Category Archives: Fishing

Canoeing the Pipestone River

This trip was designed to be a father-son retreat and a time of refreshment and renewal. After much planning, eleven of us were finally able to make the trip. The group included myself (Elijah) and my son; Duane Roth and three sons; Lester Weiler and two sons; Christian Horst; Daniel Miller

Monday, August 1

8-1-16-23We met at Stirland Lake in northwestern Ontario at the old Wahbon Bay Academy (a former school for first nations high school students). We left at about 4:30 p.m. in five canoes after final goodbyes and encouragement. The first task this afternoon was about a one hour paddle across Stirland Lake and then a short portage across the rapids there and then onto the North Pipestone River. As we started down this river we encountered a intense rainstorm that soaked all of us (in spite of raincoats and gear). We finally made camp this evening at about 8:00 p.m. just below the fourth rapids from Stirland Lake.

Tuesday, August 2

Today was ideal weather with a high around 80 degrees and no rain! We got to the entrance to Yates Lake by lunchtime. Then we had a stiff wind coming from the south that was stirring up occasional whitecaps. But, nonetheless, we made it safely across the lake and proceeded over a few more rapids before making camp for the night. The water level is quite low compared to several times I made this trip before, so we often wound up needing to drag our canoes over rocks. Our campsite tonight was not ideal, but we did find an area that had some moss, whereas last night we pitched our tent mostly on a rock and had quite a hard night of sleep!

Wednesday, August 3

I got up early this morning and canoed back up to the last rapids to try my hand at early morning fishing. Had the best fishing of the trip so far: 21 walleye and pike in about an hour and a half. Mostly I caught walleye between 16-18 inches and a few pike up to about 24 inches. We crossed Sasiginaw lake and are almost to the entrance to Kecheokagan Lake. We stopped a bit earlier this evening (about 3:00 p.m.) and made camp. Some of us went back out to the last rapids to do some more fishing, and some sat around and relaxed and talked. A few did some swimming. Also each evening one of the Dads gives their life story and spiritual journey to the group.

Thursday, August 4

Today was a big day: First we crossed Kecheokagan Lake. This lake is known for its moose, though we were not fortunate enough to see any (probably we are too loud!). We have seen quite a few bald eagles out here — probably a few every day. Other wildlife so far: loons, otter, mink, red squirrel, and an assortment of other birds. Going out of Ketcheokagan Lake is a fairly lengthy and quite violent rapids: though with the water lower it was not nearly as intense as I remembered it previously. Most of us used ropes to make our way way down through the rapids, though Duane Roth decided to portage the entire section. He (with his son) got to the end about the same time the rest of us did. Part of this rapids had a nice chute of water that provided a fun place to drift down and swim and frolic. We ended the day by going through Frog Rapids of which we were able to canoe through mostly. This is a series of about 8-9 short rapids in progression that then empties into Horseshoe Lake. We are camping at the entrance here to Hoseshoe Lake. We had excellent fishing all along today through the rapids.

Friday, August 5

We caught a lot of fish here at the entrance to Horseshoe Lake, though the walleye were a bit smaller: mostly under 16 inches. Lester Miller has caught the largest walleye of the trip so far: 24 inches. The largest pike has been 28 1/2 inches long. The weather today (and yesterday also) was a bit unpredictable. We would have a short quick shower and then sun again. At one point today, crossing Horseshoe Lake, I could see three or four showers/storms on all sides of us while we had sunshine! It didn’t last long, though, and soon we were getting soaked again. Today we saw the only other person on our entire trip so far: a lone camper/canoer who is out here just to be by himself. We sighted a black spot way off on an island, and thought it was a moose or bear at first, but it proved to be a fellow human! We camped tonight about a mile out of Horseshoe Lake on the Pipestone River. The weather today was a bit cooler: upper 50’s in the morning and maybe a high of about 70 degrees.

Saturday, August 6

We paddled the rest of the trip out today to Baker’s Landing – about two hours of paddling with no rapids. We did have several interesting encounters: We saw a big bird sitting on a rock along the shore. It turned out to be an immature bald eagle that finally lazily flew up into a nearby tree when we got within about ten yards of it. I was afraid for a few minutes it might decide to just jump into our canoe! We also saw about four or five wolves (mother and cubs) along the shore (quite a distance away) and the last canoe (behind fishing) saw several black bears. We got picked up at noon at Baker’s Landing.

Trout Season Begins

As usual, the boys were looking forward to the beginning of trout season. The Pennsylvania counties are separated into two regions with each of those having a separate opening day. Trout season in the southeastern counties starts two weeks prior to the season in the rest of the state. Also, in both regions there is a Mentored Youth Day as well, which is the Saturday before trout season begins. We are lucky enough to live close to the dividing line between these two regions, so we can easy participate in the mentored and opening days in both regions. Here are a few photos and videos of some of the catches and scenery we got to enjoy the last few weeks.

Steelhead Fishing in Erie, PA – December 2015

Bicentennial Tower in Erie, PA

Bicentennial Tower in Erie, PA

Each of the past two years I have traveled to Erie, PA with some fishing buddies to fish for steelhead.  This year, Crystal and I decided to change things up a little and take the whole family.  We have three sons ages four, six, and eight who love to fish; and I wanted them to have  chance to hook into a steelhead.  I went into this knowing that it would be challenging.  Steelhead fishing is something that can require a good bit of patience.  I’ve fished as long as two days straight without catching anything, and with the family along I knew fishing time would be much more limited.  So we went on the trip hoping to have some family fun with a chance of a bonus fish or two.

Day 1

We traveled up in the early morning hours of Wednesday, December 16.  We arrived in Erie around 8 am and started the day with a trip to Poor Richard’s Bait and Tackle, which is always our first stop.  The guys there can give you some general advice about where to look for fish and what they are likely to bite on.

Next we did some scouting to find some good fishing spots.  We first went down to Trout Run to show the boys the steelhead that are typically stacked up in the creek near the mouth.  We hoped to do a bit of fishing in the lake there (trout run itself is off-limits for fishing), but there were probably 20 anglers already standing in the lake and nobody seem to be catching, so we moved on.

Our next stop was at Elk Creek.  We hiked over the ridge and down to the mouth of the creek.  I did some fishing while the boys looked for sea shells and other treasures along the shoreline.  The water was low and clear and there were no fish to be found.

Raccoon Park

Raccoon Park

From there we checked out Crooked Creek and Raccoon Creek. There were some anglers fishing the riffles upstream from the no-fishing area in Crooked Creek and reportedly were catching a few. However, the terrain was not family-friendly at all so I decided it was as spot for me to try later by myself.  We ate a picnic lunch at Raccoon creek and was surprised to find a few fish in the creek near the mouth.  However, they didn’t seem to be hungry for anything I threw at them.

Boys with SteelheadAfter lunch we headed to Homewood Suites at the Millcreek Mall complex where we had reserved a room.   I left Crystal and our four-year-old son there and left with the older two boys to check out spots on Elk and Walnut.   We found some fish and Landry and Camden each were able to pull in a steelhead by the time the day was over.  Both fish were caught on egg sacks.

Day 2

The weather was unseasonably warm the next day just as it had been the day before.   I took the whole family down to the creek and by lunchtime Crystal and Landry each were able to land a steelhead.  Four-year-old Cullen had one on as well, but had to hand the rod off to me when his arms got tired.  All three fish were caught on skein.

Tom Ridge Environmental CtrAfter lunch we headed down to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center for some educational time.  We watched a video about Presque Isle and climbed the tower to have a better look at the area.  We then drove out on the peninsula to get some views of the bay and Lake Erie.

Day 3

steelhead on the fly rodThe weather turned colder on day three.  I took the older two boys out in the morning.  By 9 o’clock they each had caught one fish and were ready to get out of the cold.  I dropped them at the hotel and fished myself until just after lunch, landing two more, one of those on the fly rod.

In the evening we spent a few hours at the Splash Lagoon indoor water park.  It was a great experience for the whole family that we won’t forget anytime soon.

Day 4

Steelhead fishing in the snowBy morning some lake-effect squalls had blanketed the ground with 2-4 inches of snow.  I got to the creek just as it got light and never saw another angler.  It’s hard to remember when I had a more enjoyable time fishing.  I fished until 9:30, landing six fish and losing several more.   After landing four on single eggs, I switched to the fly rod and landed two more on a nymph.

After lunch we made a very cold and windy visit to the top of the Bicentennial Tower before heading for home.

Equipment Used

Rod: Okuma Connoisseur CQ-S-862M-1 Steelhead Rod
Reel: Quantum Optix 20 Spinning Reel
Line: 6 lb. Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon

Fly fishing outfit: Wild Water 5/6 Starter Package

Shout-outs

Rarely is a fishing trip successful without help from others, and this time was no exception.  As usual, the guys at Poor Richard’s Bait and Tackle were helpful in deciding what to use for bait.  Jack York’s web site and video channel contain great information for anybody trying to learn more about steelhead fishing.  Last but not least, thanks to the fly fisherman who gave us the tip to look for fish farther upstream, and also the one who shared a nymph and some fly fishing tips.  You made our trip a great one!

How to attach a trout net to your fishing vest

Recently I purchased a trout net to use when I go fly fishing.    My former net worked well for some purposes, but for catch-and-release trout fishing, it was wasn’t so good.   It was rather bulky, was made of aluminum which made clanking noises from time to time, and it was not very gentle on the fish.  I ended up purchasing a Promar LN-208 Landing Net on Amazon. The next question was: how would I attach the net to my fishing vest? After trying unsuccessfully to use the supplied lanyard to attach it in a practical manner, I finally decided to go a different route and purchased a Magnetic Net Holder . I was little concerned about the magnet being strong enough, but once I actually attached my net with the device, I knew it would do the job. No amount of jumping up and down or moving about will cause the net to come loose. It is also strong enough that when you’re through using the net you simply put the handle behind your head and the magnet “finds” the other side and clips firmly into place. I’ve made a YouTube Video that demonstrates this process. I’ve also used the net in my first Fly Fishing Video as well.

One end of the net holder attaches with a split ring and the other end with a snap hook. The question is, which end goes where?  The product photo showed it with the snap hook attached to the vest.  That allows you to easily move the net to another garment without having to mess with detaching a split ring.  However, in my case I was more concerned with being able to switch to another net easily, so I put the snap hook on the net side and use the split ring to attach the holder to my vest.

Pop Can Fishing Challenge

A couple of years ago I made a video on how to catch a fish using a pop can.  Now you can catch a fish with a pop can and possibly win a prize as well!  For the month of June, we are doing a pop-can fishing challenge.  The winner of this contest will receive a brand new Shakespeare Contender rod and reel combo.  You can find more details on the product by clicking the following link: http://amzn.to/1LRPIYP

This contest is open to U.S. residents excluding those in Alaska and Hawaii.  You must be 18 years of age or older to participate. If you are a parent or guardian, you may have your child catch the fish and enter the contest in your name on their behalf. Just make note of that fact in the email you send me in step #4.

On July 1 or shortly thereafter, a winner will be selected by random drawing out of those who have successfully completed the following steps:

  1. Make a pop can fishing rig.  My video that shows how to do it is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZhhxSr1R-4
  2. Catch a fish with the pop can rig.  The fish must be at least six inches long and be of any species.
  3. Upload a video showing the catch to YouTube.  The video must be family-friendly, and at the beginning of the video you must mention this contest and the name of my channel (you may refer to it as either Great Cove Media or Great Cove Adventure Films).  It would also be helpful to link to my contest video in the description of your video, but that is optional.
  4. Finally, send me an email at bernardotech@gmail.com and give me a link to the video you uploaded.  I must receive this email on or before June 30, 2015.

A few other notes:

  • If I get a large response and lots of participants, I will likely be adding prizes so more people can win.  If I do this, I’ll make you aware of that in updates throughout the contest period. These updates will be in the form of videos posted on my YouTube Channel.
  • If the product to be used as a prize becomes unavailable from Amazon by the end of the contest, a similar replacement will be selected and shipped to the winner instead.
  • You participate at your own risk. Realize that performing an overhand cast with a pop can rig means the hook is flying past your head at close range.  I recommend using an underhand or side-armed throw instead.
  • I have an old-fashioned definition of family-friendly.  If your video contains objectionable language, people in skimpy clothing, or anything else that makes me uncomfortable watching it with my children, it will be disqualified.
  • The video you create needs to conform with YouTube’s terms of use and community guidelines.

That’s it!  If you have questions, leave them below.

Fishing Gear of 2015

I often get comments on my Youtube videos asking about my fishing gear. So I’ve decided to give you a run-down of the rods and reels in my arsenal this year.

I’ll start with a photo of them, and then fill you in on the details of each one.

rods and reels

From left to right:

1. Shakespeare Micro Underspin Rod and Reel Combo.  This is a great rod for the kids, but I enjoy using it as well.  The underspin reel is like a spincast reel but has a lever instead of a button. This makes it work more similar to a spinning reel than a spincast. The 4′ 6″ ultra-light rod is great for battling even the smallest of fish.

2. This is an aging ultra-light rod (not sure of the make and model at the moment, although I might give it a closer inspection later) with a Zebco 202 spincast reel. It seems that Zebco used the 202 model number on a wide variety of reels. Some of those were very low quality, others were not so bad. This reel is in the not-so-bad category. It has a smooth drag and casts great.

3. This is a Shakespeare Contender spinning reel on a Shakespeare Excursion spinning rod. The reel had been part of a combo but the rod fell victim to a car door and had to be replaced. For small fish, this is my favorite rig. I spool it with 4 lb test monofilament line and it allows long, smooth casts. It’s pure joy to use.

4. This spinning rod is a hand-me-down rod from my older brother. It is about 7 feet in length but was longer before it also feel victim to a car door. I added a new tip and it still works great even if the tip is a bit stiffer than it should be. The reel is a Quantum Optix size 20 spinning reel.

5. This is a Zebco 7-foot Hawg Seeker Spinning Combo that a buddy of mine picked up for me at a garage sale. My son Landry uses this rig when we are targeting catfish.

6. This rod is a 7-foot Zebco Catfish Fighter. I’ve had it for several years and am very pleased. It is not an expensive rod, but it seems to be great quality for the price. The reel is an old Shakespeare that came from a Shakespeare/Ugly Stick combo. I managed to break the original rod pulling it off a snag, so I replaced it with the Catfish Fighter.

7. Last, but not least, is my 9-foot Zebco Catfish Fighter with a Okuma Avenger ABF 50 Bait Feeder Reel. This is my best catfish rig. The extra length adds 30 to 50 feet of distance to my casts vs the 7-foot version. I’d like to say I’ve battled lots of 30-pound flathead catfish with this rig, but I cannot. The largest I’ve caught to date with it is 10 pounds. This summer seems like the perfect time to change that. 🙂

Landry hauls in a big catfish

Last Friday Elijah, Landry and I decided to take the boat out on the Juniata to see if we could catch a stringer full of panfish.  Of course, while we were out there, we’d stay a while after dark and see if there were any catfish around.  As it turned out, the bluegill and rock bass were not cooperative.  The bite was slow and the fist were mostly too small to be worth taking home.

Once it got dark, our bad luck continued with a number of dinky bullhead catfish.  Then Landry’s rod bent over.  By the time he got it up to the boat several minutes later, we knew it was a good fish.  It turned out to be a 25.5 inch channel catfish, probably 7 or 8 pounds. After years of fishing the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River, my personal best catfish there is still just 24 inches, so Landry did pretty well for his second time out for catfish on that river.