way that is slightly different.
Arunas Liskauskas is probably the most knowledgeable person in the world about Georgian Bay muskies, having worked for almost 30 years with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Arunas talked about the distribution and characteristics of the muskie populations in and around Georgian Bay. He shared some valuable information that has come from research and tracking done by the Ministry in association with McMaster University. Doctoral candidate Dan Weller of McMaster was the recipient of Muskies Canada’s Ed Crossman Research Education award, which helped with the work he’s been doing on “The Bay” with Arunas and MNRF.
Marc Thorpe talked about the important work that has been going on the Ottawa River in association with the Québec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife & Parks. This tagging and sampling study is gathering DNA for detailed genomic analysis at Université Laval. It is also using a non-lethal aging technique using the ray of a caudal fin. These sampled fish are tagged and released so they can be monitored. About 10 volunteers from the Ottawa chapter participated in 2016 and sampled over 100 fish.
This data will give the Québec ministry much more information about how to manage this unique population of muskies. Marc also reminded us of the importance of fish handling. His own approach is to never even take the fish out of the water and he showed us some great examples of spectacular photos, above and below the water, of fish in the cradle. His concern about not over-stressing fish that are caught and released was evident throughout the presentation.
Muskie Sunday as a Fundraiser for Muskies Canada Projects
Not only were the speakers great but also we had tremendous support from the angling industry to help us put some great prizes out on the prize tables and into the silent auction. The big crowd was eager to bid for some hot stuff. Shimano graciously donated a brand-new Tranx 400 reel, one of only a handful that have arrived in Canada. Shimano launched these new 300 and 400 series Tranx at the show and it was a very hot item. Abu Garcia helped with lots of unique items; Hose Baits had some fantastic lures on the table. We had great products from St. Croix rods, Handlebarz lures, Figure Ate guiding service, Waterwolf, Beaver baits, Sandy Haven Lodge (Nipissing), Scotsman Point Lodge (Lower Buckhorn), and many, many more.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the terrific enthusiasm of participants, Muskies Canada was able to raise over $6000 to go to our important projects. This will help us greatly in our work to ensure the sustainability and success of Canada’s muskies for generations to come.
Thank you to the Spring Fishing and Boat Show, Muskies Canada’s tireless volunteers and to everyone who came out to Muskie Sunday. It was a huge success. For Muskies Canada members, if you missed it, we have filmed the all of the sessions and will put them up on-line Members Area in the video section.
Abstract: The reach of the Rideau River that flows through Ottawa, Ontario supports a recreational fishery for northern pike (Esox lucius) and muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). The reach is unique not only because such a vibrant esocid-based recreational fishery exists in an urban center, but that these two species co-occur.
Typically, when these species occur sympatrically, northern pike tend to exclude muskellunge. To ensure the persistence of these esocid populations and the fisheries they support it is important to identify key spawning, nursery, foraging and over-wintering locations along this reach, and to evaluate the extent to
which adults of the two species exhibit spatio-temporal overlap in habitat use. Radio-telemetry was used to track adult northern pike (N = 18; length 510 to 890 mm) and adult muskellunge (N = 15; length 695 to 1200 mm) on 73 occasions over one year, with particular focus on the breeding seasons (early April until the end of May [56% tracking effort]). For the two esocids, we observed 19–60 % overlap in key aggregation areas during each season and during the spawning period. The minimum activity (average linear river distance travelled between consecutive tracking events) and core range (linear river distance within 95 % C.I. of mean river position) were greatest in the winter and fall for northern pike and in the spring for muskellunge. On average, northern pike were considerably smaller than muskellunge and had lower minimum activities and smaller core ranges, which
could be a result of thermal biology, limited suitable habitat, prey availability or predation. Results from this study will inform future management of these unique
esocid populations and should be considered before any habitat alterations occurs within or adjacent to the Rideau River.
Love – the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
I didn’t want to admit it, but I’m in love and it’s affecting my game. It happens to all of us whether we want to admit it or not. I can’t stay away from that lure for very long and it shows up in all of my big muskie dreams !
I caught my PB on this lure late last year and I guess that’s when it happened. Did I fall in love with it because I had spent so much time thinking about catching a big fish on a top water? Was the attraction just a result of that adrenaline high you get when you put a big fish in the boat? It just sounds and moves soooo good that I can’t stay away.
Affairs of the heart are a mystery to me and I don’t have an answer for the fatal attraction. I do know that I have a rod in the boat that always has that lure on it. It’s the first lure I try, no matter what the location or conditions. I continue to throw that lure well beyond the time when I should be changing things up. When I’m not throwing it, I worry that I should be throwing it. When my boat partner is chucking it – I’m jealous.
After considering my options for trolling this top water, I decided that I needed to re-visit my relationship and god forbid – decide to try a trial separation!
Last time out I spent some time casting blades and had some moderate success. Thoughts did creep in – that muskie that missed the blades would have been hooked up if I had been using “her”. I tried to ignore those thoughts and stick with the separation, telling myself that it was me, not her (just in case I need to go back to her later).
I’ll stick it out and hopefully put a big fish in the boat during the separation. Just in case, I ordered two more of the same lure. I picked different patterns in case the separation created some bad Karma with the original pattern.
We are only 2 sleeps away from the opener on the Ottawa river. With my opening day fishing plan in place (since Feb.), thoughts turn to other important aspects of Muskie fishing that can definitely make or break your day.
by Trevor Smith Originally published in the Muskies Canada Release Journal May/June 2010
The soft water season is fast approaching! Our boats have been cleaned and prepped, but what about your trailer? Over the years I have come up with a check list, I go over not only in the spring, but throughout the season. Let’s get started!
I will start by providing a reference for the trailer wiring colours:
Brown -Tail lights / Marker lights
Yellow – Left signal
Green – Right signal
White – Ground wire
Most lighting problems can be diagnosed with a multi meter and a 12 volt test light:
When diagnosing, start with your tow vehicle; trailer unplugged. Test for power at each terminal, with the appropriate accessory on. (Turn each light on individually). This will verify you have power on the correct terminal.
After this has been completed, plug the trailer wiring in and connect trailer to vehicle. It is important to have the trailer connected as this can be your ground connection on some trailers. Continue to test for power working back to the problem light.
Most lighting issues are related to a bad ground. A bad ground can cause vehicle lights to malfunction, and numerous lighting problems with your trailer. Some ofthese problems include: dim lights, flickering, or not working at all.
When I wire a trailer, I like to have the ground wire from the trailer connected thru the trailer plug to a well known ground on the vehicle.
As mentioned earlier, some trailers ground thru the trailer ball, which can cause connection problems; due to rust and dirt.
Another problem I have found is the wrong bulb has been used. The most common bulb is part # 1157. This is a double filament, incandescent bulb. It can be identified by the 2 contacts on the bottom of the bulb and offset notches on the body of the bulb.
This bulb can be mistaken for an 1156 bulb, which is a single filament, 1 contact on the bottom and no offset notch. The bulbs should not be able to get interchanged, but do. The sockets on trailers tend to be cheaper lighter gauge metal; making it possible to install the wrong bulb. This can and will cause major issues.
Newer trailers use 30 and 31 series bulbs and LED lighting. If you are looking for an upgrade; LED lights are a great choice because of there low maintenance.
Wheels bearings are integral in getting you to and from the lake. In my opinion they need to be inspected yearly.
Tires / Wheels
Tires should be checked regularly for cracks, cuts and foreign objects in the tread.
Tire pressure should be checked regularly when the tire is cold.
Trailer tires are identified by the ST in front of the size. P and LT identify passenger and light truck tires.
Tires only rated for trailer use should be used. Passenger tires are engineered for ride comfort and sometimes cannot handle load capacity.
Tires are rated by load range and identified by a letter. (Usually B, C, D) The higher the letter, the more weight the tire can carry. Your tires work in conjunction with your trailer suspension. Increasing tire load range does not allow you to exceed axel rating.
Load Range “B” = 4 Ply
Load Range “C” = 6 Ply
Load Range “D”= 8 Ply
Wheels should be checked for tightness at least once a season. Check tightness with a torque wrench, if available. Torques specifications will vary depending on stud type and size. ( refer to manual or internet).
Look for broken or damaged leaf springs.
Tighten all hardware.
Inspect trailer frame for cracks and loose bolts.
Check rollers for adjustment and wear.
Inspect trailer bunk for damage and wear.
Check license plate mounting screws. I have upgraded to lock nuts for my license plate, as it has come loose on a couple of occasions.
Trailer Winch / Tie down Straps
Check winch mounting bolts for tightness.
Make sure winch locking mechanisms release and lock properly.
Inspect winch strap for frays. Be sure to check safety hooks and latches as well for damage. Inspect tie downs straps as well.
That’s it! You can inspect your trailer relatively quickly, and you should do some sort of an inspection before each use. Spending a little time before your trip can provide you more time on the water, and that’s what it’s all about.