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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Montreal float tube fishing - season 2

As opposed to last season, where I posted periodic updates to my first float tube season as outings were done, for season 2, I decided to compile one blog post to encompass significant outings from the entire season.

With a late start to the season due to cold water, the first few exploratory outing I did with my float tube were not productive as far as catching any interesting fish. On the flip side, I was able to cover a good deal of water, and add / remove spots from my list. I also got some well needed practice with rods and lures of various lengths, weights, etc.

When bass season finally arrived in June, I was ready to hit a couple of my spots. For the most part, topwater lure fishing is about the only sort of bass fishing that interests me, so I brought along a couple of my favorite topwater lures on the float tube, casting with a medium light action spinning rod.

First few outings of the season proved to be excellent, the largemouth bass came to play each time out. One spot seemed to have a dominant Pop R bite, landed a good dozen or so mid sized bass, as well as a couple bigger ones.

This one was my season's biggest from the float tube, measured 20.5 inches and weighed 4 lbs, to me for a bit of a ride.

One of my other spots for largemouth bass wouldn't yield any hits on the Pop R. After switching to a larger Zara Spook, the bass came to play. I landed 5 of 6 bass one that lure during a few hours on that given outing, this one the biggest of the day.

Bass weren't the only target species. I planned to target muskies, pike, and possibly longnose gar from the float tube as well. Having cast big lures on heavy rods for muskies in the past, I was unsure about investing in musky gear before attempting to see how long I can cast with heavy gear from a float tube. Sure enough, I was able to last more that a couple hours with getting sore, even though the gear was lighter than conventional musky tackle. The position of sitting in the water with elbows at chest height, made it tough to retrieve heavier lures at high speed. As such, I was forced to downscale to slightly lighter tackle on my first outing. Move ended up paying off, I landed this thick pike on my last cast that day, couldn't manage to get my hand around it's neck. Still, I managed to land and release it safely, despite being a crazy fight from the float tube. Buzzbait got destroyed!

Eventually, I picked up a couple big topwater lures from my friend Mike, and decided to target muskies, the apex predator in our region. While I've caught many good sized muskies from Mike's boat and a few smaller ones from shore, targeting big muskies from a float tube is quite different.

For starters, trolling is out, as the float tube is one of the slowest watercraft, and muskies are normally trolled at higher speeds. Next, throwing and retrieving big lures for hours on end can get brutal on shoulders, especially when 3/4 of you body is submerged and and aren't able to move to distribute the weight as if you were standing on a boat or shore. And most important, there is no room on a tube for a big landing net, so landing muskies by hand is the only option.

Leading up to my planned outings, I got a crash course in topwater musky fishing from Mike. Various factors come into play when targeting muskies with topwater surface lures. Fishing weed covered shoals that drop off into deeper water nearby is a good place to start. Following to solunar clock is crucial when it comes to musky fishing, with majors and minors being just about the only productive periods to target.

For my first float tube outing targeting muskies, I chose to try a 9 foot medium action rod. Tied on a Topraider, which is a staple propbait style lure, and on of the most popular models used to catch muskies. The extra long rod butt actually makes it a breeze to retrieve the lure, so I can cast for hours without any problem.

Made my way out towards the shoal I intended to fish, plan was to be on my best potential spot as soon as the major period arrived at 10:45 AM. Took me a good 25 minutes to get there by flaot tube from where I launched, so I had ample time to practice casting the big lure with my long rod from the float tube. Sure enough, I got a nice topwater explosion within 5 minutes of hitting my spot, just as we were into the major.

Seeing the big jaws grab my lure, I knew this was the fish I'd been hoping to target. The musky made a run for deep water, which worked out well for me, as I much rather play it in open water, rahter than try dragging it through thick weeds.

A couple small jump, and lots of surface thrashing, there was no way I would be able to land the musky safely by hand until it was played out. With hundreds of razor sharp / double edged teeth and  big treble hooks stuck in it's jaws, the last thing I needed was to get impaled to a thrashing musky out on my float tube. Took a couple shots of the action.

I finally was able to get the musky subdued next to my float tube, luckily I was prepared and brought along some gloves to help land it.

At 42 inches long, it didn't come close to some of the giants I've landed in the past, but being that it was my first intended musky on a topwater lure, and the fact that I had caught, fought and landed it from my float tube, it has to be my most memorable freshwater catch of the season to date.

Needless to say, I was not able to get a selfie with the entire fish in the pics, but this head shot should give you an idea of what I was dealing with.

After the success on my initial musky outing, I was hoping for similar results in subsequent outings to the same area, using the same pattern. No such luck, I ended up getting skunked four outings in a row. Finally, on my fifth float tube outing for musky two months after my initial success, I was finally rewarded with a solid pike that hit my topraider in a massive topwater explosion. Not the biggest of pike, but it's big head could have fit on a fish twice that size.

After a few more outings in cooling water with limited success, I finally stored the float tube imd October. Looking forward to exploring many new waterways with it next season.

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