Fishing tackle Archives

September 19, 2013 Landed And Released My First Muskie

my first muskie
Caught And Released My First Muskie At 61

September 19, 2013 is one of those days I will smile about every time I remember it and yeah I will probably tell total strangers on the street about it. Why, because it’s only once you catch that first muskie and I was lucky enough to catch a 31 inch muskie and not a 24 inch one. So it became my first muskie and my biggest fish ever, in more than 50 years of fishing.

OromoctoCasey invited me along for a day of muskie fishing on the Saint John river at Oromocto New Brunswick. We have fished here together before and I have fished with Jamie here. The  Oromocto area is such a pretty spot, especially once Autumn has arrived on the scene.

This day most of the trees were still full of green leaves so the ones that were starting to change really stood out.

Like this tree I saw when we were getting ready to launch the boat. One red tree in a sea of green leaves.

IMG_6981
One tree out of dozens has made the change to Autumn colours.

Eagle Eyes Staring Back At Me

baldheaded eagle on Saint John riverWe had a fantastic day with calm water and not a cloud in the sky other than a few wispy ones that gave no shade at all.

I put my sun hat on to keep too much sun from frying my brain, again. My new hat also helps keep the sun out of my eyes better than my ball cap does.

There were a few bald eagles around but they usually take off before I’m in position to get a good shot however today we were able to get a bit close.

There were two of them on this limb but one took off before I was able to get a picture of them both. All I got of that first eagle was a shot of his tail feathers as he flew up river to another tree.

Casey slowed the boat right down as we approached and went right under it. So glad the water was calm so we weren’t bobbing around at all. I took a lot of pictures as we approach and went under the eagle but it never moved.

Each time I take a picture the view screen goes blank so for just a second each time I thought the eagle was going to dive out of the tree and knock me over backwards.

Oh, Did I Tell You I Caught My First Muskie?

lunch breakWhen my friend Roland would be fishing he would use sentences that started with ‘Did I Ever Tell You…” or “Have I Told You Today…” Well I was saying that to Casey for the rest of the day. Glad the didn’t duct tape my trap shut or tell me to take a bus home.

I moved to New Brunswick from Ontario 30 some years ago but never learned that we have muskies living and breeding in New Brunswick waters. Since I learned that fact I have wanted to catch a muskie so it’s been on my wish list.

I have now checked that item off my list and now I will focus on catching more and maybe some that are bigger than my first.

Here are some pictures from our day on the Saint John river.

oromocto bridge reflecting on water

I must have taken 30 pictures of this bridge over the course of the day. It just looks great from so many angles and the reflections in the water always look cool.

IMG_6714 IMG_6697

I love going fishing during the work week as there is usually less boat traffic on the river. This day was perfect with hardly any traffic. We did see a few other fishermen on the water, like this guy who looked like he was in the tropics. He must be out a lot and needs to protect his healthy skin.

red bass boat

They were on the other side of the river so I zoomed in on them. We didn’t talk so I have no idea if they were catching anything or not or even what they were fishing for. When he was casting it looked like he had smaller lures so I’m guessing he was fishing for chunky smallies.

water planeWe saw this plane circle and prepare to land on the water. I took a couple of pictures and then clicked record. I had the perfect angle for to watch him come in and land.

Again the water was calm so there was no bouncing around.

Just as he was about to hit the water he disappeared behind some trees. Oh man what a drag we weren’t on the main river at this moment and I didn’t realize it. So it kind of looks like he just crashed in the trees.

tree with red leavesWe didn’t catch a lot of fish, just a fat little smallmouth bass and of course my first ever muskie at 31 inches. Did I mention that before? Ha Ha

All too soon it was the end of our day and time to pack up.

I thought I would end with another tree that has changed colour before all its neighbours.

Just Bought 22 Lures For New Brunswick Muskie Fishing

fishingI’ve waited almost 10 years to feel as good as I do now so I plan to make 2013 my biggest fishing year since having heart attack in 2004 that set me right on my ass. It took me four years just to pass my stress test so I was allowed to drive and fish again.

Even though I passed the stress test and was allowed to go fishing I was still pretty much a weakling for the next few years. I’ve even had to pass my fishing rod over to Jamie a time or two when the fish I had on wore me out before I could land it.

Each year I got a little stronger until last year when I was able to land every fish. My confidence level was increasing as well and I even went on a musky fishing adventure at the end of last year. We didn’t get a musky but I did get a 25” chain pickerel without any help.

Time To Take It To The Next Level

I have been so excited about doing some muskie fishing in 2013 so you can imagine how excited I got when Ron, a Facebook friend offered me some of his muskie lures at a price I couldn’t turn down. He even sent me a picture of each lure lying next to a measuring tape so I could see the colour, style and length.

I have two Plano boxes just waiting for my new muskie lures. Casey is giving me a tackle bag that will hold the bigger Plano boxes. Now I just have to wait for our New Brunswick fishing season to open.

plano box

Bought Three New Rapala Lure For 2013

fishing with JamieJenny and I went up to Canadian Tire on the weekend to pickup some gardening stuff so I am ready to start planting seeds earlier this year. As we headed toward the lighting section my eyes caught a glimpse of a fishing lure in a bin.

Jenny kept walking and by the time she realized I wasn’t next to her I had picked three of my favourite Rapala lures from the bin and stuck them in the cart. Then I quickly caught up to her as if I’d never stopped.

I would like to have grabbed an entire armful of Rapala lures but we were there for gardening supplies and have a limited budget so I had to use some self-control. These are the three lures I just added to my small collection of lures.

rapala f-18
Rapala Original Floating Perch Pattern – F-18
Always one of my favourites.

rapala xr-10
Rapala X-RAP Extreme Action – XR-10

rapala hj-10
Rapala Husky Jerk – HJ-10

I will have find an excuse to go back there this weekend and see if there are any left.

Dead Sticking For Pre-Spawning And Late Season Bass

November 2012 Mactaquac Park ArmI have a hard time sitting still. It makes me feel like life is just passing me by. So when I learned about ‘dead sticking for bass‘ I really wasn’t interested.

However as each year passed and I get a little older I find I can sit for longer periods of time so maybe I should give dead sticking for bass a shot and see how long I can last, just sitting and waiting.

In the early spring and late fall when the water temperature is 50F/10C or lower the bass are usually in deep water, just waiting for the temperature to rise enough for them to get back to living and reproducing.

How Does Dead Sticking Work?

Largemouth and smallmouth bass tend to shut down when they find themselves in a cold front or when water temperatures drop below 50F/10C and usually won’t chase a bait, unless it’s right on their nose. The colder the water gets the slower your presentation gets until your presentation has to stop and just sit there.

If you are patient you can offer a bait, although it has to be close to them, and just wait for them to do something. Often they can only go for so long before doing something with the bait. If you can out wait the bass you win.

When bass are pre-spawn they are very territorial and will often attack your bait just to get it out of their territory. So remember to be quick to release these bass and try to put them back close to their nest.

Casey and I went muskie fishing November 12th which is the latest I have even been out fishing for anything other than Atlantic salmon. It was my first time muskie fishing as well as the first time I’ve seen the water so void of fish.

The water temperature was sitting at 45F/7C and we had to get into more than 20 feet of water before we saw any fish marking on the depth finder.

What Does One Need For Dead Sticking

Between your hands and that smallies mouth there are ‘four plus one’ things one needs to catch them, especially while they are suspended deep or guarding their nest and not really feeding. Those things are your fishing rod, reel, fishing line, bait/lure and plenty of patience.

1. The Rod to Use: For dead sticking you want a rod with a stiff backbone for setting the hook. It’s good to have a medium to heavy action rod about 7 or 7 1/2 foot long for this.

2. The Reel: A sturdy baitcasting reel with lots of fishing line as there can be some big fish down there and they can run a long ways, in a flash.

3. The Fishing Line: When fishing suspended or pre-spawn bass you will need to set the hook hard and you don’t want your line snapping on a fish of a lifetime. Plus these bass really know how to take your line through an obstacle course so be prepared with heavy line.

4. The Bait: Here you have a plethora of choices so you’re not limited to just a few baits that will work. You want a bait that will sit there and look real. Maybe a bait that appears as a hurting fish.

5. Patience. Dead sticking is a waiting game so patience is required. Lots of patience but can be so worth it.

The Waiting Game

Patience isn’t one of my strong points but for this game it’s about who blinks first so it’s important to give the bass every opportunity to strike. The closer you can get your bait to the fishes face the better and then wait until their instinct eventually takes over.

For late season suspending fish this could take a while however with pre-spawn bass it might not take as long, especially if your bait is close to their nest. They will see it, not as food, but more as something invading their territory so they may just smack it but they could also chomp on it to kill it.

Once the bass strikes it’s too late to check your setup so make sure you have your drag set correctly as they can give quite a run.

Muskellunge/Muskie Fishing With Casey at the Mactaquac Park Arm

casey smilingYesterday I had the opportunity to fish an area I’ve never fished or even seen before. We were fishing for muskie and even though it was the 12th of November the temperature was suppose to in the teens and the wind was suppose to be minimal.

I was very excited and had been wanted to try some muskie fishing for quite some time. So thanks Casey.

Fishing The Arm For Muskie. The What??

mactaquac parkBefore yesterday I had never heard of the arm and if I did I imagine I was thinking they were talking about a body part. As we were heading toward Fredericton Casey explained that it was actually the Mactaquac Park Arm.

We were going to use the marina to launch the boat but they gates were closed and locked. Guess they didn’t get out of bed as early as we did so we had to launch down near the dam.

From there we headed towards the causeway and through the culverts into The Arm.

casey backing boat into water
Casey backing his boat into the water for a day of muskie fishing

We started our day on the water each wearing multiple layers of clothing and as the day moved forward it got warmer and warmer. By the end of the day it looked like I had my entire wardrobe piled in the front of the boat.

There wasn’t much of a breeze all day long, well until about 4pm and then we saw a little chop starting but by then we were heading back to the launch point.

trolling for muskieOnce we were on the water we set the lines for trolling and headed towards the culverts that would let us into the The Arm.

The water was like a mirror, without the slightest ripple. This is one of my favourite times of the day and usually doesn’t last long but this day it stayed like this until late afternoon.

Not sure how long we took to get to the culverts but for quite a distance I could see them using the zoom feature on my camera. I was wondering if we would be able to get the boat through them.

small culvertsI could see the causeway from a long ways away and used the zoom feature on my camcorder to look for the culverts. Excuse the image on the right but it was a long ways off.

I kept looking at them as we got closer and was wonder if they were going to get any bigger. Then Casey pointed to the right of those culverts and I saw the culverts we were actually going to go through.

culverts mactaquac park arm

They still didn’t look all that big but we were still a distance away and by the time we got there and I saw how big they really were my mind was at ease. A whole lot easier to go through than those at Redbank, near Chipman, New Brunswick. See you on the other side.

I could see all the way to the next causeway, at the other end and it was really foggy up there. When I looked behind us I could see the hills in the distance had very cool looking sky-line that was glowing.

glowing skyline
I zoomed in on the skyline which was about 10km away. Looked really cool.

sun over fishing rodIt wasn’t long before the clouds started to break up and allow the sun to shine through. But it was still a couple of hours before it really got sunny.

I took the shot on the right at about 11:30 and by noon I think the sky had cleared and then it really started to warm up. The pile of clothes I was peeling off was getting bigger.

By the end of the day I was down to just a tee-shirt and a lite sweater. Could not have asked for a better day, that’s for sure.

I am looking outside today and it’s warm but man that wind is strong enough to knock you over. I had to hook a chain up to our dog so she wouldn’t blow out of the yard. Okay, I might be stretching the truth a bit, but it sure would be choppy on the water today. Casey picked the perfect day.

skies are clearing
I took this picture at exactly 12:00 and the clouds were all but gone.

still foggy at the other endfog has liftedIt was still quite foggy at the other end of the Arm, which was still quite a ways away, but within just a few short minutes the fog was gone.

It was like I turned my back for a minute and the fog lifted.

Not too long after we launched I had my first strike. It didn’t feel like a longer fish would feel so I am kind of thinking it was a big smallie but never found out because I didn’t set the hook hard enough and he was gone.

Shortly after that my Rapala lure got smacked hard. I did my best to set the hook this time and had it on for a few seconds, just long enough to believe it was a muskie and it pulled a whole lot harder than any pickerel I’ve caught. We’ll never know because it got away too.

Not too much time later I had another strike. This time I was determined to set the hook better than the last two times but still didn’t keep it on the line. The action did heat me up though and I took off another layer of clothing.

Then at about 12:45 just as we were going around the little island above I had another strike. This time I put everything I had into setting the hook and had it on. This time I didn’t lose it and Casey had the net at the ready.

As it got closer to the boat I knew it was a muskie, my first ever muskie. I was so excited and even shaking. First time ever fishing specifically for muskie and I get one. I pulled it around and aimed it for the net and we had it landed.

25 inch chain pickerelThen we got it into the boat and that’s when I realized it was a pickerel. A big fat 25” chain pickerel and not the muskie I thought it was. Oh well I had that feeling of catching my first muskie, even if it only lasted for a couple of minutes. I was still quite pleased with my chain pickerel.

When I pulled the pickerel out of the net to measure it I was certain it was at least 26 or 27 inches as I’ve caught a few that were 25”, so I was excited to have a new personal best, but the ruler doesn’t lie and it measured in at 25”. I guess the fact it was so fat it looked bigger.

sunsetting as we leave mactaquac
The sun is setting on in Casey’s side view mirror as we are heading home.

Evening Fishing With Casey on New Horton Lake

foggy morning

Yesterday morning started as a clear morning but the next time I looked out the window the sun had disappear in a fog that covered most of Moncton.

A few minutes later I noticed something in the sky that took a couple of seconds to register. It was the fog lifting and show a little of the sun again. I thought it looked pretty cool so of course I took a picture or two.

While I was snapping the shot I saw I had a few new emails. One was from Casey checking to see if I’d like to do some bass fishing on New Horton Lake for the evening. I wasn’t long replying.

He would pick me up at 3pm and we could be fishing by 4:30 but as usual he arrived a half hour early, just the way I like it and we were off and we were fishing at 4:05 and by 4:09 I had my first smallie. What a great way to start. I had the first fish, the most fish and the biggest fish.

Rapala Countdown Perch Pattern

rapala perch countdownOne of my favourite lures is my trusty Rapala countdownperch pattern so I brought my light action rod and reel so I could get a longer cast.

I’ve caught a lot of smallmouth and pickerel using this little guy. One of my Rapala perch pattern lures has been smashed so many time the pattern is pretty much gone but it still catches them.

Rapala Countdown Perch Pattern on eBay USA

Rapala Countdown Perch Pattern on eBay Canada

Casey didn’t waste any time catching his first smallmouth so my lead wasn’t for long. But before he could even release his bass I had my second and the lead once more. Then Casey caught another and tied it up. A few minutes later he caught a white perch and had the lead.

The thing is the perch managed to get a treble hook in it’s mouth with all three hooks. This took Casey a minute or two getting them out so the fish wouldn’t be harmed and I tied things up again. It’s fun fishing back and forth like that.

As afternoon turned into evening the clouds were fewer but still managed to stay in front of the sun making it a perfect day in my books.

glaring sun

top water bait popperThe wind gave us just enough of a breeze to make it comfortable but not so much that it pushed the boat or made it choppy so I was able to use a top water poppers. Again I used one of my favourite poppers. It’s kind of a cross between a perch and a pickerel depending how the light hits it and works great.

This is the exact lure that I lost to a pickerel near Chipman, New Brunswick. I was fishing from my float tube and he smacked in such a way the he cut the line but still got hooked and was gone.

About a half hour later I noticed the sun reflecting off something in the water. I thought it was a dead fish or something and had to go look. One I got closer it disappeared under the water which was strange. A moment later I saw it again but was close enough this time to see that it was still attached to the pickerel.

I was close enough to make a cast across the pickerel and slowly reeled it and hooked the lure so I not only got my lure back but I caught a pickerel. So it took me at least a half hour from the time I hooked that pickerel before I landed it. Ha ha

smallie on a popperI put that popper on and made a cast to one of my favourite spots which is an opening between to sets of weeds and a smallie smacked it just as it hit the water. That never gets old.

It wasn’t a huge bass measuring in at 15” but it was fun on light tackle and it was the biggest fish for the day.

By the end of the day we had landed 20 fish, 19 smallmouth bass and one white perch.

moon over shepody bayJust as we were leaving Casey pointed to my right and there was the moon looking gorgeous perched just about the Shepody bay. What a great way to end a day of fishing.

I got Casey to stop at the top of a hill so I could get a picture. It was already getting dark so the image isn’t the best but I still like it. Glad I got the image then because by the time I was back home the clouds had hidden it from view.

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Top Water Bass Baits I Use: Stick Baits

First I would like to point out that I don’t just use bass baits for bass. I also like to toss them in front of those toothy chain pickerel we have here in New Brunswick. I think they like them even more than our smallmouth bass do.

I don’t throw a stick bait out expecting it to do all the work. If I did that it would just sit there on the water and not too likely to attract a strike. You, the fisher, need to impart the required action and then it becomes a target for bass or chain pickerel.

“Walking The Dog” With Stick Baits

My friend Casey really knows how to make a stick bait like the Zara Spook dance, err I mean “walk the dog” and he can cast that sucker a country mile. I love watching him use it in and around the weed beds and lily pads.

Depending on the water clarity good stick bait action can draw the attention of bass down to about 20 feet, maybe even more.

I don’t think I can explain the action or twitching one gives to a stick bait to make it walk the dog, even though I do it myself, so I have looked through Youtube and found the perfect video for you.

I did look at some other videos but this is the one that I think was the most straightforward, I hope it gives you the info you need to get yourself some top water stick baits like the Zara Spook and start catching more fish.

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