STRAY CASTS: No such thing a perfect weather for fishing on a lake

It was only recently that the Stray Caster was lamenting the heavy and consistent rainfall that had managed to wreck any possibility of getting out fish­ing.

So there he sat on a sunny noonday, staring up at blue skies and almost no clouds, with just a hint of breeze. At Lake Anywhere, that usually sig­nals a possible work day, and almost always means that fishing will be slow, unless there are some mitigating cir­cum­stances, like a rain the pre­vious day and fish pooling at a small river or stream where it enters the lake. There was none of that here.

The Stray Caster, along with Matthew-Adam and Hellene, motored out of the Lake Belwood docks where rental boats are kept, and headed across the lake to do some seri­ous fishing. Hellene, who had been asked to be ready to go at 11:30am, was learning the tests of time – and that 11:50am is at least 20 minutes late. The Stray Caster explained that on a trout expedition, if 4:30 in the morn­ing is the set time to leave, she would simply be left behind. Lesson learn­ed, the Stray Cas­ter hopes.

But Hellene, 13, has some good traits, and she tied on hers and Matt’s jigs, using her skills acquired with the Palomar knot earlier this spring at the Grand River Fly Fishing Forum. She has been practising that knot all summer, and is getting very good at it. Matt, who turned 8 a week ago, is not yet quite as handy, but he is right in their trying, and he managed a start on assembling his rod after the Stray Caster stopped the boat in the middle of the lake, in an inlet. That is one of the prob­lems with getting a late start.

By 1:45pm, we were ready to fish. The problem was the Stray Caster was having some problems with the boat. After mentally going through all the explana­tions given by the GRCA staffer, he decided to let the motor sit and we would fish where we were.

After a half an hour, with the motor no longer flooded, the boat fired immediately, the kids were relieved, and the Stray Caster went in search of a breeze. The idea was to drag jigs and worms along the bot­tom, letting the wind push the boat.

Almost immediately, Matt’s rod doubled over and his bright, “Hey, I got somethin’, had the Stray Caster reaching for the net. Too late. A spunky two-pound bass made it to the boat, broke the surface, and then shook its head and took off. Matt was thrilled anyway. We’d all seen his fish.

Then, it was a search of more wind. For the next two hours, the Stray Caster posi­tioned the boat so the wind hit our faces, and we drifted, oh, maybe 30 feet. Then, the wind died, or changed direction, or swirled, and the boat either stopped, or it began moving back the way it came. T­he Stray Caster can take a hint when lines trailing 30 feet behind the boat are suddenly underneath it and being dragged the other way.

That’s why perfect weather for a holiday is often lousy for angling.

We fished on rocky points, we stopped off at promising spots, and, occasionally, we even hooked some fish. Hel­lene likely had the biggest and best hook-up of the day, and it was a bass. Her rod bent dou­ble, and the drag screamed a little, and then the line came back to her. The fish had snap­ped it off.

She was pleased, though, that there was no tell-tale curly-cue at the end of the line, only a broken spot. That meant that, at least, she had tied her knot properly. The line broke farther up.

Hellene also had the dubi­ous honour of experien­cing the loss of her own equipment. She and Matt each had birthdays this summer, and they both re­ceived new tackle boxes and a variety of tackle. As she tied on another jig, her comment about losing her very own personal gear was, “That sucks.”

Welcome to the club, kid.

As it turned out, that was the only time that afternoon that anyone had to replace a lure or a jig. Just about the time the Stray Caster figured it might be time to do some trol­ling, he caught a fish. A catfish. Well, he thought, it’s a start. Soon after, there was another one in the boat.

Both of them would have experienced some embarrass­ment had they ever met some of the big catfish that grow in Paradise Lake, near St. Clem­ents, but that was the Stray Caster’s boyhood, and maybe there are none left there now. These ran between six and nine inches, and the Stray Caster has used bigger lures in his search for pike.

We fished the rest of the afternoon, and Matt brought in a couple of catfish, and also lost another bass.

The Stray Caster managed three more catfish, and then felt a sharp tug. His prize for a quick hook set was a 10-inch perch. The kids loved it, and Hellene identified it, but she admitted she used a cheat sheet for identifying fish, which came with her tackle box. Hey, that’s one way to learn on the spot.

The Stray Caster added one more fish, and that tale will be told another day.

Soon enough, it was 5pm and we were handing the boat back in, thanking our young staf­fer, and heading home. The Stray Caster was stiff, sore, and tired, having been jumping up and down all afternoon to start the boat. The kids went on to a pair of sudden death playoff fastball games, and both came out on the winning side. Go figure. They have loads of energy. Far more than an older angler who enjoys their company on the lake.

Note: For those of us who have not the wherewithal to buy our own boat (or the vehicle to haul it), the GRCA rents boats at Lakes Belwood and Conestogo.

Fully equipped 14-foot alu­mi­num boats with eight-horsepower motors can be rented at the concession. The cost is $80 for a full day or $50 a half day. A $100 deposit by credit card number or $100 cash is required, as is a valid driver’s licence, but not a boat­ing, license. The minimum age for rentals is 18 years. Weekend hours are 7am to 8pm and weekday hours are 8am to 8pm.

Boats can be reserved in advance for a $10 reservation fee.

The Stray Caster has rented boats at each lake and can attest that they are well cared for and very reliable.