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Story 2008 Explorations and Frustrations

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 11 months ago

Exploring can be challenging, frustrating and rewarding!

 

When

July 11th to 15th, 2008

Where

La Belle Province (Quebec)

Who

Fishing with Daniel, Melanie, Martin and Alan

 

 


 

July 10th: the dream

 

A month and a half ago, I had fantastic nine days of fishing. An amazing blast, with a ton of carp, quite a few big ones, and many new friends. No wonder I wanted to go back to "La Belle Province"... I knew I shouldn't set my expectations too high, there was just no way fishing in July would be as brilliant as fishing a couple of weeks before spawning time, but still it was hard not to dream!

 

The plan was different from last time, I wanted to concentrate on exploring, finding new spots and hopefully big fish. Plus try to catch a sturgeon, which are pretty common out there. This Thursday, I left work early, and after hours of driving through Vermont and through Quebec, I was registered to the "magic motel", and watching the St Lawrence flow in all its glory. Earlier in the day, my friends Daniel and Melanie had prebaited a spot I wanted to try, so all I had to do was to go to bed and dream a bit more!

 

July 11th: high hopes, slow fishing and ugly carp

 

Early in the morning, I was more than ready to go! A quick drive, and here is a nice long peninsula finding its way in a large bay. Where I knew a 36 pounder was caught a few weeks ago. Yep, I wanted to fish here for sure, and I topped up a bit the baiting, and went to walk along the shore to find another spot my friends had located a week ago, with a big pipe occasionally issuing a flow of sewage water. This second spot did look good, but not for this time of the year, it seemed too shallow for carp to be comfortable in the summer. Something to try next spring. So back to the peninsula, and a rod was quickly set up at the end of the point. My wife gave me a call, and while chatting, a sign from the fishing gods appeared. Not only a couple of carp jumped in front of me, but Jacques Cartier's ghost himself, disguised as a heron as usual (see the Oct-07 story to understand my cryptic reference!), crossed the peninsula behind me. And sure enough, I had a run shortly afterwards. Except that the hook pulled. Then another run. And the line broke on an underwater rock. The gods were having fun. I didn't, and even less when the morning dragged itself endlessly without another run. Hmpf.

Oh well, I had plenty of other spots on my list to visit. I prebaited one of them, grabbed some lunch, and went to visit yet another spot, a parc rumored to host big fish. Another large bay, but very shallow and very weedy everywhere... Didn't seem the way to go. I was quite disappointed, this was one of the main targets I had in mind. Oh well, satellite images and third-hand rumors aren't exactly reliable sources of intel! Trying to stick to my pattern of prebaiting one step ahead, I came back to the morning spot and threw more maize and sweet feed before coming back to the second spot I had prebaited before lunch. You're still following me? Good, because I have plenty more to say!

 

Actually, not that much to say about this new spot, another point at the end of a small bay with a boat launch, but with deeper water on the river's side. Between noisy boats and a rather hot sun, fish weren't thrilled, so I started to doze for a couple of hours, and was pleasantly awaken by a shrieking sound. This time, those pesky fishing gods let me have it, and here was my first fish (a healthy mid-teen) landed during this trip, and from a spot I had never fished before. Cool. Martin called me a few minutes later, and we agreed to meet at the peninsula. Back to carrying my heavy gear in and out of the car...

The peninsula was definitely more pleasant at the end of the day, and we landed a few fish to the amazement of some local kids. It's always cool to see their enthusiasm when seeing a lively carp being caught! The sun started to go down, and this provided nice colors for Martin's first catch of the day.

Daniel et Melanie joined us for the evening, and the St Lawrence gave us one of those great sunsets! And strange columns of insects started to swirl and dance over the trees. It's nice to be outdoors.

Daniel landed a nice fish, then Melanie got one and we rolled our eyes when seeing this fish's face! I've seen fairly ugly carp, but this one would win the Franken-fish award all fins down!

Overall, this peninsula proved to be somewhat productive, I kept being quite hopeful about it, and we planned to give it it another try the day after. Pounds of maize went in the water and we finally went to bed after a long day of fishing and exploring!

 

July 12th: mirror, mirror, tell me where the big fish are

 

The morning turned out to be a tad slow, but a few fish finally started to bite. I started by a 22 pounder but forgot to take a decent pic, then landed a smaller one. This Asian guy caught this nice teen on a tiny rod & reel, fishing with worms with a gigantic hook in a pack of weeds! A lucky fellow who was jumping all over the place like a grasshopper to have captured such a biggie!

Daniel et Melanie came to share the fun at the end of the morning, just when fishing was heating up. I started to walk towards my car to go have lunch, and Melanie screamed that... my rod was screaming! I told her to take the run, and this was a nice low twenty. After coming back, I landed a strange common with a few mirror scales!

We kept having runs during the afternoon, not frantic, but nice and pleasant fishing for sure. This lady close to me was catching tiny fish while watching monster boats passing by the seaway, so I tried to restore some sense of proportions with a bigger fish, a nice 23-12lb carp.

The highlight of the day was later in the afternoon when a true mirror (very rare in this section of the St Lawrence) found my bait. Some people have all the luck! And to make things better, Daniel had a run just after mine, so here is a brace of 40lb of fish, 21lb for Daniel and 19lb for me. That is, after having succeeded to put this lively mirror under control! Which brings me to issue a challenge for the local carp anglers (or visitors!), who will catch the first 20+ mirror?

After catching a few more, we decided that we should go explore an area close to a marina we had discussed by e-mail while preparing my trip. Hoping to find bigger fish out there. And then go celebrate the mirror in a nice restaurant! Here are the intrepid explorers scouting some good looking and not so good looking spots! Trouble is we quickly discovered that we weren't exactly the only anglers having thought about this general area. Good news were that those sturgeon anglers did confirm that carp show up every now and then. As to the restaurant, let's just say that food in Quebec isn't the same as in the US and leave it at that... ;-)

July 13th: not enough sturgeons, too much rain!

 

Today was the day! Of sturgeon fishing! Daniel is an experienced sturgeon angler and had a good spot in mind, so here we were, at an interesting location between a large harbor and a section of the river where the current is very strong. We saw a few fish caught by other anglers (white perch and catfish), plenty of boats going back & forth, but sturgeons didn't cooperate...

After a while, we moved to a spot more inside the harbor, which I had prebaited for carp earlier in the day (sturgeons are nice, but I wouldn't forget my favorite prey!), and we set up two rods for carp and two rods for sturgeons. Daniel had interesting ideas about using carp feeders with tuna to attract sturgeons, but all we attracted was... a BIG storm which soaked us down to the bone, and made us retreat.

Not having slept much in the past few days (the nearby highway was going through my motel room, or close!), I was all too happy to have an excuse to go take a nap early afternoon, but not before having located the closest "boulangerie" where a stack of good croissants somewhat revived a very wet and tired angler!

 

Now you should start thinking... Is this guy kidding? Sudden storm, and he's not out fishing when the storm calms down? Yeah, the same thought woke me up! I played it safe this time and went fishing a small outflow close to the motel where we had plenty of luck during my previous visit. A thick 22 pounder was quickly landed, and Martin also had some luck after joining me afterwards. Biting quickly died after a couple of fish for each of us though, and shame of all shame, I ended up the day with a stupid catfish! Oh well, tomorrow will be a better day, and maybe we'll find the biggies...

July 14th: frustrating time, but Melanie saved the day

 

After having finally slept a few hours (asking for a new room behind the motel building improved things a lot!), it was time to get moving and find those great new spots with plenty of monster fish! Or at least, give it another try. My main goal this morning was to go explore a long canal in the city, followed a tip from Martin who had thought about this area but never tried it (yet!). I didn't fish much in canals so far, but I've read many stories of very pleasant experiences in such environment, and I did have some luck on the Hudson river fishing behind a lock a few years ago, so I was intrigued.

 

So I started by one end of the canal, the one which goes in the harbor, and was quite disappointed to not find much access behind the last lock. Nice spot on the other side of the canal, but access was barred. I walked back for a couple of miles along the canal, and finally found an area which seemed quite interesting. Speaking with a young lady operating a lock, she confirmed that she often sees big fish jumping in the canal, notably at dusk. I was ready to set up my gear when she added "but you don't plan to fish, do you"? Er... yes, I do. "Ah sorry", she replied, "fishing is prohibited in the canal for three days". Funny, I have to leave in three days... There was some kind of dangerous algae infection, hence the ruling, My plan for the day was properly ruined. And just to add insult to injury, I spotted a bunch of moving bubbles on the way back, exactly where I would have liked to fish. I walked back to my car, no more canal exploring for the day! Grrr.

Now, where should I go? The list of locations I had spotted on the satellite images was dwindling down quite fast. I thought again about the marina from yesterday evening, and decided that I should give it a try, this is Monday and the army of week-end anglers should have disappeared. On the way, I stopped to check out a couple of other spots, but this seemed either way too close to the seaway, or too shallow.

 

Back to the marina, and a long walk to bring my heavy buckets and my gear to where I wanted to fish. A stranger came out of nowhere and said "Are you Jerome the carp angler from Boston?". Turned out that Paolo (yes, an Italian guy) had read the stories of my previous trip, and recognized me from the pics. And it turned out that he likes to fish for carp and fished near Paris quite close to where I lived 10 years ago. And caught a 24 kilos (yes, this is more than 50 pounds!) mirror carp out there. My eyes bulged a little. Well, ok, a LOT. Paolo had exactly the same idea as me, and came to explore this marina as a possible carp fishing spot! An interesting set of coincidences, this is a small, small world. So we threw some bait in the water, set up our gear, and started to chat and wait for a run. We did see a few carp roaming around and jump, but aside from a botched run on my rod, nothing moved. Daniel and Melanie joined us mid afternoon, and we tried to position rods in different ways, facing the harbor, the entrance of the harbor, the main river along the marina, close to shore, farther away, nothing worked. Frustrating.

Paolo and his wife finally gave up, my patience was thinning as well, plus I was starting to look suspiciously at the darkening sky. Daniel said with the confidence of a professional meteorologist "nope, there is blue sky around the dark clouds, that's ok". I wasn't so sure, and I started to carry my buckets to my car, and of course, the sky fell on us. Big gusts of wind, and more water falling from the sky than flowing through the river (or close). Funny, it stopped just when I reached the car (and my raincoat). I came back to find Daniel and Melanie properly drenched as well, and ready to wrap up.

 

By then, between the unsuccessful morning and the unsuccessful afternoon, and the unsuccessful previous day, I was starting to brood over the fact that the trip was doomed, that I should go back to the motel, take a book, give up on carp fishing, etc. Super Melanie wasn't ready to hear any of such whining. She declared "enough is enough, let's move to the spot where you caught this small mirror last time you came". She who must be obeyed. So we did. And that was the turning point of the trip! Always listen what women say. Well, at least, do it a few times a year. Ok, at least once. LOL

 

After some driving, Daniel and Melanie set up while I took a look at yet another promising spot downstream. A strong current coming from a small canal (where I knew carp moved to), and a nice still area of water created by the curb of the shore. Ahah. Now I was motivated again. I came back to my friends, and we started to fish. Daniel quickly got one and had plenty of admirers for a nice upper teen. Small sturgeons were jumping right in front of us. We got a couple more carp, and then I told Daniel "hey, I need your net, but this is a small fish". It isn't always easy to judge the size of a fish when playing it, but you usually have a bit of an idea. This time, I couldn't be more wrong! This was the big fish of the trip, a splendid 27 pounder (and a half, I insist!). Super Melanie didn't catch the mirror of her dreams this evening, but thanks to her, I finally had a pretty nice catch to report.

It was getting quite late, so we threw some maize to feed the carp, I went to prebait the other promising spot as well (without seeing much what I was doing), and ended up the day in a much better mood than expected a few hours ago.

 

July 15th: the reward, finally

 

Took me a while to get started this morning. I finally reached the area I had baited last night, then saw a small restaurant where I could get the first decent breakfast of the trip. More bait went in the water, and then I enjoyed good food! Trouble is when I got out, it was already starting to be rather hot. I set up my gear, and started to fish, but I was back to the "catch nothing and dispair" mode of operation. After a few hours, I tried to move further downstream to an opening I had also prebaited the night before, and found out this was not fishable (very shallow & weedy). Darn. What should I do? It was close to lunch time, so I decided to top up the bait a bit, close to where I had tried earlier, but in an area which seemed a bit less encumbered by weeds. And to return to the nice restaurant and enjoy a good lunch. And then go drive around a bit, because there wasn't much point fishing in the scorching sun of the early afternoon.

 

I crossed a bridge, and drove on a dusty path along the seaway. A big boat showed up, what a monster! I kept going, and after a while, a sign made clear that my scalp would be severely threatened if I trespassed into an Indian reserve, and although I don't have much hair left, call me sentimental, but I'd rather keep it! So back along the dusty path. The big boat was approaching the lock, so the bridge was up in the air and I was stuck for a while watching the boat enter the lock in excruciatingly slow motion.

I was finally back to fishing mid-afternoon, and to be honest with you, not terribly hopeful about it. Martin gave me a call and said that he would join me pretty soon. I had a bit of a dilemma by then, shoud I tell him to join me where I couldn't get a fish, or should I play it safe and come back to where we had more luck the evening before? And I thought "well, if we don't try this new place hard enough, we'll never know".

 

Now that was the second inspired decision of the trip. Because Martin arrived, set up his rod close to mine, came to chat, and... got a run within 15 minutes! Please note, I hadn't caught a fish for the entire day at this stage! The fish didn't fight much, yet it turned out this was a big one. We landed it, I started to go get my camera, but the fish started to bolt, and jumped back to the water. Time to acknowledge I have a bad habbit. I can't stand big fish jumping back the water before we weigh them and get a good pic! So I jumped in the water behind it, to Martin's amazement. I actually almost got it, but it did slip through my hands. I started to curse myself loudly, then I noticed the line moving behind the fish, and Martin pointed out that he hadn't removed the hook yet. Aaaah, much better! The fish was netted again and here is the beautiful 27 pounder, first fish from this new spot never fished before (that is, for carp), which really made my day and became the symbol of this trip.

We kept fishing in this very scenic location, and got a total of 4 runs each. Martin landed all of his fish, and I only landed 2 due to the thick weeds. Martin is relatively new to carp angling, but he is learning fast! Another carpist (Alan) joined us during the session, a very nice fellow who also caught big fish in Paris (yeah, yeah, ok, I got the point, I should have resumed carp fishing when I still lived there!) and recorded two videos of Martin and myself playing a carp. Here is the first video, and the second video. Sorry, no English subtitles, and we were speaking French! Here are the two pics of my catches, including one carp with a nice sense of acrobatics!

Alan and Martin left to go home, what next? I had in mind to fish late in the night where we were successful last evening, I was quite convinced that big fish would move there at night. So I tried, but after an hour, I was ready to call it a day, I was just too tired and I had a long drive home ahead of me the day after. I actually got one last run while I was wrapping up, but I slipped on the rocks, kicked my rod, fell on my rear end, and the fish was lost. Oh well.

 

Overall, yeah, I didn't catch any super biggie nor any sturgeon, and this wasn't as exceptional as the previous trip, but I worked hard on exploring very diverse locations, and this did pay off, a nice stroke of luck for me with the 19lb mirror, a special Franken-fish for Melanie, a really scenic new spot producing a 27 pounder for Martin, plenty of good time fishing with my friends, and a burning desire to come back and try again whenever I have the opportunity!

 

Post Scriptum

 

I was on my computer, starting to type my usual long-winded literature, when I received an excited e-mail from Martin. He went back to check the canal where I was forbidden to fish, crossed to the other side, and went to an area I didn't explore. He fished there with Alan, and they each caught 5 fish in a few hours, including another 27 pounder for Martin. He tried again the day after for a few hours, and landed 5 more carp, up to 24 pounds. I am quite sure that he'll soon land a 30+ from there. Somebody got bitten by the discovery bug. Beware, this is contagious!

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