Thursday, August 23, 2012

Schooling the Schooled on a School, August 23, 2012

Making this the second year Bob and his son Nicholas was able to fish with me, this was the first time for a new and very special guest. Bob’s daughter Madison was ready to learn with his dad and brother, what all the hype about Lake Ontario fishing was all about.

From Photo_Gallery11

Bob is a school teacher and his son and daughter were making their way through grade school and the start of high school. I was particularly fond of this fishing opportunity with the three, because like most tough social times in life, none of that stuff matters when you go fishing!

Nicholas explained that he is the centre of attention when it comes to amusing the bullies in school. Conversation about it was evident that it struck a sore spot and as with most adults listening to the stories of bullying, it immediately takes you back to a pivotal event where you yourself was in the bad situation and bullied.

From Photo_Gallery11

School years can be hard, but I expressed to Nicholas that for me, I found an outlet. Try to find an interest and allow it to be part of you. A passion for something allows you to focus on something that can become your place of piece, calm and understanding.

From Photo_Gallery11

We are given gifts, those gifts that are discovered and then applied with a purpose is the ultimate synergy. When you find that perfect fit you find yourself schooled outside of school. When you become immersed in your passion, that means so much to you, stress over social acceptance becomes less concerning. A passion that will take you to a new level of understanding of self-awareness of what you are capable of learning and being a part of, whole-heartedly. I write about this in first person because like Nicholas, I too felt out of place in the social fabric of school. But fishing and the outdoors was my found passion.

From Photo_Gallery11

This fishing trip was kept light, we didn’t dig into the social concerns, because fishing is an escape from all that. Instead Nicholas, Madison and Bob took turn after turn on the rods reeling in Rainbow trout after rainbow trout from a school of fish suspended over 240 FOW.

Shane Thombs

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The WOW Factor with Tom and Mac, August 22, 2012

Tom works with me at the City of Hamilton and we have been out a hand ful of times fishing together the past two years. Mac was also out fishing with Tom and I last year and to make it an annual thing Tom suggested Mac join him for a Steelhead fishing bonanza. To show him the "WOW factor" as Tom would call it.

From Photo_Gallery9
I was out in the morning and had a incredible trip with good numbers to the boat, This would be a tough act to follow! Here's the link to the morning trip blog report.

The lake was still very calm and it was warm out, but still very comfortable to fish in. We ran out to the vacinity of my morning waypoints and set up. It was nice to see the same sort of action start immediately after setting lines. Soon rods were firing consistently and the yelling with cheer from Tom and Mac came on every silvery steelhead leaped out of the water behind the boat.

From Photo_Gallery9

Tom says while holding up this nice steelhead, "This is the WOW Factor". It was an incredible afternoon and while the sun started to drop we angled the boat to shallower water in front of Grimsby. Even after leaving the numbers of fish out over the 240 FOW area, we still continuted to hit fish all the way into 100 FOW where we ended the trip. Some big Trout came to the boat on this 6 hour trip but a very productive 20 fish boated ending the day with 42 fish in total between the two trips. I was exhausted!

Shane Thombs

English Style Fish? August 22, 2012

Steve moved to Grimsby from England a short time ago. Steve was not much interested in fishing when in England, but his brother Gary, who still lives in England, was a fishing fanatic. So much so, he was also a charter fishing captain who took large groups to angle bottom fish from the salt waters along the west shores of the United Kingdom in the North Sea and south to the English Channel. Salmon and Trout fishing was to be a new adventure for both Steve and Gary.

From Photo_Gallery9

My dad was with us on this trip and he has always had an interest in the English culture since he was second generation Canadian, but with roots in the United Kingdom.

Gary had flown in from England the evening before. This was his first day in Grimsby, Ontario, but Gary had travelled world wide for work and fished many exotic places. Steve made it a point to entertain his brother for the next week with somesite seeing and some Ontario angling trips. Steve had repeatedly mentioned he was less interested in fishing then his brother Gary, but he still wanted to see what Lake Ontario fishing was all about. Steve felt the need to know more about Lake Ontario and other local fishing opportunities since he now lives in Grimsby. I wish more Ontarians shared this interest for what outdoor activities are closer to home! More than 6 million Ontarians live in the Golden Horseshoe around Lake Ontario, and a small fraction know of the great fishing they have only minutes away?

From Photo_Gallery9

I am not one to pump up guests with high expectations of fish catching numbers or size. Instead I explain that we can only hope for the best. I use the caveat that the fish are always moving, sometimes you hit a good day when the fish are hungry and other times its tough sledding. Honesty the fishing had been superb since mid-June and a slow day this summer was still a very good day in retrospect. I had a lead on some great fishing over 220 FOW Northwest of Grimsby. I ventured to new waters today, but I had in mind what I needed to do.

It was time for the August Silver Blue Zone style fishing to begin. The Offshore connection! Although Steve and Gary may not completely understand the difference, the 9 mile run to our destination was a change from our shorter 4 – 6 mile runs we have been fortunate enough to make, and stay on top of fish, throughout the summer. Don’t get me wrong, the fish were still inside 150 FOW, but I felt the need to really stack the odds in our favour and knowing that August is usually the time to think off shore for numbers of fish.

I have a way of fishing blue zone (off shore habitat) waters that make things as productive as possible to catch fish and with a conservation ethic that will ensure thier survival when released. Although Leadcores are very productive in this pelagic environment, they are time consuming to set and are hard on the fish since it is a long fight to get them 500 feet to the boat. There are times Leadcore is needed to make bites happen on ultra-spooky conditions and shy fish, but if I can deploy a spread that pulls fish to the boat and can catch them on short lines- that is my favourite. Good for the fisherman and most of all, good for the fish.

Steve and Gary took turns on the rods as we boated 22 silvers with over half being 2 and 3 year old chinook salmon. The rest were high flying rainbow trout. Gary and Steve both witnessed great fishing, and we shared some great jokes and stories from the entertaining brothers.

From Photo_Gallery9

Shane Thombs

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mitchel's Many, August 19, 2012

I am obviously passionate about fishing and I sometimes can’t help but talk about it at work. Sometimes I find an ear that will listen to my endless fishy discussions and during my tenure in a different department at the City of Hamilton, I found a co-worker that also shares an appreciation for this outdoor activity and I felt it necessary to show him what Lake Ontario fishing is all about.

Mark invited his dad to join us for this Sunday morning trip. His dad’s birthday had recently past and he lives in Whitby so it was a matter of matching our schedules and good weather to make it all come together.

Yesterday was one of those highlighting trips of the year. We boated lots of big fish and experienced great water conditions on the Lake.

Despite a migraine I woke up to, I was convinced it would go away if our luck continued like where it left off only 8 hours before.

Mark and his Dad, Bob, met me dockside at 6:00 am while the sun was still below the horizon. As we turned out from the marina and pointed the nose to the East the golden and red ball was just coming up to greet us. The Lake was still calm and it was an enjoyable ride to our destination east where we caught fish the day before.

We set up a 6 rod spread of 1 10 colour Leadcore, 3 downriggers and two divers. It was only a few minutes to get all six in the water, but it took less than a minute for the Fullcore to hook-up on the first fish. Handed the rod to Mark and moments later the one rod on the Starboard side downrigger releases. I hand that rod to Bob and we had a doubleheader – so we thought. ;)

When Bob got the fish to the back of the boat I netted the fish, but noticed another fish hooked on the slider as well. A doubleheader was actually a tripleheader but with only two lines! A few attempts to net the second fish were unsuccessful, so instead I resorted to lifting the fish in and hope the hook doesn’t pull out or line break. Both fish came on board and Bob was excited to see a Lake Trout and a Rainbow Trout come in the boat on a single try at the rods.

The trip continued with great action of Rainbow Trout and Lake Trout in the 5-8 lbs range. The Chinook salmon that were in the area the evening before had vanished. Mark caught is first Lake Trout, Bob and Mark both caught their biggest Rainbow Trout.

My migraine did subside, either that or the activity left me thinking about other things- Who needs Advil Liquid Gels when you have Trout that come from the Liquid of the productive waters of Lake Ontario.

Mark later said “So many fish were caught we lost count, but now we’ve got the video to go back to, and verify who won the bet between me and dad, haha. Hard to believe so many fish are out there in the lake and we had them all to ourselves that day without any other fishing boats on the water, and on a weekend too- no less.”

Now Mark will have his own fishing story to tell at work instead of lending an ear to listen to my stories.

Shane Thombs

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vicki, Trevor and Andy rock silver salmon, August 18, 2012

Vicki and Trevor were looking for an adventure to share in celebrating a milestone year being together. It was a toss-up, jump out of a plane and hope the shute opens or jump into a salmon fishing boat and reel in a fish longer than your arm. Because we are here, you can guess the decision sided on a salmon charter.

From Photo_Gallery10

Two weeks from my last time on Lake Ontario after winds and crazy weather, it was now time to create something out of nothing. Most trips are with a destination in mind to start our fishing trip, but with no information to build on from a recent fishing trip, it is sometimes a shot in the dark. Those times you need to rely on your gut instinct when making decisions on where to fish and how to plan your attack.

Weighing in the facts; there was a reliable report of good numbers of trout out 250 FOW in front of Bronte. A run that would be 9 miles on smooth water- not even a concern. Although many days old now, I also had another reliable report that suggested a good mix of salmon and trout just east of Grimsby. Winds since that day were out of the west and I had a gut instinct that the winds may have pushed them slightly east.

Do I go west out 9 miles or do I run east for 7 miles? The question was literally answered only moments before passing the rocks and pushing the throttle down. East it was as we travelled and stopped in front of Bartlett Road in Grimsby. Then continued to troll east as we set up.

Only with a few rods out to start, our first fish was on and Vicki was first to pull in a fish. A rainbow trout to break the ice at about 2:15 pm. Then there was a period of about 30 minutes that required Mark to search out the area for more fish. Then we hooked up on a dandy Rainbow trout and Trevor was next. It was a beauty rainbow trout and I decided to cut the trolling motor down to reduce the speed for the fight. Mark mentions 2.3 on the down speed.

Trevor managed the 13 lbs Rainbow Trout to the boat, took some pictures and then put the fish back. But then the light switch turned on. It was like the fish turned on. It felt like there wasn’t a single full minute went by without having a fish hooked up. And they weren’t small fish. Salmon in excess of 20 lbs and numerous rainbow trout over 10 lbs.

From Photo_Gallery10

Watch the video to get a feel for the activity during the 4 hour fishing trip in the middle of the afternoon.

Trevor and his father Andy took turns reeling in fish. Vicki was sensitive to motion sickness in the boat even though the water wasn’t choppy. It was unfortunate that she felt that way but she was a trouper for insisting we continue fishing even as she continued feeling ill. We did call the planned 6 hour trip short and arrived dockside at 6:30 pm.

From Photo_Gallery10

A short 4 hour trip but it was an action packed trip with a great bunch!

From Photo_Gallery10

Shane Thombs

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Farms Feed Cities, but when it's time to play, Farmers go fishin', August 8, 2012

My friend Andrew who is a Agr-specialist and lives down the street from me in Beamsville, hadn't been out fishing much in recent years. But whenever he has the chance- he is eager to get out on the Lake. He was familiar with the water and was an operator on a ferry boat down on the St Lawrence River in eastern Ontario. He was even thinking about buying a boat and might even dock it on Lake Ontario so he can "escape out on the lake" after a day of work.

From Photo_Gallery11

The weather looked right and the boat was waiting at the dock so it was an easy decision to run down to the boat, turn the key and set off for a short evening fish. My son Aidan joined us for the trip as well. He is getting so big for a 7 year old, knowing his way around the boat, tie us off at the dock and handle a fishing rod.

As an Agri-specialist Andrew's work is not to farm, but to consult with farmers on crop selection, fertilizers, and other crop management needs. Although I grew up spending most of my summers at my grand parents farm, I was only briefly exposed to the on goings behind the business of farming. Haying, bringing the cattle to barn and mucking the cow stalls and shoveling the gutters was only scratching the surface. I remember those that came to visit my grandfather on what seed to purchase and what yeilds would be best in which fields. I'm sure most years the consulting from people like Andrew were my grandfather's asset.

From Photo_Gallery11

We managed 8 fish to the boat and lost a few others. Andrew pulled in his biggest fish ever a nice 19 ½ lbs Chinook Salmon. Him and Aidan shared reeling in 4 other chinook salmon that were 2 and 3 year olds (6 - 15 lbs), and we managed one rainbow trout and one lake trout.

Best lure for us was a Blue Dolphin Magnum Warrior spoon I just bought at Grimsby Tackle that evening before going out.

It was set 62 feet on the rigger and back 10 foot lead. The temperature at that depth was 45’F!!! The water went cold fast below the surface even though we were seeing very hot air temperatures.

The schools of alewife as the main forage for the salmon was shown in large schools on the SONAR screen, every few minutes in the 120-130 feet of water depth range. But the bait moved in from 120 to 90 feet of water as dusk approached. My first pass in the 130-120 feet of water was bait rich and we caught fish in that stretch, but on the second pass back through the same water, the bait was a lot less plentiful, so I turned inside and sure enough it filled the screen for nearly 5 minutes straight.

Grimsby- Beamsville waters hasn't looked as good as it does now, since the first week of July. There are lots of fish around, maybe less big kings as early July, but still good numbers. Usually we are poking out to look to the offshore waters called the "Blue Zone" by now, but to our delight the fish are still inside!

From Photo_Gallery11

The trip reminded me of my grandfather whom loved to fish when ever he could. Farming life wasn't with much time to fish. He left the house to go to the barn before the sun rises, be back for breakfast, then back to the barn to clean the milkers, back to the house for Lunch at noon, and then out in the fields or fixing fences for the afternoon, be back for dinner at 5:00pm. There were no cell phones to tell you to be back - my grandmother had the have the meals ready on time. My grandfather and uncles had to be back on time or it was cold or eaten by those who were on time.

CHCH News would be on during dinner to see the weather. He ate real fast, told everyone to shut-up so he can hear the TV and hurried me, my cousins and my uncles to finish up as well so we can get to barn for the evening milking the cows. Once done at around 7:00 pm it was time to rest for the evening, joking around, watch the Blue Jays during the summer or his favourite "Hockey Night in Canada". I was a Boston Bruins fan for a while, but my grandpa asked me why- they are an American Team. I switched my favourite team to the Toronto Maple Leafs from that point on - even though they are not the best team in the NHL. He would watch those games closely- moved in the seat at every pass and shot- like he was there on the ice with the players. But after a long day farming, it was hard for him to stay awake during the second intermission and most of the time he fell asleep before the game ended. That was the day in the life of my grandfather on the farm. He passed away from a heart attack in the barn one afternoon when I was a young teenager, the farm was later sold and my uncles turned to other careers knowing that farming is a tough go, but friends like Andrew are very important to the future of farming in Ontario

Shane Thombs

Monday, August 6, 2012

David and son Jamieson discover the pleasure of a Salmon Charter, August 6, 2012

David and his son Jamieson met us at the dock at 4:00 pm. We were going through introductions and pre-departure safety checklist; the question came up, as it does with every trip with new clients, “Have you done this type of fishing before?”

The answer to the question was an eye opening realization for me.

David had seen a nightmare salmon fishing charter that while he explained the details left me listening without distraction and with my mouth hanging wide open in surprise. He had been on a salmon charter on Georgian Bay where the charter captain insisted on going out fishing despite 10 and 12 foot waves that were crashing over the rocks at the entrance to the marina. David went on to explain how within the first hour everyone but himself and the captain were sea sick. David was not one to get seas sick, but the captain on the other hand was likely not capable of getting seas sick since he was intoxicated with alcohol and high from smoking marijuana!

The story went into greater detail of the charter experience from hell that without surprise resulted in only 2 small salmon caught for a 6 man charter.

After his story was told, I was shocked he didn’t, in the least, show an expression of displeasure from his experience and almost came across as if he might have thought all fishing charters were like that. My question for him was, “After that experience, Why would you even consider trying another charter? That would scare anyone away for life”. David then had mentioned he was referred to me by a business associate that went fishing with me last year. Sean and Peter must have told him about their experience and how I operate differently. Read Sean and Peter’s experience following this Blog entry link

When we came into view of the lake from the channel exiting the marina, I could tell that David was at ease to see the lake was flat calm. Not even a ripple on the water and it meant that his son Jamieson would not be introduced to salmon fishing in the same manner as his father was.

We powered up and headed East of the weather marker and began dropping lines in 160 FOW. It wasn’t minutes into the trip where we hooked up on our first fish. Jamieson was handed the rod and he brought in the first fish of the trip, a small 4 lbs rainbow trout, but it was his largest fish. Moments later another rod went off and David was on it. Another rainbow trout came to the boat but a little larger than the first.

David was already happy about the success he discovered and we were only 15 minutes into our troll. The next 15 minutes I was able to get the rest of the rods in the water, just in time to start a steady pick of salmon and trout for the remainder of the 4 hour trip. Jamieson broke his biggest fish multiple times and had some incredibly strong salmon on the line. A few had gotten off during the fight, but this fat coho salmon came to the boat and Jamieson and his dad were smiling from ear to ear.

From Photo_Gallery10

The last hour of the trip the wind had came up from the south and we trolled directly into the winds and approached shallower water. I asked if David would like to call it quits early since we were seeing whitecaps and a 2 foot chop. He looked around and said, “This isn’t rough!”

We came into 80 FOW where we hooked into another nice salmon that had David and Jamieson in surprise as the fish burned line off the reel and buckled the diver rod over like a pretzel. The fish came off, but the spirits were high to conclude the night.

David was happy to see that his son Jamieson wasn’t exposed to the same Salmon charter fishing nightmare that he was. They went home with lasting memories of lots of fish and some big fish.

From Photo_Gallery10

As Mark Penner and I cleaned up the boat and brought it back to dock, we talked about how the industry of charter fishing has all sorts. We confirmed that our approach to safety first and enjoyment second is clearly what makes FINtastic Sportfishing a professionally run charter service. There are many other charters out there that operate with the same ethics, but there are also some that do not.

I came up with my Mission statement for my business after this trip. A mission statement that is the cornerstone to my business approach

To provide a charter fishing experience for my customers that can be enjoyed during our time on the water as well as create a lasting memory. To add an educational element to our fishing trip and to manage expectations by booking your charter date around the best fishing times and where safety is paramount.

Shane Thombs

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sea Legs Larry treats Josh and Nick to a rollie-polly fishing trip, August 4, 2012

At the dock for 4:00 pm Larry, his son Josh and Josh’s friend Nick boarded the boat and we headed out on the lake, but met with wavey conditions. The extreme heat advisory was evident inland, but the wind from the east across the lake was a refreshing temperature change and we were eager to take advantage of the natural air-conditioning while fishing this evening.

Knowing the troll should be primarily with the waves coming off the stern I ran against them for 8 miles and stopped the boat in 240 FOW before starting the kicker motor and trolling with the waves “down hill”.

It was a slow start with the first three fish coming off before Josh would boat his first fish of the evening. A Rainbow Trout that went in the box for dinner. The next two hours we caught 2 more rainbow trout as I eagerly waited for us to reach my waypoints from my morning trip. As we approached my waypoints we began hooking more fish and soon we were into a doubleheader and a parade of rainbow trout that came to the boat.

Here’s the video that captured only a part of the trip since I forgot to turn it on until late in the trip.

The chop on the lake kept the guys testing their sea legs. Larry let the boys take turns on the rods as he watched with pride.

Nice treat from Larry who later discovered how tiring you get when you are exercising you’re Sea Legs

Shane Thombs

Tom tries to avoid the Heat, but the fishing was Hot! August 4, 2012

I’m not one to suggest going out in extreme heat alerts, but the lake has a way of moderating the temperature and if you plan your trip to avoid “Bankers Hours” you can usually get out on the lake and remain comfortable.

July was a hot one and with very little rain. August started out as a continuation with high temperatures pushing the mercury to just above 35’C and feeling like 40’C with the humidex. The forecast for today was nothing short of those stifling temperatures and with little wind in the forecast for the morning. Tom and I knew we needed to make a quick fish in the morning before the sun gets too high in the hazy sky.

Tom met me at 5:30 am dockside in the dark and said lets go and set up before first light. This was to be his 3rd of 4 outings with me this year and this one was a solo run with the opportunity for more rod time. We made our way out on the lake with a slight role on an otherwise flat lake. The stars were still in the sky and the street lights on shore were the only source of light other than the navigation lights on the boat. The flashing amber light on the Grimsby weather Buoy was a great point of reference and we continued at 20 MPH to just past the marker and set up in 120 FOW.

We pulled the flashlights out and used the navigation stern light to charge up the glow tape on some of the lures and flashers before setting lines.

The four rods were quickly set and we were patient, yet inpatient at the same time. “Any second, we should hear the drag pull”, I said with a sense of positive thinking. The sound of a drag would be the only indication of a hooked fish, considering the dark impeded our ability to detect any rod movement. The first 10 minutes of the troll without a sound , felt like an hour. The SONAR showed we were in the vicinity of fish but it was a period of waiting for the fish to turn on.

It’s hard to describe the sensation of first light while salmon fishing. It’s like a light switch is turned on in an instant and your heart begins to beat fast as the sight of your set downrigger rods first comes into view. The anticipation of the first strike is like knowing the split second before a punch is about to land square on your cheek bone, or seeing a lighting strike off in a short distance and waiting for a crack of thunder.

Then it happens, the first rod goes off, I grab it and hand it to Tom and a Rainbow Trout breaks the ice, but before the fish is netted the other down rigger rod goes off and so it begins. For the next three hours Tom witnesses the busiest morning of fishing he had seen. 2 Cohos, a hand full of Chinooks up to 19 lbs and about a dozen rainbows that went all the way up to 11 lbs.

From Photo_Gallery10

At the end of the morning 4 hour trip the sun was starting to bead sweat on my brow and it was obvious our time to pull lines couldn’t be more perfect to escape the heat.

For fun I wanted to see if the fish still would hit at extremely slow speeds and slowed the motor to 1.7 mph. moments later the diver with a spoon is hit and Tom brings in a Rainbow Trout. I put the rod in the rack to retire it for the morning and then pulled the two downrigger rods. I left the 10 colour leadcore until last. Then I grabbed the leadcore and proceeded to jig it for a minute . Then a strike! It hit lightly , but then started throbbing the rod while in my hands. I held the rod bent for a moment but the fish came off. I jigged it some more, but then reeled it in with a chorus of chuckling from both of us.

Shane Thombs

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Arnold and Thombs kids, Cheer, Laugh and share High Fives, August 1, 2012

My mother-in-law has terminal cancer. At 63 Years Old she is in the hospital and my wife is spending a great deal of spare time with her. It’s been a drag at home as well, kids are showing the effects of the added stress in the house and it was time to remove them from that for short period of time. My kids are young- my son is 7 and my daughter is 4. Both have been fishing with me, but this time I wanted friends to come along to make it even more special.

I called my buddy Ron and asked if he would like to bring his kids out on the boat. He has three kids, 9,7 and 4 and our kids have been able to play together since birth. Nancy, Ron’s wife was also able to go.

From Photo_Gallery11

This was a boat load, but because they were all very small kids- I have had bigger payloads with 5 adults. I reached the person number capacity, but well under the payload capacity. 

This was a fun evening where the Arnold clan met me and my kids dockside at 6:00 pm and we set off for a short evening trip. We boated out to 150 FOW and Ron helped me set lines and keep the boat straight. An easy task since the lake was flat calm. Good think because Nancy can get sea sick and there is no telling how all the kids would take a choppy day on the lake.

From Photo_Gallery11
From Photo_Gallery11

It wasn’t long before we started hooking up. 13.5 lbs Rainbow Trout came on a 300 ft Copper line rod with SpinDoctor NBK and Atommik Tournament Screamer Fly and some decent sized salmon caught on the downriggers were winched in by the kids as they all took turns battling fish after fish. Purple MC Rocket behind the large sized Bechold Flasher down 82 ft took three decent sized chinook salmon. Rainbows regularily took the M&M Glow coloured Yeck 88 set behind a 107 Walker Deeper Diver on 3 setting out 180ft on 30lb test braid.

Everyone one of the kids were bursting with excitement and the cheering section was loud and giggling. When Myra was on the reel fighting a 14 lbs Chinook Salmon all by herself, the kids chanted, “Go Myra Go- Go, Go, Go”. Myra wouldn’t stop laughing and there were highlights throughout the night that made each kid experience something extra special.

From Photo_Gallery9

It was a night of laughter, cheering, smiles and high fives, and opportunity to escape the stressful reality of watching a love one suffer with cancer. We ride through life with all its ups and downs; it’s nice to know you have the opportunity to break out of “the downs” with good friends enjoying a night of fishing on Lake Ontario.

Shane Thombs