I must tell you about the Thursday evening when we were fishing the river. It had been a cool wet day, but fortunately the rain had cleared by 4pm and I managed to twist Liz’s arm about spending a few hours by the river. As on previous evenings at dusk the liners started and by dark I had caught three twenties and was well happy.
As the fishing was so good I told Liz that I fancied staying until Midnight as I felt that this was going to be ‘a red letter’ night. Somewhat reluctantly she agreed but she said that she would stay in the 4×4 as the temperature had dropped somewhat outside.
I had just returned yet another 20lbs+ common and was tidying the usual swim ‘bomb site’ which tends to occur during darkness when you have a fish, when my head torch beam caught sight of something walking across the road behind where the 4×4 was parked. About 10 yards in front of me was an animal, about the size of a collie dog, its mean-looking eyes staring back at me, no doubt thinking ‘What’s this idiot doing fishing at this late hour!’ I screwed up my eyes trying to focus in the dark and I noticed that it had a dirty grey coat, bushy tail and large paws. After about 20 seconds stand off (By this time the little hairs on the back of my neck were standing up in fear!) it trotted off down the road before disappearing into the woods.
This was all too much for me, I started grabbing all the gear and went to the boot of the vehicle and was almost throwing the tackle inside. Liz looked around in surprise. ‘What’s up, I thought you were staying late tonight?’ To which I replied, ‘I’ve changed my mind and I’m a bit tired, let’s go’.
‘Do you want a hand?’ She kindly offered. Now, I was then faced with a tough decision. Do I say ‘no’ and ensure that my lovely wife is safe and secure? Or, do I say ‘yes’ and at least give this potentially deadly animal a choice of which of us it eats first, thus doubling my chances of fishing into the future? Being a loving husband and a perfect gentleman I think that you will have guessed what I said. ‘YES DEAR, SOME HELP WOULD BE GREAT!!!!’ (What she doesn’t know wouldn’t hurt her eh!!). I did tell her about my sighting though; about a mile up the road when we were safely back at our cabin! I still don’t know what I saw. Was it a stray dog, an artic fox or was it what I thought it was – a wolf! All are residents of Canada but deep down, I don’t really want to know!
Being situated so close to Lake Katchewanooka I just had to have a go for one of the numerous big carp in there. Martin told me that prebaiting was a necessity, so for the first few days I would mix up about 5kgs of groundbait, row 40 yards out into the bay where I had found a depth of 4ft to 5ft, then spread it over an area the size of snooker table. The problem with the bay was that it was very weedy so I hoped that the carp would move onto the bait and at the same time clear patches in the weed.
This plan worked to perfection and on the 3rd night we were sat outside the cabin, beers in hand, with two rods covering the baited area. Tony (the owner) joined us for a chat and was asking how things were going. He then started to tell us about some of the wildlife in the area. We had already seen chipmunks, racoons, giant red and black squirrels and also some magnificent ospreys hunting over the forest. By this time it was pitch black and I asked Tony about bears coming into the area in winter. ‘Winter!’ he said’ They are around us now, probably in the next forest about 500 yards from you now!’
Liz had gone quiet by now and I could see that she was thinking of ‘doing a runner’ when the left rod indicator suddenly dropped back before storming off into the dark night! I lifted into what felt a good fish, it didn’t seem to have the speed of the long river fish but it did have a deep power. After a few minutes Liz slid the net under a very big dark common and we all cheered at the result. I expected it to pull the scales around to 30lbs+, as its size was similar to a 35lbs common I had caught from France last year. However, I was amazed when the dial read 27lbs 14oz – the fish was hollow! Never mind, I was still overjoyed with the fish and went to bed that night well happy and very tired!
We found the lake fishing much slower than the river, however I am convinced that the 30’s and 40’s are in there in numbers. If we had more time I am sure that we would have given the lake more of a test, but seven days was just not long enough. When you can fish a beautiful river, catch half a dozen 20’s in three to four hours fishing and keep the wife happy, then that is good enough for me! I did catch another three fish from the lake during the week, 2 x 25lbs+ fish and the smallest of the week at 12lbs.
Obviously, my target whilst in Canada were carp, and probably 95% of them are common’s, however there are some very big beautifully scaled mirrors. The locals tend to laugh at you when you tell them you are after carp, as they view them as pests, and in some areas they even shoot them with bows and arrows! They prefer to fish for the muskie (similar to pike), bass, walleye (similar to our zander) and other similar predatory fish. They either spin or baitfish for them mainly from boats. I did see quite a few other fish whilst out in the boat but I never saw a local angler catch anything! However, I was talking to a fellow UK angler on the way home who showed me a picture of a 28lbs muskie he’d caught whilst retrieving his red boilie one day – the fish was impressive. If you do any spinning in the UK and like a bit of piking, then I recommend that you visit a tackle shop whilst over there. I’ve read that well-known ‘piker’ Mick Brown visits Canada each year and stocks up his lures etc – the shops are packed full of brightly-coloured lures and with the favourable exchange rates they are cheap!
Unfortunately, as will all good things, they have to come to an end. We had a fantastic trip, caught a good amount of quality carp and enjoyed the surrounding area. The country is beautiful and so peaceful, and everyone we met was very helpful and friendly. On the way back to the airport we called into Toronto, visited the spectacular CN Tower and had another great Canadian meal. We feel that we only scratched the surface of Ontario, let alone Canada itself. We have since booked for another two weeks so that we can search for those lake biggies and perhaps visit one of the National Parks and Niagara Falls.
For anyone who is thinking of Canada for your next holiday I would say go for it, you will not regret your decision!
I admit that I’ve only had the pleasure of fishing in Canada on one occasion and I do not claim to be an expert. But, here are a few tips, which may help you plan and enjoy a great Canadian holiday:
Ten Top Tips for a Great Holiday
1.Do your homework and planning
Do you want to fish all day, every day, or do you want to combine your fishing with a family holiday? Some companies even do guided trips – Anglers World Holidays, Canadian Carpin and Bernie Haines for example.
2.Seek the knowledge and experience
of people like Martin Founds at Anglers World Holidays. He has visited Canada at least once a year for many years and his advice is invaluable. They also have some great videos on Canada.
3.Book through a recognised tour company or Travel Agent.
It may cost you a little more but you will have peace of mind should anything go wrong before or during your holiday. Also, travel insurance is very important. Remember, Canada is a long way from home if you have a problem!
Normal carp gear is ideal but remember to have very strong line and hooks and take spares as you will not find them in Canada. Also, take plenty of spare leads, feeders and hooks – as you will lose loads! Rod Protection whilst in transit is very important – I have a KIS rod protection system – well worth the investment to ensure that your tackle arrives in the correct amount of pieces!
Don’t worry about taking lots of boilies, the carp love the local animal feed and this is very cheap. I took about 5kgs of ready-made boilies for the hookbaits/feed and this was more than enough for 1 week. I would recommend that you take boilie dips and matching flavours for enhancing your chances. A large ‘matchman style’ collapsible groundbait bowl for mixing is also useful and does not take up much room. Also, don’t be shy on baiting up – these fish will easily eat 20kgs of bait per day – the more you put in, the more you will catch – trust me!
Firstly, make sure that you get one, and secondly, abide by the rules. It’s very tempting to chuck out a second rod. If you do then you are risking tackle confiscation and a heavy fine – a great way to spoil your hard earned holiday! And, remember – the water bailiffs carry guns!
Watch your speed over there, on the spot fines are standard and costly and don’t even think about drinking and driving.
8.Talk to the local anglers
They are very friendly and will tell you where they have seen the biggies.
9.Take plenty of camera film
You’ll need it!
10.Last, but not least
HAVE A GREAT TIME and ENJOY CANADA!
Useful Telephone numbers
Martin Founds at Anglers World Holidays: Tel 01246 221717.
Web site: www.anglers-world.co.uk. They also offer trips with Bernie Haines on the St Lawrence River.
For brochures, Videos and Advice.
Paul and Tessa Hunt – Canadian Carpin – Tel/Fax- 01375 390110 or Canada (apr-sept)- 001 613 534 8111, for brochure and video.