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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

My 2023 carp fishing season

Another season of slower than usual carp fishing as far as hours spent on the bank in 2023. Didn't do any guiding for carp, and when I did get out to fish for carp, it was mainly short outings of 2-3 hours at a time. Still, I did manage some very nice catches, as well as a significant number of by-catches.

Apr 16 2023:

My first outing of the season, to my usual early season spot right after ice out. Mission was to land at least 1 carp in the frigid water not long after ice out, and to harvest, debone and cook it into something palatable. Mission accomplished, carp fell for one of my Fireball boilies. You can read more by clicking here.

Water remained cold through the first part of May, but i still managed to catch a few more carp, during a couple evening outings a a spot I pre-baited. Best baits were Fireball boilies mixed with range cubes fished on bottom, and Fireball popup boilies.

A couple weeks later, with warmer water temperature, I started pre-baiting for carp again. On my first outing, I was surprised by catching my first couple tench during a short outing with my son. The tench seemed to favor my Sweet Dream boilies over any other bait I was fishing with.

Not much of a fight from tench on rods and reels geared for monster carp, but was nice landing a new species for a change. During the next couple days, we landed a few more carp on Sweet Dream boilies mixed with range cubes, and  this nice fatty on the same rig switched up to a Fireball boilie :

Again, a few more tench were mixed in, seemed like they were getting onto my feed and slowly out competing / pushing out the carp from my fishing spot.

After taking a good 5-6 weeks off of prebaiting due to a few fishing vacations out of town, I started again late in July. Unfortunately, the bait drew in more tench and some channel catfish. At that point, I gave up on that spot for the rest of the season, and determined to focus my time mainly on float tube fishing for bass and pike until the end of summer.

I did get out for one more carp outing in August, back to a spot that doesn't need any prebaiting. Goal for that trip was to put Audrey (my son's girlfriend) onto her first carp. We were successful, and she managed to catch a few carp on a mix of Fireball and Sweet Dream boilies. We even started the day with a double header, first time in a while that that has happened.

As September rolled in, I was ready to start pre-baiting another spot for carp. Hoping to avoid schools of annoying invasive tench, I focused my efforts far from where I had fished earlier in the season. First, night fishing outing at the spot, I landed a whopping 5 carp as well as a sucker and channel catfish. Bite was nonstop, and I would have stayed for more fish, had I had more time. Carp were hitting a mix of Fireball and Sweet Dream popups boilies pegged with fake corn. This nice trophy sized carp was the biggest of the outing.

Hoping to replicate the action the following evening, I went back with a friend. Surprisingly, only one channel catfish came to play, no carp at all...

After a 2 week break, I decided to pre-bait another spot where I had some limited success catching carp last fall. Unfortunately, that spot didn't work out either, we ended up getting skunked. 

After taking a good 4 weeks off of carping, and very little fishing in general, I started pre-baiting another spot for mid October. First outing resulted in a decent size sized carp, and another one that cut my line in the rocks. A few days later, I returned after some more pre-baiting. Started by rigging my hookbait with double boilies, mixing one Fireball with one Sweet Dream flavor.  First fish of the day was an absolute beast of a carp, measuring 40 inches and weighing 36.4 lbs! 

By far, my biggest carp of the season up until that point. I then caught a couple more back to back carp in the mid twenties before I was forced off the water due to high wind bringing in huge beds of floating weeds that kept fouling my presentation.

The following week was very busy for me again, but I made the time to do a bit more pre-baiting at the same spot. I finally fished it a few days later, and the bites were instant. Within 5-7 minutes of my first cast, I landed my fist of the day, nice carp over 25.5 lbs that hit a double popup boilie rig. Fireball and black magic pegged with fake corn.

Less than 10 minutes after casting again, my line went off, and I landed this obese 29 lbs carp.

That one fell for a single fireball popup boilie pegged with fake corn. Another 10 minutes later, I got a false run, and then the bite ided down completely, nothing else for two hours. All in all, I fish only 3 times in October, each outing was about 3 hours long. By far the lest amount of time I've spent fishing in October, but those few hours were magical, with all the carp ranging from mid twenties to upper thirties.

I had planned to go out again in November, but that didn't happen. The carp wintering spot I normally fish at before freeze up, will have to wait until next season. Looking forward to hitting first ice as soon as it's safe enough.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Float tube fishing - 2023 season

 Another season of float tube fishing is in the books. did a bit less exploring fishing from my float tube in 2023, but still managed to put in some decent time, and land a good number of bass and some pike mixed in.

Noticed a significant leak in my float tube during my first outing in May, luckily I had a spare inner tube at home, as I was not able to find any more online for my float tube model, which is the Cumberland from Classic Accessories. It's been out of stock for the entire season...

After catching a few small pike in May, I finally made it to some of my favorite bass spots. Threw mainly PopR's when the weather permitted, otherwise a mix of spinners, spybaits and Rapala J9's for smallmouth bass. As for largemouth bass, again the PopR, as well as spinnerbaits, and walking mullet (topwater / walk the dog) lure. Bonus were a few pike mixed in, mainly on a spinnerbait.

Here are a few of of my float tubing fishing pics from the 2023 fishing season:

Already looking forward to 2024!


Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Shore fishing in Bermuda

Back from my first ever cruise, courtesy of my in laws, who set up a mega family event for their 50th wedding anniversary. Basically, 35 of us boarded a cruise ship in New York, then sailed to Bermuda, where we docked for a few days, before sailing back to New York.

While various family members of various ages has all sort of outing planned on the island, I simply brought along a telescopic bass rod with a few lures and some terminal tackle. 

My plan was to give shore fishing in Bermuda a decent shot, and at worse case possibly going out on a mixed or private charter, in case the shore fishing was tough or non existent.

Turns out that I didn't have much to worry about. I had access to deep water in walking distance of our ship, which is where I ended up spending the entirety of my off board time.

Day 1:

We docked at the naval dockyard, which is a tiny strip on the Northwest side of the island. Getting off the ship, I noticed some areas near the tour boats where fishing was not allowed, so I ventured a bit further away. I tied on a a small jig and rubber grub, much like I'd use for walleye or bass, and within a few casts, I landed my first fish. Turned out to be a Red Hind, apparently a member of the grouper family. Nothing big, but a very welcome start to my Bermuda fishing adventure.

A couple casts later, I hooked into another fish, this one ended being a snakefish, also known as lizardfish.

Check the set on teeth on these critters

After catching some more red hinds, I caught a squirrelfish. Giant eyes on these.

After seeing some small bar jacks swimming by near surface in deeper water, I tried fishing for them without any success. Eventually, I decided to cast back to the shallower rocks where I started, and caught some more red hinds.

At this point, I decided to make my way to the other side of the dockyard, after a pit stop on the ship for some food and water. I found a small shop on pier 41 that sold frozen bait, and picked up a small box of frozen squid. 

Working my way along the industrial section of the dockyard area, I stopped to fish off the sides of the concrete structure. The water off the wall is a straight drop into a good 25-30 feet of water, which is clear enough to be able to see at least 20 feet below the surface. 

I baited a jighead with some squid, and on the first drop, clouds of colorful fish of all sizes swarmed my jig. Didn't take long too hook up, and I landed a species of wrasse the locals named "slippery dick", due to it's extremely slimy texture secreted when trying to escape being held. 

Good fight, and super colorful fish.

Next drop off the wall caught me a blue striped grunt, which turned out to end up being the majority of what was biting over the next couple days. 

As it was small enough and legal to use as bait, I tossed it out to deeper water, and within a minute or so, I got a nice hit form something bigger that cut through my 25 lbs flouro leader within a couple seconds. Most likely a barracuda, as apparently, there aren't any sharks in the area I was fishing.

Caught many more bluestriped grunt off that spot, as well as some more red hinds, wrasse, squirrelfish, and a small barred hamlet.

Eventually, I made my way around the deep water structure, and found a old decaying wooden wharf. Again, giant schools of fish schooled up under it, mainly blue striped grunts, as well as some decent lane snappers.

Again, I decided to use some of the smaller grunt for bait. I managed to catch 1 needlenose fish and small barracuda, but was unable to land them due to being about 7 feet higher than the water. Both fish came off when I tried to lift them from that height, so no pictures, but I did enjoy a decent fight with the barracuda.

After a while decided to cast some lures, managing some follows form various jacks, but unfortunately, no takers. No topwater action, all interest came while twitching jerkbaits at moderate to high speeds.

Eventually, I decided to work my way back towards the ship, stopping at the spot where I had most of my success earlier on. Some bigger fish had moved in, I managed to lane a nice Bermuda bream.

After a more of a mixed bag of smaller fish of the species I was getting used to, I hooked into something bigger near bottom. After a good fight, I landed a nice sized triggerfish.

Released it after a couple quick pics, as the ship would not allow us to bring any fish on board.

That ended my first day of fishing in Bermuda...

Day 2:

After my success on the first day, I planned to hit the same areas using more grunts as bait in hope of possibly catching some bigger fish. This time, I started at the dock shop to pick up some more squid, as well as some bigger saltwater hooks to rig on heavier fluorocarbon leaders. 

I then headed for the wharf, where I had caught the barracuda and needlenose fish the previous day. Unfortunately, the few jacks I saw weren't interested in eating anything bigger than the tiny minnows busting surface every now and then. 

Eventually, I got bored of catching mainly smaller grunts there, and headed under the road bridge along a small stream, and came out onto the surf. Climbing some treacherous coral rocks, I was able to find some spots to cast jerkbaits into the crashing waves for the first time during my trip. Fish had other plans though, and all I managed was some more follows from small schools of jacks.

Decided to work my way back towards the other side of the dockyard. Stopped at my deepwater hotspot, landed some more red hinds, and another nice Bermuda bream. A few more shots at jack resulted in one missed hit a few more follows.

After stocking up on some more water and cold beer at the dock shop, I headed back to where I had started fishing on Day 1. This time, I opted to cast a perch pattern Rapala xrap for the first time during the trip. 

I fished a wide deepwater pass, where all the boat and yachts pass through to get from the dockyard to the big water and rest of the island. 

Twitching and ripping the lure at a fast pace, I hooked up within a few casts. The fish made one of the most blistering runs I have ever experienced on light tackle, I'd say similar to bonefish. After turning around and running towards me, the fish then ran real fast again, I was starting to question if I had enough line with 400+ feet of braid on my spool. I thought I had hooked into a big jack or possibly a bonefish, but after finally managing to subdue and land the fish, I was surprised to see it was Little Tunny, also know as False Albacore or "Alby".

I had no clue these fish had that much power, apparently, they run at over 65 km/h! Unfortunately, the fish had a treble hook embedded deep into it's gill, as wasn't going to survive. I kept it, unsure of whether or not it was edible, but hoping it was going to be similar to blackfin Tuna, as it looked sort of similar and they are a related species.

After about 10 to 15 minutes of casting the area hoping for another one, I decided to make my way back towards the ship, hoping I could get some more more insight from one of the locals.

Sure enough, as I passed the first tugboat, the two workers on board saw me carrying the Alby, and came over to talk. Turns out that very few people eat them, and only if they are immediately bled and iced. As it had been about 20 minutes in the heat, the Alby was basically good for bait now. I offered it to one of them, who happily accepted it to use for bait after work.

Both Trey and Ryan grew up fishing in Bermuda, and were able to identify most of the fish I caught from my pictures, better so than some of the others I had asked about them up until that point. We made small talk about fishing, and honestly, I could have kept talking, but they were in middle of work, their boss passed by a couple times, and I was running out of daylight to keep fishing. 

Managed one more snakefish on the xrap, and made my way back toward our ship. Just before getting there, I noticed a small crowd had gathered around a shallow pool near a ship, and one of them called me over seeing my rod. There was a big school of small bar jacks swimming in circles, and I hooked up immediately as I cast into it.

Shortly after, I was finally holding my first Bermuda jack, though it was a lot smaller than what I had hoped for...

I assumed that was it for the day, and boarded the ship. 

My room was located on the port side of the ship over deep water, and later that night, my younger son and I were sitting out on our small balcony while everyone else was out enjoying the ships various entertainment venues. 

I looked down and noticed that they had turned on the deck light, about 50 feet above the surface of the ocean. In the kight, we saw hundreds of jacks busting the surface, chasing tiny minnows. I got the crazy idea of making out way down to the deck, and trying to hook a jack off the side of the ship. Easier said than done, but I did manage to cast to a good hundred or so fish, that kept circling or chasing my lure. Unfortunately, not one hit!

At least I have a good story to tell...

Day 3:

I originally planned to spend the last day at the beach with my younger son, while the rest of the group went on a sightseeing / shopping excursion to Hamilton. However, their plans changed, and they all opted to take a private shuttle to the beach. Being that it was my last day, and I hadn't stepped foot onto the main island, I did consider going with them... for a few minutes. 

Then my fisherman instinct kicked in, and headed out to try a half day of exclusive casting. LOL

I started off casting the area where I had caught the Alby, only to get a few more snakefish and a couple red hinds on the xrap.

I then made my way over to some other spots, just waiting to sight fish big schools of jack busting the surface for minnows. I did get plenty of good opportunities at them casting from various angles, but again, all I got were lots of follows and swirls, but no hits.

Made another stop at the docks shop for some beer and rum.

Finally, I decided to avoid the crowds and board the ship early, as we were sailing back to New York by mid afternoon.

All in all, I'd say my Bermuda shore fishing experience was one of my better DIY saltwater fishing trips. I landed 53 fish of 13 species, and missed countless others. I managed to outfish most of the locals that I ran into by far, only downside was that I didn't get to experience fishing anywhere else on the island, let alone anything else Bermuda had to offer.

On the flip side, that would have meant renting a scooter and devoting more time to exploring than fishing, and being that we were in Bermuda for a total of 2.5 days, I was sort of shot on time.

Oh well, the Bermuda beaches and exploring will have to wait for next time, if ever that happens. 

Mijocama bass fishing - June 2023

 After a surprisingly good pike fishing trip to Mijocama a couple weeks earlier, I headed back to Mijocama hoping to target largemouth bass with my family. Late June has been our set date for our yearly Mijocama trip for over 20 years now, and over those years, we've landed many hundreds of largemouth bass, and some really big ones at that.

With forest fires still raging strong throughout Quebec, not only were we facing a strict no fire ban, but we were driving up through thick haze and smoke to get there. An eerie haze covered most of the Southern portion of the province, and we were also facing a week of forecast heavy rain.

I paired up with my son Avi, while 2 of my other sons shared a boat, along with their girlfriends. My youngest son opted to stay on shore to fish for sunfish from our dock, and chase turtles.

Day 1: 

We arrived at Mijocama around noon, got out boats set up and broke camp. While unloading, I realized that I had left a good potion of our planned meals at home, namly all the chicken I had prepared for 8 of us. This meant that we would be substituting the chicken with fresh caught fish. Sure enough, I landed our first bass at my first spot, noce topwater hit in middle of the day was a welcome surprise, and we had some protein lined up too.

After landing another keeper size bass, I followed up with a small pike as well.

Day 2: 

Tough morning with nothing interesting to show for. By mid afternoon, Avi caught his first bass of the trip, which ended up being the biggest one for the week.

I also spent some time targeting sunfish with my younger son Zev. Seem like he didn't have much patience sight fishing for the giant pumpkinseed sunfish guarding their nests, optin to rather fish big schools of small fish for non stop action.

Evening bite yielded a few more largemouth for me, amid the pretty nasty horsefly and mosquitoes. Luckily I was dressed for the occasion.

Rain rolled in just around dark, so we called it a day.

Day 3:

Rain cleared up early enough for us to get back out on the water mid morning, but I was solo. With strong wind and nt much bass action, I headed to one of out better pike spots. First cast hooked into a surprise bass, which turned out to be the last one of the trip for any of us.

Next cast landed me a small pike

After not much to show for during the afternoon, we started actively targeting pike during the evening. Avi landed the biggest one of the day.

Day 4: 

After a night of heavy rain and wind, Avi got a late start to the morning bite, but we were immediately rewarded with a double header, landing 2 pike simultaneously. Again, Avi managed the bigger of the two.

A few more smaller pike, and we headed in for brunch. As my other kids were leaving, we helped pack and see them off, leaving Avi and I| alone to fish together for the rest of the trip. 

Just as were were going to head out to chase some more pike, my son Levi came back to report some car trouble. Luckily, it was still driveable, and after a couple hours ordeal, we manage to resolve the issue by driving to a mechanic in Gracefield. Once that was done, and he was finally on his way, Avi and I headed out for some more pike fishing.

Again, he managed the biggest of the evening, and of the trip up to that point.

That was it for the day.

Day 5:

We finally woke up to a nice sunny/calm day. Again, no bass to show for, we just decided to stick with pike for the rest of the day. We managed a few more eater sized pike, and then, mid afternoon, Avi hooked into our biggest of the trip, measuring 33/34 inches.

After that, the bite died down completely, but lucky for us, they had finally lifted the fire ban. |We fished until sunset.

Later that night, we enjoyed and big bonfire with a large group of my friends that had rented some of the other chalets, along with good drinks and some spectacular fireworks, which were long overdue. We packed it up and left early the following morning.

It seems that the largemouth bass fishery that once made Mijocama has started to fade out over the last few years. Drastically less bass, and not as many big ones since 2021. However, the pike have taken their place, with numbers we have never seen before, in a large variety of sizes / year classes. I was lucky enough to harvest 6 bass of 5 pike to make up for the chicken meals I accidentally left behind, but bass numbers and sizes were significantly weaker than what I have become used to catching at Mijocama.

As well, the outfitter has been put of for sale, and with the possibility of real estate builders buying it, we'll have to wait and see whether or not we will be able to keep on fishing Mijocama in years to come.