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Friday, June 28, 2024

Mijocama fishing summer 2024

Back from our latest family trip to pourvoirie Mijocama to kick off summer 2024. As usual, family and friends joined for another epic trip, shortly after the opening of bass season. Over the years, we have come to expect some good bass fishing there, though one can never be sure. After enjoying some of the best largemouth bass fishing in a decade during our 2020 and 2021 trips to Mijocama, 2023 was quite different, with very few bass, and a lot more pike landed.

For this trip, I was joined by my three youngest sons. Levi's wife Lindsey joined us, as well as Eli's girlfriend, Audrey. We rented a couple boats to accommodate the 6 of us, and there began our planned fishing adventure.

Day 1: 

With heavy rain in the forecast for most of the day, we got to Mijocama around noon, and before bothering to rent the boats, we broke camp at our usual cabin. By mid afternoon, the rain had just about stopped, so we got a couple boats, and headed out to try our luck casting for pike, being that the bass in Giles lake are typically evening feeders.

After a few missed hits and follows from some small at my first spot, rain chased us off the lake. About an hour later, the sun popped out, so I headed out to try again. Sure enough, I landed a small pike on my second cast, only to be chased off the lake by a heavy thunderstorm again.

The thunderstorm turned into steady light rain, which kept my family indoors for the rest of the evening. As my friend Jimmy and his gang had just arrived, he and I put on our rain gear, and headed out to cast for pike in the rain. The pike were nipping at out lines non stop, but were not biting. Still, it kept us motivated to stay out until dark, with only 2 pike landed to show for. As I had planned to make some shore lunch for my family, we kept them.

Day 2:

Up bright and early while my family was sleeping in, I headed out to do some more casting for pike. On my way, I stopped by Jimmy's cabin, and picked him up to join, along with our friend Marcel. Marcel was casting a swimbait, and literally drew first blood, landing the first pike, and hooking his finger during the release. At least it didn't go in past the barb. I hooked 2 small pike as well, nothing worth keeping. 

After the morning bite, we headed to camp for morning prayers.

Once, done, I headed back to camp for breakfast, and took Zev out for some trolling. Using a Rapala Countdown on one rod, and a Smithwick Rogue on the other, I stayed with that setup for the duration of the trip. 

While apprehensive at first, Zev was quite happy when the line went off and he landed his first pike of the trip.

Headed back to shore, filleted the pike, and the family enjoyed a nice lunch of 6 deboned pike fillets, coated in batter,and pan fried in butter. Absolutely delicious when they are that fresh, though they need some time in the fridge to let rigor mortis set in. This prevents the fillets from "curling" in the frying pan when fish are too fresh.

After lunch, Zev wanted to go to catch some sunfish. Luckily, I convinced him to try some more trolling, hoping for a hot bite. Sure enough, it didn't taker long for Zev to land his second pike of the day, after losing one.

As we neared our cabin, I decided to make a trolling pass in an area that hasn't produced much pike in a while. Miraculously, Zev managed to land 3 more pike on our first pass, ensuring that we now had enough pike to feed more of us the following day, as my brother and his 2 sons joined us later that afternoon.

Seeing Zev's success, both my sons and their women came out for a mid afternoon troll. Unfortunately, the bite had died down, and we didn't manage any hits at all. Levi and Lindsey reserved my guiding services for the evening, during which we spent most of out time casting topwater lures hoping to get some surface action from either bass or pike. Unfortunately, the fish were not co-operating with our plans, but we ended up staying out until dark and getting a nice sunset pic of Levi and Lindsey.

Day 3:

After a night pf partying, I was up early for the morning bite. I headed out with Eli and Audrey for some casting, and my first spot paid off with another nice pike.

That was the only bite of the morning, despite whatever else casting and trolling we managed. After another hefty lunch of pan fried pike fillets, we spent the early afternoon relaxing. Levi spent much of his time playing guitar and target shooting.

By mid afternoon, I was contemplating what happened to all the bass in the lake. None of us had even seen one, let alone catch any. In a short 2 years or so, the bass fishing had gone from amazing to just about non existent, despite the the warm and sunny conditions that normally make for great bass fishing at Mijocama.

I decided to make the trekk out to Lac Chat. This small lake is connected to Giles lake by a small creek, and having fished there about 12 years ago, I knew the lake had a population of both bass and pike. As Lac Chat gets almost no fishing pressure, I figured that the bass population must have exploded over the past dozen years, and that I'd be in for a treat. At the same time, I found it mind boggling that I'd actually have to go to another lake to look for bass, as over the past couple decades, bass caught on our many trips often outnumbered the pike by a 100 to 1 ratio.

Anticipating the horrendous boat conditions on lac Chat, I confirmed with the owners that no one had been there in a couple years. I got a set of paddle to take along, and figured I may be spending hours bailing the small boats out after all the heavy rain and snow melt, etc.

Jimmy declined my last minute invitation to join, and luckily, I ran into Eyal, one of our group's teen boys, that I sort of initiated into fishing a numbers of years ago. He had landed his first ever pike as a small kid on my boat during one of our trips, and I also taught him how to fillet his catches during one of our previous trips to Mijocama. As most of his friends on the trip weren't there to fish, he was more than happy to join me on this adventure.

We motored our boat to the portage point on Giles lake, anchored it, and made the 7-10 minute trekk to the Lac Chat boat launch, carrying a few basic necessities. We didn't bother with any sort of motor, which wouldn't have helped either way. 

The boat situation was not good at all. One rowboat had a huge leak, the other was filled to the brim with water, as were most of the canoes. The last canoe had a hornets nest in it, and the last rowboat was missing most of the seats. I found a replacement seat, banged it into the middle of the boat, as the back was completely twisted out of shape. As such, we weren't able to row properly, but managed to get along by paddling with them.

While the day was hot a mildly windy, I figured that the lake would calm down for a nice topwater evening bite. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The wind only increased, which made non existent boat control in the tiny 12 foot shallow aluminum boat.

For our first pass, we simply let the wind take us across the entire lake, while casting mid to shallow depth lures across the shoreline. Eventually, we landed on a shallow shoal at the end of the lake, which was also sort of sheltered from the wind gusts. 

On my first cast, I had 2 nice missed hits on my topwater lure. Eyal followed up casting his spinnerbait, and sure enough, hooked a decent pike, that ended up breaking off the lure next to the boat when it wrapped into a log. Despite losing his first pike of the trip, Eyal was happy to have hooked it.

A few casts later, a bigger pike exploded on my topwater lure, and after a few good runs, |I managed to land it by hand, as we didn't bother bringing along a net.

By far, my biggest pike of the trip, and on a topwater lure no less. Made the long trekk to Lac Chat that much more enjoyable.

We worked our way back across the lake against the wind, stopping to cast a few minutes at any spot that looked promising. Unfortunately, no more fish, and still not a bass in sight. At this point, I figured that something must have happened to the deteriorated bass fishery. In my mind, I had originally figured that it was overharvest that crashed it on Giles lake, but as very few people fish Lac Chat over the years, and even less keep anything from there, there must be another cause. Either way, I was happy to have made the trekk out there to try it, and very happy that Eyal came along, despite the relative absurdity of the fishing conditions. From the dinky leaking boat, to the swarming bugs in the deep woods, he never once complained, and happy to be there trying a new adventure with me. We got back to Giles lake shortly before dark, and called it a day.

As I arrived, Eli had just hooked another topwater pike, his first of the trip, on a one knocker Zara Spook, just before dark.

Day 4:

Again, I was up bright and early, after another long night filled with lots of alcohol and many laughs, as it was Levi's birthday. (sorry for the blurry pic).

Heading out alone, I managed to hook and lose a small pike, without much else to show for. Later on, Levi and Eli headed out together, and Zev joined his cousins on their boat, leaving me out solo. I managed to land the first pike of the day while trolling. I radioed Levi to join, and now we had both of our boats making trolling passes in the same area. 

This time it was Audrey's turn, and she landed her first ever pike while trolling a Rapala X-rap.

While I was done harvesting pike for the trip, as we had already eaten 7 of them over the past couple days, she kept it. I filleted it for her, and she enjoyed it after Eli cooked it using my recipe.

Later that evening, it was Eli and Audrey's turn to come out on my boat. Success was immediate, with Audrey landing the first pike within a few seconds of out first trolling pass. The trolling bite continued, and they ended up landing 2 pike each for the evening.

Levi and Lindsey were leaving to head home, so they didn't get much fishing done. Hopefully, they'll have a shot at redemption next time around...

Day 5:

The strong North winds brought in a massive cold front overnight, which dashed any hopes of us getting some bass fishing done on our last day of the trip. After dressing up in our warmer clothing for the first time of the trip, we spent a bit of time trolling for more pike. Again, out timing was good, and Zev, Audrey and Eli ended up landing another 5 pike in total.

None were big at all, similar to the previous evening. But landing a total of 9 pike while trolling in a total of maybe 4 or 5 hours combined between the 2 outings, was far better than anyone else in our group had managed, outside Zev on day 2. Everyone was all smiles.

We stopped fishing by midday, as we planned to head home by late afternoon, after yet another bbq lunch.

All in all, another successful trip, where everyone involved had a memorable time. The pike were more aggressive, but a lot smaller on average than last year. The massive surprise was that between a good 30 of us, no one manage to land a bass in 5 days, and to my knowledge, I was the only that spotted a decent sized one cruising in the shallows all trip long.

I'll try to do some research online as to what might have possibly happened to them, but suffice to say, that I doubt we will see the 50+ bass days of yesteryear at Mijocama any time soon. I'm thinking it may possibly have been LMBV, which affect bass and sunfish, which seem to have been affected as well.


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