It’s happened to all of us. Sometimes, even when you know what you’re doing, and are blessed with good conditions and ample resources, things just don’t go your way. Come to think of it, the occasional frustrating day on the water just makes those great ones even sweeter. And while Wednesday’s fishing trip didn’t go as planned, I’m still having lightly battered, shallow-fried perch for supper tonight.
Let me explain. On Wednesday, managing editor Bob Sexton and I skipped work, er, I mean, reluctantly left to the office to engage in field research on Lake Simcoe in Outdoor Canada's new Harbercraft 1925 Discovery. After a pretty good outing last week, we were hoping to get into some of Lake Simcoe’s big smallmouth bass, and take some great pictures for the magazine, maybe even a future cover shot.
As we idled out of Crate’s Marina in Keswick, Ontario, it was a beautiful morning, sunny and unusually calm, and things got off to a terrific start. After speeding directly to Bald Shoal east of Georgina Island, Bob hooked up on his second or third cast, landing a nice two pound smallie that hammered his Bomber Model A crankbait in five feet of water. Suddenly we seemed on track for a brilliant day. Since it was calm and shallow, I even fired up my fly rod, lobbing a white and chartreuse Clouser Deep Minnow (which, in the water, looks a lot like a stubby crankbait, except, you know, tastier).
And hold on to your hat, because then we caught... nothing. Maybe Bob’s bass was the tail end of the dawn bite and they headed to deeper water, maybe it was too darn sunny, maybe they didn’t like my green-apple scented sunscreen. Who knows. But that was it, and it would be about five hours before either of us felt that familiar tap-tap-tug of a fish on the line.
After Bald Shore turned off we adopted a run-and-gun approach, checking promising spots and moving on quickly if they didn’t pan out. We pounded the west shore of Thorah Island, Big Shoal and Sibbald Point; throwing cranks, tube jigs and spoons, but there was nary a smallmouth (or largemouth or rock bass or pumpkinseed or... you get the idea) to be found. The wind and waves also picked up considerably, and with our fuel guage getting unsettling close to “E” we were about ready to pack it in.
But since everyone loves a happy ending, I’m delighted to offer one, more or less. On the way back to home base in Cook’s Bay, we stopped at Cedar Shoal in the lake’s southwest corner, where we found a nice plateau with boulders and scattered weeds, in seven to 10 feet of water. With such promising smallmouth habitat I switched to a chartreuse spinnerbait and finally, after a couple of largely fishless days, it was my turn. On my second cast, that garish bait was viciously attacked by... a jumbo perch! After a thrilling nine-second battle I gracelessly dragged it aboard, and into the livewell went my largest ever perch, a fat 12-incher.
In short order we followed up with a half-dozen average-sized perch, and then it was back to the real world of e-mail, florescent lights, spouses, kids and big-city traffic. So not the day we had in mind, but with sunny skies, a solid bass, and (what a fine restaurant would call) fresh, wild-caught organic protein bound for my table tonight, let’s call it a win. And now autumn—prime time for big Simcoe smallmouth—is just around the corner, meaning the best is yet to come. If you see us out there, be sure to come over say “Hi.”