Drift Boat Fishing

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I recently took a road trip with Christiane to fish for a different species. We spent a couple of days in New York State, looking for steelhead. It had become an annual thing, hooking up with Kevin Davis and floating the Oswego River in his drift boat. Many chances were had on both days under very difficult conditions. Low, clear water had the fish in a funky mood, but some of them did cooperate. We managed to land a good number of steelhead & rainbows on the first day and some nice browns and smaller steelhead & bows, day two. It seemed like all of the better steelhead managed to get quick releases, day two!

Regardless of how tough the fishing is, Kevin is always on top of his game. Having fished the river in all kinds of conditions, for many years, he understands their movements almost better than the fish.

If anyone is interested in wetting a line this winter for big trout, I suggest getting in touch with him for available dates. Catching steelhead & browns of this caliber in the winter, really has to be experienced. Check out his Website at catchthedrift.com and give him a call. You won’t be disappointed! Here’s a few pics of some of the fish landed and released to be caught again!

Short & Sweet

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Darren is usually my last client of the season and he just may have been that one, again this year! We hooked up about 9:30 and were scheduled to fish until 2:00 for a half day outing. The walleye fishing had been excellent lately and I was sure today would be equally as good.

With similar baits on the lines, we both dropped in, hoping to up our chances of hookups. Right on cue, the first fish was pinned but unfortunately came off before it reached the boat. Definite weight on the rod indicated that it may have been a good fish! We kept at it and a little while later, Darren was tight to another. This one made it to the net and soon after into the livewell. It was a high end keeper and the skunk was officially out!

I moved around quite a bit for the first couple of hours, all the while picking at the fish. Many were landed but they weren’t eating that well as most were falling off in the net. Unlike a couple of days earlier when I almost had to perform surgery to remove the hooks! Despite the finicky hits, we still managed to hook up quite often. In fact, at one point in the afternoon we got into a good bunch and upped the numbers considerably!

With 2:00 rolling around quickly, I tried to focus on the areas that seemed to be producing rather than moving around. Some of the better fish of the day were caught by remaining in specific spots. In fact, the two best fish both came in the last 15 minute on one of these places. By the time it was all over, we were well into the double digits and managed to put a few more in the well for him to take home. Although most were overs, there weren’t any real giants unlike the previous trips.

It’s always more difficult with half days as I’m limited to what I can do. Moving around doesn’t occur as much with 4 hour days. Fortunately there were enough fish caught today to keep us interested! Although I’d like to get back out, the weather isn’t very promising. I’m still hoping for another trip this weekend before the boat goes into hibernation like a bear. Leaving the fish biting is tough but Mother Nature always has the final say. If temps remain negative for a few more days and nights, I won’t be able to launch and forced to wait for the hard water fishing. Either way, I will be wetting a line as much as I possibly can in the coming weeks. Hopefully out of my boat, in search of solid gold!

Crushing Big Eyes

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Today was undoubtedly one of the best late season outings for walleye, ever! Stephano just happened to luck into it, as he had booked several weeks back. In town on business, all the way from Italy, I had hoped for light winds and decent temps. Lately the weather has been the deciding factor in whether or not, I can even get out! Fortunately today, Mother Nature took a break and shut off the fans allowing me to actually fish comfortably.

We met up shortly after 8:00 and headed out to fish. I wasn’t sure what to expect as it had been almost two weeks since I had been on this water and many changes had occurred. The water temps at the launch were 37 degrees but I was sure the lake would be warmer. Turns out they weren’t much more but were at least 42 degrees where we were to fish.

After a quick explanation on how we were going to fish, the lines went in. Moments later, Stephano hooked up and was tight to a good walleye. He had caught them back home before, but not this size. We boated his catch and took several pics before the release. I don’t think he went 3 minutes, before he was locked up again! This one was also an eye and almost the same size. In less than 5 minutes he had already landed the two biggest walleye of his life. I knew we were in for a great day!

I had decided to fish as well and ran a second rod, hoping to bring up the numbers. As luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened! It seemed like every few minutes, one of us got hit. I didn’t need to reel anything in so immediately the rod changed hands. The whole day went like this and Stephano put an unbelievable amount of fish in the boat, including some bass & pike. He had slammed without even trying! All that was missing was a giant of an eye and I really hoped he would be the one that caught it.

We fished for almost 7 hours and boated all kinds, with the majority of them overs. In fact it was very difficult to catch keepers! I was hoping to take a late fall limit home and it took almost the entire day to fill it. Fortunately we did though and I would be having fish for dinner tonight! Stephano on the other hand had a flight to catch and wouldn’t be able to enjoy his catch. He would have to settle for the memories and many pics of the fish he landed today.

We fished right up till 2:45 before heading back to the dock to take out. He had caught fish from the time we started all the way to the end of the day. We couldn’t even remember how many were landed and that’s not a bad thing! This morning he had said that he would be happy if he caught one or two fish. I don’t think he ever imagined having a day like this!

Flying back home to Italy tonight he will have plenty of time to reflect on the day he just had. He would also have loads of pics to look at as there were many shots taken of some of his better fish. With any luck the next time he comes to Montreal for business, I’ll be getting another call. Hopefully it will be in warmer weather and somewhat earlier in the season. This way we might be able to fish for some other species and possibly one of those dinosaurs. His original trip was scheduled for October but was pushed back to today by his company. After missing out on the sturgeon I don’t think he was too disappointed with today’s results. I know I wasn’t!

Cold Water Beasts

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I finally got out with Norm today after many failed attempts this season. Hard to believe that he hadn’t wet a line all year! I knew we wouldn’t get many fish but they would probably be big today. His first hookup turned out to be a real beast of a smallie and he was thrilled. I shot several pics to get all the best angles before he released it back to continue growing.

We had been working extremely slow due to the 43 degree water temps and I was also fishing to locate the fish. My quest was for walleye and I definitely found some beauties. The first one was probably the largest, but every other one I hooked into was also sizable. Although I had hoped for a keeper, it wasn’t meant to be today. They were all well over the slot and returned after a few pics.

This time of year never gives me too many bites but today wasn’t one of those days. Between Norm & I, we had over the expected number of chances and monopolized on every one of them. Yuup, 100% of the fish came to net! This also doesn’t happen when the water dips down to almost 40 degrees!

Although there were mostly walleye landed today, the bass that we did catch were all big. In fact everything we landed today was on the large size making it a very enjoyable outing. In the few short hours we actually fished, we definitely made the best of it. It’s always nice to get out this late in the year and with the predicted weather ahead, I think I will be out right into December. I’m definitely looking forward to fishing more soft water before the hard water season begins!

Bone Chilling Day

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Scott & Justin were with me this morning as we headed to the water in below freezing temps. It felt more like a morning for ice fishing rather than one for open water and I just hoped the fish would bite!

The cold run to our starting spot made me realize just how slow we would have to fish. I set them up with baits and instructed them to fish slower than they had ever done before. The first half dozen hits were so light that each one was missed. All I could do was hope for sunshine to get the fish active. We did have a short burst of it that unfortunately lasted only 20 minutes before disappearing for the day! We would be in the clouds for the remainder and working hard for each fish we caught!

Scott finally managed to hook into what I thought might be the trophy he was wanting, but I soon realized it was the wrong species. He had somehow lucked into a young musky as an added bonus fish. Although fun to catch, not really what we were after! You never know what can happen this late in the year and this fish was the proof!

We covered plenty of water, marking all kinds of fish, but struggled to get them to take. They were either bumping the baits or coming off quickly and it was getting frustrating. Eventually Justin hooked into a good one and things were finally looking up. He battled it to the boat carefully as it would turn out to be his personal best. Several pics later he was releasing the biggest smallmouth of his life!

The remainder of the day saw similar results but no numbers. Scott even managed to catch another exotic species with a beautifully colored fall fish over 2 pounds. I would have liked to be able to use live minnows today but due to restrictions, it didn’t happen. We had to make do with what we had and pick at the fish instead. We also had to pick at the guides on the rods as ice formed all day long! By 3:00 we called it and headed back to take out.

Although the temperatures continue to fall, there’s still many days left to fish. I will be making a few adjustments next time out to be able to catch more of these inactive fish. It may even include some steelhead equipment along with the usual arsenal of baits! I just hope that the winds and below freezing temps hold off long enough to fish into December. I’m not ready to store the boat quite yet and there’s many more fish to be caught. Back out again soon!