Saturday, June 23, 2012

Matt's Bachelor Fishing Trip, June 23, 2012

Although chartering clients is a seasonal business for FINtastic Sportfishing, I do have other off season work within the fishing industry. Working at tradeshows for Walker Downriggers, sitting on the Lake Ontario Fisheries Management Zone 20 Council, on the committee for our local fishing club the Strait Line Anglers, seminars at local clubs and promoting fishing related businesses by building websites for them and speaking on their product and services, makes my off season very busy. Hard to remember all that I was doing 5 months ago when we are in the heart of the fishing season now, but I was reminded of this when I hosted our trip on July 23rd, 2012.

I was invited back to the Dofasco Angling Club to speak on a topic of Salmon and Trout on Lake Ontario. President Bill Jefferies recommended my charter service to his son Phil (the Best Man) to arrange a bachelor Charter for his brother Matt (the Groom to be). Months before the date we planned to accommodate 6 men and it included hiring Brent Bochek of Fish NV Guiding Service to host 3 and I would host 3.

From Matt the Groom to be
Since I had planned to capture the trip on video, I asked to have Matt and Phil on my boat so I may record the events with the Best Man and Groom to be. Phil asked that Behrang join us as well to round off our three guest crew. Mark Penner and experienced salmon fisherman was also on board to help as a deckhand.

From Photo_Gallery7

The two boats departed together from Foran’s Marine at 6:00 am and were met with a choppy lake from winds coming from the Northwest. A 3 foot chop kept things bouncing for the first hour of trolling that took place in 130 FOW straight out from the Marina. We were without a strike for some time and when we did have a strike it was a missed fish. We trolled with the waves during the first hour and managed only one small rainbow and one small Chinook salmon that both came on a Wonderbread Yeck 66 Zipper spoon as a free slider that finds itself halfway down with the downrigger weight set at 47 feet. With the two fish that hit very high in the water column spurred us to make minor adjustments to the lines to raise things up a little. The chop was obviously helping these fish ride high in the water column with comfort.

On our troll easterly with the waves we ended in front of Grimsby’s far east end where we turned to troll up wind. Although bumpy, the rods began to hire. Must be a speed thing I thought, and the down speed showed a head current even though our GPS speed remained consistent. Higher speeds are key! Then it was one rainbow after the next that came to the boat. It was a steady pick, but without any doubleheaders and much chaos to contend with at the back of the boat. The downriggers were taking most of the shots, but 10 colour leadcore was also managing a few fish.

From Photo_Gallery7

When we trolled all the way back to the top of our starting point which was close to the Grimsby Weather marker, the winds stopped and the lake laid right down. It was odd because as the lake relaxed the fish did not. The bite got even better and now two hours into our Trip everyone had a few turns on the rods already reeling in about 8 Rainbow Trout and one salmon.

9:30 am and the Lake is only with a slight ripple and the sun is starting to get hot. We troll South to 120 FOW directly in front of Foran’s Marine and then while we turn to the port side to head east again, the starboard rigger fires. I grab the rod, and it was instant gratitude as the short lead on the downrigger made the rod feel like it still hadn’t sprung up to take up any slack. It was solid as the rod doubled over and vigorous headshakes were felt as the fish thrashed from only 47 feet below the stern of the boat. I handed the rod to Phil that was on deck for the next fish. As I did, the reel clicker to tell us line was coming off the reel started to sing in a cadence and the fish bolted for waters further from where he had been hooked. I started the camera after the initial run, but once we had finally turned to slow the fish down the reel read 500+ feet of line. Other lines required clearing and some found itself around the line while we fought the fish. Keeping the boat circling the fish helped us free the lines from a catastrophe, and Phil’s patience as we did so, was much appreciated.

Now it was all Phil and his brute of a King Salmon to fight it out. We get the fish to the back of the boat and Mark slides the net under the fish, but the sheer size of the fish causes difficulty in fitting it’s entire body easily through the hoop of the net. Mark lays across the cowling of the motor to reach out and gain a few more inches and the fish is caught. Brought on board and smiles around the boat as Phil boats his biggest fish ever. 28.4 lbs on the digital scale. 39” Fork Length 41” total length.

From Photo_Gallery6

The highlight of the trip for sure, but it was without the end to catching more fish. About another 10 rainbows came to the boat as well as 2 coho salmon.

When we came to the dock at noon we snapped some pictures of the entire crew. Wished Matt all the luck and enjoyment on his big wedding day in a month’s time and we shared a few laughs as we talked about the morning’s events and what was next for Matt’s Bachelor party.

From Photo_Gallery7

Have fun boys!

Shane Thombs

Friday, June 22, 2012

Inspirational Joe, Catches Lake Trout, June 22, 2012

The Grimsby Lincoln News ran an article on fishing Lake Ontario, having fishing as a form of a great Father’s Day gift, not unlike a “spa day” for a mother’s day gift. The writer took a picture and then interviewed me to fill the article with first hand info with a great plug for FINtastic Sportfishing. Here’s the article…

From the article there were a number of calls for trips and Friday June 22nd was without exception.

Joe was given the father’s day gift from his wife Tracy and the plan was to take Joe out for a day of fishing on Lake Ontario. Joe is already an angler, but since a work related accident that had left him without full usage of his legs, Joe was limited to fishing opportunities with proper accessibility to quality fishing locations or provided the insight from a local guide to put him on productive fish catching waters. This father’s day gift was about to change that scenario for Joe.

Joe arrive dockside at 6:00 am ready to depart from Foran’s Marine in Grimsby and would be greeted with a flat calm lake and blue bird skies. In recent days leading up to this Friday trip the humidity and temperature was estimated to feel like around 40’C! But a cold front pushed through the night before and with it, was a clearing of the air and a relief from the unbearable temperatures.

On our way out I mentioned to Joe that weather changes like this may not bode well for our successes, since a drastic pressure change usually puts the fish off the feed for some time.

When we set-up it was in 120 FOW and there was no concern that we may need to find the fish. Marks on the SONAR graph were regular and it told us that we should work the area even if the bite started slow. In the first hour and half 5 strikes on the rigger sets resulted in missed fish and lost fish. One strike on the wire Diver set on 3 and out 120 ft with a Pink/Chart NK 28 took a good strike and the drag started pulling rapidly, but moments after getting the rod out of the rod holder, the fish was off. By 8:00 we were without a fish in the boat and we missed 7 shots!

I continued to troll west to in front of Fifty Point in 120 – 140 FOW. Bait fish blanketed the top portion of the water column. No signs of predatory fish balling up the bait or disturbing the bait to tell us the bite would start improving. But all of a sudden, like a light switch we crossed over a pack of Rainbow Trout and the rods started firing. We boated four in a row and released a smaller trout at the back of the boat.

The action with jumping silver rainbow trout, Joe says he would most like to catch a Lake Trout. Now that I think we might be able to accomplish I told him. I went into my tackle storage and searched for my peanut and cowbell rigs and put them on the riggers and slowed the kicker motor to a mere idle.

I dropped both downrigger weights to the bottom and it was only a minute or two when the first rod started thumping. I said to Joe here- yah go- there’s your Lake trout. And sure enough it was 12 lbs and it went back in the lake. Then the other rod goes off and this time the fish didn’t move. Minutes in the fight the fish still hadn’t moved off the bottom. Joe worked the fish on a long fight. We anticipated a monster Lake Trout. Then with the motor slowed to a crawl, the fish finally turned to the surface only to find the hook was in its side and not in the mouth. That meant a quick unhook and down it went. That fish was a little bigger then the first, but I thought there might be a bigger one for Joe to catch.

Working on two rods on the bottom from Lake Trout is a busy effort for two guys to handle. Not minutes later, Joe was handed the rod again and he fought what would be the biggest Lake Trout of the morning. 15.4 lbs.

From Photo_Gallery7

A few more Lake Trout resulted in after but they were less than 10 lbs and Joe was breaking a sweat from winching in these heavy Greys from 120 feet down. At 10:30 Joe said let’s call it a morning and head back to the dock.

He was greeted with his grandson and a picture to show the four rainbows he had kept for dinner.

From Photo_Gallery6

It was great fishing with someone who has overcome so much physical adversity and an example of an inspirational person to many. I learnt first hand that fishing is for all people of all physical capabilities.

Shane Thombs

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fort Erie Walleye-ndas, June 15, 2012

Driving home from work at 4:00 pm from downtown Hamilton was met a abnormally higher amount of traffic on the QEW Niagara bound. Watching the clock at every minute and feeling like I was moving an inch each minute, was enough to bring my blood pressure up. I had plans to meet up with Mark Penner and fish in his boat “Freetime”, along with my son Aidan for an evening into night fish out of Fort Erie.

Then it dawned on me, “The Flying Wallendas” with an estimated 120,000 spectators making there way to Niagara Falls watch the tight rope walker, cross the brink and gorge of Niagara Falls from New York to Tablerock, Niagara falls, Ontario. It was the talk of the week but the reality had set when faced with the traffic situation.

After dropping off three reels to be spooled with fresh line at Grimsby Tackle, then get home to pick-up Aidan, put gas in the car, grab a bite to eat through the drive-through and finally make my way to Thorold in slow moving traffic, it was 5:20 arrival at Mark’s house. He was anxious to go, and I was sorry for the delay. But we hopped on the highway again going Fort Erie Bound and made it to the Nicholls ramp by 6:00 pm. We launched and made our way out into the lake pointed in the direction of a waypoint Mark was given.

We stopped short of the waypoint and the lake was flat without a ripple. Mark shutdown the outboard engine, put down the bowmount electric trolling motor and put it to 90% which moved us between 1.6 and 1.8 mph. First rod out was Mark’s worm harness with Pink/chartrous blades and beads. It was put behind a 20 TripZ and was let out 120 feet before clipping it onto a Mr Walleye Board and then out to the side.

We were nearly ready to deploy our second rod when the first line started pulling a loose drag. The board was heavy and started bobbing like a big red and white bobber on the flat lake and sinking while being pulled back. Mark brings the first fish in, a Walleye about 2 lbs. Broke the ice early.

That line when back out, and another three lines were put out when his rod went off again. Another walleye comes to the net, identical in size to the first one. Before letting out another line, we pulled the 5 colour leadcore that was running close to the bottom, and replaced it with another 20 TripZ out 130 ft and onto a Mr Walleye inline planerboard. We matched the colours with the first harness with Yeck blades. Aidan has been helping make worm ha rnesses and he was excited to try some of his creations. It was only minutes of being in the water when Aidan’s Worm harness gets bit and Aidan was on the rod pulling in a nice walleye at 4 lbs 11 oz. which was the largest of the night.

From Misc

Aidan was busy playing with the worms, singing them songs that entertained Mark and I for a hour or so as the sun was going down. The wind came up out of the east and the electric trolling motor wasn’t effective enough at maintaining our preferred speed of over 1.5 mph. So the outboard was started again and a drift sock off the bow cleat was tossed in the water to slow our troll.

From Misc

Dusk was upon us and we were nearly ready to pick-up and run to shallow water to start a minnow bait troll closer to the river. As we pulled lines, the one board was very heavy. Mark brought in another walleye at around 2 lbs while Aidan was curled up at the front of the boat falling asleep.

We clearer the lines and ran to Rosey’s Reef and trolled water between 14 and 20 ft. The darkness had set in and we tried our luck all along the drop off without a fish. But we enjoyed fireworks set off somewhere in Buffalo that was spectacular from the water. We also commented that Wallenda would be walking across the gorge when we looked at the time reading 10:15pm. Wondering if he took off his safety tether line and if he was successfully ma king it over the falls.

From Misc

We pulled lines at 10:45 and had the boat back on the trailer for 11:00 pm to hear the report on the radio and a recorded interview with Wallenda that successfully made it across the falls. Wallenda was a success and our catch of Fort Erie Walleye 18 miles away was also a success. Walleye-ndas!

Shane Thombs

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stu, Ian and Walter find Grimsby’s Rainbows never faulter, June 10, 2012

Stu had lined up a fishing trip for his brother Ian and stepfather Walter the previous weekend, but bad weather pushed the trip back a week to Sunday June 10th. We met at the dock at 6:00am, but Walt had an emergency visit to the local Tim Horton’s that pushed back our departure time to 6:30ish. After fishing on Friday with my dad and my son Aidan, I pointed the nose of the boat to the water we had found fish two days ago. We set up in 90 FOW and the lake was without a single ripple on the surface. Like a mirror reflecting the bright sun rising in the east, burning through the heavy haze. The haze, clear skies above and calm winds were clues that the late morning was going to be hot and sticky.

After setting all the lines the deepest downrigger set to troll 80 ft below the boat with a spoon colour named "Purple Thunder" by Northport Nailer, stirred up a bite astarted bouncing the rod, but when I got to the rod the fish was gone. There was minimal action for the first hour as we trolled the 100 – 140 FOW and continued to mark fish on the bottom, but few in the mid and upper water column.

Then the same rigger set to 80 ft starts bouncing again and this time I got to the rod and found the hooks stuck this time. Pass the rod to Walt and he managed this good sized Lake Trout (his personal best Lake Trout) that weighed 14.2 lbs.

Two wire divers, 107 diver was set on 1 ½ setting and out 210 ft with SpinDoctor and MC Rocket colour #24 with green dots and the other with a 124 Walker Deeper Diver on 2 setting out 190 ft with a SpinDoctor and No-see-um Strong Fly.

A short time after the first Lake Trout the one wire diver with a MC Rocket starts pulling out line. It was heavy- but Ian winched in his personal best Lake trout that measured 15 lbs on the scale. Great start for the guys.

In the 90-130 foot waters the bite was slow on shallow set lines (fishing closer to the surface), but we did manage a coho on the rigger down 50 ft and lost a rainbow on a 5 colour that hit while letting out the line and the Ripplin Redfin that it was pulling.

Stu catches another Lake Trout but smaller in the 8 lbs range on the wire diver.

It was time to start looking for more silver fish so I decided to troll North west out over deeper water looking contently for schools of alewife that seemed to have moved out of the area we found them to be on Friday. When we broke 200 feet of water the graph showed signs of small schools of bait in the upper part of the water column. Then fish started to show up in those same waters above 50 feet suspended in 200 + feet of water.

The rigger rod set with a free slider goes off and what looked like a nice coho came out of the water yards from the back of the boat and no sooner then we can gain our line back on the reel to begin the fight, the fish came off the hook. A short time later the braided diver rod is jerked hard by a very aggressive fish. So hard that the leader broke and we watched the fish go crazy on the surface jumping and rolling frantically with the spoon still in it’s mouth and no struggle to fight against a bent fishing rod.

It was time to rethink the spread of lures, and it wasn’t difficult to suggest that everything deep was a waste of time and it made sense to dial in on the rainbows and cohos that swam the top 50 feet of water. Both divers were set to run shallow on 3 settings and out 90 and 110, one rigger was down 50 feet but a free slider that was a White with pink dots Northport Nailer was finding the 25 ft water as it slid down into place. Three leadcore lines were set out to run the top 40 feet of water. 10, 7 and 5 were deployed with inline planerboards to run out to the side.
From Photo_Gallery6
Soon it was a fast pace of activity where the box was filled with the crew’s 10 fish limit (mix of cohos and rainbows) and enough great high flying rainbows and jumping cohos to keep in our memories for some time.
From Photo_Gallery6
Shane Thombs

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fathers Day Fishing, Niagara this Week, Article Picture and Interview, June 8, 2012

Women on mothers day get Gift Certificates for Spas and the alike, what do men get for father's day? An ugly tie? :)

If they like fishing, why not a Gift Certificate to go fishing for the day on a fishing charter?

More importantly I wanted to deliver the message to the residents of Grimsby and Lincoln that we have great fishing right here at home. You don't have to travel north, Lake Ontario is awesome for Salmon and Trout. I also wanted to promote the Free Family Fishing Week that was coming up in a few weeks and hence wouldn't require a fishing licence for those who would like to give it a try.

I went fishing today with my dad and my son to show all three generations enjoying the day fishing. Fathers Day Theme.

We caught a number of fish and kept four for our picture dockside to show the newspaper columnist. The picture fell on the front page the week leading up to Fathers Day and the article was put together wonderfully.

Here's the link to the article for your reading pleasure...

Shane Thombs