A Porker of a Personal Best!
There’s nothing quite as exciting for me as when the ice finally fades away and the open water season begins. It’s like Christmas except it lasts for 8 months, give or take, depending on the duration of the winter. This open water season I’m aiming to try new experiences, target species I’ve yet to catch, and hopefully crush some new personal bests.
I could hardly contain myself when the boat and truck reunited for the first time this year!
The very first open water trip of the year was a new experience for me: targeting brown trout out on Lake Ontario. I’ve only ever caught one brown trout (along with many steelhead) while fly fishing and centrepin fishing in Lake Ontario tributaries.
Targeting browns via boat has been a dream of mine as I think they’re such a stunning species. Since upgrading my boat last year to a deep v, the Alumacraft T-Pro 185 powered by Yamaha, it’s exciting to be able to get out on big water and try new types of fishing.
On this first open water trip of the season, I was joined by Eric and our friend, Luke. Lake Ontario has a good brown trout population with various stocking programs taking place in different areas. Depending on how long the stocking programs have been in place, some areas hold more fish than others. We made our way to Wellington, Ontario on a beautiful Saturday morning with low winds, something rare for the big Lake.
We arrived prior to sunrise and fished 14 hours straight covering various water depths and areas and had one potential bite, although we are not entirely sure it even was. Yep, the first trip of the year resulted in a skunk! It happens to us all. I look forward to getting back out there at some point to target browns and also trying some other areas on the Lake too. I must get a brown aboard my boat! Now you’re probably wondering about this personal best my blog title speaks of? Read on 🙂
The following day was extremely windy to say the least which made for unsafe conditions out on the Lake from a boat. Luke headed home and Eric and I decided to go scouting for some new carp fishing spots along Lake Ontario to fish from shore. It was late morning by the time we hit the road, so we weren’t sure how things would pan out but it’s always worth a shot. We drove along stopping at several sheltered bays along the north shore of Lake Ontario looking for ‘carpy like’ waters. The northern shoreline gets the most amount of sunlight which warms the water faster. Carp move in to these bays as the water begins to warm up and like many other species at this time of year, feed up to prepare to spawn. Spawning takes place late spring/early summer for carp.
We decided to try out a small sheltered bay which had a warm south wind blowing right in. This meant that the surface water was being pushed in warming up the water even more.
I’ve been learning more and more about carp fishing over the past few years and it’s been a lot of fun. It is SO underrated here in Canada. There’s an incredible amount of innovative equipment available especially from the UK, where carp fishing is most popular. CarpKit.com is a great Canadian website with loads of specialized equipment for this species. One item we ordered through Carp Kit last year was a type of bait called a pop-up.
As you can see in the above photo, a pop-up is a little round floating ball of flavoured dough. It is ideal in situations with soft, muddy, weedy, or silty bottoms where normal presentations would just sink down and go unnoticed. It can be rigged to hover just off bottom. The set-up used here is called a 360 rig which enables the hook to spin freely providing a better hook-up ratio. Fishing this presentation in a variety of scenarios over the past couple of years has been super effective! In fact, Eric hooked a fish just about five minutes into our carp session on this day which was his first of 2017! It happened so quickly that we were both a little stunned at first when his bite alarm sounded. I quickly scrambled to assemble the net as it wasn’t even unpacked yet while Eric successfully brought his fish to shore. What a beauty!
Eric’s 28-pounder was a great way to start the afternoon and certainly gave us hope that we would get more bites. He had a Fruit-Tella flavoured pop-up on while I went with the Peaches & Cream. Turns out we were in the right place at the right time as Eric landed three more carp! They were hangry! At this point I decided to switch to the Fruit-Tella flavour as it was obviously what the carp were interested in.
All it took was switching the flavour and I was then into my first carp of the season! In the first hour, we landed five fish and the action continued.
We were having a blast so far and it sure felt good to get into some fish following a no-fish day prior. While setting up I had made a comment to Eric about how it would be amazing to kick off the season with a new personal best. I’ve been fortunate to land carp in the high and low 20-pound range over the years but a 30-pounder would definitely crush anything I’d ever caught. Rain was coming down at times and the wind was blowing dirt in our eyes but it was all well worth it. It seemed we didn’t get much of a chance to sit down between fish as they were heavy on the feed. I had no complaints about this but there was only one thing that could make a day like this even better. I think you know where I’m going with this…
I. Hooked. Into. A. Monster!
My bite alarm screamed and I bolted to pick up my rod. This fish was peeling line like crazy and I could hardly move it. After a few moments I was able to bring it closer to shore. Eric caught the first glimpse while he was pacing the shoreline ready with the net.
“ASH! It’s a GIANT!”
It was music to my ears but also instantly stressful as I didn’t want to lose this fish! I took my time bringing it to shore letting the rod & reel do the work keeping my rod tip high and the tension on. One wrong move and this fish could be gone. As I brought the fish in to the shoreline, Eric slipped the net underneath. The pressure was off and I could now celebrate! WOOOO!
We were both laughing hysterically and cheering when that fish hit the landing mat. What a fatty! I knew instantly it was the biggest carp I had ever caught! My arms were shaking and it’s no wonder as this fish weighed 32-POUNDS! A new personal best!
What a way to kick off the carp season! We ended up landing 18 fish altogether with 2 weighing over 30 pounds. WHAT A DAY! It was worth toughing it out through the wind and even some rain. When the bite shut down and it became dark, we headed off the water with huge smiles. I’ll never forget this day.
Thank you for reading about my fishing adventures!
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