Tuesday, 29 May 2012

June 2 Kids Fishing Day

We would like to invite you to attend the Rice Lake Fishing Festival Kids fishing day, this coming Saturday at the Bewdley town park. 10am - 2pm.
Everyone is welcome. Admission is free. 

Please make plans to attend with your family and friends as we enjoy a great day catching fish, winning prizes and enjoying quality family time outside having fun.

Tackle and equipment will be provided if required by the OFAH Tackleshare program. 

Local pros, John Sedgewick and Chris Giles and our fine group of volunteers, will be on-hand to help all anglers with questions and provide on the water information.

Our sponsors and volunteers make this a fun family day and we hope you can join us. /salute 


Also for those looking for a tagged prize fish this weekend. Here is video tip #3.


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Calling all Turkeys

This early spring weather has made it tough for us turkey hunters to sit around and wait for the Ontario turkey season. I have been watching groups of turkeys wandering around the fields near my home and have been getting the itch to wake up at 5am and go sit in the dark, in a patch of property nearby...
The toms are already in full strut and although it's early and they always are in full strut this time of year, the warm weather has just made it more difficult to wait.
My favorite patch of woods is close to my house and it is not fair that I have to drive past and witness groups of turkeys wandering around looking for something to do. I have a great activity planned for a couple of toms, dinner guests at my house.
My collection of strange sounding calls seems to grow every year. Box calls, push button calls, mouth diaphrams and owl hooters. Not too mention the green chalk I have collected to help some of these contraptions sound like an impressive turkey. I have camoflage to cover every part of me to blend into the background. As you soon learn when turkey hunting, nothing is as important as not being seen and they have wicked eyesight. You don't need to worry about scent or adding something new to the area (like a blind). Turkeys could care less and take no notice, but move even a little and they will see you every time.

That being said they are not a really smart bird. I have shot birds before and had to get up and shoo other birds away. Sometimes they will not come in to a decoy or call and other days they will come hundreds of yards on the run.
So I will just have to wait, check my decoy again, maybe oil the gun again but I won't practice my turkey calls in the house again...honest!

 Every day is different and every new hunt is a fun memory.

That's is what makes waiting so tough. :)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Spring Rituals

Every spring around the end of March, I always look forward to one of my favorite spring rituals. In the town of Cobourg, Ont. There is an old dam that blocks the movement of fish as they try to migrate upstream to spawn. Each year a great group of volunteers, MNR staff & Ganaraska Conservation staff, join together to lift 200 adult fish over the dam.

The dam only prevents fish from accessing the prime spawning habitat located upstream. Many fish will spawn below the dam but the fish lifted should have a higher percentage of spawning success. The adults that remain after spawning will also offer angling opportunities in the upper creek once the season opens but most will make their way back over the dam after spawning, riding high water from a spring rain or storm back downstream to the lake.

With lots of help from willing volunteers, the fish are chased upstream from below the nearby road bridge into the pool located at the base of the dam. Then a fence in placed across the creek to keep the fish in the pool.  
Volunteers net the fish and bring them to the waiting pens, where they are identified as male or female and notes are taken if fin clips are observed. Fish with clipped fins are stocked fish and we usually only see a few each year. Today we didn't see any. A good testament to the natural reproduction taking place in this watershed.
Some fish are sampled by taking measurements and scale samples before they are loaded into a waiting basket and hauled up the dam and released to continue their journey.

Fish of all sizes are brought to the nets and we have seen some great fish over the years. Today the largest was a big male trout estimated around 16-17lbs. Gorgeous fish with awesome spring colors.
Only 200 fish are lifted as a natural population of Brook Trout reside above the dam and too many large rainbow trout would create strain on the population of brookies.
After we have 200, the fence is removed and the remaining fish return to a less exciting Saturday below the dam.
It is also a great chance to engage some of the youth that always turn up to watch this spring event. A few moments are spent showing people a close up look at the fish and kids are always surprised when they touch one at how cold they are. :)
This lift has been going on every spring for decades and is a great example of anglers supporting their resource. I certainly enjoy this event and it is always high on my spring rituals list.
A fun day with friends in Cobourg, Ont.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Goodbye Winter, if that's what you want to call it!

This has been a poor winter for weather. Being a Canadian, I like a good cold winter with some nice snowy days and a foot or two of snow for enjoying some winter fun. Nothing crazy like 8-10 foot snow drifts but hey, it comes with the territory around here...sometimes. I like getting outside with the kids for sledding, snowball fights, making snowman or even shoveling the driveway, it can be fun if you do it with your family.
This year has been a curve ball. It is the first of march and we have maybe 3 inches of snow and that was received in the last day or so.
This past weekend while ice fishing, I noticed the sound of snowmobiles for the first time this winter. Nice! Nothing like investing a few thousand dollars into a new snowmobile and being able to use it for one weekend. I'm sure there are a few people disappointed on the purchase of a trail pass or booking of a winter holiday with plans to ride the trails.
Winter is a big part of our economy. Ski hills, ice hut operators, snowmobiles and related business all depend on a decent winter and this year will hurt them. Lots of workers also earn income by plowing or removing snow, a tough winter for them.

However all is not lost. I'm sure the vehicle accident rate is down and businesses and municipalities will have saved on snow clearing expenses. The deer, turkeys, moose and grouse will have enjoyed a good winter due to lack of snow. But something just seems to be missing this year and mostly it is the snow.

I suppose I shouldn't complain and I honestly don't think global warming has anything to do with this weather. It is just a mild winter. Of course, they have all kinds of reasons for it and everyone remembers the winters from "when I was a kid" but the seasons just fluctuate and this is a warm one. I will always remember speaking with and on old farmer in his 80's, who told me that during his lifetime he had plowed his fields in every month of the year. So I think this is one of those years when you could have taken a plow to the field in February and expected to get some work done.
So good bye winter of 2011-2012, you were disappointing for snow and cold. I did find some great ice fishing but even that will end soon with and early ice-out expected this spring.
I shall start my preparations for spring panfish, turkey hunting and of course the Rice Lake Fishing Festival.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ben's Big Panfish Bash 2012

Yesterday was the second annual ice fishing derby at BJ Tackle in Bewdley, Ont. Anglers spread out across Rice Lake in search of the biggest panfish they could find. Three species were included in the prizing. Perch, Sunfish and Crappie.

This fun event was a great day to spend time with your friends and family in a fun derby.
The winds pick up during the late morning and having any form of a shelter made things more comfortable. The portable ice hut made focusing on the fish and not the weather more enjoyable. Spending my day targeting perch over clear water produced some good jumbos. The action was hot and at one point I had a school of all jumbo perch come through. Both rods down with 11 inch perch makes for a fun trip.
We packed up by 1:30 to get to Bewdley for the 2pm weigh-in.
BJ Tackle was a busy place, with anglers weighing some great panfish. This is only the third winter since an ice fishing season for panfish was introduced in the Kawartha's and angler's are starting to figure out the patterns to consistently find bigger fish. Lots of jumbo perch were weighed in along with sunfish and some true slab crappie. Most of the crappie action takes place at night during the winter at Rice Lake but some anglers have found the fish during the day and using ultra light tackle are putting them on the ice. A 1.2b crappie took the honors at the event with several others over a pound.
One of the greatest things about this derby is the fun. Lots of young anglers get out for the fun and after the weigh-in there was some awesome chili, deserts and hot chocolate to enjoy. The mood is light and everyone has a great time.

Sign me up for next year!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bridgenorth Panfish Festival Update

We can always count on our great volunteers to make this a fun family day fishing on Chemong Lake. Every year dozens of people, young and old catch their first fish at this family day and learn the joy of spending quality family time outdoors enjoying ice fishing together. Meet skilled anglers from the Kawartha chapter of Muskies Canada, Ontario Chinese Anglers Association and other great groups that donate their time and support. :clapping: 

We have been receiving lots of calls about the Bridgenorth Panfish Festival. Yes we are going ahead with everything planned. The ice conditions are very good with 15 inches of ice in the bay we fish. Weather is calling for -1 and sunny periods with tons of fish, family fun and smiles on Chemong Lake. 
This year as part of the Panfish Festival, activities will be going on inside at the OFAH Hertitage Center in Peterborough for more family fun. http://www.hfhc.ca/  This is a great chance to see the cool facility and it's exhibits for free.

Maybe you will win a guided panfish trip for two with professional angler Chris Giles, or a night in an ice condo from BJ Tackle, a new ice hut from Frabill, rod/reel combos and clothing from Shimano, tackle boxes from Bridgenorth Sports, oil changes from Currie Tire, prizes from Lucky Strike, Canadian Tire, OFAH, Ontario Power Generation and many others who support this fun festival. 
Not many places you can spend a free day with the family and have a chance to win great prizes. Our sponsors are great supporters of youth angling and family fun. 
They support the angling community, we should support them. :Gonefishing: 

Feb 18, 2012 
10am - 2 pm
Free for everyone, tackle, holes and bait provided
Free prizes for youth and adults

Check the website for more details


We filmed a segment for the 5 O'Clock show on Chex Tv for the Bridgenorth Panfish Festival which aired today. 
It was good to get out on the ice with some youth anglers again. Good warm up for the 1000 or so kids we are expecting on Saturday.

I'm not sure how to edit these clips down or if it's possible but here are the links for the show.



Thursday, 2 February 2012

Oddball fish

This past weekend while targeting perch, I landed a small catfish. Now that may not seem exciting but it is the first one I have ever caught through the ice and I was quite excited about it.
Over the years, unusual catches have been highlights that are remembered. It is not always the size of the fish that creates memories but the unique species or circumstances where they were caught.

After seeing the above photo posted in a fishing forum, it gave me an idea. Last winter I spent several days on the ice trying to catch a carp. I have caught lots of carp and some true monsters but I had never heard of anyone targeting them in the winter. Game on.
I never did get one but did find an area that was holding them during the winter, so as soon as we get some decent cold weather and I can get back there, the quest will restart.
A trip a few years ago to the Ottawa River was a cool experience. We were in search of sturgeon and as it turns out it was the last season the species was open in Ontario. Four anglers spending day and night hunting a sturgeon resulted in one being caught. Not big by sturgeon standards but we sure were excited.

The best part of the trip was the tons of channel catfish we landed in our search for a sturgeon. The action was unexpected but also non-stop. Besides the channel catfish we caught pike, bass, walleye, panfish and a mooneye. I had caught mooneyes before but the one landed by my friend was huge. Of course we were not trying to catch them and besides noticing the size of the 2lb fish we snapped a photo and kept fishing. Upon our return home, someone checked the Canadian record for mooneye, it was 1.43 lbs...oops!

Sturgeon, carp, catfish, mooneye, not exactly the glamour species but they certainly stand out in a long list of good memories. I would bet that most of us have similar experiences and memories. While we may pride ourselves with big fish catches, it the unique or oddball fish and the circumstances that surround them that truly add to the stories we tell. 

It's a gar.... :)