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Thursday, November 10, 2022

2022 carp fishing - The season that wasn't

Over the past couple decades of fishing, I've come to realize that the mental aspect of the game and my focus on a given target species or style, will vary greatly from year to year. After finally smashing my PB with a monster 41 lbs carp in the spring 2021, then finding a new remote lake with monster smallmouth bass later that summer, I found myself just about neglecting carp for most of the 2022 peak season, namely spring and summer. As such, I just about stopped guiding for carp, putting most of my efforts into float tube fishing for bass until late summer, when I finally put a bit more effort into chumming some local spots. 

That being said, I still did manage to get out to fish for carp every now and then, and caught a surprising number of channel cats, along with a few suckers,  while doing so as well. Here is a rundown of my 2022 carp season.

April 6 2022:

My season started right at ice out as usual. With most game species being closed in April, I hit my "go to" spot with my friend Warren. Unfortunately, I found another friend of mine set up on the spot by the time we arrived, along with a couple people. I was forced to settle for my backup spot, knowing that the carp fishing may be a bit tougher. It did take a while for us to get bit, but Warren and I both managed to land a couple carp to usher in the 2022 season.

This one hit my fireball popup pegged with fake corn:


This one fell for a sweet and spicy, caffeine boosted tigernut, another bait creation I was tinkering with over the past couple years. Notice the large sheet of ice in the background...


May 15 2022:

After over a month of not fishing for carp, I was back at it with my friend Yohann and his daughter Miriam, who were visiting from the USA. Yohann and I fished together as teenager, back when he lived here in Montreal. We reconnected a few years back, and have fished together again a number of times since then, often for carp over the past couple years.

Unfortunately, the carp bite was slower than expected, but we still managed to land some carp.

Miriam caught this small carp on one of my sweet dream boilies.


 

Yohann landed a bigger carp one one of my black magic boilies.


May 22 2022:

Headed out for a day of carp fishing with Joel and his family. Action was slightly better, they managed to land a couple and miss some more. Both carp were landed on my sweet dream boilies.


July 20 2022:

Back at carp fishing after a 2 month break, probably the longest stretch of carp fishing I missed over the past decade, including both pre-spawn and post-spawn peaks. 

I chummed a spot closer to home for a few days before fishing. Again, fishing was slower than I hoped for, but I managed to squeak out a win with this nice carp hitting my black magic popup boilie just as I was getting ready to leave.


August 2 2022:

After chumming another spot intermittently over the previous week, I headed out for an evening of carp fishing my well baited spot. This time, action was almost immediate, with my first carp being the biggest fish of the outing at 27 lbs.


Followed up with 2 smaller channel catfish, and missed another carp. Fireball and sweet dream boilies did the trick.

August 3 2022:

Knowing that I left more carp at my spot the previous evening, I headed back to the same spot for another shot at landing some more carp. Sure enough, they were still there, 2 carp and 1 sucker came to play, black magic and sweet dream boilies were the hot bait for the evening.


August 29 2022:

After taking a few weeks off from carp fishing, I decided to try chumming with some cheaper, store bought boilies. I picked up a few bags of Wellmix boilies from Decathlon for this trial, which also happened to be the first time I've bought boilies in a store in 10 years. Got a mix of tutti fruity, scopex and monster crab flavors, and used equal amounts of them during my prebaiting campaign, which ran 4 out of 5 days prior to fishing.

Ended up landing 1 carp and 2 channel cats on the scopex flavor, didn't bother with any pics, as they weren't anything too sizeable.

September 1 2022:

Headed back to my pre-baited spot with the Decathlon Wellmix boilies, managed another small carp and channel catfish, this time on monster crab flavor. Again, didn't bother with any pics due to the carp being in the 10 lbs range, and the catfish even smaller.

September 2 2022:

Headed out with Alex and Anis, to a spot where I had taken Alex and some friends in the past. The given spot is sort of hit and miss fishing, but the carp there tend to be good sized, with most carp there going well over 20 lbs. More of a trophy spot to say the least.

Got set up bright and early, and morning bite was steady, with 3 carp all hitting within 80-90 minutes of each other. Carp were all caught on a mix of my sweet dream popups and black magic boilies. 

Alex started the day with the biggest of the outing at 28 lbs.


Anis followed up with his first ever carp, and biggest fish landed to date, with this carp in the mid twenties range.


Alex ended the short outing with another low twenties class carp.


September 5 2022:

After the successful outing with Alex on the previous Friday, I returned to the spot with my son Levi on Monday, as he was off school for Labour day. A cold front had come in, and Levi was getting impatient due to a non existing bite. He squeaked by with a decent redhorse sucker, landed shortly before leaving after a few hours.


September 13 2022:

After getting skunked a couple nights in a row fishing a spot I had pre-baited with Decathlon boilies, I headed to Portneuf, to help my older son Ari with some roof work on his house. Portneuf has Quebec's longest pier on the St Lawrence river, and it's a short drive from where my son lives. As such, I had him prebait a spot where we found some deeper water, and would still be able to fish out of our car in case of bad weather.

What I didn't count on, was the tides, which are surprisingly strong and high for a spot this far inland. We got to the pier during the incoming tide, the current was ripping, and bringing in huge beds of floating weeds. This made still fishing for carp from high above the water just about impossible, high winds, heavy rain and the incoming rising water prevented us from fishing closer to the water, down the steep rocks.

Somehow, we still managed to get a few bites,3 smaller channel catfish that hit a variety of the Decathlon boilies we were testing, over 2 hours or so of fishing. Luckily, I managed to get down the steep, wet cliff to land them without injury. Another adventure, to say the least.





September 21 2022:

Another friend of mine named Warren (not the same Warren from earlier in this post) finally decided to try carp fishing for the first time. After prebaiting a spot where I've had success in the past, we headed out for an evening bite. As I had pre-baited with a mix of Decathlon boilies, we started off using them as bait. One redhorse sucker came to play, so after a while, we switched to my boilies. Sure enough, a sweet dream boilie did the job, and Warren had landed his first ever carp.


September 22 2022:

Was hoping to take Warren back to the spot for another shot at carp fishing the following night, but he couldn't make it. Ended up going solo. No carp action, but did manage a good sized channel cat, my biggest of the season up until that point at 11 lbs. Those things do chomp down on fingers harder than you would think...


October 2 2022:

After chumming a newly scouted  spot for a few days in a row, I headed out for some night fishing with my 10 year old son Zev. He still isn't very comfortable hauling big fish with my heavier carp rods, so he was content being net man.

Action was almost immediate, I had my first run within 5 minutes of my first cast. Big head shakes and less drag ripping, I got the feeling that I had a big catfish on the line. Sure enough, I landed this obese 14 lbs channel cat, besting my season's best from the previous outing by 3 lbs.


About 1 hour later, I finally hooked into my first carp of the evening, and first one from the new spot. As with the big catfish, this carp was caught using one of my fireball popups.


October 3 2022:

Another follow up outing to the same spot, I ended up landing 1 of 2 carp on a sweet dream boilie. 


Again, another fish in the mid teens, not sure this spot is going to have the potential I hoped for in the future. However, convenient access with a shot at fishing form the car in bad weather may have me returning again next season.

October 26 2022:

After a reduced fishing schedule over the past few weeks due to holiday schedule and family duties, I finally got back on the water for a day of carp fishing. Due to cooling water temps this time of the year, I had a choice of two non baited spots to fish:

1) My standard pre-winter spot. Being in Quebec, I'd be allowed to use 1 rod, as I was fishing solo.  Typically smaller carp under 5 lbs, with a slight chance at one over 20 lbs. Weather forecast had 60% chance of rain there.

2) My spring / summer spot. Fishing there this time of year is very tough, but I've caught carp there up until mid October during warm fronts like we've had over the past few days. Average carp is bigger than spot #1, and chances of catching carp over 20 lbs are better there as well. As this carp spot is in Ontario, I'd be able to take advantage of the 3 rod per person rule, and a low bridge nearby would provide shelter in case of rain.

I decided on spot #2. Part of the appeal, was wondering how I would deal with fighting a potential carp running through my other lines, or possibly dealing with a double header, which would be mayhem.

Unfortunately, rising water and current was bringing in large amounts of floating weeds. Despite my burying rods under water to avoid them, I still ran into some issues with fouled up presentations.


While I did notice quite a few carp surfacing throughout the day, I didn't manage any bites in about 6 hours of fishing. A brief storm blew in just before I called it a day, leaving a nice double rainbow in it's wake.


Safe to say that I'm done carp fishing in that area until 2023.


November 2022:

After a few short carping sessions at various spots in Quebec with nothing to show for, I'm calling it quits until next spring as far as carp fishing goes. Between me neglecting carp through most of the prime part of the season, and quite a tough fall bite in comparison to previous seasons, I'm starting to dream of first ice.



Friday, September 9, 2022

Float tube bass fishing summer 2022

 After a few spectacular float tube fishing outings for smallmouth bass over the last few weeks of spring, I planned to spend most of my summer's day trips to continue on the float tube, and just about ignore most other species I would normally fish for. Aside from being a quest to see what would happen when I focused most of my efforts to one style and just about one target species, namely, the smallmouth bass.  

Multiple reasons why I chose to do so:

1) Pound for pound, the smallmouth bass is one of the best fights of any fish species in out region.

2) Smallmouth bass are extremely prone to hit topwater lures such as the PopR, which is likely my favorite topwater lure for smallmouth bass, and by far the most enjoyable technique, with explosive visual attacks.

3) The lakes I chose to fish on are far from Montreal, and have no inhabitants. As such, the calm, relaxing conditions, immersed in nature with little to no human interference, make up much of what draws me to keep returning for more.

4) Float tube fishing for 5 to 6 hours at a time, provides for a great, low impact cardio and leg workout. Staying fit is important as I inch closer to the 50 year mark, and I much prefer combining exercise with fishing. Simply way more enjoyable than a stationary workout in my home gym.

With the course being set, I timed my float tube fishing to coincide with proper weather, namely, the least windy days that fit into my schedule of available days. Here are the results of what was achieved.

June 24 2022:

With not enough time to hit my smallmouth bass lakes which are further from Montreal, I opted to fish some smaller backwater areas a bit closer to home, for a mix of largemouth bass, pike, and possibly longnose gar. After spending some time using a mix of walk the dog and popper type lures, I eventually connect with a few smaller largemouth bass that were buried deep in weeds. A weedless frog did the trick.


Couldn't find any pike or longnose gar at that spot, so eventually, I decided to check another spot on foot, armed with a modified Rapala J9 (treble hooks laced with braid and yarn). Only managed to spot one gar, but thankfully, I was able to make it count!


July 6 2022:

After a short trip to visit my daughter and her family in Florida, I was finally able to get back to my target smallmouth bass lake. Unfortunately, they wind was much stronger than forecast, so topwater bite was non existent, despite my trying for a good hour or so, before switching to a #3 spinner.

Move paid off, I landed some good smallmouth bass, during a short morning bite that lasted only about 1 hour or so. Low numbers, but good sizes, with the trophy lunker of the day at 19 inches, and over 4 lbs.


July 26 2022:

After spending a week up le Domaine Shannon fishing for pike with my son, followed by a few days of carp fishing, I had a few hours to hit a lake a bit closer to home, I managed to put in 3 hours of float tube fishing. After having some topwater success early on, the wind picked up, and I switched to a deeper running Mepps spinner. Didn't take more than a few casts for me to hook and land this nice 18 inch smallmouth bass, one of the bigger ones that I've caught in this tiny lake.


August 9 2022:

Back to my trophy smallmouth bass lake, again, the forecast was off, with cloud and intermittent rain instead of a sun/cloud mix they were calling for. Luckily, the wind was very calm, and the bass were on fire. Topwater bite was excellent for this time of year, I managed to land 20 of 26 smallmouth bass, with a good number over 3 lbs, and biggest 4.25 lbs, at 20 inches.






Truly off the charts, turned out to be my best bass day of the summer!

August 15 2022:

After my planned trip to Le Domaine Shannon for walleye was cancelled at the last minute, I went back to my trophy bass lake in hopes of some more crazy action. With perfect weather when I arrived, my hopes were high, given the smashing success of my previous outing. 

Unfortunately, the fish had other plans. Instead of the aggressive bite, they were hitting the topwater lures instead of biting or inhaling them. This resulted in a few lost fish that were face hooked, until I was lucky enough to land this face hooked, 21 inch / 5 lbs giant!


This beast of a  trophy smallmouth was the heaviest bass I I've landed on my float tube to date. Definitely made my day, and my quest to beat the 5 lbs mark on my trophy bass lake had finally been achieved.

August 24 2022:

Another trip up to my trophy smallmouth bass lake, hoping to land at least one more big bass before my kids returned to school, and water tempos started cooling off the possibilities of a decent topwater bite. Fishing was even slower than previous outing despite high heat and flat calm conditions, but I managed one solid bass over 4 lbs / 20 inches.

 


That capped off what was likely to be my last trip of the season up to this gem of a lake. With no homes or motorboat access, and where lunker smallmouth bass in the over 4 lbs are a possibility at every cast, it's truly a float tube bass angler's dream. 

August 28 2022:

Having some errands to run in the given area, I brought along the float tube in hopes of one last shot at finding some longnose gar before the water started cooling off. Was not able to sight or locate any, ut managed another small largemouth bass burning a Choppo.


That was all she wrote for the day, and likely the final float tube outing of the 2022 summer season. I thank God for giving me the health, means, and time to have put in all these float tube outings over the spring and summer, and for having provided me with some spectacular catches, which keep me going back for more.




Friday, August 19, 2022

Salmon and steelhead fishing on Lake Ontario

After my planned trip to Le Domaine shannon was cancelled, my wife and i decided to visit family in Toronto for a few days. Being that I have never fished on Lake Ontario, I booked a day of salmon and steelhead trout fishing on Lake Ontario, with Fishing4tails charters, run by the legendary Greg Amiel. Although we never met in person, Greg has been a long time social media acquaintance / friend, and came highly recommended by some of the mutual friends we've both fished with over the years.

Knowing that I had booked a day of fishing on Lake Ontario, my 20 year old son happily Levi joined me for this new fishing adventure.

We met Greg bright and early at the Harbour Marina, in order to get on the water at first light. Within minutes, we were at out first spot, ready to start trolling for Chinook salmon, our largest target species for the day.

Snapped a quick pic of quintessential Levi at sunrise over Toronto.


Greg started setting up the lines, mostly baited with strips of herring fished behind big flasher type attractant spoons. The lines were set at various depths, using a mix of downriggers, dipsy divers, and long line copper wire behind planer boards.

Within a matter of minutes, Levi was on to his first chinook salmon of the day, with Greg coaching him.


A few minutes later, we boated the first chinook salmon of the day, a decent fish in the upper teens. 

Snapped a couple quick pics before getting the salmon in the livewell, as we were planning on keeping our bag limits during this fishing trip.


Note the lamprey damage, unfortunately, Lake Ontario is infested with them.

Minutes later, I boated my first chinook salmon of the outing, much smaller than Levi's, but at least I was on the board. Shortly after, a third Chinook came to play, and Levi did a great job fighting the big salmon. 

We netted it, turned out to be the biggest one of the outing, over 3 feet long. Got a couple nice pics.



The Chinook bite started slowing down after that, we missed a couple fish. As we kept trolling, Greg mounted his fillet board onto the boat, and proceeded to fillet out catch to get them on ice as quick as possible. 


Quite frankly, I was amazed by Greg's multitasking ability to simultaneously fillet our catch, run 6 lines, and keep the boat running along a drop off, all at the same time, while fighting waves and current on Lake Ontario.

Weather warmed up, sun was shining bright, we knew we'd be heading further offshore soon to chase some coho salmon and big steelheads. Despite the slowed down action, I hooked into a decent chinook salmon, ended up being my biggest chinook of the day.



With Levi and both having landed decent chinook salmons, we were now ready to chase some smaller, but tastier, cohos and steelheads in deeper water. We ran nearly halfway across the lake, and started getting hit just as Greg set up the downrigger lines to troll multiple spoons on a slider/cheater rig, which I've never seen up until that point.

Technique was effective, to say the least. Within minutes, Levi had his first steelhead of the day. As opposed to Chinooks that mainly pull down during the fight this time of the year, steelheads jump straight out multiple time during the fight. Levi managed to keep the big trout pinned, and shortly after, we had or first one of the day on board.


After landing some smaller chinook salmon, I eventually got my first steelhead trout of the day on the line. Beauty of a fish that put up another good fight.


Using the same setup, we eventually got onto some good coho salmon fishing to complete out target species slam. These are supposed to be the tastiest of our target species, nd fight with constant head shakes. Levi drew first blood.


As you'll note, coho salmon are quite girthy for their length, almost football shaped at times.

Levi and I hooked into a double header, with him landing another good steelhead trout, and myself with my first coho salmon of the day.



The bite kept getting better, Levi and I landed more chinook and coho salmon, this coho was the biggest of the day. What a fatty!


Just a Greg was removing the lines to end the outing, we hit one last double header with the remaining two lines. Unfortunately, mine snapped the line, but Levi landed this deep blue colored steelhead to end the outing.


Greg finished filleting our catch before making the rough ride back to shore in pounding waves.

All in all, this fishing trip was one of our better outings to date. We both managed to land a slam of target species, kept out bag limits of both fresh caught salmon and steelhead trout, and learned a lot about some new species we had not targeted or fished for up until that point.

Out of all the guides I've ever fished with in my life, Greg Amiel ranks among the top. Aside from being a a lifelong multispecies angler with vast experience, his knowledge of lake Ontario and its salmonids species is unparalleled. Using a vast array of techniques and electronics at the same time, comes to him as second nature, as we made good casual conversation why he was able to fillet out catch and put us onto spectacular fishing at the same time. Truly a legend in my book.

To get in tough with Greg about a guided fishing trip on Lake Ontario, or any of the other water bodies he fishes, visit his web site at: http://www.fishing4tails.com/ 





Monday, August 1, 2022

Multispecies fishing on Lac St Louis

Finally got back out onto the river with my friend and top notch multispecies fishing guide, Mark Currie. Brought along my son Levi, and his girlfriend Lindsey, who hadn't been fishing since she was a few years old. Goal was to get everyone onto some good walleye and bass fishing, with a decent shot at some of the other predatory species in the St Lawrence river system, such as pike, or perhaps a musky.

As Mark has been running Advanced Bassin plus charters for many decades now, I can confidently say that you'd be hard pressed to find anyone around Montreal with better fishing knowledge / experience of the Lac St Louis portion of the St Lawrence river. Despite being flat, calm, and midday temperatures going above 30C, I knew we'd be in for some great fishing due to Mark's expertise.

Getting to out first spot, drop shotting was an instant success. Levi drew first blood, with this nice walleye, slightly above the maximum slot size.


 Levi and I followed up with  some keeper sized walleye, and eventually, Lindsey got in on the action as well, thanks to Mark's constant coaching.


After some more keeper sized walleye in the livewell, Lindsey hooked into her first pike, which out up a nice battle, before we landed it. By far the biggest fish she's ever caught. Not wanting to shred her fingers, Levi stepped in to hold it for the picture.


Lindsey managed another nice walleye.


I ended up with the biggest walleye of the morning, a nice 24-25 incher.


Levi followed up with a nice pike of his own.


Lindsey managed a nice perch, and we ended of getting a triple header of walleye, though we forgot to take the pic of 3 of us with our fish caught simultaneously. 

Last fish of the spot was a decent smallmouth bass I hooked into, first of the day up to that point.


Next area we headed off to, was a shallower spot. We Mark, Levi and Lindsey sticking to texposed rubber worms, I opted to try getting some topwater action. Luckily, Mark had a PopR on board, so I fished it, despite strong current, and increasing wind.

Mark managed to land a good dozen or so smallmouth bass on the worm, and after a few missed hits on the Pop R, I managed to land a couple topwater smallmouth bass. Levi and Lindsey to a break to get in the river to cool off, and when Levi got back on board to start fishing, it didn't take long for him to complete his slam with a nice bass.


Eventually, the bite there died down, and we headed off to our last spot of the day. Drifting drop shot rigs, Lindsey caught her first bass, completing her multispecies slam as well. . Again, Levi stepped in to hold the fish, as she was still apprehensive about holding them.




Lindsey start outfishing us by far, landing bass after bass, while Levi and I watched in amazement. She eventually agreed to hold one using a glove.


Levi and I eventually caught some as well, and finally Levi and Lindsey landed a double header.



With not much time left in the outing, I finally hooked into the day's lunker, this nice bass in the 4 lbs range put up a good battle before we were able to net it. Snapped a couple pics with the day's trophy.





Between Lindsey's smashing success at her first fishing trip out on Lac St Louis, to her and Levi both managing the multispecies slam, and myself landing both the linker bass and walleye of the day, we couldn't have asked for better results. Pleasantly warm weather, and the usual trash talking followed by good laughs, enhanced the experience.

Many thanks again to my friend Mark for taking us out. As usual, his second to none experience came through big time, and a day where many other likely struggled to find any fish at all.

Mark offers guided outing from his 21 foot fully equipped Ranger, a top of the line vessel built to handle the roughest of conditions in comfort.

Contact Mark about a guided fishing trip by clicking: