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Dedication and Acknowledgements I would like to dedicate this book to my family: Helen, Jason, and Samantha. I would also like to thank my fishing buddies over the years. A special thank you goes to my oldest friend and fishing buddy, Brian, for some of the most unbelievable fishing trips and stories. A special thank you also goes out to my fishing buddy for the last 15 years, Wayne. Wayne thanks for sharing some of the special fishing spots that you shared with your father, another great angler. I know Wayne and I still have many more trips to make and more lunkers to land. I can’t forget “Shorty” who first guided me to Black Mountain and Joe who introduced me to serious fly fishing. Joe, I remember the day your father tied the backing on my first fly reel in your kitchen: he was another great angler. One of my favorite fishing buddies, though, is my son Jason. When we first relocated to Mount Pearl from Corner Brook in 1991 Jason was my only fishing buddy for about 3 years. We spent a lot of time together enjoying this sport, as father and son should, and catching some awesome fish like the large one-pound ouananiche he caught through the ice in a very special pond near Makinsons. Thanks all: I can’t remember ever being part of a bad fishing trip.
Table of Contents Author’s Thoughts and Concerns Introduction The Backward Hat Boys The Salmon Under the Bridge The Runaway Canoe Brian Slash Rambo Thanks to the Holy Fishing Boot The Ugly Trout What are And/Ors? The Paper Napkin Pond A Very Special Trip The Old Line in the Hole Trick Hidden Pond Lunker Big Bites at Little Deep Bite Which Fly Wayne? Black Mountain Morning Always Check Your Line Black Mountain Lagoon Trout Behind the Pot The Flu Trip Wayne’s Beaver House They’re a Wicked Pair of Boots Buddy Monster in the Sticks Makinsons Muddy Pond Monsters Makinsons Muddy Pond Monsters Part Deux Almost Lunker Skunked The Trout Machine was Launched Trip #1 First Island Fishing Frenzy The Trout Machine was Launched Trip #2 More Trouting Pics Catch You Later Page 1 Page 3 Page 4 Page 6 Page 9 Page 12 Page 14 Page 17 Page 21 Page 24 Page 32 Page 35 Page 38 Page 41 Page 44 Page 50 Page 53 Page 56 Page 61 Page 65 Page 68 Page 72 Page 75 Page 78 Page 82 Page 85 Page 89 Page 92 Page 96 Page 99 Page 107
Author’s Thoughts and Concerns Fishing Buddies Over the years I have been lucky enough to fish with some of the finest people that I have met during my lifetime. For people who are not avid anglers, it is not the fish, although its helps, that makes a good fishing trip or good fishing story. It is the lifelong friendships that are made as a result of two people sharing the same hobby or the same passion for something. It is amazing how two people can fish opposite sides of a pond for the whole day, meeting once in the day to share a lunch and feel as if they spent the day side-by-side. It is because one person understands the other’s love and passion for the sport: sometimes words don’t have to be spoken. The stories are often told during the boil up or on the way home in the car when there is no more fishing to do and the day is done. It’s an odd sort of communication but it works and it is very special. Trouting in Newfoundland Today I can’t speak for all anglers but in my opinion the trout is the forgotten fish of our inland waters and the stocks have been substantially reduced over the years. I have seen some of the pitifully small trout that some anglers keep and the fact that they can close their hand to hide the entire fish does not deter them from keeping it. To these people I would say you are ruining the sport for all of the conservation-minded anglers like my fishing buddies and I. I have become a much more responsible angler over the years and will not keep a trout that is less than 10 inches in length. I even have a mark on my fly rods and spin cast rods that I will use as a guide. If we don’t get smarter as anglers, the trout will go the way of the cod and other species. I often encounter anglers who take three or four times the legal bag limit allowed in Newfoundland. People, who know that I am an avid angler, will come up to me and say they landed and kept 50, 60, or even 70 trout. They tell me this with a sense of pride in their face and I always have the same come back ready. I start telling them that they are ruining the sport for all of the responsible anglers that will keep a couple of nice trout and practice catch and release to complete a very enjoyable day of angling. I am one of the very few people who believes that we should have to buy a
trout license in Newfoundland and make the fee large enough to eliminate these abusers but low enough to allow families to enjoy the sport together. All we need to do is look at the problems that are now plaguing areas such as Indian Bay near Gambo and Star Lake near Millertown to see the result of irresponsible angling. Conservation Does anybody know where the Department of Fisheries stands on trout conservation in Newfoundland? I know we have sport fishing interest groups in Newfoundland but their agenda is primarily salmon not trout. It may be time for avid trout anglers to get together in this province and form an association whose primary goal is the conservation of trout stocks. The money that could be raised through a sensible licensing program could be used to save and replenish trout stocks across Newfoundland. This association, along with the Department of Fisheries, would work together to deal with trout stocks as they do in Ontario, Alberta, and other provinces. It would give me great comfort to know that anglers would be able to enjoy fishing trips and tell stories like the ones I have included in this little book for years to come.
Introduction This book was a labour of love for me and I decided to put it together as a result of my teaching career. I used to tell a lot of these stories to my students over the years as ice breakers and stress relievers. The humour of these stories made many people laugh over the years and I did get the desired result. Some years ago past students as well as a certain university professor of mine encouraged me to write these stories down but I took it a step further. After Christmas of 2002 I decided to put my stories in a book and give it to my fishing buddies as a Christmas gift in 2003. The problem was that they reminded of more stories and I realized I wasn’t finished. I added more good stories and this is the result. Some of the stories in this book are followed by photos that were taken of the trip but unfortunately I don’t have pictures for all of the stories. I have included a gallery of photos that were taken on trips that are not in the book as well. I hope everyone who reads this book finds it to be as special but funny as I do. Remember that the stories and size of all the fish included in this book are ALL TRUE, MAYBE. P.S. I Hope you enjoy the fishing tips too. I was lucky enough to get these from other anglers who were good enough to share them with me.
The Backward Hat Boys This story is more like a “believe it or not” fishing story than an actual monster fish story. One spring evening in 1980 a buddy, Joe, and I were fishing on the culverts at Little River between my home town, Stephenville Crossing and Mattis Point. I was sitting on one culvert and Joe was sitting on another culvert to my right and we were both enjoying an evening of spring fishing. Early in the evening I swear we couldn’t catch the bloody cold, I was getting bored and I decided to turn my ball cap backwards on my head. All of a sudden I started to catch some trout but poor Joe wasn’t getting a nibble. After catching five or six decent trout, Joe asked me what it was that I was doing to catch trout that he wasn’t doing. I told Joe, with a laugh, that he had to turn his cap backwards or he was going to have a very long evening and go home with no trout. Joe, laughing hysterically removed his cap and replaced it on his head backwards. I swear that what I am to tell you next is the truth. Just after Joe turned his cap backwards he caught his first trout of the evening and we both laughed so hard I thought we would both fall off the culverts into the water below. Hang on people, it gets better. After Joe had landed a few trout another angler from the Crossing, Martin, showed up and thought he would finish the evening fishing with Joe and I. He positioned himself on another culvert to Joe’s right and started trouting. After a time of absolutely no action, frustration had gotten the best of him and he wanted to know why we were catching fish and he wasn’t. We both told Martin, without cracking a smile, you have to turn your cap backwards to catch trout in this spot old buddy. Martin, being the comedian he was, put his ball cap on backwards and I swear he then landed his first trout in a matter of minutes. Joe and I literally fell of the culverts to the beach below in laughter. I still laugh when I picture three grown men sitting on three culverts, in early spring, with their ball caps on backwards fishing for and catching some nice spring trout.
Fishing Tip #1 The first tip I have for readers relates to increasing your chances of landing fish when there is no top-water action. A good technique is to let the spinner or tackle sink to the bottom of the pond, lake or brook. This can be accomplished by waiting for the line to sink to or near the bottom, reel four or five turns and stop to allow the line to sink. Then reel to the point where the line stays tight. When reeling slowly, lift the rod tip up in the air to pull the line along the bottom and repeat the steps mentioned above but keep the line as tight as possible. The fish usually takes the bait when the line is not moving. Wait until the fish pulls the line tight and set the hook. I find that if the fish pulls the line tight the hook set is straight and true. This will increase your fishing success. I have seen days where trout will follow a baited spinner to shore but will not take the bait as it moves through the water. When I notice this behaviour, I will reel the line until I see the trout and let it sink to the bottom. I have seen these trout pick the baited spinner off the pond bottom, swim with it and literally hook themselves. This method is especially good for sandy or muddy bottom ponds but it can be a costly method when you are fishing rocky or log riddled bottom ponds. Give it a try and let me know how it works out.
The Salmon Under the Bridge It was during a weekend camping trip with my family in the late 80’s that I had the ultimate fight with a large salmon or sea trout. I would consider it to be the longest and best fight of all my years as a serious angler. The encounter occurred when I was fishing near the mountain trail bridge in Barachois Pond Provincial Park on the West Coast of Newfoundland. I was fishing the area around the bridge catching many small trout and salmon par when I noticed a shadow of a very large fish under one part of the bridge. I still cannot say for sure if the monster fish was a salmon or sea trout but I will stick with the guess that it was a salmon due to the size and power it would display later in the morning. I moved into position very carefully while struggling not to spook the huge fish. I prepared my spin cast rod and closed faced reel and cast with deadly accuracy. As the spinner disappeared from the surface of the calm clear water, the monster fish exploded and devoured the 3-inch spinner and bait. I waited for a split second, set the hook and the fight of a lifetime had begun. I was able to horse the fish from under the bridge for a couple of minutes but before long the powerful fish was able to fight its way back under the bridge. While keeping the rod in the air and line tight, I was able to run up on the bridge to make my next move. I knew I had to horse the fish from under the bridge or it would snap my line off on the square cement pillars at the bottom of the bridge. I climbed up on the rail of the bridge, leaned over the bridge while straddling the bridge rail and managed to horse the monster fish from under the bridge once more. With the fish now in open water and remembering to keep the line tight, I ran off the bridge to a nearby sandy beach and started to attempt to land the monster fish of a lifetime on the rocky shoreline. I was bringing the fish in easily at first but when the fish entered the shallow water, as salmon usually do, it started to fight by shaking its head frantically from side to side with unbelievable power. Unfortunately for me there must have been some slack in my line at some time during the fight, maybe going from the bridge to the shoreline below, and the fish was able to shake the spinner free from its mouth. To my disbelief I was able to watch the dream fish return to its previous position under the bridge. All I could do was stand there for a moment and look at the monster sitting under the bridge. I used all the tackle I had available to try to hook the fish again but I was unsuccessful. It was during this series of casts that I noticed that my reel was not working properly and had become a casualty of the morning fight. I
checked the reel when I returned to the campsite and noticed the reel had been damaged to the point of no repair. If anybody would have asked me if loosing my reel was worth it that morning, I would have to say “damned right”. I can’t be sure on the size of this fish but based on comparison of its length to an estimated length of my spin-cast rod, I would estimate the weight of the fish to be approximately five or six pounds. For those of you who would like to camp while having a chance to land a lunker, Barachois Pond Provincial Park is located about 10 kilometers west of the White’s Road intersection on the TransCanada Highway on the West Coast of the province. This White’s Road intersection is the first turn off to Stephenville you will encounter on the TransCanada Highway driving west. On both ends of the pond you can fish for Salmon in the Barachois River. This pond hosts such species of fish as smalt, trout, salmon and Ouananiche. If you are camping in the park during the spring or summer, why not take your trusty fly rod and go down to the bridge and try your luck?. Jason and I in Barachois Pond Provincial Park
Fishing Tip #2 Many people who ice fish near the more populated areas of Newfoundland tend to use worms as their preferred form of bait but many West Coast anglers use other bait sources such as raw moose meat. It is the best ice fishing bait that I have ever used. I have used both worms and moose meat while on the same ice fishing trip and I have noticed that the moose meat has increased the numbers of trout I have caught in direct comparison to the use of worms. The old pill bottle or sandwich bag full of small pieces of raw moose meat salvaged many a questionable ice fishing trip for this angler. By the way, the ouananiche love the moose meat and they are unbelievably aggressive in striking this type of bait. When my son, Jason, was 12 years old he caught a two-pound ouananiche through the ice in the Makinsons area of the Avalon Peninsula and the bait was, you guessed it, raw moose meat. Being from the West Coast I have heard of anglers using other forms of bait such as squid horns, herring, chewing gum, raw pork and even orange peels to catch trout through the ice as well as other methods of angling. One of the security guards who worked on the gates on the Camp Road, on Gallants Hill, claims that he saw an American female angler land a two-pound trout using a piece of orange peel. Who would have “thunk it”. Try it and let me know how it turns out.
The Runaway Canoe This story is not about the fish we caught or lost but about a hilarious event that took place on the way to our favorite fishing hole on the Camp Road near Gallant’s Hill. It was the opening day of trout season back in the late 80’s when Brian and I decided to go to our favorite fishing hole even though the gate was still locked on our road of choice. We borrowed a threewheeler and a old canoe trailer, in exchange for six juices in brown bottles, from one of our fishing buddies. Our plan was to drive to the gate in the truck and drive the bike and canoe from the gate to the pond we always called Lobster Pond. This pond always yielded 14 to 16-inch trout and inland char, as I was told later by an experienced hunter and angler in the area. We were excited because we knew that we would be the first anglers to the pond and we figured we would be richly rewarded for our efforts and we were right. We had the old bike idling, the trailer carrying the canoe was securely attached to the bike, or so we thought. This picture of my fishing buddy, Brian, and I all dressed in the latest fishing attire riding a bike that was pulling a trailer draped by my canoe looked like a picture out of a national or international sport fishing magazine: it was lovely buddy. We were so proud of our good fortune and felt like little kids as we were driving into the pond: according to our wives this is common feeling that we have when trout season starts. We stopped for a moment to view the ponds in the area and started to descend the last big hill before we reached our lovely pond in the valley. I was excited and knew that we would be wetting a line in just minutes. Keep in mind that Brian and I were on a bike pulling a poorly attached trailer carrying my trusty orange canoe. As we proceeded further down the steep hill, I noticed something moving to our left through the corner of my eye. When I looked to the left again, I noticed that the trailer and canoe had become detached and was about to pass us as we went down the hill. I tapped Brian on the shoulder and pointed to the trailer and canoe that now had passed us. I can’t remember a funnier look on either of our faces in the many years that we were friends. Unknown to me was the fact that the bike didn’t have any brakes and therefore, we could not speed up to catch the runaway rig without having an accident. If we had increased the speed, we would not have been able to stop until we reached Little Grand Lake or ran out of gas; whatever would have come first. We had to proceed to the bottom of the hill to slow down enough to be able to turn around and find the crash site. The trailer,
my canoe, and the fishing gear inside came to an abrupt stop in the ditch and luckily no damage had been done to either. We re-attached the trailer and canoe until we reached our lovely pond. I had to stand on the hitch to keep the trailer from detaching from the bike for a repeat performance. As the whole event was unfolding, we were laughing hysterically to point of physical pain. We figured that if we had a videotape of the trailer and canoe passing the old bike that we would have won the big money on the television show America’s Funniest Home Videos hands down. We landed some beautiful fish that day but the vision of the canoe passing Brian and I riding the bike with no brakes definitely was the most memorable part of the trip. Every time Brain and I get together to talk about our best or most memorable fishing trip this one always tops the list.
Fishing Tip #3 One of biggest complaints that I often hear from anglers is leaky boots. I believe that most leaks occur due to the improper storage of their thigh boots, hip waders, chest waders or neoprene waders. The worse mistake is to try and dry any of the above in the hot summer sun or over a heater in your house or cabin. Any manufacturer will tell you that the rubber and/or neoprene will last much longer if it is dried at room temperature. I believe it causes the boots to rot from the inside and the rubber or neoprene deteriorates on the outside over time. With hip or chest waders I recommend first hanging them upside down to allow any water drain out. After this step I dry my waders by hanging them up by the shoulder straps in my basement. It is important to make sure the leg of the boots or waders are never folded. This folding causes a seam to form along the boot and will eventually form a crack and leak like a basket. I have found that you will find the leak before you actually find the hole in the boot and usually when standing up to your waste in some pond or river early in the morning. Hang them don’t fold them
Brian Slash Rambo This story will tell you just how crazy my fishing buddy Brian and I were and the limits we would go through to catch trout. I have to clarify that we were much younger at that time but we still enjoy catching trout. This story is about fishing on the same day as the Runaway Canoe incident. I am so glad that we have finally put a name on that event that day. After the laughter had subsided, later in the day we made our way to the bottom of the pond where we found a large beaver house with about 10 feet of submerged trees extending from its front. We could see that the trout were in the area just outside of the submerged trees so Brain decided to climb out on these submerged trees and I decided to paddle the canoe out to this area by myself. As soon I anchored the canoe and made my first cast, I was reeling in a nice trout. I believe I landed three or four in very quick order and Brian was striking some smaller fish from his position. He then decided that he would walk out on that very shaky and dangerous pile of submerged trees to chase some lunkers. If any of you true anglers have ever walked out on the pile of sticks on the front of a beaver house, you know that it is very bouncy, you could easily fall through the trees and sink to the pond bottom like a bloody rock or anchor. I was telling my best buddy to be very careful and that no fish was worth too much risk. A few moments after this Brian sit his hook in to a lunker trout while trying to keep his balance on that floating mess. He pulled the trout in and had it in his left hand and he was holding his fishing rod in the right hand beaming this huge smile. As he kind of celebrated, he slipped and fell through the submerged trees, stopping at his waist. I started paddling toward his position as quickly as possible, he slipped just a little more and started bouncing the pile of trees. I thought for sure that he would lose his trout, rod and maybe something even more important. All of a sudden just like John Rambo bursting through the surface of a river on one of the Rambo movies, Brian bounced back to the top of the submerged trees with that bloody trout in his left hand and his rod still in the right hand as if nothing had ever happened. There was a moment of silence and to relieve the shock of those two minutes in time both of us were cracking up with laughter. I have to say that I will very rarely walk out on the front of beaver house ever again after that experience. Brian mentioned this story to me during the summer of 2003 and I thought I would share it with you.
Fishing Tip #4 One of the worse experiences on a long fishing trip is to fall in the water or walk over your fishing boots or neoprene waders. You do not want to crawl out of your tent or cabin the morning after and have to wear wet fishing boots to enjoy a great day of trouting. One of my fishing buddies, Wayne, told me that his father always told him to bring newspaper on such a trip to cure such a problem. What his father would do is hang the boots upside down to allow most of the water to drain out. He would take pages of a newspaper, roll them up in balls and completely fill each boot with the balls of newspaper. The next morning he would remove the old newspaper from the fishing boots and he would have a dry pair of boots for a great day of trouting. I have tried this many times and it has salvaged many an overnight fishing trip for me. I believe that this idea works for two reasons. First, the newspaper absorbs much of the remaining water and second, the balls of newspaper generate or create heat within the boots. If you try this technique, insert your hand inside the paper-filled boot and you can actually feel the warmth. For people who are old enough to remember, many houses in Newfoundland used balls of newspaper to insulate the walls of their homes. If I am wearing hip waders, I never go on an overnight fishing trip without two or three old newspapers. The paper is never wasted because it can also double as a fire starter. If you try this tip, let me know how it turns out.
Thanks to the Holey Fishing Boot The second trip that Brian and I made to the pond we called Lobster Pond showed us a new fishing technique as well as the quality fish that resided in the pond. On a nice June morning, back in the 80’s, Brian and I strapped my orange canoe to the roof of my 2-door Chevette, yes a two-door Chevette. My brother-in-law often said if we were to drive into the pond by accident, all we would have to do is open the windows and paddle the car back to shore. We drove to the top of Gallant’s Hill and 10 kilometres in the Camp Road until we came to our best fishing spot. As we always did in Lobster Pond, we were fishing from my canoe and for most of the morning we fished the shoreline with a very unusual lack of success. It was about noon when frustration sat in and we decided to paddle to the middle of the pond, drop the anchor and have a snack. It is funny how the whole thing unfolded because we decided to stay in the canoe in the middle of the pond and have our lunch: this is something that we hadn’t done before. We finished our snack and I decided to fix a hole in my old fishing boots with my trusty tube of GOOP. GOOP for me was like duct tape for a handyman when I used the basic hip wader because there always seemed to be a hole in those bloody things. I cast my spinner down wind and laid my fishing rod along the side of the boat with the rod standing straight up in the air. I took out the GOOP, a type of glue, and proceeded to patch another annoying hole in my fishing boot. In the sun the GOOP will dry very quickly, cover a small hole and allow you to continue fishing for the rest of the day. I was preparing to patch the boot when I noticed my line was being pulled tight ever so slightly. I told Brian to watch the moving line and we continued watching the blessed event until the line was tight and my rod tip was starting to move as though I was getting a strike. Brian and I had been watching the weird event in total disbelief. I carefully took the fishing rod in my hand, reeled the line tight and firmly set the hook. At first I thought I had hooked a bloody old eel and would have to clean up the mess that would result. Fortunately I hooked and landed a beautiful 12 to 14 inch trout. Brian gave me a comical look and he decided to cast his line down wind, stood the rod up in the canoe and waited for the line to be pulled tight. All of sudden we noticed the line being pulled tight and the rod tip moving. He picked up the rod carefully, set the hook and landed a trout of
approximately the same size. We started to laugh at the whole situation and decided to finish our lunch in the canoe rather than chance going to shore and miss this feeding frenzy. We both repeated this odd procedure for most of the afternoon and we were able to leave with our legal limit that day. The other odd thing was all of the trout were approximately the same size or as we often joked, twins. You know I never got to finish that patch job that day but I was not disappointed. In all of our trips to this one pond we always fish the shoreline in the morning but around noon, after finishing our lovely shore lunch, we move to that same spot in the middle of the pond. We kind of relive this story for a minute or two, drop the anchor, repeat that casting technique and we were always successful. I returned to Lobster Pond a some years ago but was unsuccessful from the shoreline and I didn’t have my canoe with me. In talking with people from my hometown, I learned that our beloved pond had been visited by poachers and the number of trout had decreased substantially. The road is practically washed out now and very little fishing is done there anymore. Hopefully the fish population will rebound and once again anglers will be able to have a great day of fishing on Lobster Pond.
Fishing Tip #5 Over the years I’ve seen many different ways of freeing a snagged spinner from the brook or pond bottom. My favorite method is keeping the rod tip in the air, holding the fishing rod with the left hand and snapping the line just in front of the reel with a quick pluck. Also, I have been somewhat successful when I push the button as I would for casting and pull quickly. It jars the line but allows the line to become slack very quickly and the hook releases from the snag. Another method is to have your fishing buddy hook your line with his line from either the left or right of the snag and pull until the snagged hook is released. Another solution is to buy the black wire Normark hooks that will straighten out if the line is pulled with enough force and all you have to do is to replace the bad hook. Don’t worry, the hooks are strong enough to allow for a true hook set and bring in that monster fish but allow you so save a lot of tackle. All of the above work well for releasing snags from rocky bottom areas but if you hook a tree you are out one spinner and a few feet of fishing line.
The Ugly Trout In the late 80’s two friends, Brian and Paul, and I went on our first fishing trip to Portage Lake on the Old Buchans Road on the Labour Day weekend. We got up around five or six in the morning, packed the gear, strapped the canoe on the old Hyundai Excel (Not much bigger than the old Chevette is it?) and drove down the Burgeo Highway for about an hour. There is nothing more exciting than fishing a new spot for the first time and the anticipation of catching some serious lunkers was in the air. We had been fishing the upper part of the lake for most of the morning with no luck. It was about eleven in the morning when we paddled the canoe into a small, secluded cove. We were all snacking on something and just basically enjoying the beautiful September day of fishing. I cast my spinner further into the cove and let it sink to the bottom while taking a sip of an ice cold Pepsi: yes it was Pepsi. A small gust of wind started to blow the canoe backwards out of the cove pulling my fishing line tight and I set the hook in a reflex action, not really thinking about what I had done. I thought I had snagged the bottom and asked the guys to paddle back into the cove to give the line enough slack to retrieve my spinner. At that moment the tip of my beautiful 100% graphite rod started to shake, the line started to move sideways in the dark water and I instinctively set the hook once again. I shouted to the guys that either I had hooked a seriously large lunker or a a huge bloody eel. The fish or whatever I had hooked started to move back into the cove and was staying near or on the bottom of the lake and had no intention of coming to the surface. I realized that I was going to have to play this fish and I started by letting the fish take out a fair amount of line from my reel spool adjusting my drag. When the fish stopped taking out line, I started to reel frantically and started to force the fish to come to the top of the water where Brian was waiting with the trusty dip net. I was wearing Polaroid sunglasses that day and I could see the size of the trout, as it was coming to the surface of the lake and it looked enormous in the water. Unfortunately for me Brian could not see the lunker trout and was having difficulty netting the Portage Lake’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. I was shouting and pointing frantically to help Brian locate and net the monster. Suddenly the trout came to the surface and must have decided to give up the long fight. At that very moment Brian was able to net the fish and lift it into the canoe. The three of us stared at the fish in complete awe not just for its size but for its ugly shape. We decided to paddle to shore to celebrate our success with a good
Newfoundland boil up that consisted of a pound of hamburger meat and a can of Roller Coasters. For those of you who have never eaten Roller Coasters they are ringed pasta smothered in tomato sauce and usually disgusting to eat without some sort additional food source. The trout weighed close to 4 pounds but I still think it was the ugliest trout I have ever landed. As you can see in the pictures below, the back of the trout was level or straight across but the belly of the fish was shaped like a half moon. Some experienced anglers saw the picture of the fish and they believed that it was a very old mud trout. They also suggested that this shape was not uncommon for an old muddie in Newfoundland. I still think it was a beautiful thing to catch but an ugly thing to look at. You be the judge. Other fish compared to the old ugly mud trout
The boys after finishing the Roller Coasters
Fishing Tip #6 Over the years I have used thigh boots, hip waders, tight neoprene chest waders with the booties and a regular type of chest wader. When I switched from the regular hip waders to the neoprene chest waders, I thought I had won the lottery. In my first year of ownership I was able to get my line to spots further out in the pond, keep warm in the spring and virtually bullet proof during rain showers or drizzle. I have found that they are too warm for the summer, nasty on certain areas of the body if you have to walk in them and they all seem to get a leak in the groin area: could there be a worse spot for a bloody leak. In speaking with anglers who are willing to spend these types of bucks on fishing gear, I believe that I have found the cause of the groin leak. These waders were never made for walking over the harsh terrain in Newfoundland but for simply standing in a river or pond. The stretching and stress caused by walking over such terrain forces the stitched seams in the groin to loosen and leak. I have to tell you that I have tried GOOP and just about every type of patching kit known to man but I could never stop the leak for any length of time. I have been the owner of two pairs of the tight neoprene chest waders with the booties and they both started to leak in the same spot in the second year of use. I now own a pair of regular chest waders that are neoprene but they are not tight to the body and they do not leak. They are now the oldest pair of fishing boots that I have ever owned. So before you spend the big bucks to buy the heavy tight neoprene waders you might want to think of the cost and how long they will be leak free. If you find another answer to the groin leak, please let me know so I can share it with other anglers.
What are And Ors? Back in the late 80’s Brian and I decided to go on a fishing trip to Little River which is only about 5 minutes outside our hometown of Stephenville Crossing on the way to the Trans Canada Highway. We put the canoe in the water around six or seven in the morning and began paddling up the slow but strong river current. Brian and I must have paddled about an hour until we reached the first pond or large pool and started fishing the pool with the usual excitement of making the first cast of the morning and catching the first trout of the day. We caught some nice trout in the first pool that morning. When the fish stopped biting in the pool, we paddled about another hour to another large pool and caught more nice trout but as with any pool, they tend to stop biting quickly and we decided to move on. This procedure continued all through the day, we caught some lovely trout but we didn’t realize how far we had paddled up the river because of all of the stops. I do believe that to return to the bottom of the river without stopping it would have taken about two hours of continuous paddling. When we were about to start paddling our way down the river we realized that we had run out of food and we were very hungry. We had been paddling for about an hour when Brian starts laughing and gleefully informs me that he had found a can of Sausages in the bottom of his knapsack. Brian and I always referred to these lovely cans of processed meat as And Ors because they are made of beef, and/or pork and/or chicken or all of the above. Another buddy of mine used to say they were made from the arse of some unknown animal. We were both so hungry that I believe we thought we had found a large piece of prime rib in the bottom of that knapsack. As usual, I was sitting in the front of the canoe and Brian was sitting in the back of the canoe when I heard him open that can of prime rib or And Ors. I glanced behind to see Brian holding the open can with his right hand and tapping his right wrist with his left hand. Now let me explain that this is a very common method of getting all of the sausages to pop halfway out of the tin in one tidy group or pile. This allows the disgusting juice to stay in the bottom of the tin and easy access to all of the sausages at one time: usually a very logical move or idea. Well on this day you could take logic, spit on it and throw it in the river. Brian was having a problem getting the sausages to pop out of the tin and he was increasing the force of his tapping to get the sausages to move painfully slow up the can’s opening until he gave his wrist a wicked tap. All I remember seeing is the sausages pop out of the can, over Brian’s head, and landing, in a bunch, with a funny splash right
in the river behind him. The canoe was moving too fast for him to grab the sausages from the top of the water but slow enough for both of us to watch the sausages sink slowly into the dark abyss of the river. We were so hungry that I thought that we would both cry like babies and we looked like two kids that had lost their ice cream at the fair or circus. We were both quiet for a minute but as soon as we saw each other watching the sausages sinking to the bottom of the river, the laughter started and lasted until we got home. When we got home, I believe we could have eaten the cupboard doors for supper and I would say that my mother’s groceries would have backed that up. As I said earlier, trouting is not always about the fish that makes the trip but hilarious events that occur during the trip. Actually I don’t think that Brian and I ever started a trip without laughter and ended the same trip without laughter: never mind that there was laughter in between.
Fishing Tip #7 It seems that most anglers either fly fish or bait cast only. On most of my trips I take one my trusty fly rods and one of my trusty spin cast rods to increase my chances for a successful trip. Also, my fishing vest includes all of the gear that is required to use and maintain both of my fishing systems. I am not suggesting that you try and use both of these systems at once, as if you were putting out two lines to ice fish. Many of my fishing buddies do the same and we believe that you leave nothing to chance, especially on long distance trips where you have invested a lot of time and money. In many ponds or brooks fish jump for flies when there is a new hatch of insects. After the fish stop the top water action, you can change to the old spin cast rod and continue a great day of angling. I carry both systems because most of my fishing trips tend to last from about five in the morning to five in the afternoon and the trout’s behaviour can change a lot over such a long period of time. It can make for an awful fishing trip if the fish are only striking one of these systems and the one fishing system you brought that day is not the correct one. If you have ever been to a pond where the trout are feeding on the surface only and you are sitting on the shoreline watching with the old spin-cast draped across your lap in frustration, you are now recalling some of the same painful memories common to many avid anglers, me included.
The Paper Napkin Pond In the late 80’s my good friend and fishing buddy, Brian, received a map from another friend showing a great fishing spot. The odd thing is that it was sketched on a restaurant paper napkin. This great fishing spot was just inside Portage Lake and is located on the Old Buchan’s Road between the Burgeo Highway and Millertown Junction. I have a special attachment with Portage Lake because I was able to land the biggest trout that I have ever landed, as an angler, five or six years previous to this trip. This ugly old mud trout weighed in at approximately 4 pounds. In looking at the map I could see that it showed a brook running out of the bottom of Portage Lake and flowing around a piece of land in a horseshoe fashion until it reached the mouth of another large pond or lake. It was this pond or lake that the map was telling us where we were to go in search of monster trout. I had been at the bottom of Portage Lake many times before but could not remember seeing this brook and I thought it was a mistake or a lark on the part of the guy who drew the map. One morning in June Brian and I took tackle, food, a Hummingbird Fish Finder, my orange canoe and drove the Burgeo Highway. We drove in the Old Buchan’s Road until we reached the bottom of Portage Lake. We put the canoe in the water and paddled to the bottom of Portage Lake to search for this invisible brook. When we landed the canoe at the bottom of Portage Lake, I couldn’t believe it but the lay of the land made it seem as if the brook was running uphill and was covered in thick grass. I then realized that this was the main reason that I had not seen it on previous trips. We completed a twenty foot portage to another water source and paddled the horseshoe formation as the map indicated. At the end of the horseshoe formation and to the right we found the large pond or lake just as it was marked. I could not believe the map’s accuracy. We canoed into the lake’s opening and we were awed by the size of the lake and its short-lived calm water. Not knowing the lake I dropped the sensor of my old fish finder into the water, set the alarm and we both began to watch the screen for lunkers as we paddled in and out of the different coves of this lake. Thirty minutes passed before the alarm sounded and I managed to land a pan size trout. We paddled for about another 30 minutes with nothing to show for our efforts until we reached a rocky and wave-filled reef. The depth of the water could not have been any more than four or five feet. The wind was up and blowing about 30 to 40 kilometers an hour when the fish finder alarm started to sound and the screen showed us that a school of trout
was all over the reef. I was in the front seat of the canoe, made my first cast and landed a beautiful 16 to 18-inch trout: the fishing trip of a lifetime had begun. Brian and I landed about 10 fish that were of this size and larger as the enclosed group of pictures will show. We must have spooked the fish because for about 30 minutes there was no activity. We decided to go to the shore for a lunch to get a break from the frustrating wind and possible wind burn. I decided to attach a huge red and white bobber, about the size of a baseball, to my line and cast a long distance from the shoreline to five or six feet in front of that rocky reef. In seconds the bobber disappeared, I set the hook and I was able to land another monster trout. The trout had moved off the reef and had settled about 10 feet beyond our first anchoring point. We jumped in the canoe and moved to the new position. All of a sudden the finder alarm started to play our song, and we were able to keep this unbelievable day alive. We landed about another seven or eight monsters that day but we were about to be visited by, what only can be described as a massive fish, that would leave Brian and I with jaws open and tongue hanging out in disbelief. On my finder screen 20-inch trout would be represented by two or three square pixels (blocks) but for one moment in time a fish appeared on our screen that measured six or seven pixels. We could not believe our eyes and we both came to attention for what we hoped would have put an excellent cap on an already unbelievable trip and maybe a picture in the local newspaper. We were both bobbing our lines on the side of the canoe when this monster fish struck Brian’s line and my line respectively in a matter of seconds. The fish had made one huge tug on Brian’s line, one huge tug on my line and then disappeared from the finder screen. We both looked at each other as if we were little kids and a bigger kid had stolen our candy. Brian and I caught our legal limit that day but in looking at the enclosed pictures we still talk about the monster fish that visited our lines with great respect and how great it would have been to have hooked it or to have brought it home that day. The day, unfortunately for us, was far from over and we were to learn that to catch the quality of fish we had landed there was a price to pay. We were able to paddle back to the bottom of Portage Lake but the waves were too high to paddle up the lake safely. We had to backpack all of our gear out to the road that day and leave the canoe in the trees overnight. We returned the next morning to find that the wind had not calmed any and we were forced to portage the canoe and all of its contents back to the road. We both agreed, though, it was worth it to have experienced the best day of fishing that I have experienced to date.
Trout laid out on a piece of plywood by the pond
Me with some of my catch
Brian fishing at the opening of the pond
Brian with some of his catch
Brian and another trout
Son Jason on another trip to Paper Napkin Pond
Me on the trip with Jason to Paper Napkin Pond
Me on yet another trip to the Paper Napkin Pond with son Jason
Fishing Tip #8 One basic tip has to do with preparing your fishing line before you go on any fishing trip. If you put new line on your reel, don’t think your preparation stops there. If you do stop at this point, your first cast will be short and the line will sit on the water in curls, as if your line had been wrapped around a broom handle for a month. When a fish strikes, you will not be able to set the hook true or properly. For one thing, when you set the hook the line has to straighten first before there is enough tight line to allow for a proper hook set. After putting new line on my reels, I usually take the show outdoors. I release about 30 or 40 feet of line and attach to a fence post and pull the line tight to stretch it. I will do this, four or five times, during the day and I may even leave it outdoors for a few hours on a nice day. This stretching of the line will stop the line from looping around your reel spool and reduces line tangles. I have noticed over the years that this is particularly true with the opened-faced reels that many other anglers use. I have always used a closedfaced reel because I believe that they are less likely to tangle. Both of my old fishing buddies use the opened-faced reels and there is always a trip or two a year where they have to cut line due to tangles. Another solution to the curly line is to spend a little more money and purchase quality brand name lines that don’t require stretching. They will usually indicate this fact somewhere on the product packaging.
A Very Special Trip This story is one of my favorites because it includes my son, Jason. We had returned to the Stephenville area many times in the summer of 1993 because it was the first summer after my mother’s passing and I felt it was a good time to spend time near my home of Stephenville Crossing. We decided to go fishing in my favorite pond, Lobster Pond, on the wood’s road near Gallant’s Hill. We didn’t have the orange canoe that day but we parked the car at the top of the hill and managed to walk to my favorite little cove to try to catch a couple of nice trout. As we got to the pond, I could see the beaver house that put water in Brian’s boots a few years before and my favorite little cove was just to our left. This little cove was short on shoreline but big on overhanging trees which called for close-quarters fishing. When we reached the cove we could see and hear the beautiful inland char breaking water all over the pond but there seemed to be more action in the water just off the shore in front of us. I knew we were in trouble because we had packed a huge snack, our spin cast rods, worms but no fly rod. We managed to hook a couple of small trout but the large fish refused to take the baited spinner; a typical problem in the summer. Jason and I stood there for a few moments watching the trout jump for either black knats or mosquitoes about 10 feet from shore. I had flies in my tackle pouch but I couldn’t figure out how to put enough weight on the end of the line to reach the trout further offshore and still present a trout fly in a manner that would attract the bigger fish. Jason, being inventive as usual, attached a small piece of wood he found on the shore to his fishing line about two or three inches above the fly of his choice. He was able to cast his strange combination to a spot where a trout had jumped and excitedly landed a lovely 12-inch trout in just a few seconds. I then had him rig the same system on my line. This system combined with my height and hip waders put me right in the honey hole of jumping trout and inland char. I made the first cast and a lovely 14-inch inland char exploded on the old black knat in seconds. This trout was landed quickly and followed by more than a dozen other trout that Jason and I landed together that day, as indicated in the pictures following this story. We had to take turns casting to the hot spot of the cove as a result of the very close quarters that we forced to work. It was an unbelievable fishing trip that morning and in no time we were home with our catch. I can still remember the pride in Jason’s face as he displayed our catch at the house.
Our catch from the trip
Fishing Tip #9 I know that many experienced anglers do apply this tip but I have seen many who do not. If my fishing trip is lengthy or requires a lot of effort, I will carry a spare fly reel and a spare spin cast reel: maybe even spare rods. I have had many great fishing trips put into jeopardy by a cranky reel and the old spare has saved the day for me or even one of my fishing buddies. If I take my canoe on a trip or go on an overnight trip, I will definitely carry both spare reels and spare rods. I have had rod tip, handles and rod guides break on trips that were long distances in the wilderness and returning for replacement fishing gear was not an option. I even take this tip further by carrying small tools, reel nuts and reel screws in my fishing vest to make onthe-spot repairs. I remember fishing the top of Portage Lake some years ago with my uncle from Port Aux Basques and taking apart two broken reels. I then had to use these parts to make one good reel for my uncle who was fishing with me at the time. I am a big believer in the motto, “Always be prepared”.
The Old Line in the Hole Trick The funniest fishing story that I can relay to my readers is the time that Brian, Geoff, Claude and I went ice fishing in the bottom of Barachois Pond Park. We drove about 20 kilometers down the Burgeo Highway to the place we call the Old Logging School Road and walked about five kilometers into the pond in the early morning darkness. If I remember correctly, there was a whole lot of slipping and sliding going on due to lack of visibility. This combined with the bloody little cap gun Geoff had made the walk an interesting one. We made our way on to the pond, cut many holes but our final set up was four holes in the ice about 20 or 30 feet from the end of the Barachois River. We baited the hooks, dropped the lines and made a spot for a little campfire. We had the holes cut in the fashion illustrated below. Hole #1 Hole #2
During the morning we were catching smalt and four or five 16 to 18inch brook trout and having a great deal of fun but nothing like the fun that was to follow. The fun really started when Brian and I noticed that the current from the river had caused the fishing line in Hole #2 to become entangled with the fishing line in Hole #4. We realized that if we were to pull the line in just the right way in Hole #4 the tip of the rod located at Hole #2 would move as if a large fish had been hooked. Brian and I looked at each other and you should have seen the evil smile that appeared very quickly on each of our faces and the joke was on. Brian, being the practical joker he was and still is, pulled the line in little jerks at Hole #4 and the movement of the rod tip at Hole #2 looked as though a large trout had been hooked. We called out to Geoff yelling the words we all anglers love to hear, “fish on”, while pointing to Hole #2. Geoff, in his excitement, left his previous position at Hole #1 as though he was Superman and ran to Hole #2 sliding on his knees until he came to a stop by Hole #2. Geoff positioned himself near Hole #2 at the ready and Brian pulled the line in little jerks at
Hole #4. Geoff was about to grab the line and set the hook when Brian stopped pulling the line in Hole #4. Geoff relaxed and Brian pulled the line in little jerks at Hole #4 and the rod tip moved again in Hole #2. Geoff grabbed the line, set the hook and pulled, Brian pulled, Geoff pulled, and Brian pulled. At that moment Geoff realized what we had done and I’ll always remember the scene of Geoff chasing Brian all around the ice for what seemed like four or five minutes. This scene was closely upstaged by the fact that Claude had seen everything unfold and had fallen of his bucket in laughter and literally crying tears. Fortunately we were all friends and were able to set down around the fire and laugh at the practical joke. Even to this day Brian and I mention the trip and we can’t stop laughing. It was on this day that a new phrase was coined by one of the guys with us that day but I can’t say who said it. The phrase is, “Boys that Red Devil is not worth a pinch of raccoon sh_t“. Thanks Geoff, buddy. P.S. This unbelievable and hilarious day of angling would be later overshadowed the following day by the untimely passing of my mother due to a prolonged illness. The boys had convinced me to go fishing that day to take my mind off her condition and I have always been grateful to the guys for it. She dearly loved to eat the trout I brought home, the fishing stories that Brian and I, especially Brian, would share with her when we returned home. She loved a good story and a good laugh. It is also in her spirit that I decided to put these stories to paper.
Fishing Tip #10 I find it difficult to keep trout from rotting during those warmer summer fishing trips. My fishing buddy, Brian, showed me a technique how to keep the trout fresh in a fishing basket during this time of the year. I have completed some unscientific research on this and I believe the technique comes from one of Newfoundland’s great aboriginal peoples. To keep the trout from rotting take a bunch of alder or maple leaves and make them soaking wet. Place a layer of these wet leaves at the bottom of your fishing basket, lay four or five trout on top of the first layer of leaves, place another layer of wet leaves on top of those trout and repeat this process as required. It keeps those special monsters wet and keeps them from drying out or rotting. This works better if you dip your fishing basket in the pond or brook as often as possible. You will find that the layer of leaves will store a lot of water and will continue if you have to walk any distance. It is terrible to keep big fish during a fishing trip and then let them rot before you return home. People, if you can’t keep the fish from rotting, please apply catch and release. Try this one tip and let me know how it turns out.
Hidden Pond Lunker In the spring of 1995 my new fishing buddy, Wayne, and his better half, Cathy, took me to a pond near Whitbourne that they called Hidden Pond or May 24th Pond we now call it. We had to walk about half an hour in the country and pass two other ponds on the way into Hidden Pond. Of course, we fished these ponds on the way in and the trout that we managed to land in these other ponds were small and scarce as hen’s teeth. I remember seeing Hidden Pond for the first time and my hopes of landing a lunker in a new pond looked like a real possibility. I moved around the pond to our left until we reached a small cove that appeared to be very deep and very dark in colour. I stopped on the other side of the cove as my two friends proceeded pass me along the left side of the pond. All of a sudden Wayne, Cathy, and I saw and heard a massive fish break water in the cove we had passed just minutes before. We all stopped to admire the beautiful sight, the massive ripple on the water and we all realized that we did not carry any fly rods with us that day. I, with a bit of cockiness, told Wayne to watch my first cast to the actual spot where the monster had broken water and teasing him about the fact that I was going to catch the lunker of the day. When my spinner hit the surface of the water, I waited a couple of seconds and made about five nasty tugs in hopes of attracting the fish. This is a trick that I had used many times before and it had yielded some success in catching fish that are feeding on the surface and you don’t have any fly fishing tackle with you. I swear the fish grabbed the spinner, started pulling the line sideways across the water and I set the hook with the force worthy the size of fish I knew was on the other end of my line. Wayne, being the expert angler he was, knew that I had hooked a real monster and I probably would need some help to land it successfully. The downside of fishing this pond is that it is short on shoreline but big on over-hanging trees. Thankfully Wayne waded down to help me land the fish and I know that I would not have been able to land the fish without his help. I was struggling to bring this monster to shore when I realized that I had no real shore to use and that I would have to bring it out of the water into the trees and hope to God that it would stay hooked. I walked backwards into the trees dragging the hefty 3-pound ouananiche with me while Wayne walked behind it forcing it into the trees as we had planned. I could not believe the size of the monster fish. Wayne kindly reminded me of
a similar situation in Makinsons where I accidentally, yes accidentally, kicked his ouananiche back into the water. I later had to return the same favor to Cathy in landing many monster fish that she hooked on a white and red bobber in that very same cove. It was an unbelievable day of angling with all hands landing monster fish. That day the three of us kept enough monster fish to fill my very special fishing basket. I say it was special because it belonged to my Uncle Charlie and I was honoured to be able to add it to my list of trusty fishing gear. Me and the Hidden Pond Lunker
Fishing Tip#11 After experiencing the frustration displayed in the story to follow called, “Always Check Your Line”, I would recommend changing all of your fishing line to start a new fishing season. You can get a floating or sinking line chemical that preserves and extends the life of your fly line. The same type of product can be purchased for monofilament fishing line. I have an interesting theory that I would like to share with you on fishing line. I believe that some of the line we purchase at our favorite local retailers my not be new stock and may be returned to store shelves year after year until it is sold. The unsuspecting angler takes this line out on his or her fishing trips and after the line is soaked with water a couple of times the line strength deteriorates to the point of rot. If so, anglers may be experiencing what some Newfoundlanders refer to as “shop rot”. The line that snapped in some of the stories yet to come was bought at the beginning of the trout season at a certain national retailer that I will not mention. After experiencing the rotting line, I now always change the fishing line on my spin-cast reel before I start a new trout season. My fishing buddy, Wayne, goes so far as cutting three or four metres from his fishing line on his spin-cast reel every four or five trips during a fishing season to eliminate line rot. I now do the same the night before every fishing trip. It may cost a little more but losing a monster fish due to rotted fishing line is something that really gets under my skin.
Big Bites at Little Deep Bite This was probably the first major overnight fishing trip that Wayne and I put together as fishing buddies. Wayne and his much better half, Cathy, invited me to go on an overnight trip on the old Newfoundland Railway bed about 10 kilometers east of Clarenville. We drove out the Trans Canada Highway until we came to a motel on the right side of the road. We stopped and drove in a rough wood’s road that was found on the left side of the highway directly across from this motel. We drove in the road until we came to the old Newfoundland Railway bed and continued up the railway bed until we reached a pond on the right side of the road that Wayne called Little Deep Bite Pond. I was beaming with excitement when we reached the spot, set up camp and had a good wood’s lunch. We proceeded to the western end of the pond after our lunch. The trees were right to the waterline and fishing along the side of the pond was nothing short of a nightmare. We hooked some decent size lunkers in these spots but lost many of them trying to get them out of the water and in through the trees to some sort of solid land. It was frustrating and many a choice word was generated as a result. In other words we didn’t have any real place to land the nice trout. We started to walk to the cove at the bottom western end of the pond with a couple of lunkers to our credit and I could see that there was a wide cove at the end of this small pond. It looked like there was actually room to land some fish, a brook was running into the pond and there was an old large tree on the bank in the middle of the cove. By this time it must have been about six or seven in the evening, we knew that darkness was not too far away and we really wanted to catch some real big lunkers. We started fishing with bait and didn’t have much success but just before dark the cove came alive. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the black backs of the big trout as they started breaking and rolling for the flies that landed on top of the water. All I can say is that the trout were as big as dogs. Out came the fly rods and we did hook one or two lunkers but the best was yet to come. The trout weren’t taking our black knats and mosquitoes very well but Wayne and I noticed that they were taking flies that looked like either the orange bug or orange bomber and I had a few of those in my tackle pouch. I tied the first orange bug on, casted it out and landed a massive lunker. Wayne was now into them as well and landing massive lunkers of his own.. The odd thing about this was that we lost much more than we landed and I can remember flicking the orange bug on the water, the fish would roll, I would set the hook, and bring up solid in the fish
and still lose it. It seemed like for every 4 or 5 we hooked we would land one. As it got darker, that bloody old tree drove me nuts. I would hook and lose two or three fish, land one and lose the bug up in the old tree. I would put on another orange bug and repeat the same operation until finally we ran out of light and orange bugs. It was the first time that I had seen large trout feed like that and I haven’t seen it happen since. When we got back to the camp that evening we must have had about 10 trout a piece and they just fit in the camping cooler. What was really funny was going down to the cove the next morning and seeing all of my orange bugs stuck up at the top of the bloody old tree. As usual, I didn’t mind losing the bugs because of the size of the trout we caught that evening. I can’t stress it enough that these fish were huge and I will never forget setting the hook in them. Your line would go tight, the fly rod would bend and for a split second you couldn’t move them: wild my friends, wild.
Fishing Tip #12 This is a tip that I received from watching one of those Canadian television anglers and it has to do with the danger of fishing out of boats on hot sunny days. Apparently a research study was completed by one of our provincial governments on why anglers fall out of their boats for no apparent reason and drown. The study suggested that anglers would fish in the hot sun but not consume enough water or other healthy liquids to properly hydrate their bodies. They would become dehydrated, dizzy and simply pass out and fall in the water below. This problem is greater if there is a consumption of alcohol involved throughout the day. I believe that there is some merit in this idea because I have been fishing during warm or hot days and during my walk out of the country I would become a little wobbly, a bit goofy and would probably end up tripping or falling. I look back on my walking trips and I do seem to remember falling down more on the way out of than on the way in to my favorite fishing hole. Since 2000 I have been making a point of carrying more water and other healthy liquids in my backpack than in previous years and I think it has made a difference. If I start getting tired during the day, I will take a few minutes to rest and toss back some nice cold water. This seems to revive me each and every time.
Which Fly Wayne? In June of 1997 my son and I, accompanied by my fishing buddy Wayne and his son, on a fishing trip near Makinsons on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. Wayne had mentioned to me some time earlier that this was another one of the fishing spots that he had enjoyed with his father many years before and it would be worth the trip. We walked about two kilometers in the woods and fished the first two ponds, on the way to a third, with little or no success. That really didn’t matter given we had the boys with us, it was Father’s Day and it was all about spending time with our sons. We proceeded to the third pond that had a beaver house and landed a few pan-fry trout but we still were not very happy with our level of success. After a good lunch we proceeded further into the woods and fished two more ponds with some success but Wayne and I hoped both of the boys would land a nice lunker to give them something to brag about when we returned home but the lunkers seemed to be on a holiday. On the way out to the car we were about to pass the third pond with a beaver house when I noticed a large fish breaking water for flies. I told Wayne to stop and I could see what seemed to be a couple of lunkers rolling for the flies on the pond surface. I proceeded to the spot where the fish had jumped, cast my spinner, and landed a 10-inch trout. All of a sudden, to quote my new fishing buddy, the pond came alive with jumping and hungry trout feeding on mayflies: it was a feeding frenzy. The sight of the 10-inch trout, excitement and top water action brought the other three anglers to my position. We all landed trout around the 10 to 12-inch range that day and salvaged what Wayne and I thought would not be a very exciting day for the boys. When we were about to leave, though, a large trout jumped near a huge lily pad a few times but would not strike the baited spinner. I returned to shore, retrieved my trusty fly rod and tied on a black, number 10, may fly. I was able to cast out about 20 feet of line in a matter of seconds but with no success. For approximately 30 minutes I proceeded to use practically every fly in my tackle pouch that included such flies as the black knat, brown hackle, mosquito, queen of the waters and many other dry flies with no success but a lot of frustration. During this time of unplanned dry fly research the large fish was still jumping and teasing us poor anglers and the others suggested that we throw in the towel. It was at that moment that I came across an old number 12
white wolf that I hadn’t used in years. This fly was special to me because I had bought this old white wolf at a friend’s hardware store in my hometown of Stephenville Crossing two or three years previous to the day in question. I tied on the old white wolf and casted out to where the old monster had been feeding. As if in slow motion, the fly curled in the wind and drooped ever so lightly to sit perfectly still on the surface of the water in the exact location the fish had last jumped. I knew it was coming and all of sudden the trout exploded to the surface, swallowed the fly and I set the hook. The fight of the day was on and the guys back on the shore were shouting instructions with great anticipation and excitement. You should have seen the bend in that medium action fly rod. I started walking backward, taking in line and keeping the rod tip up in hopes of successfully landing this monster. The problems started with the trout shaking his head and swimming side to side in desperation and hoping to escape the perfect hook set. I also noticed that there was very little beach to land this fish. To land it properly I would have to drag it onto a small beach and lift it over a three-foot bank. Things were not looking good at that point but then I figured you can’t land the trout if you don’t try and plus it was one hell of a fish. The other three guys surrounded me as I brought the fish to the shore in hopes of preventing the fish from swimming back to the water, if it were to shake the hook loose when I dragged it on to the small beach. This move was to save the day. I had the fish landed on the small little beach when it shook the hook loose and I had the feeling that we were about to watch this awesome fish slither its way off the beach and back to the water. It was at that exact moment that my son, Jason, positioned himself like a NFL place kicker. He made a little run and kicked the monster trout up and over the three-foot bank: the extra point was good. It was good to kick one out of the water because I have a tendency to kick them back into the water, hey Wayne. We jumped up over the bank and tackled the 16-inch trout. In relief we all sat on the bank and admired the beautiful trout that weighed well over a pound. We packed up all the gear and returned home with a great fish and an even greater fish story. This spot has become a very special spot to me because it was a spot that Wayne’s father had taken him as a “younger man”. The funny thing is that when I fish this pond alone, I always feel that there is somebody watching me fish this pond with an accepting grin.
Admiring our catch
Wayne during the boil up on 2012 Trip
Our much needed fire on 2012 Trip
Fishing Tip #13 If you are like me, knottingly challenged, I know of a specialized fishing tool that will help you out. It is called the TIE-FAST Knot Tyer from Sierra Stream and Mountain and you may be able to purchase it at your local Wal Mart. One of my fishing buddies, Brian, sent this to me from Hazelton, British Columbia many years ago. He purchased this tool at his local Wal Mart but I have been unable to find it at the Wal Marts here in the Province of Newfoundland. The way it works is that you insert your fly line into metal tool that looks like a metal tube but is actually shaped like a dug out canoe. After the fly line has been inserted into this tool, you wrap the metal tool with your leader, force the line back under the twisted leader and pull the leader off the end of the tool. You are then left with a perfect knot now formed at the end of your floating or sinking fly line. It is a beautiful thing to see and is great when your hands are shaking due to cold, as often happens to me around May. Side view
Black Mountain Morning A friend, Shorty, told me stories of the beautiful trout that he used to catch in a place he referred to as Black Mountain. I have since learned that many locals refer to this pond as Hat Pond. He spoke of trout that would not take a baited spinner but would only strike dry and wet flies at the best of times. I later was able to catch these same fish on a well-placed baited spinner. From experience I was very skeptical about stories of big fish and I am the sort of person who has to see it to believe it. One May morning Shorty took me to Black Mountain which is located on a dirt road between towns of Colinette and Placentia. We stopped on the road about 4:30 a.m. and walked about 30 minutes over marshland and that bloody spongy bog until we came to a top of a small mountain. Wayne and I now refer to this nasty hike as the “walk of death”. Between two hills I saw a beautiful pond that was relatively calm but none of these large trout were jumping due to the cold temperature early in the morning and in the spring of the year. We walked along the right side of the pond through frozen marsh and some of the remaining snow to a rocky point or reef that extended from the shore. I walked out into the cold water to about the waist level of my neoprene waders and began casting the faithful black knat and retrieving it by snapping the floating line, in little bursts, across the pond’s surface. During one of these retrievals I noticed that a trout broke the surface of the pond ever so slightly but missed the black knat. I very quickly sent the fly back to the same spot once again and repeated the process. I should have let the dry fly stay on top of the water until the trout swallowed it but I made the mistake of retrieving the line too quickly. This mistake would come back to haunt me within the next five minutes. While I was retrieving the line in the snapping motion a monster trout exploded on the surface taking the black knat and the fight was on. After the initial strike the fish went to the bottom of the pond and I could not move it for a split second. I shouted to Shorty, “I can’t move the damn thing” and he thought that I had hooked the bottom. At that exact moment the rod tip started to shake in my hand and I knew that the trout had finally realized that is was hooked. I did not realize it at the time but because it had grabbed the fly during my retrieval I had not set the hook properly. I proceeded to shore, retrieving line as I was backing up and Shorty had come over to help me land this monster fish. As I was backing up, I slipped and my rod tip went from being straight up in the air to resting on
the top of the water. This must have given the trout the slack it needed to escape the frying pan that day. Shorty and I sat in the water near the shore in total disgust. He was very quick to say, “I told you so”. Our disgust was to change to excitement after catching some nice 14 to 16-inch trout on flies such as the black knat, mosquito and royal coachman that day. We still discuss that old trout and the fight that I had the morning. Some of Jason’s friends and relatives all tell me the same story of the large fish that hangs out in that area of the pond. I return to Black Mountain every fishing season in hopes of catching and landing that old monster trout and I believe he is still in there somewhere.
Fishing Tip #14 One of the oldest statements used by fly fishermen is “match the hatch.” I don’t believe that it has merit in all fly fishing situations but I know that many anglers swear by it and it has worked for me from time to time. I have tried a variety of methods to determine the insects that the fish of the day were eating off the pond’s surface. I would look under rocks, check the stomachs of cleaned fish, and even watch fish breaking the water until I could determine what I thought was their insect of choice. Often this would take a considerable amount of time and energy. My oldest fishing buddy, Brian, introduced me to the idea of a stomach pump for fish. This pump is shaped like a turkey baser but is much smaller. The general idea is to insert the tip of the pump down the throat of a landed trout and suck out some of the stomach contents. I know this sounds gruesome to some. You can then look into the pump, it is transparent, and see the insects the fish have been feeding on most recently. You can then search through your fly kits to find a fly that most closely resembles the insects you saw in the stomach pump. I believe you can purchase these in any of the large retailers or sporting goods stores that carry a wide assortment of fishing supplies. If you find one and try it, let me know how it works out. Fish stomach pump
Always Check Your Line Being reunited with my old fishing buddy, Wayne, in the summer of 2003 was a bonus and it yielded some great fishing trips that summer and many other summers to follow. This story is about a trip to a pond that Wayne referred to as Hidden Pond out near Whitbourne. Yet again I was trying to fight off a bit of a head cold that had plagued my body for most of that week and I thought that I had finally beaten it. We arrived at the pond at around 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning, the wind was light and we were getting weather that looked like cloudy with sunny periods. We fished the old beaver pond first with very little action for most of the morning and I was starting to think that we were both going to be skunked for the very first time. If it wasn’t for the 10-inch trout that I landed and a 12-inch ouananiche that Wayne landed in the old beaver pond, we would have most certainly been skunked. We finally decided to move out in to Hidden Pond and look for the lunker trout or huge ouananiche that we knew could be caught if everything went right. Maybe our problem is that we didn’t have Cathy with us to show us how to catch those fish. On the way around the pond my rotten luck continued with me rising trout on the fly but unable to land a damn thing and of course Wayne was kicking butt hooking everything in the bloody pond. I think that I became that frustrated that I was about to throw him and my rods in the bloody pond. I know that I was totally frustrated, no pissed and I know Wayne could see it in my face. This situation was to be made even worse by the fact that I was not feeling very well due to that nasty head cold. We were at the bottom cove of Hidden Pond and we noticed that either a lunker trout or huge ouananiche had jumped completely out of the water in the middle of the pond, after some type of insect. It was at this time that I switched to my spin-cast rod, put on fresh bait and cast off to about the center of the pond: I was now pissed off and strength was not a problem. I let the line sink, a tactic I always use late in the day to hook that lunker that is lying on the bottom of the pond laughing at us crazy anglers. All of a sudden I saw the line straightening ever so slowly and I knew that a monster fish was doing the pulling. I retrieved just enough line to pull the line tight and I set the hook with professional precision. Holy $#@!^% all that was remaining after the hook set was about 10 feet of fishing line floating on the surface of the pond because the line had snapped off during the hook set. I couldn’t believe that my rotten luck had just gotten even worse. I then tested the line and I could snap it off with a minimum amount of effort due to what
we call line rot or what I call “shop rot”. Just at that moment a large fish broke water twice in about two minutes and we determined that the fish I had struck thought he was still hooked and was still putting up an unnecessary fight. We could actually see a short length of fishing line attached to the side of its grinning face. I learned a valuable lesson that day and I now start all new trout seasons with new line on all my spin-cast and fly reels as a rule. To the fish of Hidden Pond, “We will be back but this time we will be armed with the canoe.” This will allow us to work the center of the pond properly and maybe retrieve a lost spinner and about 10 feet of rotten fishing line from a now over confident fish.
Fishing Tip #15 Another lesson I have learned over the years is you have to properly maintain your fishing gear at all times. I have already mentioned problems that can occur as a result of poor line maintenance. To take this a step further, most anglers will return home and place rods and reels in the corner to be used on the next trip with the assumption that all will work right. I used to be that angler until I had to switch to old reels in the middle of long fishing trips, change line, strip down the reels completely, or even try to repair reels during trips. This can get pretty frustrating when you are watching your buddy landing trout and you are sitting on the shore trying to fix a reel. You also know that by the time you have finished the repair the trout could be easily finished feeding for the day and you are out of luck. When I return from any trip, I am usually pretty tired and I pack the gear away until a night or two before the next trip. The night before the next trip I will check all of my tackle and make sure I have enough spinners, flies, and that these items are organized in my fishing pouch for easy access. I will then check all of my rods for any possible cracks and I will even check for loose or broken rod guides. I will take apart and grease both my main spin cast reel and fly reel and make sure that I have my spare reels in my pack sack. If I should break a reel, I can still finish and enjoy a good day of trouting. As I said earlier, I will complete the same type of checks and repairs on my monofilament and floating lines and I will even check to see if my waders are good to go. If I am going on an overnighter, I am doing this 2 or 3 nights before our trip because if I find problems I won’t full around with cheap repairs, I will simply try to replace the item. Hey, even most of my fishing buddies don’t do this and I would like to have a dollar for every time I have seen those guys fooling with reel and rod problems while I am still hooking the lunker trout. NOTE: If you are fishing in salt water, I would clean all reels as soon as you get home or you will lose the reels to a thing called rust.
The Black Mountain Lagoon During the summer of 2003 Wayne and I made another “walk of death”, as we like to call it, to the pond on top of Black Mountain. Black Mountain has yielded some awesome trout on the fly in the past but it can be a very unforgiving place to fish in windy conditions. What I mean is that it can appear as if there is no wind on any of the ponds on the way to Black Mountain but when you get on the Mountain the winds can range from moderate to “Holy Crap”. The day that I will talk about in this story yielded moderate-to-strong winds and we were very disappointed as we walked the right shore of the pond as the waves crashed at our feet. We went for the longest time without a bite or valid strike until I struck a smaller trout near the first island of the pond and Wayne started to have some success in the cove across from my position. Still the trout were not lunkers by our definition and I decided to move directly to the bottom of the pond before deciding to walk back out to the road and the van as a result of our weather-related frustration. When I reached the bottom of the pond I had to wade across a small lagoon that measured about 10 feet by 10 feet. It was probably more like a small inlet and, with the wind blowing into my face, I cast back into the inlet with my spin-cast rod. All of a sudden there was a strike, a set, and the 10-inch trout was on the bank. I could not believe that I had caught this fish at the bottom of the pond with the wind gusting to about 30 or 40 kilometers, blowing directly into my face. I put on some fresh bait and cast back into the inlet and landed a 12-inch trout. Being a true fly fisherman I traded in my spin-cast for my fly rod and with great difficulty I managed to get my royal coachman on top of the two-foot waves that were coming down the pond. This time, to my excitement, I was rewarded with a 12-inch lunker that made my entire morning. I immediately called to Wayne to get him to come down to the opposite side of the inlet, force the trout to stay in the cove and to enjoy catching some nice trout to raise our spirits after such a poor start to our trip. As Wayne was about to enter the water on the opposite side of the inlet, he struck and landed his first lunker and now we had “game on”. We both landed a couple of more lunkers in that inlet before we spooked the trout out of the small area. On our way back up the right shore of the pond, 20 feet from the inlet, I saw Wayne retrieving his fishing line as if he was cod jigging over the side of a dory. My grandfather, an inshore fisherman for most of his life, called this “hand-over-hand” jigging. I did not realize that Wayne’s reel had back reeled and all that I could see was a pile of fishing
line in his hand. Much to my surprise he actually landed a 14-inch trout on the shore using this “professional” method and of course chuckles broke out. It was a beauty of trout and as Wayne proudly displayed his fish I struck and landed a monster of my own in that same area. I managed to get the 14-inch trout to shore and I swear the two fish were twins. The two trout had the exact same thickness and were the exact same length nose to tail. We had been fishing for about five hours up to that point with nothing to show for our efforts but a bad case of windburn. I swear that we ended up catching approximately a dozen in about an hour. There are pictures below to prove it. That’s the beauty of fishing and the reward of patience. It is one of the best fishing days I can remember with one of my long-time fishing partners. Admiring our catch from the trip
Wayne sitting after the tangle incident
Walking out of Black Mountain
Wayne during the tangle incident
Fishing Tip #16 One of the hardest parts of your fishing gear to fix either at home or on an overnight trip is the fishing rod guides. To increase your chance of success with this type of repair is to either catch it before it completely falls off the rod or at least find and keep the guide. I find buying another guide at a local retailer never seems to be the same size as the old one or just doesn’t look and feel right. I have used a number of steps to fix the guides on my own rods over the years. I would take a five-pound test fishing line that was about a foot and half in length. I would make a basic fishing knot to tie the top of the rod guide to the fishing rod, wrap the line around the guide starting at the eye and working up the guide and about ½ inch past the guide. You should tie a fishing knot on the end, cut the left over line and cover the entire wrapped area with a thin layer of either a type of waterproof glue or even a type of glue use to assemble plastic models. You should let this dry for a few hours and repeat the procedure on the bottom of the rod guide. If you are on an overnighter, having the materials to do this could really save a trip and if you are new the end of a fishing season, it will get you through. If you are not prepared to buy a new rod this will save you a few bucks and allow you to enjoy your fishing trips. If you fix your rod guides using this method, let me know how it turns out.
Trout Behind the Pot In the spring of 2005 Wayne and I walked a trail for about 25 minutes that brought us behind Butter Pot Provincial Park in Newfoundland which is located about 20 minutes outside the City of Mount Pearl. When we came to the end of the trail, we could see a small pond to the right of us and a brook or river that ran out of this pond to the left of us. We made our way, as usual, up the right side of the pond until we reached the first run in or brook. We both started fishing and had a lot of fun catching some nice pan-size fish on both the spin cast rod and the fly rod: any fish caught on a fly rod is always a bit of fun. It was fun but they weren’t lunkers and the big run in just above us was calling me and I felt that I would probably hook some bigger fish up at that spot. I grabbed my back pack and both rods and proceeded up the right side of the pond until I reached the large run in. When I reached the spot, I could see the lovely lunkers breaking water and devouring the mayflies and black knats as they flowed out of the brook into the pond. In the excitement I tossed the spin cast rod into the brush and readied my trusty fly rod in hopes of landing the lunkers. I had the dry black knat on the top of the water of that pond in a matter of seconds but the trout stopped feeding all of a sudden. I was positioned on a rock that was on a corner where the pond and river met. I decided that because the evening was so nice that maybe being so close to the active area may have spooked the fish. I decided to position myself in a location about 5 or 6 feet back from the pond but standing in the middle of the brook. My plan was to cast the fly line out into the pond, drag it back across the pond, and back thought the mouth of the brook to see what would happen. The first time I tried this I rose what I knew was a nice trout and the second time I tried this I hooked and landed a 14 or 16 inch lunker. I repeated this process many times until I noticed about 6 very beautiful fish on the shoreline. All during this time I was calling out to Wayne to have him come up to share the enjoyment of the action. Now Wayne will tell you that I only call him after all of the fish are caught but don’t believe a word of it. As I always do, when the fish had moved off to the middle of the pond I decided to investigate the mouth of the river. When I walked out to the mouth of the river, I noticed that where the river met the pond I saw a huge drop-off. I believe the trout had been waiting there in the shade feeding on the insects as they floated down the river. The trout seemed to move in and out of the river as I moved in and out of the river because I was spooking them. When
I go in behind the pot and the trout start to feed out in the pond I will stand on the rock in the corner to reach them and I will be rewarded. If the trout stop feeding in the pond I will move back into my spot in the river and once again I will usually be rewarded. Wayne has seen this system at work and now both off us can often be seen completing this action on a nice sunny June evening behind the pot. This experimenting and studying of fish behavior is another very enjoying part of angling: especially, fly fishing. I have used this type of trick when fishing many different ponds in many different areas of Newfoundland and have been rewarded with very nice fish. I have been seen positioning myself on one or two knees on boggy shorelines, rocky ledges, or even through low brush to catch a trout that I know that I or somebody else has spooked: I always seem to be rewarded for my foolishness P.S. I remember fishing Trout Brook near Black Duck Siding and holding my buddy Brian out over the river bank to catch a sea trout. I was holding on to a tree with one hand, holding on to Brian with the other hand and he was hanging over the high river bank dangling his line to catch the fish. Admiring our catch from the trip
Our catch from another trip behind the pot
Fishing Tip #17 This is an odd fishing tip but all of my fishing buddies and I have tried this many times over the years with a lot of success. A boil up or a little shore lunch can often be as good as the trouting but I have found that it is a great time to flick out the old bobber. Usually when I break for a snack I will attach the big read and white bobber to the line of my spin cast rod about three feet up from my spinner casting it as far out in the pond as humanly possible. I also want to make sure the bait ends up good and deep in the pond to where an old lunker may be laying looking for easy food in the mid day sun. I wouldn’t be able to guess how many lunkers we have caught over the years by doing this. I believe that the trout can get spooked after all the action and tend to move off to the middle of the pond looking for easier food or to escape the fuss of spinners or heavy floating fly line hitting the top of the water. I remember one time on the West Coast of Newfoundland when I even caught a trout on a rubber worm during a shore lunch. Also Wayne and I find it pretty entertaining to be sitting down having a snack and watching the bobber go from side to side and up and down until a fish either hooks itself or one of us actually decides to get are arse of the ground to go set the hook. We seem to move our arses a lot faster when the bobber just disappears from sight completely which usually means that a huge lunker has just hooked itself. You have to try this for a bit of fun and let me know how it turns out.
The Flu Trip Back in the spring of 2005 a friend of Wayne’s told him about a nice fishing spot about a few kilometers from Whitbourne on the Avalon Peninsula; we now refer to this spot as the Gulley. On our first trip there we walked over the old Newfoundland bog for about 25 minutes until we came to an L-shaped pond. A brook runs in at the top of the pond as it passes a huge beaver house. At the bottom of the pond you will find the usual beaver damn that still leaks enough water to form a pretty good size brook and I should know because I fill in the bloody brook. This water runs down the land for about a thousand feet and flows into another pond that is more of a circular shape. On this first trip it was cool, there was some drizzle falling, and I had a flu or head cold. When we got to the pond, I casted out, hooked a lunker, and it snapped of my line due to store rot line yet again. I was able to remove the rotted line and replace it some line that Wayne had brought with him. All sick and angry after loosing the lunker we went down and fished the mouth of the brook and the circular pond. We were able to catch a few pan-size trout, salmon par, and ouananiche. In search of bigger fish we moved back to the L-shaped pond up above and fished up its right shoreline but didn’t catch many fish. At this time we were both a little cold, hungry, and bored so we decided to put in a nice fire to cook a little grub and try to ward off the bad case of hypothermia that I thought was about to take over my body. Once we were fed and able to feel our fingers, we proceeded up the right side of the pond, crossed over to the left side of the brook, and walked about a half kilometer up the brook. When we started to fish our way back down the brook, the sun came out and we started hooking fish again. It was unbelievable how many fish we hooked on the spinner and the fly as we made our way down the right side of the brook. We were really excited because we could actually see the schools of trout coming for either our bait or flies. I think we may have kept one or two decent size fish until we reached the beaver house (keep this spot in mind for a later story) and the right side of the pond. Wayne decided to stay at the beaver house fishing while I continued down the right side of the pond to where the trail would take my sick body out of there and home to a nice warm house. I stopped in a little cove a few feet from the trail to get out of the cold wind and rain. I cast out the old baited spinner to pass the time while waiting for Wayne to work his way down to my position. As soon as the spinner hit the water,
bang, and I had hooked a large trout and I was able to the land the first one of the day. I baited the spinner, casted it out, hooked another lunker, and landed it. I figured that if the trout were taking the spinner on top of the water they would probably take a fly if a person could get it out in the drizzle and what seemed like hurricane force winds that had moved back in. As soon as the black knat hit the water, I hooked and landed another lunker. I believe that I repeated this action a few more times and landed another two lunkers. It is funny how sick you can be feeling until you hook a fish and all of a sudden you seem to be cured but when the fish stop biting you are back to Mr. Flu Bag again. By the time Wayne had reached my spot I had landed five beautiful trout, that really caught his eye, and we knew that if we could catch some nice lunkers in the weather that plagued us that day, we would probably be able to catch some very nice fish on a more reasonable day. At this point I was feeling like dirt and it was time to return home to a nice warm house and an even warmer shower. You always hear the TV anglers talk about match the hatch and I believe that there is some merit in this when the trout are not really feeding. Wayne and I have another theory that we have proven to ourselves many times when the trout are really feeding. We feel that if the trout are really feeding, they will take anything that they find. I have tried this many times by catching a pile of fish on a black knat and changing to a totally different colour fly just to see if they will take it. Nine chances out of ten the fish will take the odd-coloured fly, To prove this fact I have heard of people catching trout using orange peels, squid horns, salt pork, bacon, moose meat (I use this ice fishing.) fisheyes, and even bubble gum. I have seen a feeding frenzie where the trout will take a baited spinner, any type of fly, and anything you throw on the water: even your fishing buddy. Again don’t be afraid of experimenting with this because you will find the results hilarious. P.S. I was ice fishing on a pond near Holyrood, not Hollywood, one morning and I was hooking a lot trout on the worm and moose meat. I wondered if they would take anything that I put down the hole. I actually took an old red fly (I don’t know its real name.) out of my tackle pouch and put it on a weighted spinner and flicked it down the hole. I swear to you readers that I actually caught one nice trout on that red fly.
Fishing Tip #18 This is not as much a fishing tip but a common sense safety tip. There have been times where I have been in the back country and the fact that I carry old cigarette lighters in a little waterproof case has really turned what could have been a really bad trip into a good trip. We all know of stories where fellow Newfoundlanders end up lost in the country overnight, had no way of making fire, and still came out ok. I have been deep enough in the country many times in my life where, if I had to spend the night in the woods, not having a source of fire would not have been ok. I always carry this little pack of lighters just in case it is unusually cold in the morning, it may call for a chance of showers that day and a little fire to keep you warm can keep the trip going, or even dry out somebody’s boots after they take an unplanned swim in the water. If I go on a long distance trip, I have been known to put old newspaper, cardboard, small dry sticks, and even birch bark in a plastic bag to keep dry if I should need to start a fire. I have heard stores of people buying an item called a can of fire to take on their trips or soaking a toilet paper roll in rubbing alcohol for a couple of days and storing it in an old tobacco can to take on a trip. There is a product that you can use to keep a fire going even in the rain. It is an environmentally friendly product that comes in a tube similar to toothpaste and it looks and feels like petroleum jelly. You take a nice pile of twigs, rub this stuff over the sticks, and simply light it. The chemical will burn until the wood is dry enough to burn on its own to allow you to put more sticks and you will have a good size fire for your trouble. This tube was purchased in a local sporting goods store in Deer Lake. I swear that it works like a charm and would fit easily in any nap sack. If you try this, let me how it turns out.
Wayne’s Beaver House In the spring of 2006 Wayne and I returned to our L-shaped pond, the Gulley, near Whitbourne on the Avalon Peninsula for what we hoped would be a great day of trouting and fun. We had caught some nice trout there the year before in really bad weather and we were really excited to be able to return to try our luck in much better conditions. We grabbed our backpacks and walked in the trail the usual 20 or 25 minutes until we came to the first pond. We both walked down to the bottom pond and fished for a couple of hours catching the usual pan sized trout, salmon par, and ouananiche on the fly which is always a great bit of fun. We had a little fire, a little lunch, and decided to move up to the L-shaped pond. We decided to stay on the left side of the pond instead of going up the right side as we had done a year earlier. I fished the spot near the trail where I caught the lunkers before with a hope of last year’s performance and Wayne walked up to the beaver house. The beaver house is located at the corner of where the top brook runs into the L-shaped pond and I was excited because the water level was really high on that day. I was slowly fishing my way toward Wayne when I noticed him pulling his line out of the water very quickly and dropping it back in the water over and over again for what seemed like 15 or 20 minutes. I knew that Wayne was seeing a nice trout by the beaver house but just couldn’t seem to hook it. I then saw Wayne motioning for me to hurry up and bring myself up to the beaver house. Being the type of invitation that I never turn down, I grabbed my gear to go and try to hook those lunkers that were driving Wayne nuts. As we often do, sometimes the fish just won’t take one guys hook but if they are there we will call up the other guy to try his luck: it often works because we believe it is not the gear but the change in presentation that get the fish going again. I positioned myself to Wayne’s left and casted out just a short distance, following Wayne’s instructions. As the line sank, you could see and feel some nice trout tugging on the line but at first I too couldn’t hook the fish. I repeated this procedure again but decided to just let the line sit there without movement. All of a sudden I had hooked my first lunker but as I was trying to reel in the lovely fish, the gears inside my reel stripped but I still managed to land the lunker. Very unusual for me, it was the only reel that I had carried in my backpack but I continued hooking and landing some very nice trout bad reel and all.
Wayne had moved to the other side of the beaver house when I heard him call excitedly, “Gotta lunker” and he landed his first beauty of the day. I must have landed three or four lunkers when Wayne tells me about a large trout, that I better not catch, that was breaking for his spinner and fly when he dragged it across the sticks that were on top of water in the front of the beaver house. We both looked it over and thought that if you hooked the old monster your chances of landing it without hooking the sticks weren’t good but I tried it anyway. I casted out the old black knat, dragged it across the sticks, and the trout rolled for it but missed it. For all you anglers out there, you know it is a nice fish when it rolls for the fly instead of the little jump out of the water. I repeated the action many times with the same result but I couldn’t hook the cagey fish. I finally decided to drag the fly across the sticks much faster and let it sit on the water when it pasted the last stick. I did this and for some reason the old dry fly must have become saturated and sunk about 6 to 8 inches below the surface. As soon as the fly sunk to that level, the trout grabbed it and the fight was on. I was calling out to Wayne to let him know that I had hooked the fish he warned me not to hook, as we often did to each other. It was a difficult little fight because the trout either wanted to wrap itself around the sticks at the top of the water or dive to the bottom to hook itself around the sticks at the bottom of the beaver house. I was really lucky because when I landed the old grandpa he had virtually swallowed the fly because of the extra time I had given the fish before I set the hook. We hooked and landed about ten trout between us in a very short period of time that you would consider lunkers in any pond in Newfoundland. It goes back to what I was saying in earlier stories in that sometimes it is all about being in the right place at the right time. In this fishing spot we have noticed that we don’t ever find the lunkers in the same area, as in some ponds but all you have to do is find out where they sitting on that given day. This little spot has yielded some beautiful trout and in a later story you will see that I can even be credited with landing about a two or three pound ouananiche. We are to the point now where we can fish every Saturday from late May to early July, fish a different spot each time, catch many pan-size trout on the fly, and catch a couple of lunkers each to complete a great day of angling.
Our catch from the trip
Fishing Tip #19 Have you ever been fly fishing and you keep rising the big fish but for some reason you can’t hook the bloody fish no matter how hard you try. Will fellow anglers I think I may have one of the possible answers. It is a scientific fact that trout will often break water the first time to drown a fly sitting on the surface of a pond. The second time the trout breaks water is often to eat the fly about three or four inches beneath the surface, as it sinks to the bottom of the pond or brook. I have caught trout by letting the dry fly sit on top of the water until it becomes wet enough to start sinking or a hungry trout breaks water to sink the fly. I will then wait until I see my curled up floating line straighten due to the pressure applied by a striking fish, set the hook, and hold on for the fun of playing the trout. I landed a 12inch trout in Black Mountain and a 14-ich trout near Whitbourne using this exact method. Now I know some readers are saying why not use a wet fly. Well, the answer is that to get the fish to break water the first time the fly needs to sit on the water surface for two or three minutes to force the first strike. It is a blast to see the fly line tighten in little jerks before you set the hook into the lunker of the day. If you try this, let me know how it turns out.
They’re a Wicked Pair of Boots Buddy As an angler you should never underestimate the value of a good pair of fishing boots. In 2005 Wayne and I started fishing a new spot, the Gulley, a short distance from Whitbourne on the Avalon Peninsula with great results. We have fished in this spot a few times and at the bottom pond we watched many large ouananiche jump completely out of water and I always felt that they were teasing us. Previous to this trip, I got so frustrated watching the massive fish leave the water that I finally decided to walk out as close as I could to where they were jumping. I kept walking until I realized that with my neoprene waders I was able to walk out to this spot and lay the bait or fly on top of their nose. I did this on a couple of occasions but my waders would leak in a certain spot that we need not discuss any further. I tried many times to patch this leak but the money and time were well wasted. I finally broke down and purchased a typical pair of chest waders that you would see on any river in Newfoundland and I couldn’t wait to try them out in this spot. My son, Jason was visiting from Calgary and we really wanted to get a day of exciting trouting in before he returned home. I decided to take him to this spot because I knew we would at least get nice pan size trout on bait but more importantly on the fly. Just to get a trip together was great and if we caught any big fish, it would have considered a bonus. The L-shaped pond was too full of lily pads and other growth so our chances became very limited. I took Jason down to the big run in and circular pond at the bottom because I knew we could at least get a line out there. It did pay off because we had a lot of action early that morning. Jason and I were getting a lot of pan sized trout on the bait and fly. When the sun really came out and the wind died out and the fish started breaking water. Jason and I had our own spin cast rod but we would take turns with my fly rod. We hooked trout, salmon par and ouananiche on the fly and we both had a blast. While we were having a little shore lunch the big ouananiche started jumping out in the middle of the pond as they always did. I had my new trusty, no-leak chest waders and I knew how to use them. At first I took my spin cast rod and waded out to as close to the spot they were jumping as possible. I made the first cast of many but the fish wouldn’t take the bait and too make matters worse, as I was wading back into shore it must have jumped another two or three times as if to tease me. I exchanged the spin cast rod for my trusty Fenwick fly rod and waded back out to the spot yet again: still no leak. I cast many times as I slowly moved
back toward the shore and as the fly would start to sink I would cast again. I made another strong cast, let the fly sit on the water, let it sink and I saw my float line go tight. I set the fly in the large fish’s top lip the fish came out of water and drove toward the bottom. I could see Jason’s head come up and I heard him say, “You got him don’t you”. I simply nodded and told him to wade out to meet me with the dip net. I had to fight the nice fish while walking to meet Jason in the middle of the pond and I was sure that the time that all of this was taking would be enough time for the fish to toss the fly from its mouth. I reached Jason and he expertly netted the three pound ouananiche: There was a good high five and we returned to the shore to examine our catch. Actually, Jason had caught of couple of lunkers that day but the big fish was a great end to a great father and son day. This was the first time we had actually been able to go fishing together for a couple of years but I know it is one that we will both remember for many years to come. Telling of the tape
Fishing Tip #20 There is a proper way to keep your bait (worms) fresh and probably save a few bucks in the process. When you buy worms in the styrofoam tubs at your local gas station or convenience store you will notice that each cover has a hole in the centre. The hole is there to provide oxygen and if you store two tubs, one on top of the other, you will kill the worms in the bottom tub due to lack of oxygen. In one of the local gas stations where I buy my worms, a new employee piled a full shipment of worms that way and killed the whole lot. Also, don’t throw away your left over worms at the end of each fishing trip. It is a total waste of money in my opinion. If Wayne and I finish the day, I will take all of the left over worms home. I will pick out the left over halves or any that look like they are dead and throw them in the flower bed. These worms will usually die and rot ruining the remaining worms left in a tub. If you leave the good worms in the tub and add some new soil from your wife’s flower bed, you may have enough good worms left for an evening trip. I store them in my little fridge that I use for storing various consumables to keep them cool. Plus it won’t freak your wife out when she finds a tub of worms in the main fridge. You may be luck enough that you have a lot of worms remaining after a trip because you were able to use the fly for most of the day. This has happened to Wayne and me on numerous trips. This tip will save you a few bucks and let you get to your favourite pond a little quicker by not having to stop to buy worms on the way out in the morning. Try this one and let me know how it works out.
Monster in the Sticks Many years ago Brian and I decided to take, what was then, our annual fishing trip to Trout Brook near our home of Stephenville Crossing. It was many years ago because we had to get Brain’s father to drop us off near the Harry’s River side of the brook on his way to a morning of salmon fishing. This brook often yielded some monster brook and sea trout, if the conditions were right. This trip started with humour, as usual, because Brian’s father decided to hit the car horn all the way through the community of Black Duck Siding at about 4:30 in the morning. I don’t think there is anything we won’t do for a good laugh during a day of fishing and if there is, we haven’t found it yet. The idea was for Brain’s father to drop us off at the bottom of the brook and for my father to pick us up near the top of the brook later in the day. When we were dropped off, with much excitement we collected all of our gear and walked down to the first pool. We started fishing and right away we hooked fish in varying sizes and may have kept a couple. It is at this point that I need to explain the technique we used to fish this brook. We didn’t do a lot of casting because of the small pools and the close quarters fishing due to overhanging tress. We would let out about 10 feet of line and let the brook carry the baited spinner under the sticks and banks of the deepest side of the brook. The trout tend to stay in these areas to stay in the shade and to be able to feed on bugs as they fall off the overhanging trees. There were times that we had to drop the line down between two or three sticks to be successful as this type of important operation; hence the problem. We really didn’t have a plan on how we would land a large fish, if caught between a pile of sticks. This lack of planning on our part would come back to haunt us later in the day. As we fished our way through the many pools of the brook, we were landing some excellent size brook trout and awesome sized sea trout. The size must have ranged from 14 to 18 inches easily. We could not believe our luck because, as I said earlier, this would only happen if conditions were exactly right and on this day it the fishing gods were with us. Getting there so early in the morning meant that we had to stop for an early shore lunch. This great shore lunch most likely consisted of a couple of peanut butter sandwiches, a chocolate bar and a can of one’s favourite soft drink. It was a welcomed rest after walking three or four kilometers against the brooks strong current while trying to keep our balance on the slippery rocks.
We came to a stretch of the brook that was only about three feet wide, fairly deep and the bottom was covered in tree roots and sticks. You could tell that the river bank on the deeper side had been eroded over the years creating a long narrow deep pool. Brian let out some of his line and dropped the baited spinner down between some tree roots that formed a circle like the top of a basketball rim. As he dangled the line a fish came out from under the bank, took its first bite and returned to its original position. The fish was huge according to Brian and I decided to get the old trusty dip net ready to land this monster just in case. In a split second the monster returned for a second bite and Brian expertly set the hook. By the huge bend in Brain’s fishing rod, I could tell he had hooked something massive. I ran to his side with the dip net and I could not believe my eyes people. It was very close to twice the size of the net. I knew that Brian had either hooked a huge sea trout or an Atlantic salmon because of its size and the massive bend in Brian’s rod. The problem was that Brian could not hall the huge fish up through the circular tree roots because of its size. We decided that I would have to put the dip net in the water, come up from under the fish and hopefully have enough room to drag it out from under the roots to the beach behind us. Unfortunately, this couldn’t work because there was no room to pull the fish out from under the sticks, the fish was bigger than the dip net and the fish had no intention of going quietly into the dip net. We tried this procedure a few times and the one time we thought we had it in the dip net, it shook the baited spinner lose only to return to its home under the bank. We were so disgusted that we both fell backwards and sat in the middle of the brook. I am not joking people. We actually were both sitting in the middle of the brook soaked to the skin, our hip waders were filling with water and I don’t think we really cared. We sat there for a few minutes, looked at each other and began to laugh, as usual. We finally got out of the water but we couldn’t believe the size of the fish. Based on its length compared to my dip net I would estimate the sea trout or salmon to have been at least five or six pounds. I’ll never forget the picture of two young men sitting the in the middle of the brook in total disgust. I returned to this brook many times since then and have always managed to land some nice fish but nothing like the monster in the sticks.
Fishing Tip #21 I have been an angler for many years. I have learned that it is not the size or quantity of the fish nor who caught the most fish that counts. It is being able to spend a day with good friends and share a passion for the same activity that counts. It’s being able to enjoy the woods, clean air and relaxation that is very important, too. Some years ago a friend, who didn’t fish much as much as I did, asked me to spend a day. Wanting to share my hobby with others, I agreed. When we reached the pond and spent some time fishing, we decided to have a lunch. He asked, “Rick, why do you like this sort of thing so much?” I then told him to be quiet for a second and listen. He replied “Rick bye I can’t hear a bloody thing.” I replied “That’s the whole point”. He looked at me nodding his head and said, “Now I get it.” We both had a little chuckle and finished our lunch. The tip, oh yeah, is to enjoy yourself and relax.
Makinsons Muddy Pond Monsters There is a series of three connected ponds that I have fished many times since moving from the West Coast to the St. John’s Region in 1991. My fishing buddy, Wayne, introduced my son and I to this spot back in the mid 90s. All three ponds have yielded nice trout and ouananiche over the years; both in the spring and during the winter. I landed a 3 ½ pound ouananiche one September and my son, as a small boy, caught his one-pound ouananiche ice fishing. We stopped fishing the area in the mid 2000s because the area seemed to be fished out and catching any type of fish was difficult. I had always hoped the trout stocks would rebound and when the time was right, included in our yearly list of places to fish. Wayne and I passed the area many times during that period and there always seemed to be a ridiculous number of people around the ponds. I noticed, however, during the 2009 and 2010 trout season, there didn’t seem to be as many people fishing the area as in previous years. In the spring of 2010 Wayne and I decided one evening to randomly take the canoe and fish the three ponds just to try something different. Up to this point we seemed to be fishing the same spots over and over and it started to get a little old. There is nothing like trying a new spot for the first time or trying an old spot after a long absence and landing some lunker trout. We arrived at the spot on the Trans Canada Highway where we could see the trail to the first pond. In the past we either walked or dragged my old canoe to the first pond and fished our way down to the second and third ponds. We parked on the Trans Canada Highway and, as I usually will do, took a few minutes to look down over the first pond and part of the second pond to see if the fish were jumping or if there were people fishing down around the ponds that did not park on the road. All looked good so we lowered the canoe from the SUV, loaded it up with gear, and dragged the canoe to the first pond. Luckily for us the portage over the small marsh was only about 900 or 1000 feet. When we arrived at the usual launching spot, we noticed that the water in the first pond was up about two or three feet and I could see through an opening that the water was just as high in the second pond. We realized that not as many people had been fishing the area because they could no longer walk around the ponds and they needed a boat to be able to fish the ponds. Also not everybody is willing to portage a boat full of gear over the marsh numerous times to catch trout. After this development, our excitement and interest were peaked. We were both thinking that just maybe that with fewer people fishing the trout stocks had rebounded and we would have a great day of trouting; we were right.
We finally launched the canoe and decided to fish our way down the first pond, the smallest of the three ponds. If I remember correctly, we hooked a few pan sized trout until we reached the spot where we would portage the canoe about six feet into the second pond. We could see that indeed the water was high in the second pond and now I could see the water was also up in the third and last pond. We fished around part of the second pond and stopped to fish the long deep area of the pond I called ouananiche alley that flowed into the third pond. I took some amazing ouananiche one evening on a White Wolf dry fly when I was fishing with Wayne and his wife many years before. It was also the spot where my son, Jason, caught a large ouananiche while ice fishing back in the late 90s. Once again we managed to catch some smaller trout but there was nothing worth keeping and certainly no lunkers. We then proceed to paddle to the third pond and thought we would have to portage as we did in the past. To our amazement the water was high enough to allow us to paddle directly into the third and last pond through a small opening without having to portage. Both of us took a break from paddling as we started coasting slowly down the pond to discus how we would fish it. I paddled us to the left side of the pond to a spot where Wayne’s son had caught some nice trout on the bobber from my canoe some years before and anchored there. It wasn’t long before we were catching trout and both of us landed a couple of keepers on the baited spinner and dry flies. When the trout slacked off in the area I paddled us to the right side of the pond and anchored the canoe for more casting. Wayne cast his line and let it sink for a split second. I could see from Wayne’s expression that he was getting a bite and I could see his line being pulled sideways through the water. He expertly set the hook and the fight for a large fish was on. Wayne managed to land a large 14 inch ouananiche. We were both shocked by this because we had never caught ouananiche in this pond before and quickly realized that they were able to come from the first and second pond due to the high water. Now my excitement level was really starting to rise. Once again we were rewarded with a scattered keeper on the bait and fly. Other than Wayne’s ouananiche, though, we hadn’t really landed any lunkers but our interest was maintained by landing trout all over the three ponds on bait and fly; always a good day in my book. After the paddle and all of the fishing during the majority of the morning, hunger and thirst started to set in. I paddled us to the very bottom of the pond where we beached the canoe to have a well-deserved boil up. Before we lit the fire we attached a bobber to our lines and cast out the line as far as possible. My fishing buddies and I have caught many fishing over the years by doing this during lunch and this time would be no different. As usual I toasted my sandwich on the open
fire and Wayne had the usual bologna ((bolognee) sandwich. Both Wayne and I caught pan sized trout on the bobber during lunch. It is amazing how we eat and drink the same things every time we boil up in the woods when we are fishing. It is either a roast beef or peanut butter Sandwich for me and a bologna sandwich for Wayne. Plus, with me, I have to have them toasted on the open fire. After lunch I removed the bobber and continued trying to catch trout in this spot by casting from left to right or as I like to call it casting the clock. I noticed that I was only catching trout to my left and I decided to keep fishing as I continued to move to my left along the tree line. I continued to land small trout and I kept moving to until I came to a small opening. I cast the line out as far as I could, as I had a cluster of trees both to the right and left of me. I let the line sink to the bottom, as I knew this area very well and knew I would not snag the bottom. All of a sudden I noticed that my line was be slowly straightened out and pulled sideways through the water. When the line went tight, I set the hook and the fight to land a monster trout was on. It was difficult to the land the trout due to the height of the bank and the surrounding trees. It wasn’t pretty but I literally pulled it from the water, flicked it up through the tress in one motion, and started to do the trout dance of joy. I couldn’t believe I was looking at 14 inch trout that obviously had been well fed. Wayne couldn’t believe it either but the story is not over. I put on fresh bait, cast in the same spot, and landed another trout about the same size. Another cast yielded an ouananiche about the same size. I couldn’t believe what had just happened in about a five minute time period and in telling this story I am still amazed. The odd thing is that Wayne had moved past me and proceeded further up the left side of the pond and continued to catch the smaller size trout we landed for most of the day. After the commotion of fighting and landing these three fish the trout just seemed to turn off, as often happens. We paddled up through each pond on our way back to the first pond and the SUV. Wayne and I both caught trout on the way out but nothing the size that we had caught in the bottom pond. We played a hunch on this area and it really paid off for us. We had an amazing day of catching all sizes of trout and ouananiche on both bait and fly, in all three ponds. The kicker to this story is that we returned to the same spot the following weekend and, yes you guessed it, I caught two more monster trout in the exact same spot. Wayne and I decided not to fish that spot anymore that spring because we had felt we had taken enough from that one area; something I wish more anglers would do to help conserve trout stocks.
Tip #22 I think many times we Newfoundlanders take our safety in the woods too lightly. You hear stories about people being lost in the woods and unable to light fires when it can be a source of light to be found by searchers and as a source of heat for those people who have to unexpectedly spend a night in the woods. There are also those times when the spring air is too cold to continue fishing and a little warmth can help save the day. There are things you can buy or find in the woods to help start fires but they aren’t necessary designed to keep the fire burning. Wayne and I have been taking old dry wood from home that may be lying around after a fence or inside renovation project. We put it in plastic shopping bags and throw it in our pack sacks. Combined with my ZIP lock bag of lighters we have a guaranteed fire. If the woods is a little damp, our dry fire wood will keep the fire burning long enough to dry off any damp wood that we have to put on the fire. This may sound ridiculous to some folks but there is nothing worse than being in the woods in the spring of the year with cold winds blowing and not being able to light a fire to warm your hands. Plus we are getting older and we are starting to fish with comfort in mind. Is there anything better than a nice boil up in the woods? It is a comfort to know that if you or your buddy were injured and had to spend a night in the woods, starting a fire to warm yourself won’t be an issue.
Makinsons Muddy Pond Monsters Part Deux It only took a couple of weeks fishing some of our other fishing spots that a series of three connected ponds in the Makinsons area was calling our names. Just weeks before I had landed three monster fish on the bank of the third and last pond, we refer to as the muddy pond. I remembered moving to the left of our usual fire pit until I cam to a small clearing. More important was remembering the two monster trout and one large ouananiche that I had landed in about five minutes. With the excitement of two small kids, we arrived at the spot on the Trans Canada Highway where we could see the trail to the first pond. We parked the SUV and, as I usually will do, took a few minutes to look down over the first pond and part of the second pond to see if the fish were jumping or if there were people fishing down around the ponds that did not park on the road: all looked good. We lowered the canoe from the SUV, got things organized in the canoe, and made sure we didn’t forget anything. Wayne and I dragged the canoe over the small marsh until we reached the first pond. When we arrived at the usual launching spot, we noticed that the water was still high in the first, second, and third ponds. We were both thinking about the trout we had landed the last trip and decided to paddle directly to the bottom of the third and last pond. The way we are we think about the success we had in a spot so much that we just have to fish it first and if we get nothing, hope to catch fish other spots or in this case in the other two ponds. I believe we pretended to fish the first and second pond as we paddled toward the third and last pond. I am sure we caught smaller fish by mistake on the way down to make it look good to each other that we were actually trying to catch fish. How many lunkers did we miss, I wonder, due to our one track mind? Also, most of the times we tend not to catch lunkers in the exact same spot, in the same pond, just two weeks from each other. When we arrived in the third pond, you could tell by the look on our faces that we were now serious and really into it. I anchored the canoe to a spot on one side of the pond and both Wayne landed some nice sized trout. We repeated the same operation of the other side of the pond and continued to catch some nice trout but no lunkers. It was getting to that point where hunger was setting in and it was windy and cold. We decided to head to our usual fire pit at the bottom of the pond. We collected a nice pile of wood, used the canoe as a wind break, and lit the fire. The fire provided much needed heat and a way to toast my sandwiches. We were getting a little tired and the heat and food would put us back in the game for the remainder of the day. I do believe that we each cast the old bobber off the area but didn’t get anything.
While Wayne was getting more wood to keep the fire going I couldn’t take it any more. I had to go to the left to the small opening where I landed three monsters a couple of weeks earlier. By the way, Wayne teases me how excited I get when I catch big trout and it has always been that way. You can multiply this excitement by ten if it is on the fly. Well I reached the small opening, put on fresh bait, and cast off to the lucky spot. As soon as the line sank, just like before, the line started to move across the water and I knew it was a lunker. As soon as the line went tight, I set the hook and the fight was on my friends. I swear to you that I landed a monster trout about 14 to 16 inches in length but wait for it. I changed the bait, cast off again, and the line started to move across the water yet again. I set the hook again and landed what must have been the first trout’s twin brother of sister. I was once again doing the trout happy dance and neither Wayne nor I could believe that I had repeated the performance in the exact same spot of the previous trip. Once again the words Deja Vu come to mind but this still amazes us to this day. I can’t forget that Wayne landed a huge ouananiche and some nice trout of his own that day as well. In 2011 Wayne and I decided to return to these ponds again looking for a repeat performance.
Tip #23 For the longest time I refused to bring my cell phone into any pond that I was fishing. I always felt that it was something I was trying to get rid of for a day and that it would ruin my enjoyment of a good fishing trip. Hey you can still bring in the phone, shut the thing off, and only use it for an emergency. It is not like you have to check it every five minutes to see how important you are or check the hockey scores. I actually find them good for taking pictures of your trip and any wildlife you may see. There are apps out there for everything my friend and many come with a compass and/or GPS installed, if you request your provider to install them. I have an app that turns my cell into a flash light and I have found that very useful in many situations. Plus if you have a cell and become severely lost they can track your cell to find your location. There may be situations where you or your buddy may become injured and you need to get help to get of the woods. There have been many situations where cell phones have helped in these types of situations. Hey the technology is there why not use it and there are also fishing game apps available as well for those winter nights you are dreaming of the opening of trout season.
Almost Lunker Skunked In the spring of 2011 my fishing buddy of many years, Wayne, and I decided we wanted to try our luck at one of our favourite fishing holes just off the Trans Canada Highway near the community of Makinsons. There was a lot of excitement in the air, as I had landed some great lunkers in the last of three connected ponds in 2010 and some massive ouananiche in the late 90s. As was our usual procedure in this area, we parked the SUV on the side of the raod, lowered the canoe from the SUV, and dragged the canoe across the small marsh to the first of three connected ponds. As we were getting ourselves organized for the three-pond paddle, I landed a trout that was approximately 8 inches in length and another much smaller fish. Both of us had the last pond on our mind, which often stops us from fishing the first two ponds (on this day this would be a mistake on our part), where I had landed some monster trout, on two different trips, the year before. We paddled down the first and second ponds while making horrible halfhearted attempts at trolling until we reached the third or bottom pond. We fished around this pond in quick order and didn’t get a nibble. It was then the excitement had built to the point that we paddled right to the bottom of the third pond and beached the canoe. This was the fire pit area we had used on many of our previous trips. This time I didn’t even wait for fire and I went right to the spot where the monsters were hiding the year before and cast my line. I did this many times without as much as a nibble or tap from a trout. I used spinner and bait, bobber and hook, and even old dependable the fly rod; nothing, nodda, nar one at all. It wasn’t long before my excitement turned to boredom and frustration. Wayne fished the shoreline to the right of me, using the same method, for some time and he received the same fate. We couldn’t believe that we didn’t even receive a nibble for all of our trouble. I even worked the shore further to the left of my famous spot just in case the trout had moved but received nothing for my trouble. It was a bit chilly that morning, although it was probably out of frustration, we decided to put in a fire and have an early boil up. It wasn’t long before we were laughing and hurling insults at each other in fine form. We tend to boil up more now than in the past, as age as taught us to take time to appreciate a great day out in the country with a good buddy and that catching lunkers is simply an added bonus. However, it is good to at least land a scatter trout or get a scattered bite, no matter the size, to keep your interest. As all anglers can swear to, it is the time when you have lost interest and your focus that you often end up losing the lunker of the day. We had a great lunch with the usual toasted beef sandwich and the old bologna sandwich.
After our boil up we were warm and rested from the three-pond paddle that we would now have to repeat to get back to the SUV. We boarded the canoe and started up the small pond, for what we thought, was going to be a paddle of shame. We proceeded to the second pond and stopped in a couple of coves to try our luck but there was nothing biting there either. We were starting to wonder if the place had been fished out again. We decided to leave the second pond, dragged the canoe into the pond where we had started our trip earlier that morning, and could even see the SUV on the TCH. I could tell the SUV was looking good to both of us, as we hadn’t landed any nice trout up to that point and it wasn’t looking too good. For some reason we decided to take our time and fish around the little pond. We had plenty of time left in the day and the wind had dropped enough to warm up the air. It was just after we had anchored off the area where we dragged the canoe from the second pond that we started to get some bites. It is funny how a couple of bites seem to perk you up and peak you interest. It was at that time that Wayne nailed a monster trout that must have been about 12 to 14 inches in length. He then cast again and hooked another good size fish but didn’t land it. I then landed one about 10 inches in length. As is usual with Wayne and me, we tend to pull a rabbit out of the hat even on days that start out with little or no luck and this would be one of those days. I paddled us to the very bottom of the pond, beached the canoe, and we both fished from the shore. This allowed us to shed our life jackets and stretch our legs after the long paddle. I fished from a large rock on the shore where I had landed many fish over the years using both bait and fly. I cast the baited spinner and as soon as it hit the water the lunker grabbed it, I sit the hook, and the fight was on. I landed it and told Wayne that based on the size of the two lunkers we had caught they must have been twins. Both of the large trout we had landed that day were really thick and looked well fed. I cast my newly baited spinner back out and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what was following it. It was a trout much larger than the ones we had landed that day but all it was doing was bumping the spinner with its nose and no matter what I did he wouldn’t take it. I tried my fly rod, had Wayne come over to see it the trout would take a different looking spinner, which is something that often worked for us in the past. Wayne even tried the fly but nothing. Well I guess that trout was still in the pond for a reason. As it was in early afternoon and we had an early boil up, we decided to sit on a couple of rocks and have a small snack and something to drink. Wayne was having a problem with his reel and we proceeded to try and fix the problem. As often was our custom, I added a bobber to my line and cast it out to about the middle of the small pond and we proceeded to fix Wayne’s reel. A couple of
minutes had passed when we heard this huge splash out in the middle of the pond. At first we thought it was one of the many ouananiche in these ponds feeding on some unlucky flies out in the middle of the pond and then I noticed that I couldn’t see my bobber. We couldn’t believe it but a fairly large ouananiche had hooked itself and was towing my line and bobber across the pond. I grabbed my trusty spin cast rod, set the hooked, and landed a 12 to 14 inch ouananiche. All we could do was sit there and laugh because both of my long time fishing buddies Brian and Wayne and I had caught many fish this way during our boil ups over the years. Yes we had pulled another one out of the hat and there was no paddle of shame that day.
Tip #24 How many people that go in the woods in Newfoundland whether to fish or hunt take a food for a good boil up? How many people take extra food when they go into the woods? I am not saying that I take a pack sack full of food every time I go fishing but the quantity I will take reflects the distance I have to travel on each individual trip. For example if I am fishing fairly close to a well traveled road I will bring a couple of extra snack items. If I have to walk for 30 minutes of more or if I am a long distance in the country I will pack enough food for two boil ups. If we get into the fish late in the day I can stay longer and maybe land another lunker. More importantly, especially if I am deep in the woods, should something happen I will have an enough food to get me through the night. It is a proven fact that food consumption helps to warm the body and ward off hypothermia. Some people may read this and think I am being overly cautious but again it just makes sense. Plus if you have a long walk out of the country, you can eat the left over food on the way home in the car because not doubt you will be starved bye.
The Trout Machine was Launched Trip #1 Well Wayne and I can finally be listed as either old or smart or both. We have a trolling motor for my canoe, old faithful, thanks to Wayne. Wayne’s better half kindly indicated that we would likely spend half of the morning going around in circles. Keep this in mind for later in the story. We were like little kids as we were about to make our first trip to Makinsons for the 2012 trout season, with trolling motor and battery added to our arsenal. Anticipation was high because of the large trout we had landed in the first pond in 2011. We dragged the canoe, complete with trolling motor and battery, to the little ditch leading into the first pond and launched the Trout Machine. It reminded me of the launching of the Blue Nose I saw on old films or the Mystery Machine on Scooby Doo. The only thing missing was a celebrity and the usual broken bottle of booze. As Wayne’s better half had predicted, there was much time spent going around in circles followed by many insults and laughter, until I got used to steering the canoe with the motor on a side mount position (no flat arse on me boat). Once we got the canoe to move in a straight line, we started to fish the first pond seriously but to our amazement there didn’t seem to be anything interested in taking our bait or flies. The water was extremely cold and I figured it would have to warm up before the fish became active. As we usually will do when this happens, we paddled and fished our way down the second and third pond to our usual boil up spot. I fished around a couple of little coves while Wayne started the fire and the usual toasted roast beef and bologna sandwiches were the order of the morning. It was extremely relaxing to use the motor to bring us down the ponds but it was much better using the motor to bring us back up to the first pond against the wind. It was a welcomed relief not to have to do much paddling to get back to the first pond. I think it was at that point that Wayne caught me smiling and laughing with the ease of movement as I often did most of the paddling. He expressed interest in why hadn’t we thought about a trolling motor before; it was a good point. Another fit of laughter and insults were flying around the canoe. Well the sun had finally decided to show itself and warm up the air, the water, and us. There was just a little ripple on the water and we could see trout breaching all over the pond but they were breaking along the shore. We fished all over the middle pond and did not hook a thing. We beached the canoe and fished the area where we had landed the nice trout and ouananiche the year before. We landed a couple of small trout but nothing we could call a lunker. In that the trout seemed to be breaching along the shoreline, due to high water, I stepped out into the water and started to fish along the shore. I wasn’t casting out to the middle of
the pond but was instead casting down along the shoreline. All of a sudden I started to catch some pan size trout. I cast my spinner in the area where we dragged the canoe from the second to the first pond and as the spinner hit the water there was a huge swirl. I took a split second, set the hook, and the fight with another monster was on. I could tell by the bend in the rod that it was a massive lunker but due to the high water I had no place to land it. Just behind me there was a bank but unlike the rest of the area there were no tree for about four feet; leaving a small opening. I would have to pull the monster out of the water and flick trout and rod over the little bank into this spot. I knew my chances of doing this without losing the trout were slim but I had no other option. I got the trout to the shore, made sure the line was tight, and tossed the trout and rod up over the bank and into the opening. It amazed my how that trout stayed on the line after being pulled out of the water that way. I couldn’t believe the 14 inch trout I had caught in a pond that was close enough to my SUV that I could see the sun gleaming of its windows. Needless to say Wayne and I couldn’t believe the size of the trout and why I didn’t lose it the way I landed it. What a day with the new motor, good friend, and massive trout. Wayne would be rewarded with his own monster from this pond later that season.
Tip #25 This tip is for those people who walk long distances to have a great day trouting. After we walk into fishing places such as the Gully or Black Mountain, there is nothing as uncomfortable as having to wear that t-shirt soaked with sweat. The problem I have is that in the spring of the year this wet shirt leads to me getting cold in a hurry and this is only worse when you are standing in the cold water up to your waist. Bad things can happen if you get seriously cold that far back in the woods. In the last few years I have been taking an extra shirt in a plastic shopping bag, to keep it dry, in my pack sack. When I arrive at the pond, I wait a few minutes until I cool down after the long walk and change into the dry shirt. Within minutes I can feel my body starting to warm up and I am ready for a comfortable day fishing. I usually make the annual Black Mountain trip in June when it is a little warmer but I still change into the extra shirt, as the wind tends to come up there very quickly. I will hang the wet shirt on big tree for the day and if dry, will put it in my nap sack during the walk out. After the long walk back to the car, I now have a dry shirt to wear during the drive home.
First Island Fishing Frenzy I keep saying to myself that each time a make the trip to Black Mountain, a.k.a. Hat Pond, it will be my last. To be honest, I now only make one trip per year and after all I do call it the “Walk of Death”. The pond is located in the Collinette area between the Salmonier Line and Placentia. It is about a 35 minute walk from the road, you have to walk over spongy marsh up and down hills, and complete with little swamp-like patches for added entertainment. It is very unforgiving due the wind up in the mountain and the fickleness of the trout. The advantage is that we have two or three spots where the trout, if feeding, will devour flies such as the Fire Tail Black Knat, White Wolf, and the Royal Wolf. There seems to be no middle ground, as you either catch lots of trout or nothing at all. Given the distance of the walk, we say you will either end up with a “Walk of Fame” or “Walk of Shame” when you walk back to your car; depends whether if you are carrying trout or not. An old fishing buddy of mine, Shorty, shared this spot with me many years previous and the fly fishing was awesome. Anybody who knows my fishing preference knows fly fishing is my passion when it comes to any type of fishing. In 2012 I wasn’t landing a lot of fish when fly fishing due to the cold temperatures of the water and I knew that if I was to have a good day fly fishing, I would have to make that nasty trip into Black Mountain. I called Wayne, we discussed the pros and cons, and thankfully he agreed to accompany me on this trip. Previous to this trip, we had both vowed our 2011trip would be our last but here we were again. We arrived at the usual parking spot around 7:30 a.m. and prepared for the trip over the brutal Newfoundland tundra. Wayne and I threw on our back packs and assembled our spin casting and fly rods for the long trip. Wayne put on his chest waders and I put on my short rubbers. I learned over the years that making this trip wearing waders didn’t work for me. I would wear a pair of short rubbers and carry the chest waders in a garbage bag until I reached the bottom of the pond. I would change into the waders to fish and change back into my smaller boots for the long return walk back to the car. When we arrived at the bottom of the pond there was just a small ripple on the pond and the sun was shinning off the pond. We proceeded to the first cove to the right where I usually land a few trout on the fly. It is a good place to stop to get the rust off your cast before proceeding to the first island where we hoped to find a school of feeding trout, as was the case the previous two years. Wayne and I landed maybe a dozen or more each but, to us, were not big enough to keep. It was still fun to catch as many trout as we did in such a short time on the fly.
We proceed up the side of the pond to the beach area across from the first island and waded carefully onto the island, trying not to go for an early spring swim. Once on the island, fishing began on the northern side with a cast of the baited spinner and yes oh yes they were there and feeding. We were catching them on the bait close to sure and just about any place we cast the baited spinner. They were actually grabbing the bait in huge tugs and you could see your rod tip bounce. Both of us landed trout in quick order and before you could say fly fishing I was stripping off line and casting a fly. Wayne was on the fly as well and we were landing trout of all sizes. There was a rock ledge and a drop off about three or four feet in front of us. Each time we would bring our line to the rock ledge the trout would explode on the fly, leap into the water, and savagely take the fly on the way down. Actually we could see the trout coming up from the bottom of the pond to take the fly and all we had to do was wait patiently and set the fly. As they would turn off and on, we would switch back and forth from the bait to the fly; whatever worked in the minute. It was the same type of feeding frenzy we had experienced the previous two years in the exact same spot; unbelievable. We got to the point where our arms we getting numb from the casting and landing so many trout so quickly, we decided it was time for a break. After the long walk and morning of action we were both getting hungry. As usual, we decided to put in a fire and enjoy a boil up. By this time it had become a beautiful day with a little warmth, sun, and just a small ripple on the water. I had the usual toasted sandwich and Wayne had the usual bologna sandwich. We sat around just enjoying an awesome day of fishing accompanied by the usual stories, insults, and laughs. Once we had rested and polished off some serious grub we decided to fish a little longer before heading out to the car. The trout were not taking close to shore as they were earlier in the morning and we knew they had moved off a little. Once we cast our bait or flies out further into the pond the feeding frenzy was on once again. We were landing 10 inch trout all over the island once again and we kept about a dozen. The trout up there have huge girths, are extremely clean, and very pink inside. Black Mountain is such a beautiful spot especially when you can land nice size trout on the fly one after another. At times it seems unreal but when the trout are ON up there, they are ON my friends. There were no trout kept that day that we would call lunkers or monsters but another of Wayne’s friends ended up with a meal of nice trout. Hey, at least it wasn’t the dreaded “Walk of Shame” that day.
Fire and boil up from the trip
Shot from the first island showing one side of the mountain
Tip #26 Whether you have a gas powered motor or an electric trolling motor preventative maintenance is important. After all you are trusting that this will continue to work and will bring you out of the country safely. In 20102 we added the electric trolling motor the Trout Machine. It was our first time using a motor on my old canoe and because we have to use it on a side mount we were learning as we were going. In some cases the prop would enter covered in weeds, hook our fishing line, or would hit a scattered rock or two. During our last trip for the 2012 trout season I didn’t feel the motor was giving us the speed we had enjoyed on our previous trips. On the weekend after the close of the season I was packing away my fishing gear and decided to take the prop off the motor to see if we had picked anything up. I wish I would have checked the prop earlier in the season and certainly will more often as a result. I would fishing line belonging to Wayne and I but there was even line from another source; hooked another anglers line from the bottom of some pond. The reason for the slower than normal motor was evident, as the line was wrapped so tightly around the inside of the prop case that it took me about 20 minutes to cut it all free. Lesson learned there my friends, count on more consistent checks.
The Trout Machine was Launched Trip #2 Well after the “Walk of Death” was completed for the year, I felt that Makinsons’ Monsters were calling us back for another trip. The fact that we only had to walk about 1000 feet from the road to the pond was also making the trip look good to both of us and let’s not forget the new trolling motor: I love that thing. Well we dragged the canoe over the little marsh complete with fishing gear and grub which was quickly followed by the trolling motor and the battery. We had learned that dragging the canoe with the motor and the battery was not good for our health and overall well being on our first trip to this area earlier in the season. It started out as a cloudy morning and we were not sure if the trout would be interested in taking the bait or a dry fly. We launched our Trout Machine and quickly proceeded to the center of the first pond and decided that, for once, we would stay in the first pond until we caught some trout. In previous trips we always went to the bottom of the third pond to start fishing, have a boil up, and fish our way back to the first pond. Once we had paddled back to the first pond after a long day it was hard not to leave as we could see the SUV calling our name just feet from the pond. Hey but this time, based on the we monsters caught in the first pond on our last trip, we felt we had to really fish the first pond and not canoe to the third pond before we started fishing. Well all I have to say is that it wasn’t long before we were rewarded for our change in strategy. Wayne was fishing in the same place I had landed the monster from the previous trip and I was in the canoe out in the middle of the pond putting around in circles; no doubt. All of a sudden I hear Wayne call for the net from his position on shore. Now I have to tell you Wayne often calls for the net then pulls out a trout that is smaller than the spinner just to wind me up. So this time I was taking my time before I reacted and calling him names that I cannot repeat in this story. It was then that I saw the bend in his spin cast rod and the large swirls being made by the monster trout he had hooked and needed my help to net the fish. Wayne was having the same problem I had weeks before with no shoreline, high bank, and trees extending right to the water. I knew he was thinking I have nowhere to land the fish and the net is in the canoe in the centre of the pond going around in circles. I gunned the little motor and told Wayne to keep the line tight but don’t try to land the trout until I was able to get to his position. When I reached Wayne luckily the monster trout was on top of the water and I moved in from behind and netted the trout. It is the first time that I have ever completed this type of
move and I still can’t believe it worked. I let the canoe drift to shore near Wayne to let him admire the 16 to 18 inch trout he had caught. Wayne caught the trout in the same spot that provided me with my monster weeks before and instead of casting out he too had cast down along the shore. The trout were simply, for some reason, not feeding in the deeper water but taking feed from the trees hanging in the water along the shore. You just never know where trout will be at any given day, the trick is to try as many different techniques until you find one that works for that day. The odd thing is that the next time you go back you may have to drag the trout from the bottom out in the centre of the pond. Well after that excitement we decided to have the usual shore lunch and fire while discussing how the monster trout was caught and landed. Once we had finished the shore lunch it was still early in the day and we decided to try fishing in the second pond. Wayne caught smaller trout in the first pond that morning by trolling. He would open the bailer on his reel, as I moved the canoe forward with the motor, about twenty or 30 feet. As I would slow the motor to close to a complete stop, he would start reeling slowly and the trout were taking the bait. When we went to the second pond, we both tried this up and down the middle of the pond many times catching what I would call pan size trout. It was on one of these passes in a spot I called Ouananiche Alley that before the canoe had slowed I was getting what felt like huge tugs on the line. I shut off the motor and had Wayne get the net ready, as I felt this was a little bigger than pan size trout as it was attacking a fast moving line on top of a deep pond. It was the right call, as it simply grabbed the line and started for the bottom. I set the hook and by the pressure on the line I knew it would be a decent fish. I had so much line out that it took some time to get the fish to the canoe and bring it to the top of the water for Wayne to net. Everything went perfectly and I was able to land a 12 inch trout for my trouble. It was not the size of the trout Wayne had landed but we knew we were on to something. We stayed in the second pond for the remainder of the morning and early into the afternoon using this technique. We landed a lot of pan sized trout using that method and I can guarantee it won’t be the last time we try this in these ponds. It seems to be a good method for catching trout as it gets to midday and the trout have stopped feeding close to shore, moved to the centre of the pond, and need a little more encouragement before taking the bait or fly.
Tip #27 While this is the final tip, it is probably the most important. Sport fishing, angling, or trouting, no matter what you chose to call it, is a fantastic way to spend a day with a buddy or group of buddies that have the same passion for the hobby as you do. There is choosing of the spot, discussions about previous trips while driving to the location, and the excitement of finally reaching the location. Also, there are the discussions of things fish related and personal that happens during the day, the stories told during the boil up, and the actual catching of the fish. It has taken me some time to realize this, maybe it is age, but the catching of the fish is only one part of the trip. The majority of the enjoyment of the trip for me is the good company, the peace and quite one can find, and simply spending a day the woods. I challenge you just think about one of your top fishing trips and just think about what actually made the trip and let me know how it works out. Enjoy the day, the company, the great Newfoundland wildlife, sit back and relax is my final tip to all anglers.
More Trouting Pics Don’s Pond Gallant’s Hill
Me in Belly Boat in a Gallant’s Hill Camp Road Pond
Me in Belly Boat in a Gallant’s Hill Camp Road Pond
Me ice fishing at Black Duck Siding
Brian ice fishing at Black Duck Siding
Son Jason and Brian ice fishing near Robinsons
Son Jason with a trout in his hands near Robinsons
My Trouting Weapons
Son Jason fishing Trout Brook
Group of Students ice fishing on the Witless Bay Line
Ouananiche I landed in Holiday Hills
Sam and me preparing for a Sunday fishing trip
Me near Salmonier Line ice fishing
Admiring my catch from the Salmonier Line ice fishing trip
The spot Wayne and I call the River
Catch You Later I hope that all my long-time fishing buddies enjoy the stories and memories included in this book. For others who may read this book I hope you enjoy the stories and if you are an angler, maybe the fishing tips will help you catch more fish. I know I still learn something new about angling on every fishing trip and the best anglers will gladly add new skills to their list. I don’t know if there is anything more relaxing than a day catching large fish, having a nice boil up and sharing it with great company. Who knows, I may meet you out there on a pond, by a brook, or near a river and we will be able to laugh at these stories during a good Newfoundland boil up. Better yet, maybe you can tell me some of your own stories. Tight lines and good luck to all! Rick Hodder