Saturday, December 10, 2011

-10 on the Jig

 It was family weekend at the cottage and I couldn't wait to spend some time with the Girls.  We arrived at a reasonable hour Friday night and quickly put flame to the new woodstove.  It certainly is nice knowing the dollar meter isn't rapidly spinning out of control every time the propane forced air furnace fires up.  And honestly...there is no comparison to wood fired heating.  We settled in for a warm night of liesure.

My wife had plans of Christmas baking with the girls on Saturday.  I was anxious to get the Hyde back out on the upper river but the biting cold evening air had me second guessing my morning plans.

The alarm came early as it usually does and I awoke to the bad breath of a 90lb Labrador retriever overly anxious for his morning meal.  The cabin was cool so I stoked the stove and let cody buddy out for his morning business.  Upon opening the front door I was overwhelmed by a stern brisk cold.  I knew it was well in to the negatives and I knew I would be in for a rough solo morning venture.  I reluctantly weighed my options and the comfort and warmth of our bed won the vote.  A few hours later I re-awoke and made the morning coffee. 
While I savoured my morning java I reformulated my day.  The new plan had me poking my way around the banks of the upper river.  The boat would best be left for more civil temps and a more acclimated self.  The weather network was bragging of -10C with the windchill and I was not prepared for an extended outing of frozen anchor ropes and slippery boat decks.  The wading initiative gave me a quick egress in the event things were unbearable.

Arriving to the access I wasn't surprised to witness a lonely river.  The mid-day sun was bright but it offered no comfort from the harsh bite in the afternoon air.  Having been graciously reminded of the winter Jig effectiveness the week prior by JB I was keen to float some Ella Norland hand crafted Canadian Jigs.  Ella loves to help her dad tie up jigs and roe and the last couple of Christmas's I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of a multitude of them.
I chose to start with a black and orange jig with a woolen body.  After getting my jig saturated with water and the marabou pulsing I chose my line and made the first cast.

I was disappointed to learn the float reel had frozen solid on the descent down the stairs to the river.  The previous weekends outings were under substantial rainfall and the gear had been soaked.  It had been quite a while since I had to contend with a frozen reel so it took me a while to rid the gear of the ice buildup.  Three or four casts later hand me shuffling down river about 10 yards and picking a line further into the river in a fast shoot coming off of the coffer.  The second pass on this line and my float dropped.  Instinct had me set up to a monster of a fish.
It was quickly apparent that the daunting cold would be both friend and foe.  The cold weather had put the fish into a manageable winter mode but the bite in the air was laying havoc on my aching hands.  With some luck I managed to beach the 30" double striper.  It was a beast of a buck and had to push the 11lb mark.  He showed no signs of shyness on his take and crushed the black maribou jig.  With hands aching I assisted him back into the majestic flow unharmed.  I couldn't have been happier.  In less than 10 mins on the river I had banked a world class winter buck and on one of the Norland's Jigs.

With plenty of water to traverse I continued to work my way down river and around the bend.  The water level of the river had dropped a good 6-8" from the previous weekend and I was struggling to find some more willing players.  I worked my way down to my lower travel limit with only a chunky brown to show for the efforts before turning around and making the hike back up. 

Arriving back to the coffer I had another hour of daylight left and decided to tie on a black body with red inner accent marabou jig.  This colour combination has been one of my goto options when running the jig back on the Ontario flows.  Today proved to be no different.  Over the course of 30 mins I hit another stellar buck, a big hen and lost another fish on a straightened hook.  The takes were ferocious and the fish were all large specimins in full winter dress.

The river was lonely and the fishing was outstanding.  The ends do justify the means and I found my once cold aching body rejuvenated and warm from the adrenaline rush of giant fish.  The quality of fish never cease to amaze me and the sense of new found appreciation I have for these MI flows every time I visit them seems to have no end.  Each and every encounter we have with these fish is a gift and I cherish each as such.  I am a blessed man.  As I made the asscent from the river basin I couldn't wait to get back and tell the girls of my outstanding afternoon.


Harv said...

That's good stuff right there buddy.....

Steeliemax said...

dam jealous bet if ur were swinging wooly buggers now on the spey rod it be a riot.

JB said...

Jiggity jig JIG!!! Yes! Now you're catching on! Nice job sir.

I was actually down there on saturday morning too. It was too damn cold to sit in a treestand, so I opted for the river. I came in from the launch side though. Sounds like you were on the south?

I shot some pretty good stuff on my video camera. Editing the video now. I'll have it posted shortly.

We got a fresh push of fish. Several of mine were shiny dimes...

lambton said...

JB...sounds like you put on another clinic over there. ;0)
Strong work brother! Can't wait to see the high def video. Man it was nasty cold EH?

Red...MAITLAND!!...just tie some jigs and believe...believe... know it...rediculous fish...I love em.

JB Ricks said...

Trotsky said...

Ella and I are thrilled...Brown and black you say?
Back to the vise.
well done dude
Btw..people who fish spey on the swing like it in the stink

shotgunner said...

Reads like you've been busy friend.. well done! Gorgeous fish, I'm envious.

If you can belive a local "billy" pick up the waxies referenced earlier.. the time is now :)