Wil’s Day On the Lake … It’s usually about the fish and the catchin … but not this time!


I'm the first one to say that in order for a day's fishing to be really worthwhile, a lot of fun and most memorable ... it really should involve catching. Yes ... I do believe that most of the time a great day hinges on the fish and the catchin’.

Being successful in our pursuit of our finned brethren is nothing we as anglers should be ashamed of when we’re explaining why we love the sport so much. Promoting it to new anglers by continually saying it’s really for a million other reasons is just plain hogwash. "Oh ... it's so relaxing even if you don't catch!" I hear that one a lot ... but that's certainly not the case for me ... if I wanna relax I'll kick back on my Lazy Boy and watch fishing shows on TV. In order for us to enthusiastically revisit lakes time and again ... it requires great memories ... the more recent the better, of when we did quite well - catching decent numbers of fish or a couple big ones. Of course all the ‘other-stuff’ – spending unsurpassed quality time with friends or family, gorgeous scenery, discovering new techniques, tournament excitement or whatever… is all very important but it’s catching good quality fish that anchor all those other reasons and that why you’ll remember and value one trip over another decades later … Trust me!

So, with all this in mind -paradoxically ... I set out the other day, to a small lake we'll call Lake X with a different mindset than to catch a lot of nice bass. I had fished it many times in the past -usually with decent success. For the last couple of years though easy public access to this particular lake has been 'sketch at best' so my presence there has been non-existent. So with it being a very busy long wknd day, blue bird conditions and significant cold front (14C from a humidity factor of 35 C two days prior) I was somewhat convinced the fishing wouldn't be great but still headed out to the lake anxious for a return visit ... primarily to check out the new boat launch I heard about.

Some great looking features in Lake X reminded Wil of one of the reasons he likes it here

When I arrived at the launch ... I was not impressed! Not so much that it was dirt - but that it was loose gravel and as I pulled the trailer out leaving my Nitro behind - my rear wheels dug in! "Ugh ... no way ... I gotta buy a 4X4 truck for sure!" I said to myself. None the less, I parked - and headed out fishing. I tried my usual largie spot and even though the weeds weren't up and there was a disgusting algal bloom present, I managed a nice 3lb largemouth on a Chatter Bait and a couple other smaller ones. I moved – and fished what was usually a very productive smallmouth shore ... but no takers. Then the wind began picking up ... so I booted clear across the lake to a corner I'd hardly fished before. "Oh my ... what the heck is that in the distance - a newly paved road right to the water's edge ... could it possibly be a new launch?" Well as I drove up closer, there was no doubt it was - but where the heck was everyone on this busy long weekend day? I parked the boat, headed up the ramp to have a look. A huge paved turn-around spot, parking area greeted me. Gorgeous!

The well made public ramp in the middle of nowhere was a very pleasant site

I walked back down to my boat and there was another fella fishing from his having a look. "New launch?" He yells and I confirm that it was. We start shooting the breeze and an immediate angler comradery sets in between us that I’m sure many readers have experienced and perhaps cherished. I explained to him the dilemma I faced when I finally exit the lake … and how I wish I knew about this ‘new’ launch before I launched at the other ‘new launch’ earlier that morning. He had launched there too- but had a lighter aluminum fishing boat and a 4X4 to easily haul it out. He said he was headed back there and would troll all the way back … but I was welcome to hitch a ride if I liked to get my truck and trailer to bring back here. “Hmm … I’d hate to leave my boat and all this stuff unattended but I think yah; it’s worth the risk … sure; thanks very much!”

So … I tied off my boat – grabbed a couple rods and off we went, slow trolling for walleye and I had a couple hits too – but couldn’t keep them on – but for once that didn’t matter so much. This dude was an interesting guy and we had a great conversation along the way. He was here since late last week – camping on a small island … and earlier that day I actually saw his tent where he described it. He was reliving some of the camping and fishing adventures he had in his youth ... so that was cool. The horrific storms and high winds kept him up most of the night and off the water the day prior. He was a teacher and originally from that area but now lived in southwestern Ontario. Before we knew it, we were at the launch site so I thanked him and we parted ways. I ran up to my truck and notice a couple dozen more vehicles and trailers jammed into the spots as best they could. I drove off for where I thought the new launch would be... That dirt road at first ran parallel to the lake so figured it had to be it. After 20 minutes or so, huge ruts and washboards made it worse and then suddenly dead-ended within a strange little community of homes … you know the type – where you think you hear banjo music eerily looming in the distance!

I made a million point turn with the boat and trailer and headed out PDQ only to see another on-coming vehicle approach the community. As we both slowly tried to pull far off to our sides I caught a glimpse of the driver … and lemme tell ya, you wouldn’t have wanted to try and mess with her. Jumpin Jimminy she was a scary lookin one! I finally got out of there and found the ‘other parallel road’ to my new launch.

Just when I thought I had driven about the right distance I see a beautifully new, paved roadway entrance that I figure had to be the one for the launch. I pull in … but to my horror it's gated all the way across the entrance … and locked with a Master Lock! “Oh no … what the heck to do now!” Hmm … I grab my one Master Lock key hoping against hope it might be a universal fit; allow me to open the gate, gain access, close the gate, grab my boat, take off and then reclose the gate”. I slide the key into the slot – a perfect fit… I try to turn the key and … voila!

Nah ... It wouldn’t budge! Argh – now what? I head back out to the road and not 25 metres further out of the corner of my eye I notice another paved entrance barely visible from the main road! Could this be it? I drive down the windy newly paved road overgrown with weeds on either side and hope this is it! I see a familiar huge turn-around and parking off to the sides - still void of any vehicles and know I’m in the right spot. Now to check to make sure my boat and all its belongings are still there. I see a father and young son fishing the launch area and my boat is safely tied off with all its stuff- still there. As we chat it up, I don’t know if I came off like I won the lottery … maybe just as having not bought the expensive ticket to begin with.

I head back out with renewed vigor to fish despite already anticipating what the outcome would be. I'm satisfied though that my day was already a success. I didn’t get horribly stuck at end of day (been there, done that=no fun!) and I found a great new public boat launch that I’ll use in future when I just know the fish won’t be as turned off as I knew they were under the current algal bloom and cold front conditions.

Other than a couple small bass – the only memorable catch is a five pound bowfin that whacked my Chatter Rap so hard and pulled so strong I thought I had a monster largemouth on. It’s deep digging, head shaking nature provided a great thrill … and I was actually quite elated to land that ugly ol thing and grab a couple of selfies … just to remember the occasion.

So there you have it … another day’s worth of fishing memories for the record books – one where I caught my first bowfin in years, my first one on a fast moving hard bait instead of a jig, and first one from this particular lake. Hmm … maybe this day was about the fish and the catchin after all!

Wil did get his Nitro outta that beautiful new launch no problem and can hardly wait to return this fall when the algae bloom is gone and the big bass come out to play!

Below Wil show’s off his bowfin – a memorable catch during another memorable day on the water.

Some readers will no doubt recognize this lake and may want to let Wil and others know about it or even post it’s whereabouts – but he prefers to keep it on the down-low … and help protect this lake from overfishing.

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