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It was the Best of Time it was the Worst of Times - 2020 Review


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I guess it’s been a while since I put together a proper fishing report. It’s not for lack of fishing, however! I’ve been out fishing regularly, mostly from canoe or shore fishing locally in the GTA, often solo, occasionally with the kids in tow. Living my best dad life raising two boys certainly limited my time to write and share my adventures, but I hope to share more in 2021.

Since moving back to Ontario about 8 years ago, I’ve struggled to find as many pike and musky as I used to. I generally dedicate at least 75 hours into muskies, and likely the same or more time looking for urban pike. I’ve spent far less time returning to old muskie spots, opting to try new locations looking for larger fish. It's been a challenge, putting in hours hours of fishing in poor conditions (limited time off to when my wife - who works retail hours - was  home or could arrange childcare) I had a couple of seasons with just one or two fish in the net, despite seeing fish and generating follows. Things changed after finally meeting up with Captain Bunker for a big river mission in 2018. We had talked about fishing together for years, but the stars never aligned until one fateful fall day in October, and then a week or two later - my two biggest muskies!

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16 years after my first muskie, two 50+ inchers hit the net! Big water equals big fish. My biggest freshwater fish, until I got out again the next year to fish for dinosaurs with Bunk...

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One of many that day! More at bunksoutdoorangle.com!

2020 Fishing

I don’t think anyone will forget 2020, it’s been a hell of a year for everyone! My plan was to fish pike hard early season, but the local lockdowns made access to my favourite spots a challenge, and the rest of my spots were loaded with new fishermen that found themselves with free time and nothing else to do. I was lucky to get in a trip to Florida before things really got bad, even caught a Jays game and did a little bit of fishing!

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To avoid crowds I started fishing at night for early season walleye, and despite seeing them caught by other night anglers, I couldn’t dial one in. I made up for it in the fall with a couple of accidental walters while fishing for muskie. Late spring went well, catching pike consistently in Gloucester Pool (in-laws cottage), nothing big, but I always enjoy catching pike on spinnerbaits. I got out for a couple of early season muskie trips, but again couldn’t turn follows into bites! This is where Covid got serious and my fishing trips mostly ended as temperatures were also on the rise.

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January GTA pike

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Backyard creek trout in Port Credit

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Solo canoe fishing

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Tiny planet

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May pike

Once September rolled around I really had the itch to get out for muskie, but I didn't want to travel far from home with Covid cases still on the rise. I knew the chances of getting out on the water with Bunk again was slim to none, but as luck would have it my old friend Johnny had been in touch and while he was having luck with salmon, was interested in going for muskie as well. With the Niagara River practically in his backyard, and just over an hour drive for me, it was the perfect place to meet. I had seen a couple of musky there before while aiming for walleye and bass but I didn’t have high expectations. Boy was a wrong!


We dialed in fish almost immediately using swimbaits and started meeting regularly to target muskies from shore. We figured out weather/wind patterns and major/minor phases that resulted in catching muskies on most of our trips, often hooking/catching multiple fish within a couple of hour. Johnny was diagnosed with a severe muskie fever in early September 2020 and went into spending mode, amassing an impressive amount of muskie gear in a few short weeks. As fate would have it, the muskie God’s were not satisfied. Despite each of us logging 80-100 of casting (and visiting the Muskie Factory in Windsor), he didn't connect with another muskie before season closed. While I managed a few solid fish, the highlight was sharing my love of muskie (I guess it's contagious) with Johnny. Having a good buddy to share in the highs and lows (not to mention having a net man with long reach!) was priceless and certainly the highlight of a crazy year.

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Pretty little muskie

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Night muskie

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December muskie

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Wishing you all good health and big fish in 2021!

Edited by mepps
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Clive, that's the way to put your time to good use.   Thanks for the report.

I expected to see one of your personal lures hanging from the jaw of one of those big swimmers.

I'm still catching pike with one that you made for me.   My fishing partner borrowed the other one

and forgot to return it.

2020 was my first miss from fishing NW Ontario since 1982.   An open border in 2021will have me

starting another streak.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/1/2021 at 6:58 PM, TennesseeGuy said:

Clive, that's the way to put your time to good use.   Thanks for the report.

I expected to see one of your personal lures hanging from the jaw of one of those big swimmers.

I'm still catching pike with one that you made for me.   My fishing partner borrowed the other one

and forgot to return it.

2020 was my first miss from fishing NW Ontario since 1982.   An open border in 2021will have me

starting another streak.

 

Thanks Connie! All of my May pike were caught on my spinner baits (silver/orange), but these days I take out the hooks before taking a photo (saw a buddy get hooked in the hand!). Next batch of baits I make I'll be sure to put aside a couple for you. I'll be in touch with you soon, may be able to do an LV trip this spring of restrictions don't prevent it!

On 1/2/2021 at 10:17 PM, Moosebunk said:

Your beard can never seem to make up it's mind just how long it really wants to be, or if it wants to even be at all. lol

Great stuff buddy!

I had shaved at the end of August, then I saw you sporting a beard and I've been trying to catch up! Just made a deal with Jonny, no shave til one of us gets a 50 inch muskie!

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muskies from shore with consistency? are you some kind of wizard?

Thank you for the report...did the sturgeon wreck freshwater fishing for you forever more? lol

Edited by AKRISONER
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On 1/12/2021 at 9:50 AM, AKRISONER said:

muskies from shore with consistency? are you some kind of wizard?

Thank you for the report...did the sturgeon wreck freshwater fishing for you forever more? lol

Lol, it was an arm busting good time! Incredible power for sure and loved it, but I'll take casting for muskie if given the choice...well maybe 8 out of 10 times I'll take muskies!

We got lucky to find a relatively low pressure area and timed it right for a month of solid fishing until October, then no sign of any fish near shore! Only saw 2 other muskie guys fish the area. Hope to hit the same area earlier in the season this year!

On 1/12/2021 at 10:26 AM, mamona said:

I cannot believe I missed this report, thank you mepps for sharing, I truly enjoyed it. :Gonefishing:

Glad to hear, thank you!

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