Stray Casts: Getting prepared (finally) for a summer of good fishing

As usual, the Stray Caster has managed to get off to a slow start to the annual angling season, but things are indeed heating up.

Just last week we went through nearly a dozen donated rods and reels and cleaned and oiled them. The Stray Caster has found a home for them, and delivery is this week.

And, while in the cleaning mode, the Stray Caster himself decided it was high time to start looking at his own gear. Having placed it carefully away last fall, it did not take very long to have everything ready. The toughest part was sorting out the spoons and plugs, untang­ling the treble hooks, and then sharpening everything. Picking up the fishing licence was merely a detail.

This summer the Stray Caster and family plan to do a fair bit of fishing from a boat. Why not? We’ve got great fish­ing in Conestogo and Belwood Lakes, and both places have boats for rent, by the day or half day.

There is also some terrific fishing to be done there. There are huge pike swimming in both places, and both reservoirs can also bring back memories of a sore arm after hitting honey holes of big bass. People find it difficult to believe that good fishing can be found so close to home, but the Stay Caster knows that catching 80 bass in an afternoon is not impossible, with the smallest running at about 2.5 pounds. And we know that there are some weighing in at over five pounds in those lakes.

All it takes is the issue of finding them. Naturally, rented boats do not have sonar and fish finders, so our luck de­pends on a couple of old fashioned tactics. One is our now ancient journal. It allowed us to draw maps over the years, and detail the conditions under which we caught fish. For ex­ample, if a shoal in Conestogo Lake gave us a four-pound bass several years ago, chances are it might do so again. Having a map to that shoal and a state­ment of conditions (warm, hot, cool, sunny, cloudy, windy, etc., plus the list of tactics we used to catch it, including boat direction and type of lure) is a great way to help duplicate past successes.

The Stray Caster has man­aged to teach the kids the de-lights of the Rapala, and, this spring at the Take-A-Kid Fish­ing day, we cunningly had them learn to tie their own fishing knots. Hellene has actually been practicing, and that means (maybe) that the Stray Caster will have one fewer rig to tie because she can now do it her­self.

That way, when she has to retie, there is no need for the Stray Caster to either stop the boat completely, or awkwardly try to drive and tie at the same time. Trust me, it’s not a lot of fun doing that.

In the meantime, we en­joyed the pleasant company of one Shaker Mahoney over the long weekend. The Shaker breezed through town from British Columbia on a rare visit, and dropped by for dinner at our place, and some stuff he referred to as “that thar single malt stuff you hide.”

He’s been fishing the west coast with an old friend, Steve Pringle, whom he had nearly lost track of over the years. And, he has invited the Stray Caster to come on one their an­nual trips near Chilliwack for salmon and trout. He has sent the Stray Caster some photos of himself and fish caught out there, and they are of bragging size. We warned him that puts pressure on the Stray Caster to actually catch something worth being digitally imortalized.

Chilliwack is a long way to go to fish, but Shaker’s photos show incredible scenery to go with those great fish.

It is something the Stray Caster will definitely have to think about. He will do so while puttering about Belwood and Conestogo Lakes this spring and summer, not to mention staggering up and down streams with fly rod or spinner, or maybe a float reel. Going fishing is a great time to ponder such decisions like Shaker’s invitation.